Best terraces in Amsterdam city centre
The best place for people-watching is on the terrace of a café—and it’s even better when it’s located in the centre of Amsterdam, one of the liveliest parts of the city. With a refreshing drink, good company and a view of the crowd and the canals, relaxing on the terraces in Amsterdam Central is always a favourite summertime activity.
Cafe de Jaren
Featuring one of the most unique terraces in Amsterdam, Café de Jaren is a charming, deceptively large café in the heart of the city. Feel free to arrive for breakfast, lunch or dinner by boat—the café boasts its own jetty, making it a perfect stop for a bite to eat after sailing the canals. In the late evening, guests can nibble on bar snacks while the sun sets and the canals calm down.
Guests will eat well and do good at the Dignita Hoftuin: that’s part of its motto. The café, which features a secret garden terrace tucked behind Hermitage Amsterdam, serves locally-sourced, freshly made breakfast, brunch and lunch—and a socially responsible message, as all its profits go towards the Not For Sale organisation. Vegans and vegetarians are spoilt for choice at this café, but there is plenty on the menu for everyone.
Get transported to a tropical oasis at Waterkant, a canal-side café inspired by the Surinamese stylings of the capital Paramaribo—it’s got the cuisine to match, serving up specialties such as saoto soup and roti. More typical fare such as burgers and BBQ ribs are also on the menu, but there are always new surprises on the chalkboard. It’s first come, first served at Waterkant, where guests order at the bar and bring their food back to a table on the terrace—if there’s room!
Beachy vibes permeate the atmosphere of this unpretentious hangout, which features a rustic interior of reclaimed wood and artsy décor. With a large outdoor terrace and rooftop bar stocked with plenty of beer and wine as well as a regularly changing lunch and dinner menu, guests can enjoy the soothing sights of the waterways from morning until evening—that is, until the sun sets. Evenings bring regular live music and DJ nights to Hannekes Boom, making it both a daytime café and a night-time party spot.
On a square nestled between the canals is NeL, a café that the locals love. All ages are welcome at this family-friendly space, which epitomises the Dutch tradition of enjoying the sun with good company at a cosy café. Try the award-winning burgers—paired with a cold beer, of course—while the kids go off and play nearby. Head over on Monday evening, when the café hosts live jazz from Dutch and international musicians.
A grand view of the Amstel River makes Amstelhoeck a great location to admire the architecture, culture and atmosphere of Amsterdam—and with such a large terrace, it’s perfect for large groups. Guests can spend a few hours idly watching the boats sail by while enjoying lunch or just drinks with friends and family, or have an intimate dinner for two just before attending a performance at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, located just next door.
Make an escape from the city at Meneer Nieges, which, although still located in bustling Amsterdam Central, is a lowkey place for locals and tourists alike. The large terrace puts on a spectacular display of the IJ River, where visitors can chow down on an unexpectedly sophisticated lunch or dinner, including oysters, quinoa salads and lamb. It’s not all quiet time at Meneer Nieges, though—the café regularly holds special evening events to get guests dancing.
In the summertime, the dark-hued and dimly lit Lion Noir opens its doors to let the light in. Behind the restaurant, located in the heart of a busy nightlife scene, is a surprisingly picturesque and intimate terrace, featuring white linen-covered tables and a lush green garden. The French-inspired kitchen presents an elegant menu: oysters and caviar, cheese plates and Black Angus steak—all supplemented by duck liver or sweetbreads on request—are served for dinner, while sandwiches and salads are on the menu for lunch.
Cafe in de Waag
Dine at an iconic 15th-century building that looms over the popular Nieuwmarkt. Its imposing towers and grand façade create the perfect backdrop when sitting out on the terrace, where guests have a perfect view of the square. Enjoy breakfast or lunch during the busy weekday markets for prime people-watching; for special outings, reserve a table for high tea. After the markets close, the café’s three-course menu offers the opportunity for a leisurely dinner.
Café de Sluyswacht
Perched on a corner of Jodenbreestraat, just a stone’s throw from Rembrandt House, this former lockkeeper’s cottage is now the charmingly crooked Café de Sluyswacht, with its picturesque canalside terrace on the historic waterway. It’s a lovely place to sit on a summer evening with a beer and bitterballen, and when the sun goes down simply move indoors to the inviting pub which oozes old-world appeal with its stone floor, wooden benches and ceiling beams.
NEMO Roof Terrace
After filling your mind with science, fill your belly with a delicious sandwich, coffee or a snack at the museum restaurant and cafe—served with a view. Located on the roof of the NEMO Science Museum, this stunning terrace offers an unobstructed panorama of Amsterdam and a perfect place to relax with the kids after a few hours touring the museum. The rooftop lunch spot is also open for reservations for larger groups, along with a lunch package for adults and children.