You’re never far away from a good bar or pub in Amsterdam. Every neighbourhood in the city features more than its fair share of cosy, fun and bustling watering holes. While it is easy enough to find somewhere to drink in the city, there are several spots around Amsterdam that merit special consideration due to their excellent menus, stunning locations or unrivalled ambiances.
TonTon Club West
Restaurant, Ramen, Japanese, $$$
© Thom van Boheemen / TonTon Club
There are around 20 different coin-op arcade machines located inside TonTon Club West, ranging from vintage classics like Time Crisis III or Sega Rally to more contemporary party games such as Pacman Battle Royale and Bishi Bashi. Almost every machine in the arcade features peripheral controls, including light-guns, steering wheels and even full-sized taiko drums. Though it resembles something from childhood memories, TonTon Club West mainly caters to grown-ups and centres around a well-stocked bar that serves beer, cocktails and boozey milkshakes. TonTon Club also owns a whole host of board games that patrons can play in its lounge area or outside on its expansive terrace.
Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Even though it is only around a kilometre away from Centraal Station
, Roest seems worlds apart from other bars and the hustle and bustle of the city centre. As it is located in a labyrinthine industrial estate, the bar is almost impossible to find without directions, which creates an air of secrecy that certainly adds to its appeal. Furthermore, Roest has an enormous terrace, with an adult-sized jungle gym and an artificial beach that edges onto a canal. The bar serves food and drink throughout the day and is among the few places in Amsterdam that stocks Berlin’s favourite soft drink, Club Mate
. Roest also organises gigs, festivals, and performances throughout the month and often hosts events inside a nearby warehouse.
Bar, Restaurant, European, $$$
Canvas' rooftop terrace | © Raymond van Mill / Volkshotel
This sky-high bar, restaurant and night club stands on the eastern side of the river Amstel, and offers guests panoramic views across the entire city. Thanks to its massive, plate-glass windows there are many vantage points inside the venue that look out over Amsterdam. Alternatively, guests can venture out onto Canvas’ rooftop terrace and experience the city’s skyline in the open air. During weekends, Canvas hosts club nights after 23.00, which take place inside its spectacular bar area.
Bar, Restaurant, South American, $$$
This popular canal-side bar lies underneath a gigantic, spiral-shaped, multi-storey car park that resembles two towering, striped barrels. The bar looks out over Singelgracht canal and is surrounded by a long, spacious terrace – complete with wooden picnic tables – that draws in large crowds over summer. At night, this stunning locale is illuminated by multi-coloured lights that cast a dazzling reflection onto the canal, creating an almost festival-like vibe. Waterkant stocks many local brews, including beers from Gebrouwen door Vrouwen and Brouwerij ’t IJ. It also serves Heineken by the pitcher.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, European, $$$
Bar Oldenhof is a speak-easy-style bar in central Amsterdam | © Bar Oldenhof
To enter this high-end, speakeasy-style bar, patrons must ring an unmarked doorbell then wait for a server to greet and seat them. Though Bar Oldenhof serves all manners of drinks, it is famed for its superbly-crafted cocktails and extensive selection of premium spirits, including whiskies, jenevers and rums. The bar itself looks absolutely stunning and features two elegantly decorated levels furnished in dark woods and velvet. Bar Oldenhof regularly hosts whisky tasting sessions, where participants get to learn about the history of distilling while sampling famous Scottish tipple.
Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Hanneks Boom looks like a beachside bar (even though it is located in central Amsterdam) | © Hannekes Boom
This beach hut-style bar is almost completely surrounded by water and looks as though it was built entirely out of driftwood (in a good way). Due to its incredible location and stunning waterside terraces, Hannekes Boom attracts a lot of footfall during the warmer months of the year and easily ranks among the most popular summer hangouts in the city centre. Although it is quite difficult to spot, the bar is within walking distance from Centraal Station and accessible via a scenic waterside footpath that trails past Amsterdam Central Library
, Sea Palace
The Pilsner Club
Pub, European, $$$
This down-to-earth pub has plenty to offer anyone searching for a peaceful spot to enjoy an afternoon beer in central Amsterdam. Even though it is located right next to the busiest shopping street in the city, Kalverstraat, it usually remains relatively quiet compared to other nearby watering holes and has a distinctive, old-time charm that’s difficult to find elsewhere in the centre of town. Rather than handing out menus, the Pilsner Club displays its selection of beers, spirits and snacks on chalkboards at the back of its lounge and lets customers order from their tables.
’t Blauwe Theehuis
Bar, Tea Room, European, $$$
This multi-tiered, disc-shaped café lies in the centre of Vondelpark and features an enormous, two-storey terrace that ranks among the largest facilities of its kind in Europe. The café was completed in the 1930s and was designed according to ideas drawn from Nieuwe Zakelijkheid – a school of pragmatic, modernist architecture that emerged in the Netherlands during the early 20th century. Due to its expansive outdoor seating area (that overlooks the most popular park in the city), ’t Blauwe Theehuis becomes particularly popular during sunny spells. Thankfully, the café can accommodate around 700 people and features two separate bars.
Brouwerij 't IJ
It is possible to cram in some additional sightseeing while enjoying tasty local craft beers at this independent brewery
due to its proximity to the tallest windmill in the city
, de Gooier. This mammoth machine serves as the brewery’s unofficial mascot and stands proudly above Brouwerij ’t IJ’s charming, canal-side beer garden, creating a picture-perfect scene that wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard. The brewery itself has been in business for over 30 years and was among the first craft ventures to launch in the city. All of Brouwerij ’t IJ’s signature beers are available on draft inside its taproom and can be enjoyed alongside a small selection of traditional Dutch pub food.
Bar, European, $$$
A blackboard in Arendsnest showing the bar's current stock | © Proeflokaal Arendsnest
Amid the many specialist craft beer bars in Amsterdam, Proeflokaal Arendsnest holds the distinction of being the only spot in the city that exclusively stocks Dutch brews
. As it turns out, there are over 400 breweries
located in the Netherlands – which makes it easy enough for Arendsnest to keep its bar stocked with an expansive range of craft beers. Like other old-school pubs in Amsterdam, Arendsnest features brown, wooden decor and displays its current beer selection on chalkboards spread around its bar. Though its bar area may appear small on first inspection, Arendsnest has additional seating downstairs in its lounge and even more space outside on its canal-side terrace.