Amsterdam Pub Guide
Best Pubs In Amsterdam

These notes come from the guide website 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 Brouwerj 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 artists.

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 cafes.

Cafe De Prins (Prinsengracht 124, tel 020-6249382)
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.



Cafe 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.



Café Belgique

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 eight-plus rotating drafts.


Cafe l'Small

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, tel 020-6266645)
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.

Amsterdam 'proeverijen' (tasting houses)

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 restaurant.

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 Basics

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.

Opening Hours
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 weekend.

Smoking Ban
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, though.