If you ask us, one of Amsterdam’s most enticing attractions is a good old-fashioned bar crawl.

The Dutch capital is famous for raucous partying and over-the-top nightlife – but the pubs here beat out the clubs just about every time. This is largely thanks to bruin cafés (brown cafes), traditional taverns that have been at the heart of Dutch drinking culture for centuries, and which are still loved by locals today.

Creative speakeasies around the center city, outdoor shipyard bars in the Noord district and other modern spots also take inspiration from the city’s rich heritage of bar-going. These watering holes make up our selection of the best bars in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Roest

Best beach bar

Truly unique to Amsterdam, this happening beach bar just shouldn’t be missed. At Amsterdam Roest, a former industrial shipyard now plays home to a sandy stretch for boogying and lounging around on tire-swings and ropes. You’ll also find a warehouse club and restaurant where parties are often organized by Roest’s artist collective.

In’t Aepjen

Best bruin café

One of Amsterdam’s oldest bruin cafésIn’t Aepjen has been a rendezvous point for Jack Sparrow types since 1519. Way back when, it was an inn for sailors who traded monkeys for accommodation (explaining the monkey memorabilia everywhere, as well as the tavern’s name, which translates to “In the Monkeys”). Today, regulars continue the tradition by sipping jenever (Dutch gin) and listening to jazz in the lively space.

Cut Throat

Cut Throat combines a barber shop with a restaurant and bar. (Don’t be alarmed: the barbers don’t double as barmen.) Trims and shaves are carried out in a classy 1930s-style space with arched brick and chandeliers, while the dining area features Caribbean-inspired street food and cocktails such as jerk burgers and spiked coladas. Reservations from barber shop to brunch are strongly recommended.

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A patron walks by a bartender behind the bar at historic Amsterdam bar Hoppe
Tipplers have been raising glasses at Hoppe since 1670 © Will Salter / Lonely Planet


Best bar for students

Getting a buzz is a form of creative expression at Amsterdam institution Hoppe. At this bruin café, local carousers have been twirling on the barstools and downing after-work pints since 1670. On sunny weekends, the young crowds get so rowdy inside that the crowd spills out onto the Spui.

Duke of Tokyo

Best karaoke bar

Located on Amsterdam’s favorite gay lane, Duke of Tokyo transports revelers to the karaoke havens of Harajuku. No two private singing booths are designed the same way, with elements like flashy neon, graffiti and anime art sprinkled throughout the venue. Stiff cocktails, sake and a serious wine list are sure to have you belting George Michael tunes in no time.

De Ysebreeker

Old effortlessly meets new at revamped bruin café De Ysbreeker. First opened in 1702, the pub has been updated with stylish industrial spotlights, ironwork and a long marble bar. Fancy drinkers tuck away in elegant booths, while a small canal-side terrace is all about sipping rosé and watching riverboats glide by.

Patrons sitting outside on the rooftop bar at SkyLounge, Amsterdam, under a cloudy sky
On the rooftop of SkyLounge, the views are fabulous – and the people watching is even better © Sarah Coghill / Lonely Planet


Best rooftop bar

SkyLounge brings an elegant vibe and perhaps Amsterdam’s most breathtaking views. The rooftop bar offers a 360-degree panorama from atop a Centraal Station hotel. During the summer, the outdoor SkyTerrace bucks the city’s usual low-key attitude with bubbles, uptempo DJ beats and some of the fanciest-dressed folks in town.

Door 74

Best speakeasy

Door 74 is a Prohibition-style speakeasy where pretentious vibes get checked at the (unmarked) door. In an art deco ambiance, young, gung-ho bartenders stir new spins on classic cocktails using antique barware. Secure a seat with a text or WhatsApp to the reservation number (same-day reservations only). To enter, find the seemingly empty, vine-covered shopfront and ring the bell.

Tales & Spirits

Take a seat inside this atmospheric multi-story house bar in Amsterdam and prepare for a taste of something entirely new. Tales & Spirits creates daring cocktails from labor-intensive house infusions, syrups and vinegar-based shrubs, then serves them in vintage and one-of-a-kind glasses.

A woman with crossed arms sat over a Café de Ceuvel cheese board with a pint of partially-drunk lager on the wooden table
Good beer and locally-sourced food combine at Café de Ceuvel © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet

Café de Ceuvel

Transformed from a former shipyard, Café de Ceuvel is an outdoor watering hole with a spirited vibe and a well-executed sustainability concept. Built from recycled, tiki-like materials, the bar serves local craft beers and homemade soda, drawing in stylish crowds for indie-music concerts, fermentation workshops and other creative-class happenings.

Rosalie’s Menagerie

A charming cocktail bar with cozy tea-room feel, Rosalie’s Menagerie is a watering hole to curl up in. Brimming with eccentric knickknacks and baroque upholstery, the bar, named after the owner’s oma (grandma), lays the nostalgia and childhood dreaminess on wonderfully thick. The cocktails evoke Dutch heritage, too, thanks to ingredients like jenever and local herbs. 

Café de Dokter

Sized at just under 200 sq ft (18 sq meters), de Dokter is apparently Amsterdam’s smallest pub – with a charisma that is immeasurable. Run by the same family over six generations, the bar hasn’t changed much over the decades, from the flickering candles to scratchy jazz vinyl and just the right layer of dust across stained-glass windows and antique curios. Whiskey and gerookte runderworst (smoked beef sausage) are the house specialties.

Bottles of Dutch gin and a glass of yellow gin pictures on the bar at De Drie Fleschjes
Custom liqueurs are the specialty at the historic De Drie Fleschjes © Will Salter / Lonely Planet

De Drie Fleschjes

Dating back to 1650, the time-capsule pub “Three Little Bottles” specializes in liqueurs such as its signature almond-flavored bitterkoekje (Dutch macaroon) liqueur and jenever. The best seats in the house are by the bar, nestled next to all the shipbuilder-made barrels and a collection of kalkoentjie (small bottles with hand-painted portraits of former mayors) by the counter.

Wynand Fockink

On cold days, this tiny standing pub in an arcade is wonderful for a warm-up shot of jenever or liqueur – plus a snuggle-up to a perfect stranger. On the weekends, Wynand Fockink’s guides give 45-minute tours and tastings of the distillery, which dates back to 1679.

’t Smalle

Best bar in Jordaan

Located in a former jenever distillery dating back to 1786, Smalle is one of Amsterdam’s buzziest brown cafes. The canal-side terrace is a favorite for locals and travelers alike, who savor beer and bitterballen as the boats pass. During testy weather, the upstairs drinking den offers a comfy and sentimental ambiance.

Two pints of beer are illuminated by a candlelight during an evening at Brouwerij Troost
Brouwerij Troost is the best brewery bar in Amsterdam - they also distill their own gin © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet

Brouwerij Troost Westergas

Best brewery bar

Westergasfabriek, a glorious industrial gasworks complex–turned–cultural and industrial park, can’t be missed in Amsterdam – and while you’re here, Brouwerij Troost Westergas can’t be missed, either. The craft brewery makes great light beers and also uses the tanks to distill its own gin. A casual, cool vibe includes live jazz on Wednesdays and lots of young locals just about every night.

Brouwerij de Prael

Best bar in the Red Light District

At this somewhat hidden taproom in the Red Light District, you can imbibe organic beers for a good cause: the De Prael brewery next door was founded by two ps nychiatric nurses and employs people with a history of mental illness. Comfy couches, big wooden tables and live music make the multi-level pub a good spot to chill out in an otherwise chaotic part of town.

t’ Arendsnest

Best bar for beer

At this bespoke bruin café, you can taste-test Dutch beers to your heart’s desire. As you perch on one of the high barstools, try not to get dizzy choosing from more than 100 varieties (including many from small breweries), about half of which rotate on tap.


The Volkshotel’s seventh-floor bar promises a laid-back mood plus lovely views of Amsterdam. A favorite among Amsterdam’s digital nomads and the tech scene, the bar offers a cool, friendly crowd on most nights. On Sundays in winter, non-hotel guests can inquire about hitting the rooftop hot tubs.

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