Pllek
Photograph: Pllek

The 14 best bars in Amsterdam

Ready to take on the party capital? From dive bars to trendy cocktail spots, here are the city's best bars

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Unlike some cities, visitors to Amsterdam often find themselves wanting to go again and again and again. This city is known for its innovative food scene and great attractions, but the thing that will forever linger in your mind? Amsterdam’s bars. The nightlife scene here is second to none, and there’s a bar for (literally) every mood. 

So whether you’re looking to sip cocktails with a view or boogie on down ‘till the early hours, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in this party capital. Think hotel bars, glitzy wine bars, trendy craft breweries and everything in between. Just try not to miss your flight home the next day. Here are the best bars in Amsterdam right now. 

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This guide was last updated by Amsterdam-based writer Derek Robertson. Photos are by Amsterdam-based photographer Joao Costa. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines. 

Best bars in Amsterdam

  • Cocktail bars
  • Old Side

Speakeasy lovers, we’ve got just the thing for you. Hiding in Plain Sight is exactly what you’d expect – a dark, cosy, intimate bar with great music that feels totally secret, yet is conveniently positioned right in the centre of town. Somehow, even after all these years, this bar has stayed cool and classy – there is no better place to see and be seen. Knowledgeable bartenders make a range of classic and bespoke cocktails (they’ll happily discuss your tastes and preferences) but book ahead via phone to secure a spot in their lounge-style seating, as standing is not allowed. 

  • Waterfront and North

Grab a seat at one of this waterfront spot’s bright picnic tables, and you’ll instantly feel like you’re on holiday. Boats pull up to the dock, swimmers jump in for a dip, and locals meet to drink, chat, and soak up the friendly vibes as the sun goes down. During winter, the party moves into a cottage-like space made from salvaged materials that’s extremely shabby-chic, with cosiness vibes provided by a large fireplace – the perfect combination to ward off cold, harsh weather.  

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  • Café bars
  • New Side

Small is beautiful at this quaint, storied bar, famed as Amsterdam’s smallest (it measures just 18 m2). Founded in 1798 by a surgeon from a nearby hospital, it’s been delighting the curious and the adventurous ever since; think old jazz records mixed with candles, antique chandeliers, and even a birdcage. It’s usually packed, but that just adds to the charm. Aim for a spot at the bar – all the better to meet a local character – and order a Limburg beer or a whisky from their extensive collection. 

  • Oost (East)

An Amsterdam East institution, this tasting room in an old bathhouse at the base of Amsterdam’s largest windmill serves Belgian-inspired beers, brewed on-site for over 30 years. You’ll find Brouwerij ’t IJ’s beers on menus all over town, but it’s worth visiting the original outpost for a tour, a tasting flight, or to soak up the sun on the large terrace with the windmill overhead. Be sure to try their bar snacks too, especially the classic ossenworst – raw ox meat sausage. 

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5. Pllek

Up in trendy Amsterdam Noord, Pllek – the product of a recycled warehouse and various shipping containers – is a bar, man-made beach, and restaurant that also hosts outdoor summer film screenings and live electronic music. Hop on the free ferry at Amsterdam Centraal to reach this throbbing hang out and settle in with a couple of beers or a glass of rosé while you dig your toes into the sand. When the sun goes down, retreat under the disco ball in the huge industrial-chic space with rows of windows overlooking the IJ river.

6. Café Brecht

A delightful slice of old-school Berlin charm, Café Brecht – named after German writer, poet, and director Bertolt Brecht, natch – is both quirky and quaint. Decked out like a hipster’s living room, a mish-mash of vintage sofas, chairs, and tables competes for space with piles of old books and retro board games. The extensive beer list is distinctly – and deliciously – German of course, and if you time your visit right, you’ll be greeted by huge, freshly-made pretzels hanging by the bar. Prost!

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7. De Drie Fleschjes

Step back in time to Amsterdam’s Golden Age in this authentic, historical gem of a bar. Famed as a jenever (the forerunner to modern gin) tasting room, De Drie Fleschjes (‘The Three Bottles’) has been serving up the traditional tipple since 1619, making it the city’s oldest (they still store the drink in old-fashioned casks and the flagons that give the bar its name). A favourite of Amsterdam’s mayors over the centuries, their portraits line the wall of this unique establishment. And should jenever not be to your taste, they also serve beer, wine, and 35 different liqueurs.

8. Bar Bukowski

Named after writer Charles Bukowski, this neighbourhood hangout near Oosterpark is dedicated to liquor and literature. The former appears in classic, no-tricks cocktails and a well-rounded beer list, while the latter is embodied in a typewriter-inspired light installation above the bar and plenty of Bukowski quotes on the menu. Bar Bukowski feels like the neighbourhood’s living room: settle into one of the front tables in the mezzanine for an unbeatable street view. 

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9. De Druif

Gruff, rough, and distinctly old fashioned, De Druif (‘The Grape’) has been quenching locals’ thirst on this spot for at least 400 years. It boasts a liquor licence that dates back to 1631, and is rumoured to have served departing sailors as far back as the 1580s. With wooden casks lining the walls, plenty of earthenware jenever bottles behind the bar, and no music, De Druif feels like a glimpse into Amsterdam’s storied past.

10. Distillery ’t Nieuwe Diep

This former polder pump station in leafy Flevopark looks like a church from a distance but is actually a jenever distillery with a setting that couldn’t be prettier. Set on a quiet lake, ’t Nieuwe Diep has a gorgeous terrace for summer and a cosy tasting room for winter. If classic jenever is too harsh for your palate, try the unique fruit versions made with plum, apple, berries or citrus. The bar closes early, so check the website for seasonal hours.

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