|These notes come from the
guide website amsterdam-advisor.com and are given a big tick by
Brent who has lived in Amsterdam and enjoyed the magnificent cafe
and pub society. Many of the places mentioned here he recalls.
This Amsterdam pub guide
provides tips and lists the best pubs in Amsterdam for you to try.
The first thing you have to know is that the Dutch word for pub is
'café', and for the Dutch sums up everything ranging from rowdy
joints for late-night drunkenness to posh designer places used by
yuppies for business lunches.
I've limited myself in this
Amsterdam pub guide to places that come closest to what most people
call a pub: the Amsterdam brown cafes, beer cafes and 'proeverijen'.
See our other page for other
Amsterdam cafes or scroll down for some pub basics.
Amsterdam stands as the Heineken
headquarters, but look beyond the over-saturated advertising and you’ll find
a crop of small city brewers offering a great variety of tasty and cheap
beers as an alternative.
Walk from 'Centraal Station' and look
for the big De Gooier windmill and you’ll find the beloved
t’IJ next door, a classic small brew-pub rife with aficionados. T’IJ
packs in daily throngs of visitors into their large U-shaped bar and giant
picnic table seating area inside, which projects a smoky, quaint and fun
atmosphere. It’s all about the beer, of which they offer a dozen varieties
for around two to three euros each—cheap enough to sample many without
worrying about your budget.
Cafe de Sluyswacht (Jodenbreestraat
1, tel 020-6257611)
Built in 1695 as house for the lockkeeper, this magnificent little
black building is heavily leaning over. The terrace is one of the
nicest in town, offering a great look over the Oude Schans and the
Montelbaans Tower. It also serves snacks and salads. All in all, a
top choice for any Amsterdam pub guide.
Café Hoppe (Spui
18-20, tel 020-4204420)
Dating back to 1670, this is one of the most popular cafes of the
Spui square. Besides students, the cafe also draws yuppies. Next to
beers, the cafe is also well supplied with jenever brands. Café
Luxembourg, next door to Hoppe, is also recommended.
Café Nol (Westerstraat
109, tel 020-6245380)
This folksy Amsterdam café is one of those places where the locals
will either look you away, or buy you a beer and start singing an
Amsterdam schlager. An interesting place if you want to look into
the psyche of the Amsterdam commoners. Every Thursday evening,
there's live music.
Lokaal 't Loosje (Nieuwmarkt
32-34, tel 020-6272635)
This 200 year old cafe, located at the border of the Red Light
District, is a former tram house. It has an extensive choice of
beers. Especially students visit this café. The small terrace at the
front offers a great look over the Nieuwmarkt square, where there's
a market every day.
Anno 1890 (Amstelveenseweg
1124, tel 020-6445906)
Though located in the deep south of Amsterdam, far from the tourist
centers, this café nevertheless belongs in this Amsterdam pub guide
since it's been receiving prices of the best Amsterdam café for many
years. And this 'party café' (that's open from 6.30am (!) to far
after midnight) is the place to see some typical folksy Amsterdam
Cafe De Sluyswacht (Jodenbreestraat
1, tel 020-6257611)
This wonderful little café dates from 1695,
when it was built as a lockkeeper's house.
It's almost scary to enter as the black
building is leaning over, but the
construction has been fortified. The
terrace, overlooking the water and the
Montelbaans Tower, is one of Amsterdam's the
most pleasant. One of our favourite Amsterdam
Cafe De Prins (Prinsengracht 124,
Located on one of the most beautiful parts
of the Prinsengracht, close to the Anne
Frank House and the Westerkerk, this café is
popular with students because of it's
atmosphere and excellent choice of foods.
It's terrace is overlooking the canal.
De Bekeerde Suster (Kloveniersburgwal
6-8, tel 020-4230112)
This cafe used to be a 16th-century
monastery. The interior is historic, with
beautiful yellow and dark brown wood work.
Don't forget to take a look at the wall
paintings. Besides good beers, it serves a
quite wide choice of meals too.
Kalkhoven, an Amsterdam Classic
Café Kalkhoven is one of the oldest cafes in Amsterdam. The place
opened in 1670. Many items in the bar are still authentic,
especially the barrels behind the bar.
Fifty plus Belgian beers, yes
this is Amsterdam and the Dutch love their Belgian beers. The tiny,
dark interior is bedecked in bottles and beer placards, and offers
the intimate embrace of claustrophobia so inherent to the tightly
packed city -- they even somehow manage to squeeze regular live
bands into the two-tables-and-a-bar space. It’s super-central, and
by nightfall, locals of all stripes are squeezed in elbow-to-elbow,
quaffing Kwaks (served in long-necked bulb glasses with cool wooden
holders), cherry-flavored Kriek, or something from the huge
50-strong list of Belgian bottles that back up the
The kitchen serves classic
café fare, like fried snacks and Dutch pancakes. Besides a great
range of beer they have some serious credentials as a wine bar.
Snatch a seat here in the summer to watch the local festivals roll
by - try a terrace table.
Amsterdam Beer Cafes
In De Wildeman (Kolksteeg
3, tel 020-6382348)
One of Amsterdam's leading beer cafes that draws both many regular
customers and beer enthusiasts from the Netherlands and abroad. It's
also serves many brands of jenever. There's no music, making it a
quiet place in a noisy part of town.
Gollem (Raamsteeg 4,
Opening doors in 1974, this grandfather of Amsterdam beer cafes has
around 200 brands of beer. It's a small place near the Spui square
filled to the brim with beer paraphernalia. Drinking some of their
beers means subsidizing the catholic monasteries that brew them,
isn't that nice…
Café De Pels (Huidenstraat
25, tel 020-6229037)
Located in the Nine Streets area in the folksy Jordaan neighborhood,
this cafe is a shabby place, but that's exactly its biggest charm.
It draws a mixed crowd from journalists, students and other creative
locals. It's Sunday morning breakfast is much valued by the locals.
An Amsterdam pub guide would
not be complete without mentioning the 'proeverijen', also called 'proeflokalen'
(literally: tasting houses). These are pubs run by, or associated
to, distilleries. This practice dates from past centuries, when many
breweries operated locally only. Often, they're terrific places with
a lot of history and a wide choice in beverages.
De Admiraal (Herengracht
319, tel 020-6254334)
The biggest (and one of the most beautiful) of all Amsterdam tasting
houses is connected to the Van Wees distillery. Besides some 16
jenevers and 60 liquors, all of their own making, it's also a
De Drie Fleschjes (Gravenstraat
18, tel 020-6248443)
The oldest tasting house in Amsterdam (founded 1650) as connected
then to the Bootz distilling company. Specializes in jenevers (Dutch
gin) en sweet liquors. In it's long history, it's famous visitors
included (according to legend) the famous painter Rembrandt, naval
hero Michiel de Ruyter and world renowned philosopher Spinoza.
De Ooievaar (St.
Olofspoort 1, tel 020-4208004)
A wonderful small tasting house, founded 1782, offering liquors from
De Ooievaar distillery which is still located in the Amsterdam
Jordaan neighborhood. The building is leaning over but it was
actually constructed that way.
Some Amsterdam Pub Guide
Lager beer ('pils' or 'bier') is the staple in Amsterdam pubs. A 'fluitje'
is a small, thin glass while a 'vaasje' is a regular glass. Almost
everywhere, beer is served with a 2-inch head of froth. Asking 'no
head' will often be useless.
Most Amsterdam pubs only
serve one or a few brands of beer. Typically, this will be Heineken,
Grolsch, Amstel, Bavaria or Dommelsch, with a 'witbier' (white beer;
a turbid, crisp beer made with coriander and citrus) and/or another
Belgian beer thrown in (the Belgians have much more specialty beers
than the Dutch). 'Bokbier' is dark and sweet, and is served only in
the autumn. If you want to have a large choice, or drink specialty
beers, you'll have to go to the beer cafes (see further down in this
Amsterdam pub guide).
For the Dutch, a favourite liquor is 'jenever' (Dutch gin). There's 'jonge
jenever' (young gin), which tastes smoothly, and 'oude jenever',
which has a stronger taste. Some Dutchmen drink it with a small
spoon of sugar. Another typical Dutch drink is 'Beerenburg', a
strong-tasting herbal schnapps.
Hours of opening differ - some pubs serve breakfast and open at 9 or
10am while others open at noon or even the course of the afternoon -
but most are open until 12pm - 1am, and up to 3am during the
The recent smoking ban for pubs, cafes, bars, clubs etc. means that
you can only smoke in designated smoking rooms where staff is not
allowed in. Smaller pubs don't have them, so you have to step
outside then. It does tend to create a kind of bond between smokers,