Amsterdam doesn’t just do a night out, it practically lives for one. With countless backpackers, student travelers and party-hungry weekenders to add to the laidback locals, the city’s rarely anything less than bouncing after dark.
For most people, though, when the words Amsterdam and nightlife are mentioned, a couple of things immediately spring to mind. But drugs and prostitution won’t infringe on your stay in the city any more than you want them to.
The Red Light District is an integral part of the fabric of this intriguingly liberal city. A largely pedestrianized, unthreatening area in the center of Amsterdam (roughly between Centraal Station and Dam Square), its brightly lit streets are well worth exploring for the vibe and a bar or two.
Beyond the Red Light District, Amsterdam has a nightlife that crackles with activity. Much of the action centers around two of its main squares, which offer a variety of chic wine bars, laidback bars, lounges and clubs.
Leidseplein is the heart of the city’s nightlife and the streets around Leissedwarstraat spill over with revelers. Trendier places lie across town (to the north) in the Jordaan and the Rembrandtsplein, which is also home to much of Amsterdam’s gay nightlife.
Going out in Amsterdam can be a grueling, 24-hour experience: Many of the smaller pubs, bars and coffee shops are open from midday and its enormous fondness for the ‘Happy Hour’ (another defining aspect of the city’s nightlife) demands endurance.
The city doesn’t really build up a head of steam until after midnight, and clubs typically stay open until around six in the morning. If you’ve followed the Amsterdam travelers’ routine of bar-coffee shop-bar-coffee shop, though, the whole thing might just pass you by in a hazy fug!
From traditional ale houses to hip little bars, as well as a host of outrageously avant-garde clubs, Amsterdam’s nightlife certainly offers variety – especially for a relactively small city. And when all’s said and done, there are few other places that can match its sheer laidback, ‘anything goes’ spirit.