Whether you’re after electro beats, a live rock band, an intimate jazz show or something more obscure, Amsterdam is ready to party every night of the week. Read on for a brief introduction to the basics of going out in Amsterdam.
During the week, bars and cafés in the centre of Amsterdam can stay open until 01:00 and until 03:00 at the weekend, but in practice some close their doors a bit earlier. In general, dance clubs can stay open until 03:00 during the week and 04:00 at the weekend. In Amsterdam, you’ll also find a special classification of bars called ‘nachtcafés’ (night cafés). These bars are allowed to stay open until 04:00 during the week and 05:00 at the weekend. These times are just general guidelines – if you’re planning to stay out late, double-check the website of the bar or club you plan to visit.
In general, Amsterdam’s bar and club scene is quite casual. Jeans and trainers are fine at the majority of clubs, as long as you look tidy, respectable and (mostly) sober. Ripped jeans and baseball caps might get you turned away, as will arriving in big groups – especially if the group is mostly men. Only a few clubs enforce strict dress codes – most notably Jimmy Woo and Escape (requirements vary depending on the party organisers). You will have to be at least 18 years old to enter most clubs, while some locations (or specific events) have an over-21s policy.
There are still some clubs where you can get in for free, but the majority require you to pay at the door. Fees can range from €5 to upwards of €20 for the most exclusive clubs. Some clubs offer a reduced fee if you arrive before 23:00 or midnight. For live shows (especially at the Melkweg or Paradiso), it's a good idea to arrange tickets in advance. Don’t be surprised if you are required to pay an additional fee for‘lidmaatschap’ (membership) – generally about €4. The lidmaatschap can be paid in advance or at the door, and is valid at the concert venue for one calendar month.
Many of Amsterdam's most popular clubs are located around the outskirts of the city, but nightlife in central Amsterdam is largely clustered in two major areas: the Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. Both offer a variety of venues, including dance clubs, bars and casual clubs popular with local students. The Leidseplein offers a greater variety of live music venues, plus a cluster of cosy Irish pubs. For major stadium-sized concerts, Amsterdam’s three biggest venues – the Ziggo Dome, Johan Cruijff ArenA and AFAS Live are all located in Amsterdam Zuidoost. There are also a range of clubs in other areas of the city: check out our club listings for a selection of these. Gay and lesbian bars and clubs are located throughout the city, but you’ll find the most options near the Reguliersdwarsstraat and Warmoesstraat.