The best bars in Amsterdam

From cool cocktail bars and canal-side outdoor terraces to electro-fuelled dance floors, these are the best places to drink in Amsterdam, handpicked by a local

Words by Andrea Hak
Last updated: June 27, 2024
The best bars in Amsterdam | A corner booth with brown leather and a lamp on the table at Door 74

The not-so-secret secret Amsterdammers will tell you about their city is that the best bars in Amsterdam are not in the red light district. Venture beyond the neon glare and discover the best bars frequented by locals, from a waterfront car park turned all-day hangout, to live music venues and discreet speakeasies serving inventive cocktails. Discover all that this multicultural city has to offer, one drink at a time – and continue your night at one of the city’s recommended restaurants.

The best bars in Amsterdam | A dark wooded curved bar has lamps and fans above.
Door74 is arguably Amsterdam's best cocktail bar



Best for: Discerning cocktails and speakeasy setting, central location
Location: Reguliersdwarsstraat 74, 1017 BN Amsterdam, in the city centre (walking distance from Rembrandtplein)
Price: Cocktails from 13 EUR / 13.80 USD

Door74 is arguably the best cocktail bar in Amsterdam. Appropriately located near Amsterdam’s 1920s-era Tushinski Cinema, this hidden speakeasy features a dark art deco interior that makes you feel as if you’ve just stepped into the Prohibition era. A seasonal cocktail menu and cocktail of the day ensures there’s always something new to try. The ‘writer’s breakfast’ (a potent mix of Writer’s Tears Irish whisky, cold brew coffee, ginger, cinnamon and apple syrup, and absinth and raspberry foam), as well as the ‘pharmacist’s prescription’ (a blend of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, Amer Picon, Yakult, red wine syrup, and lemon sure to cure any ailment) are just a few of their intriguing creations. This cocktail bar is right in the centre of the city, between the bustling Rembrandtplein and Regulierstraat – the centre of Amsterdam’s LGBTQ+ scene. One tip: make reservations in advance as tables can fill up quickly.

The best bars in Amsterdam | Cafe Brecht has various pattered chairs with a yellow and wallpaper background.
Find a cosy corner at Cafe Brecht

Cafe Brecht

Best for: Cosy living room feel for drinks and boardgames on a rainy day
Location: Weteringschans 157, 1017 SE Amsterdam in the city centre (walking distance from the Rijksmuseum)
Price: Beers from 2.50 EUR / 2.65 USD

If you’re looking for a chilled out atmosphere, Cafe Brecht is the bar for you. Modelled on Berlin’s wohnzimmerbars, this cool, cosy little cafe is like sitting in your grandma’s retro living room, with an eclectic mix of vintage armchairs, sofas and wallpaper. But this isn’t just a style choice – it’s part of the bar’s ethos. All of Cafe Brecht’s furniture and cutlery is secondhand, its cleaning products are sustainable, and its produce is sourced from small-scale, organic producers. It has a wide range of German and Dutch beers and ciders, alongside snacks like pretzels and cheese. It is within walking distance of the Rijksmuseum, making it a great spot to unwind with a beer and boardgames after a day among the exhibits. When the sun shines, opt for drinks on the outdoor terrace.

The best bars in Amsterdam | People sit around tables outside under string lights and red canopies.
Hannekes Boom is a lively outdoor terrace near Centraal station


Hannekes Boom

Best for: Sunny summer days on the huge canal-side terrace
Location: Dijksgracht 4, 1019 BS Amsterdam, Netherlands in the city centre (walking distance from Central Station)
Price: Beers from 3.30 EUR / 3.50 USD; cocktails from 8.50 EUR / 9.02 USD

What many visitors don’t know is that one of the best bars in Amsterdam happens to be a ten-minute walk from Centraal station. While Hannekes Boom is an all weather venue, it really shines in the summer, when locals and expats alike sun themselves with a cold Dutch beer on the canal-side terrace. The picnic tables make it a great place to bring a large group of friends or meet locals. There’s a wide range of drinks, meals and snacks on the menu, but perhaps the most popular choice is pitchers of beer starting at 19.50 EUR. This funky outdoor bar is located right on the water, with views of the iconic copper-green Nemo Science Museum. Amsterdammers often drive their boat right up to the bar’s dock.

The best bars in Amsterdam | the atmospheric Brouwerij 't Ij
Brouwerij 't Ij is a must for beer aficionados

Brouwerij ‘t Ij

Best for: Beer lovers, outdoor terrace
Location: Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam, Netherlands in Plantage (next to an old school windmill)
Price: Beers from 3 EUR / 3.18 USD

For beer lovers, Brouwerij ‘t Ij is a must. The brewery was founded in 1985 by a Dutch musician with a fondness for Belgium beers. Alongside the regular and seasonal craft beers, the brewers here often produce experimental recipes that push boundaries and express their passion for the craft. They recently celebrated their 80th beer with the Spiced Triple, a nod to their original Zatte beer that was brewed in a squat in 1985. The brewery is housed in an old converted bathhouse with the iconic De Gooyer windmill overlooking its outdoor terrace, making the setting as much a draw as the Dutch beers.

The best bars in Amsterdam | An intersection of the streets shows people gathered outside on bikes and a tree hugging the side of the building.
Bar Bukowski

Bar Bukowski

Best for: Partying with locals
Location: Oosterpark 10, 1092 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands in Oost (located on Oosterpark and walking distance from the TropenMuseum)
Price: Beers from 2.30 EUR / 2.44 USD; cocktails from 9.95 EUR / 10.56 USD

If you ask a local where to drink in Amsterdam, they will undoubtedly cite Bar Bukowski as one of the best bars in the city. This hidden gem is way off the tourists’ over beaten track in Amsterdam Oost. The venue’s brightly lit bar draws you in like a moth to a flame and doesn’t disappoint. German-American poet Charles Bukowski, the bar’s namesake, once said, ‘there is always a reason to drink’, and Bar Bukowski certainly lives up to this promise, with a wide array of Dutch beers and excellent cocktails to choose from. Being outside the city centre, it also offers great food options at lower prices, and serves an excellent brunch. Nearby points of interest include Oosterpark and the Tropenmuseum.

The best bars in Amsterdam | revellers at Waterkant, a canal-side bar
Waterkant is a destination bar for canal-side drinks



Best for: Summer days on the canal and dancing into the night
Location: Marnixstraat 246, 1016 TL Amsterdam, Netherlands, in the city centre
Price: Beers from 3.50 EUR / 3.71 USD Cocktails from 9.50 EUR / 10.08 USD

Who knew a carpark would be one of the best places for dancing, drinking, and sunbathing along Amsterdam’s canals? Another summertime favourite, Waterkant is hidden in the city centre behind a petrol station. The large space offers outdoor seating with waterside views and much like Hannekes, locals often dock their boats right alongside the bar to join the party. The menu features a wide range of local Dutch beers, cocktails, and Surinamese dishes, and there are club nights every Friday and Saturday with guest DJs providing live music. Waterkant is a great supporter of inclusivity: in 2022, the bar teamed up with the Queer Migrants Film Festival, the House of Arts, and Bar Pamela to curate a programme for Amsterdam’s Pride celebrations, and displayed the largest Pride flag in the world across its cylindrical facade.

The best bars in Amsterdam | A crowd of people dance in front of a stage with red lights on them.
OT301 is a music venue, bar, and restaurant


Best for: Discussions on art, politics and culture over a cold Dutch beer
Location: Overtoom 301, 1054 HW Amsterdam, Netherlands in Vondelbuurt (walking distance from Vondelpark)
Price: Beers from 3 EUR / 3.18 USD

OT301 is a cultural complex incorporating art and film studios, an expansive music venue, bar, and restaurant all in one. The project started out as a squat in 1999, before its members formed a nonprofit association to support the local art community and encourage public discussion on cultural, political and social issues. Visit the studios and art galleries upstairs, get involved in a workshop in anything from painting to Bollywood dancing, watch a documentary and talk with the director in the screening room, watch live music or dance to electronic music downstairs. De Peper, the building’s bio-organic vegan kitchen, is run by volunteers, and has a great selection of beers, all at low prices to keep the venue as accessible as possible.

The best bars in Amsterdam | The outdoor Soundgarden entrance leads to a deck with chairs and an umbrella looking over the canal.


Best for: Rock lovers
Location: Marnixstraat 164-166, 1016 TG Amsterdam, Netherlands in Amsterdam City Center
Price: Beers from 3 EUR / 3.18 USD

If your soul was made for dive bars, cheap beer, and rock and roll, Soundgarden is the best bar in Amsterdam for you. While most nightlife worships at the electronic music altar, Soundgarden is one of few places that has maintained its 90s punk rock roots. The name is not only a salute to the grunge band, but also a reference to the large canal-side garden out back with outdoor seating, which you can enjoy in good weather. Come here for live performances from local punk rock bands on the weekends or a game of pool on a chill weekday.

The best bars in Amsterdam | Greenery growing from a wooden plant box.
Cafe de Ceuvel


Cafe de Ceuvel

Best for: Sustainable urban design at its best
Location: Korte Papaverweg 4, 1032 KB Amsterdam, Netherlands in Noord
Price: Beers from 3 EUR / 3.18 USD; cocktails from 7.50 EUR / 7.96 USD

The biggest mistake most tourists make is not hitting up Amsterdam’s hip, industrial Noord neighbourhood. If you’re ready to venture across the Ij, add Cafe de Ceuvel to your must-visit list. De Ceuvel is a sustainable urban design project in a former shipyard. Walk along the twisting wooden planks to discover how architects redesigned the collection of house boats with innovative, energy efficient ideas. The house boats are now used as workspaces for creative and social enterprises, except for the one that hosts this cafe, zero-waste restaurant and event space. While you’re there, try a Gulpener Dutch beer, made by one of the last independently-owned breweries in the Netherlands, or Tres Hombres rum, which is shipped from the Caribbean every year by a 32-metre-long sailboat.

The best bars in Amsterdam | the lively exterior at Tolbar, bathed in warm light
Tolbar is a bar, restaurant and creative space in De Pijp

De Pijp


Best for: Live alternative and indie music
Location: Tolstraat 182, 1074VM Amsterdam in de Pijp
Price: Beers from 3 EUR / 3.18 USD

Located in the affluent De Pijp neighbourhood, Tolbar is first and foremost a cultural house with workspaces for creative entrepreneurs and musicians. There is a cinema showing indie films, and a stage where you can find an eclectic range of live performances every week, from post punk to funk. The cafe on the ground floor is also an exhibition space that regularly hosts art expos and literary talks. Tolbar resists the rising prices across the neighbourhood and keeps costs low with affordable local Dutch beers and a menu of vegetarian and vegan dishes for breakfast and brunch until late. Check out the venue’s large terrace in the summer for outdoor drinks.