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You’re never far away from a good bar or pub in Amsterdam. Each 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 Amsterdam, there are several spots around the city that merit special consideration due to their excellent menus, stunning locations and unrivalled ambience.
This popular canal-side bar lies underneath a gigantic, spiral-shape, multi-storey car park that resembles two towering, striped barrels. The bar looks out over the Singelgracht 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 lights that cast a dazzling reflection onto the canal, creating a 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.
There are around 20 different coin-op arcade machines at TonTon Club West, ranging from classics Time Crisis 3 and Sega Rally to more contemporary party games such as Pac-Man Battle Royale and Bishi Bashi. Almost every machine in the arcade features peripheral controls, including light guns, steering wheels and even full-size taiko drums. TonTon Club West mainly caters to grown-ups and centres on a well-stocked bar that serves beer, cocktails and boozy milkshakes. TonTon Club also has a whole host of board games that patrons can play in the lounge or outside on the expansive terrace.
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 hang-outs 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 and NEMO.
Even though it is just short distance 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-size 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 at a nearby warehouse.
It is possible to cram in some additional sightseeing while enjoying tasty local craft beers at this independent brewery in Amsterdam-Oost due to its proximity to the tallest windmill in the city, De Gooyer. 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 scene that wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard. The brewery 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.
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 offers 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 scotch whisky tasting sessions, where participants get to learn about the history of distilling while sampling the famous tipple.
This multi-tier, disc-shape café lies in the centre of Vondelpark and features an enormous, two-storey terrace that ranks among the largest buildings 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.
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, the 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, De Pilsener Club displays its selection of beers, spirits and snacks on chalkboards at the back of its lounge and encourages customers to order from their table.
Lily Niu contributed additional reporting to this article.