Your ultimate guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam restaurants and bars, art and museums, clubs and live music, shops and more...

The 20 best things to do in Amsterdam
Things to do

The 20 best things to do in Amsterdam

Go beyond the red lights, the weed and the Dutch masters – and discover the real Amsterdam…

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The best places to eat in town
Restaurants

The best places to eat in town

Amsterdam’s Michelin-starred restaurants meet cosy cafés in a city of culinary surprises…

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Amsterdam’s best clubs, cabaret and music venues
Nightlife

Amsterdam’s best clubs, cabaret and music venues

Find out how Europe’s legendary hedonistic capital likes to party…

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The top 30 bars and pubs in Amsterdam
Bars and pubs

The top 30 bars and pubs in Amsterdam

From grand cafés to hole-in-the-wall proeverijen, discover the best places to drink in town

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A guide to Amsterdam’s Red Light District
Nightlife

A guide to Amsterdam’s Red Light District

Explore and be safe, with our guide to Europe’s favourite vice playground

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The best places to eat in Amsterdam

Envy
Restaurants

Envy

A poshed-up designer deli-cum-restaurant serving an arsenal of delicacies from the streamlined refrigerators that line the walls, and from their able kitchen. The perfect place for those times when you want to try a bit of everything.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Samhoud Places
Restaurants

Samhoud Places

Moshik Roth is the chef whose cheekily extravagant dishes (think foie gras à la Salvador Dalí) made his first restaurant in Overveen one of haute Amsterdam’s out-of-town favourites. His collaboration with ‘caring capitalist’ Salem Samhoud brings some rather more ‘accessible’ options, including a divine eco-friendly tomato burger.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Hotel de Goudfazant
Restaurants

Hotel de Goudfazant

Huddled among unsightly industrial buildings on IJ waterfront, this refurbished warehouse in the north of Amsterdam possesses an air of effortless class. Its stripped back interior is elegantly shabby, with exposed rusty beams sitting comfortably alongside a glassy grand chandelier and white tablecloths. The fare is fresh and substantial with a focus on French cuisine and a changing seasonal menu served up by a laidback, yet attentive, staff dressed casually in T-shirts and ripped jeans. Hotel de Goudfazant (and, no, there aren't any guest rooms, despite the name) has started something of a trend for warehouse dining amid the blustery urban expanses fo Noord. One pretender to the throne is nearby Restaurant Stork, which specialises in fish, but Goudfazant's founder Niels Wouters has already moved on to pastures (or car parks) new with the opening of Cafe Modern in the up-and coming Van der Pekbuurt to the west. Confusingly, this venture does feature rooms. 'I think the local government is really encouraging entrepreneurship here,' Wouters told Monocle magazine of Noord's culinary transformation. 'But when I opened my first restaurant in 2006, my friends thought that I'd gone mad. Now it's perfectly normal for locals to catch a ferry over here just to eat.'

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Rijsel
Restaurants

Rijsel

Housed in a former huishoudschool, one of the domestic science institutions blamed for the decline of the Dutch kitchen, you’ll find frugality only in terms of the decor at Rijsel. The busy dining room is overseen by an amiable staff. Specialising in the best rotisserie chicken, like, ever, Rijsel has established itself as another delicious reason to head East.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Amsterdam’s best bars and pubs

Roest
Bars and pubs

Roest

Named ‘rust’ as a nod to its industrial setting, Roest has plenty of ‘middle-of-nowhere graffiti-covered’ credentials, and its line-up of ever-changing theme parties – not to mention the expansive terrace and beach – keep even the most fickle trendsters entertained.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Barco
Bars and pubs

Barco

A repurposed canal barge moored at Oosterdok across from the public library, Barco has 360-degree city views, affordable food, live bands performing in the hold (‘a band on a ship!’) and sun-trap terrace, it’s easy to become pretty damn smug about this one.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Café Chris
Bars and pubs

Café Chris

Not much has changed since 1624 at the oldest bar in town, where builders from the Westerkerk would come to receive their pay after a hard day's graft. Now local workers still come to unwind in unpretentious surroundings, adorned with darts trophies and other bric-a-brac from the bar's long history as a mainstay of the Jordaneese drinking scene, something it remains to this day.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Café de Dokter
Bars and pubs

Café de Dokter

Definitely the smallest bar in Amsterdam at just a handful of square metres, the Doctor is also one of the oldest, dishing out the cure for whatever ails you since 1798. Centuries of character and all kinds of gewgaws are packed into the highly compact space. Whisky figures large (there's a monthly special) and snacks include smoked osseworst with gherkins.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Prik
Bars and pubs

Prik

Queer or not - Prik is hot. Indeed, true to the bar's slogan this venue attracts a diverse crowd who enjoy its delicious snacks, groovy sounds and special events such as the After Shopping Cocktail Sale and Speeddate evenings.

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Must-see sights and attractions in Amsterdam

Oude Kerk
Attractions

Oude Kerk

The Oude Kerk began life as a simple wooden chapel in 1306, but today rates as Amsterdam’s most interesting church. It’s easy to imagine the Sunday Mass chaos during its heyday in the mid-1500s, when it had 38 altars, each with its own guild-sponsored priest. Now it serves more as a radical contrast to the surrounding Red Light District, but still holds lessons: the inscription over the bridal chamber states ‘marry in haste, mourn in leisure’. Keep your eyes peeled for the floor grave of Rembrandt’s wife Saskia, who died in 1642. Also note the Gothic and Renaissance façade above the northern portal, and the stained-glass windows, parts of which date from the 16th and 17th centuries. For shock value, check out the carvings in the choir benches of men evacuating their bowels – they tell a moralistic tale. Occasional art shows exhibit a range of fascinating subjects, from contemporary local art to the World Press Photo Exhibition.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Rijksmuseum
Museums

Rijksmuseum

Designed by PJH Cuypers and opened in 1885, the Rijksmuseum holds the country's largest collection of art and artefacts, including 40 Rembrandts and four Vermeers. After a decade-long closure, it's currently basking in the favourable response to a multimillion Euro facelift at the capable hands of Spanish architects Cruz y Ortiz. The collection was started when William V began to acquire pieces just for the hell of it, and has been growing ever since: it includes Dutch paintings from the 15th century until 1900, as well as decorative and Asian art, which has its own newly-build pavilion. But the biggest draw is the collection of Golden Age jewels such as Rembrandt's Night Watch and Vermeer's Kitchen Maid and Woman Reading a Letter, plus a selection from the likes of Frans Hals, Jacob de Wit and Ferdinand Bol. There's also be a wealth of decorative arts on display, including 17th-century furniture and intricate silver and porcelain, 17th- and early 18th-century dolls' houses, plus furnishings to give a glimpse of how the interiors of canal houses looked. Eighteenth- and 19th-century paintings, art objects from Asia, statues, lacquer work, paintings, ceramics, jewellery, weaponry and the textile and costume collection are also visible; the accessible garden, filled with Golden Age gateways and architectural fragments on the west side, is an oasis of rest once you've had your fill.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Joods Historisch Museum (Jewish Historical Museum)
Museums

Joods Historisch Museum (Jewish Historical Museum)

Housed since 1987 in four former synagogues in the old Jewish quarter, the Jewish Historical Museum is full of religious items, photographs and paintings detailing the rich history of Jews and Judaism in the Netherlands throughout the centuries. A recent revamping has created more warmth and a sense of the personal in its permanent displays, which concentrate on religious practice and Dutch Jewish culture; among the exhibits is the painted autobiography of artist Charlotte Salomon, killed at Auschwitz at the age of 26. An excellent children's wing crams interactive exhibits on aspects of Jewish culture (including a nice one on music) into its space. The temporary shows explore various aspects of Jewish culture, while the Jonas Daniël Meijerplein site, with its Dock Worker statue commemorating the February Strike of 1941 in protest against Jewish deportations, is right across the street, beside the Portuguese Synagogue.

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Van Gogh Museum
Museums

Van Gogh Museum

As well as the bright colours of his palette, Vincent van Gogh is known throughout the world for his productivity, and that's reflected in the 200 paintings and 500 drawings that form part of the permanent exhibition here. In addition to this collection, there are also examples of his Japanese prints and works by the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec that add perspective to Van Gogh's own artistic efforts. After a major and impressive refurbishment, the enlarged Rietveld building remains the home base for the permanent collection, while the new wing by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa is usually the home to temporary exhibitions that focus on Van Gogh's contemporaries and his influence on other artists. These shows are assembled from both the museum's own extensive archives and private collections. Do yourself a favour and get there early in the morning, though: the queues in the afternoon can get frustratingly long, and the gallery unbearably busy. And it's worth noting that Friday evenings often feature lectures, concerts and films.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Find out where to see art and culture in Amsterdam

Foam
Museums

Foam

This excellent photography museum, located in a renovated canal house, holds regular exhibitions of works by shutter-button maestros like August Sander as well as advertising from local agency KesselsKramer, and shows covering local themes such as Amsterdam crime scene photos (plus universal themes like Kate Moss). They also organise talks and events for the photographically obsessed.

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Rembrandthuis
Museums

Rembrandthuis

Rembrandt bought this house in 1639 for ƒ13,000 (around €6,000), a massive sum at the time. Indeed, the pressure of the mortgage payments eventually got to the free-spending artist, who went bankrupt in 1656 and was forced to move to a smaller house (Rozengracht 184). When he was declared bankrupt, clerks inventoried the house room by room; it's these records that provided the renovators with clues as to what the house looked like in Rembrandt's time. You can't help but admire the skill and effort with which craftsmen have tried to re-create the house, along with the antiquities, objets d'art (Rembrandt was a compulsive collector) and 17th-century furniture. However, the presentation is, on the whole, dry and unengaging. Nagging at you all the time is the knowledge that this isn't really Rembrandt's house, but rather a mock-up of it - which lends an unreal air that is only relieved when guest artists are allowed to use the studio. There's also a remarkable collection of Rembrandt's etchings, which show him at his most experimental, but if it's his paintings you're after, make for the Rijksmuseum.

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Hermitage Amsterdam
Museums

Hermitage Amsterdam

An outpost of St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum opened in Amsterdam in 2009 with a star-studded, 30-hour ceremony. Set in a former 19th-century hospital complete with 17th-century courtyard, the building has two vast exhibition spaces, a concert hall and a restaurant. The museum mounts two exhibitions a year, borrowing items from the three-million-strong collection of its prestigious Russian parent. The Hermitage’s riches owe much to the collecting obsession of Peter the Great (1672-1725), who came to Amsterdam to learn shipbuilding and the art of building on waterlogged ground – the latter knowledge he applied to his pet project, St Petersburg. Peter befriended local doctor Frederik Ruysch, perhaps the greatest ever anatomist and preserver of body parts and mutants in jars. Ruysch enjoyed constructing ghoulish collages with gall and kidney stones piled up into landscapes; dried veins woven into lush shrubberies and testicles crafted into pottery. The scenes were animated with dancing foetus skeletons. After kissing the head of a preserved baby, Peter paid Ruysch 30,000 florins for the lot (much of it is still on display in St Petersburg’s Kunstkammer collection). Some of Peter’s prized souvenirs – including Rembrandts – came for a visit in 2013 during an exhibition dedicated to the great man. Other exhibitions included ‘Gauguin, Bonnard, Denis’, ‘Greek Gold’ and ‘Nicolas and Alexandra’.

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Stedelijk Museum
Museums

Stedelijk Museum

The Stedelijk Museum, with its incredibe bath-shaped extension, is Amsterdam's go-to institution for modern and contemporary art, with an extraordinary pre-war collection that includes works by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, plus a collection of paintings and drawings by Malevich. Post-1945 artists represented include De Kooning, Newman, Ryman, Judd, Stella, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Nauman, Middleton, Dibbets, Kiefer, Polke, Merz and Kounellis.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Amsterdam Museum
Museums

Amsterdam Museum

A note to all those historical museums around the world that struggle to present their exhibits in an engaging fashion: head here to see how it's done. Amsterdam's Historical Museum is a gem: illuminating, interesting and entertaining. It starts with the very buildings in which it's housed: a lovely, labyrinthine collection of 17th-century constructions built on the site of a 1414 convent. You can enter it down Sint Luciensteeg, just off Kalverstraat, or off Spui, walking past the Begijnhof and then through the grand Civic Guard Gallery, a small covered street hung with huge 16th- and 17th-century group portraits of wealthy burghers. And it continues with the museum's first exhibit, a computer-generated map of the area showing how Amsterdam has grown (and shrunk) throughout the last 800 years or so. It then takes a chronological trip through Amsterdam's past, using archaeological finds (love those 700-year-old shoes), works of art and some far quirkier displays: tone-deaf masochists may care to play the carillon in the galleried room 10A, while lesbian barflies will want to pay homage to Bet van Beeren, late owner of celebrated Het Mandje. Amsterdam has a rich history, and this wonderful museum does it justice.

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Amsterdam’s best markets

Dappermarkt
Shopping

Dappermarkt

Dappermarkt is a locals' market: prices don't rise to match the number of visitors. It sells all the usual market fodder, and plenty of cheap clothes.

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Albert Cuypmarkt
Shopping

Albert Cuypmarkt

Amsterdam's largest general market sells everything from pillows to prawns at great prices. The clothes on sale tend to be run-of-the-mill cheapies.

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Noordermarkt
Shopping

Noordermarkt

North of Westermarkt, Noordermarkt is frequented by the serious shopper. The huge stacks of (mainly second-hand) clothes, shoes, jewellery and hats need to be sorted with a grim determination, but there are real bargains to be had. Arrive early or the best stuff will probably have been nabbed. They also have an organic farmers' market on Saturdays.

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Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
Shopping

Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)

This fascinating collage of colour is the world's only floating flower market, with 15 florists and garden shops (although many also hawk cheesy souvenirs these days) permanently ensconced on barges along the southern side of Singel. The plants and flowers usually last well and are good value.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The best clubs in Amsterdam

Jimmy Woo's
Clubs

Jimmy Woo's

Amsterdam has never seen anything quite so luxuriously cosmopolitan as Jimmy Woo's. You, too, can marvel at the lounge area filled with a mixture of modern and antique furniture and then confirm for yourself the merits of its bootylicious light design and sound system. At times, the place looks just like a music video - and that includes musicians and actors. If you have problems getting in, cool off across the street at sister cocktail bar, Suzy Wong (Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 45, 626 6769).

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Bitterzoet
Clubs

Bitterzoet

This busy, comfy and casual bar triples as a venue for theatre and music. Both bands and DJs tend to embrace the jazzy, world and urban side of sound, as demonstrated by once-a-monther Crime Jazz: words, poetry and beyond. DJ Maestro has set up camp, sampling Blue Note classics.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Church
Clubs

Church

The more extrovert end of the gay spectrum is well represented by cruising club Church. It has it all plus more: a bar with Greek-style columns, a stage perfect for drag-queen acts, a great sound and light system and various dark, dark chambers... Cheeky theme nights abound.

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Nachttheater Sugar Factory
Clubs

Nachttheater Sugar Factory

This 'night theatre' has found its niche as a place where performance meets clubbing. Every night brings a show of some kind, be it photos, classical dancers, MCs in various shapes and sizes, or actors mixing with the crowds. Monthly Vreemd ('Weird') nights see surprise acts, DJs stepping beyond the usual genre boundaries and classy decorations. WickedJazzSounds hosts a Sunday evening, and the cutting-edge Electronation brings top acts from the worlds of '80s synthesizer electro to current day minimal techno. Sweet it most certainly is.

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Panama
Clubs

Panama

A steady force in Amsterdam nightlife, former power station turned restaurant/theatre/nightclub Panama overlooks the IJ in one of the city's most booming areas. A deserted strip back in 2000 when it opened, the neighbourhood has now been transformed with high-rise offices, steep rents and a shiny Muziekgebouw. Regular club nights bring the best in national DJs to Panama, while huge international artists such as Tiësto and Armand Van Helden also find their way here.

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Odeon
Clubs

Odeon

This three-storey, 1662-built venue comes complete with restaurant, cocktail bar, café (with great canal-side terrace), disco and cultural activities. It's hot with the students on Thursdays, and weekends see various local electro DJs. Don't be intimidated by the lush interior, and find a chair with a view during Friday's fabulous cocktail hour.

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