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Crowds at Amsterdam pride
Photograph: Max Pixel

LGBTQ+ Amsterdam – the 14 best gay bars and clubs

Discover the Dutch capital’s vibrant LGBTQI+ scene with our pick of the best gay bars and clubs in Amsterdam

Derek Robertson
Written by
Derek Robertson
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There are a lot of reasons to love Amsterdam (a cursory glance at the best things to do here give you plenty of options), but the Dutch capital’s reputation as a haven for liberalism and open-mindedness is right at the top. The Dutch do things properly, so it is no great shock to learn that Amsterdam’s track record on gay rights is as good as it gets. This means that the entire city is one big gay scene. The best gay bars and clubs in Amsterdam stretch far and wide across the whole place. Don’t be surprised if you’re joined at some of these spots by groups of open-minded straight people looking for a night out to remember. These are some of the best clubs in a city famous for its nightlife, after all. 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the planet, and regulations remain in place in the Netherlands. This means that restaurants, bars and nightclubs remain closed until the next consideration (January 14, 2022, for the record). Hold on tight, and hopefully, all will be back to normal soon.

Best gay bars and clubs in Amsterdam

Club NYX
  • Clubs

Gay Street stalwart Club Exit has been reborn as mixed Club NYX, named for the Greek Goddess of the Night. Four floors offer distinct vibes – making liberal use of graffiti, glitter and concrete – and a toilet DJ keeps the party going while you wash your hands at a giant pink phallus.

  • Nightlife

This legendary gay club was Amsterdam’s first. Opened in 1927 by openly gay local character Bet van Beeren, ’t Mandje (‘the basket’) was a popular hangout for the city’s LGBTQ+ community until it closed its doors in 1982. Just before its then-owner (Bet’s younger sister, Greet) died, she put the wheels in motion to have the club restored and re-opened – which it was, finally, in 2008, bringing ‘the basket’ back to its bustling best. Look out for the ties pinned to the ceiling – cut off by Bet to punish naughty behaviour among past patrons.

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  • Clubs

This hip spot on Reguliersdwarsstraat caters to a broad clientele but keeps things colourful and fun-loving. It’s happy hour every day from 6pm, and Wednesday is ‘Fabulous Cocktail Night’, complete with drag queens and games (plus cheap tipples). Downstairs can get a little packed, but there’s more seating and space upstairs, where you get a great view of the bustling street below.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Canals

De Lellebel is a tiny drag bar where the cross-dressing clientele provides all the entertainment themselves. Though most people will be found in drag, admirers and friends are welcome and the atmosphere is friendly. Entertainment runs all week: Tuesday is karaoke night, Thursday salsa and Monday is ‘Whatever You Want, You Get’, when punters themselves are responsible for providing the music.

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PRIK
  • Bars and pubs
  • New Side

Queer or not, PRIK is hot. Indeed, true to the bar’s slogan this venue attracts a diverse crowd who enjoy its tasty snacks, groovy soundtrack and special events such as the ‘After Shopping Cocktail Sale’ and ‘SpeedDate’ evenings. There’s also the utter fabulousness of having Prosecco – or, as they call it, PRIK wine – on tap.

The newest addition to Amsterdam’s lesbian scene, this cosy space has a relaxed and welcoming vibe and aims to be ‘a platform for and by women’. Casual yet hip, they have a killer cocktail list and are open to showcasing female talent of all kinds, whether that be through art on the walls, special guest chefs, or even hosting a pub quiz.

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Saarein
  • Bars and pubs

Never in fashion, so also never out of it, this hardy perennial of the lesbian scene is particularly popular at weekends. The women it attracts tend to be slightly older, but young bucks certainly make an appearance, and it has a loyal following of feminists; a recent change to their door policy means that men are now allowed in, whether accompanied by a woman or not. The only lesbian pool table in town can be found in the basement.

Church
  • Clubs

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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This established gay bar promises to be ‘a place to feel comfortable’, and they go out of their way to do precisely that. Open every day, their music selection and house DJs are second to none, and after 6pm they do snacks (although their famous soup and hot dogs are Sunday only). But the real draw is the large, second-floor darkroom, which has a cruising area, private cabins, a sling room and smoking areas.

Mankind
  • Bars and pubs
  • Museum Quarter

Mankind is a quiet locals’ hangout tucked down a side street near the Rijksmuseum and the antique shops and art galleries of Spiegelstraat. Not just an excellent pit stop for culture cruisers, this bar also serves excellent sandwiches and a cheap-ish dish of the day. In summer the canal-side patio is perfect for catching some rays (or simply watching the world go by).

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Homomonument
  • Attractions
  • Monuments and memorials

Unveiled 20 years ago, Karin Daan’s three-sectioned pink triangle – symbolising past, present and future – was a world first. It’s become a place to celebrate and be proud: on Queen’s Day and Pride, it’s annexed to an open-air disco and market. Don’t miss Pink Point, the city’s official gay and lesbian information kiosk right next to it. It’s staffed by friendly and knowledgeable volunteers and has a great selection of queer souvenirs and gifts.

Don’t let this traditional-looking English pub fool you – it’s one of the biggest, and liveliest, gay bars in town. Recently refurbished, it now has a cocktail bar and large dance floor, while the terrace out back is a wonderful spot in warmer weather. It’s also where the pretty boys come to see and be seen, so go dressed to impress.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Red Light District

The Queen’s is a fun and attitude-free gay bar – the plethora of Ken dolls in the window are a nod to its camp and kitsch nature – with a similarly-minded clientele, plus picturesque views over a canal at the back. It holds regular one-off nights, with drag acts and DJs – don’t miss the infamous ‘Drag Bingo’. It also hosts parties on King’s Day, plus bear nights, football nights (during the cup season), Eurovision Song Contest nights and so on.

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