Café de Sluyswacht
Café de Sluyswacht is in the historic Sluyswachterhuisje (little lockhouse): an adorably wonky building dating on Jodenbreestraat dating back to 1695. Once upon a time, it was the lockmaster’s house. Later, it became a hardware shop, and for the last twenty years, it has been a café. As you’d expect, inside there is the original stone floor, wooden benches and panelling, a ceiling with beams and shuttered windows. This really is a taste of age-old Amsterdam.
By day, Café Nol looks just like another brown café in the Jordaan– a neighbourhood with many bars and cafes to choose from. But as the sun drops, Nol comes to life in all its neon-lit glory. Indoors, the mirrored walls, chandeliers, swathes of red carpet and garish curtains attract a mixed crowd of older patrons who grew up in the neighbourhood, and youngsters, all sharing a passion for the sing-a-long Amsterdam folk songs that echo out onto the street.
De Drie Fleschjes
Bootz distiller established De Drie Fleschjes at the base of the Nieuwe Kerk in around 1650, making it the oldest tasting room in the city. A wall of casks showcases signature blends; the display of flagons (little bottles) with portraits of Amsterdam’s mayors is worth a peek. Slurp jenever from a tulip-shaped glass, or go for one of the 35 different liqueurs and brandies. What’s more, is that with an I amsterdam City Card, you can get a free shot of jenever.
Check out this guide to the best spots to try jenever in Amsterdam.
This traditional Dutch pub on the Herengracht is the place to get acquainted with home-brewed tipples. Serving only Dutch beers from more than 50 breweries in the Netherlands plus more than 100 bottled beers, the pub is the ideal place to learn all about local beer. If you wish to taste your way around the Netherlands in one sitting then the basement proeflokaal (tasting room) is the perfect place and regularly hosts beer tasting events for groups.
Café Chris opened its doors in 1624 as a beer house, and as such is the oldest café in the Jordaan. Locals pop in for a game of billiards or a kopstootje aan de bar (that’s a jenever slurped hands-free at the bar with a beer on the side). The story goes that builders working on the nearby Westertoren came to collect their pay in the café. Unique to the interior: lack of space meant the toilet cistern was placed outside of the toilet area.
Anyone who fancies Belgian beer in a friendly atmosphere needs to check out Café De Oranjerie. This brown café in a side street off the Haarlemmerdijk serves speciality beers that everyone from old men to trendy students come from far and wide to seek out. The interior space is full of art deco details, has a high ceiling and a wall covered in theatre posters. You’ll also find a corner for Scrabble and other board games for some good old-fashioned Dutch sociability.
This modern brown cafe is a favoured neighbourhood haunt in De Pijp. The sprawling terrace pulls in a great mix of young people, students and well-seasoned locals and comes alive in the late-afternoon sun. On the vast menu you’ll find a great range of reasonably priced beers along with borrel snacks, bistro fare and pub classics.
Once upon a time, Het Molenpad was a good old-fashioned brown bar with sticky floors and tobacco-stained ceilings. Since then, it’s been given something of a facelift, with a fabulous terrace directly on the Prinsengracht, modern black decor, a granite bar and the gigantic letters M and P on the wall. Luckily you can still order the perfect draught beer, a first-class steak and a real taste of the true Amsterdam here.
Café Kuijper is a neighbourhood standard that locals can’t get enough of. It's both a pleasant place for lunch in the afternoon and drinks in the evening. If you’re searching for something to do on an otherwise subdued Tuesday evening, head over to Kuijper to join in with their lively pub quiz – if you win, they’ll pick up your tab.
Café Slijterij Oosterling
This traditional brown cafe has been in the hands of the Oosterling family since 1877. The building itself dates back to 1735 when it was owned by the East India Company and inside, the tiled floors and old-timey furnishings make it feel as if time has stood still. Prop up at the bar for a beer and some bar snacks as you ask the bartenders to verify the rumours about the premises being haunted.
Café ‘t Mandje
In 1927, the pub at 63 Zeedijk was bought by Bet van Beeren, a working-class woman from the Jordaan who was openly lesbian. Bet named the premises ‘t Mandje(the little basket) and transformed it into a safe space for lesbian and gay people of the time - despite the fact that back then, being homosexual was considered a criminal offence. This brown bar kitted out in eclectic memorabilia from decades gone by still maintains Bet’s ethos of fun and respect.
Find out more about Amsterdam’s LGBTQ+ history with this themed walking route.
Café ‘t Sluisje
This quaint old brown café in dates back more than 100 years. Sit down to a wonderfully simple lunch or dinner, beers and nibbles, or tea and cake, with a stunning view over the Nieuwendammerhaven. The terrace is situated so that the sun hits it at every hour of the day, making it the perfect scenic pitstop during a cycling trip through Amsterdam Noord.