Amsterdam is not only a museum- and canals city to be visited in daylight. First and foremost, it is known for an after-night experience one can give themselves. From opera and stand-up, through Irish pubs and restaurants, to wandering across the streets in the city center, there is so much to choose from before the sun comes up. I have gathered my favorite city attractions to make it easier and more convenient for you to spend a few Amsterdam nights of your dreams, no matter if you are staying here alone or with family/friends. I hope you will enjoy this time to the fullest and your first trip to Amsterdam will be even taken to the next level.
Here is a List of 9 Things You Can Do in Amsterdam at Night:
- Mezrab – Music And Storytelling From Around The World
- Amsterdam Comedy Scene
- Red Light District
- Chin Chin
- Irish Live Music
- Culture After Dark – Amsterdam Museum’s At Night
- 9 Streets
- Cafe De Dokter
1. Mezrab – Music and Storytelling From Around The World
A hive of buzzing curiosity – this is what Mezrab becomes every night. To me, this place is one of the most attractive venues in Amsterdam. Located at Veemkade 576, started by an Iranian – Sahend Sahebdivani, Mezrab is like a family-and-friends place, hosting theatre performance, dance events comedy nights and underground music.
‘Mezrab’ is a Persian word. Literally, it means ‘guitar pick’ – a tool that is used to help soundwaves rig out. Amsterdam’s Mezrab is a cultural center, with an exotic design, extremely cozy floor cushions and real-life stories told by professional and amateur storytellers.
Storytelling has been popular in the Netherlands around twenty years ago. And Mezrab is often called home to oral storytelling, gathering literature-loving people and promoting traditional forms of artistry. Besides, there’s amazing food made at home by Sahand’s mum. What I really like at Mezrab is that most of its guests are returning visitors. Most of Mezrab’s guests know each other and the atmosphere here is more like a family than a club.
I think that what makes Mezrab so unique and famous is Sahand’s approach – he believes that there is a physical relationship between the performer and the audience and also between all the members of the audience.
Most storytelling nights at Mezrab are held in English. However, there is one special event each month. In this particular evening, all possible parts of the world are represented, and all languages are welcome. If you want to deep dive in a truly multinational experience, Mezrab is your place to visit while in Amsterdam!
Mezrab is not only a cultural center with storytelling events though. If stand-up and comedians are not for you, you can always visit Mezrab to dance and enjoy world music from Europe (both Western and Eastern), the Middle East and South Africa. There are also live jazz sessions. All events are held in a casual atmosphere and I can guarantee you will feel at home, no matter if you are a local or just a one-time visitor.
If you want to attend one of the exciting nights at Mezrab, you better checked the agenda on the club’s website. You can also join the mailing list so that you are always up to date with all the events.
What is worth mentioning, there is no entrance fee at most of the events at Mezrab. Of course, donations are welcome. And you can always spend some extra money at the bar, sipping a drink or trying a delicious Iranian soup. The prices at the bar are very reasonable though. I really recommend this place as one of the best (or maybe the best?) storytelling stages in Amsterdam. If you feel like a night of tales, you have come to the right place.
2. Amsterdam Comedy Scene
Amsterdam is probably one of the funniest cities in the whole world. There are so many comedy clubs here!… Amsterdam is famous for its stand-up and improv scene – you just cannot get bored here. There are numerous English-speaking clubs and many of them are truly outstanding.
One might say that Amsterdam is the most vibrant comedy scene in the country or maybe even in the whole of Western Europe. You will find both the big-time stages and some small clubs famous among the locals only. Many of them are held in English so no matter if you are a local or a guest, you can laugh all night long.
If you happen to visit Amsterdam, and if you are a fan of some dry wit, I am sure you will love Amsterdam’s comedians. Most of the clubs are located right in the city center so it is a great way to start your Amsterdam night adventure. This is a perfect way to spend leisure time for people who want to do something extraordinary.
Comedy clubs in Amsterdam come in all possible sizes and shapes. They feature almost all kinds of comedy. All those have one thing in common – their purpose is to make you laugh and spend a really great time while in Amsterdam. The comedians cover all possible topics.
Which one to choose?
In my opinion, the best comedy club in Amsterdam is Comedy Café. This is a place where mostly Dutch-speaking comedians perform but they definitely get the audience laughing hard all night long. I also like Boom Chicago – this is a dinner theater with some really genuine food and some really good drinks. When it comes to stand-up itself,
I believe this is one of the best (and funniest at the same time) comedy clubs you can imagine. Comedians are just amazing and their jokes are smart. I especially love the improvs. I recommend you book some VIP seats in advance, especially if this is your first time at Boom Chicago – this way you will be as close to seeing the show as possible. What is also important, prices are really reasonable here.
3. Red Light District
The Red Light District is not for everyone. But everyone has their own ideas and expectations about this place. The area is worth visiting especially if this is your first trip to Amsterdam. Some people love the Red Light District, some hate it, but everyone agrees – this is a must-see in Amsterdam and it is thought to be one of the best things to do in the city.
To me, the Red Light District at night is like a carnival, mainly because of the amazing atmosphere created by numerous clubs, bars and many adults-only shops. The neon lights, the extraordinary atmosphere, this is just an unforgettable night experience. Do not forget about ladies in street-side windows – when it gets dark they are literally illuminating. Most of the action starts around 11 p.m. Then, the red neon lights illuminate canals beautifully. This is the best time to see the District for the first time.
If you would like to visit a Red Light District in the night you may be interested in a private tour. Ian knows this area better than anyone else. He runs some cool night tours in Amsterdam. You can learn more about these tours here.
In the evening the area is packed with people – there are hundreds (or thousands) of tourists and groups of friends. Strangers walking by, couples wandering and hugging each other – the Red Light District never sleeps. No matter the date and time, you never feel alone or lonely there. It is all about fun and joy.
If you are curious and brave enough, you might be interested in taking a peek at one of the sex shows. In my opinion, you must see one of those to get familiar with the Districts to the fullest. Imagine more than twenty sex shops, an Erotic Museum, a Sex Museum and live sex shows in just one small street.
How cool can it be? In the Red Light District, you will find both 30-60-minute shows (prices start at around 25 Euro), and some Sex Peep Shows that last around 2 minutes. For those who have never heard about Sex Peep Shows – this works like a pay-per-view. You are paying for watching people performing sexual activities for two minutes from a private booth.
And if you get tired of flashing lights, crowd and loud music, you can always hide in one of the cozy, charming restaurants. I especially recommend the Asian ones – they are famous for their quality and amazing taste. The Red Light District is definitely one of the places you can spend the time of your life.
4. Chin Chin
Chin Chin owners say that their club is one of the interpretations of a social clubhouse. The club is all music, dancing and drinks are about. In Mandarin, ‘chin chin’ means ‘thousands and thousands of layers’ and I totally agree with such interpretation. It’s like all-in-one – there is a restaurant, there are three bars and also some private karaoke rooms and a nightclub. It seems that Chin Chin takes is all seriously though.
There is a truly impressive lineup of events and on top of that there are some arcade games like ping-pong tables. While spending a night in Amsterdam, Chin Chin is a must-see – it links the city with the East in a perfect way.
I especially like the raucous club nights and dozens of floaty lanterns. Visitors also appreciate club’s signature cocktails inspired by some Hong Kong-originated flavours like Sailor Moon, as well as the very European ones like Elderflower Collins. Chin Chin is situated in the city center (Rozengracht 13) which makes it easy to visit no matter the time. The club opens around 6 p.m. and closes at 4 a.m. On Friday and Saturday, it also opens at 6 p.m. but closes around 5 a.m.
5. Irish Live Music
As you know, Amsterdam is one of the most multinational cities in the whole world. Not sure if you knew about it but it has been a strong traditional Irish music movement in the Netherlands within the last years. Thus, you cannot be surprised that there are dozens of Irish bars in the city. But one of them is just exceptional: Mulligans.
This is definitely one of my favorite bars at all and I recommend it to anyone new in the city. Its perfect location – right on the river Amstel around the corner from Rembrandtplein – makes it easy to get to no matter the time of a day or night. To me, it is just perfect if you want to spend a nice evening in a friendly atmosphere. Mulligans is considered to be a meeting place for artists, musicians and writers.
Events at Mulligans
Personally, I like open sessions most. Every Sunday there are open jam sessions any musician can join. Moreover, there are dancing sessions (McSweeney Dancers) on first Monday of each month. There is live music and the dancers invite people from the audience to participate.
Between Wednesday and Sunday musicians take the stage again. For example, on Wednesday evening, there are some back-room sessions with the Lasses. In general, music at Mulligans ranges from traditional (even as traditional as Celtic guitar) through Irish pop, ending at rockabilly vibes. What is also cool, you will encounter both bad and amazing vocalists here. You never know what you’ll enjoy here – the musicians can be Dutch, Czech or… Bulgarian playing Greek music.
And other activities…
In addition to Irish music, Mulligans is known to serve amazing Irish beers (who does not like Guinness or Kilkenny?) and a selection of Irish whiskey. It is a typical Irish pub with a variety of local beverages, large TV for sports fans especially and many nostalgic pictures of green Ireland.
As smoking is prohibited in bars in the Netherlands, Mulligans has a large smoking area in the back for those who cannot spend an evening without tobacco (tobacco only, no drugs at all).
The smoking room is open all working hours until midnight (and even later in the weekends). The only exception is Wednesday evening. The backroom is used for backroom sessions so smoking is forbidden. There is also a graffiti-laden outdoor terrace for those who want to spend a lazy, pleasant afternoon. The terrace is called Oscar Wilde’s Courtyard because of the large portrait of the writer along the wall.
The customer service at Mulligans is just excellent. Professional bartenders and nice waiters plus jovial guests who are usually regular visitors – the atmosphere is friendly and comforting and the staff is very open. You can feel the traditional Irish vibe here – the love of drinks and spirited music – you will not find many similar places in the city. Mulligans is open 7 days a week. It opens about 4 p.m. (around 2 p.m. on weekends) and closes around 1 a.m. (around 3 a.m. on weekends).
6. Culture After Dark – Amsterdam Museum’s At Night
There are some Amsterdam’s museums and galleries that stay open late, especially over weekends. If you are taking an evening walk around the city, just act on impulse and visit one of the best museums in Amsterdam! The Van Gogh Museum and The Stedelijk Museum are open until 10 p.m. on Friday. If you are close to ClinkNOOORD, you should definitely visit the Eye Film Museum. On Friday it is open until 11 p.m.
The Amsterdam Museum of Sex is open until 11:30 p.m. every day and Erotic Museum closes around 1-2 a.m. Isn’t it a cool way to spend some more time at night after having a drink in a city center? What can be better than world-class art combined with food, drinks and music?
Each year, thousands of visitors are attracted by the Amsterdam’s Museum Night (more than 27,000 last year). There are also some seasonal museum events. My favorite month is November. This time of the year Amsterdam rocks with the ‘Museum Night’.
- If you happened to visit Amsterdam in November, you have an amazing chance to enjoy around fifty museums open from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. (the event is always held on each first Saturday of the month).
- On this very special night there are also many unique events and concerts.
- There is also some delicious food to be tasted on the street.
- The cool thing is that all locations are easy to get to, either by tram or bicycle.
I would say that you just cannot miss that. This is an amazing opportunity to see Amsterdam in a totally new light. The event is held across the entire city – this means that not only can you visit the most famous Amsterdam museums but also some smaller institutions.
You can buy the tickets on the Museum Night website. Tickets are usually sold quickly so do not hesitate too long! They cost around 20 Euro but due to diverse locations the price is absolutely worth paying. There is one ticket for the whole night. With the ticket you can travel from one museum to another, view permanent and temporary exhibits and dance to live music.
It is worth mentioning that public transport is free during Museum Night. Besides, the ticket also includes a ticket to visit one of the museums after the Museum Night. This is just perfect if you are not able to visit all museums during this one very night.
Museum Night for the deaf people and those with hard of hearing
There are some guided tours in sign language so that also the deaf and hard of hearing can participate the Museum Night. Besides, there is a chance to get discount codes – deaf and hard of hearing can buy tickets at a reduced price.
7. 9 Streets
Fashionable shops and yummy cafes – the 9-street area near the Jordaan is one of the best of Amsterdam’s places to wander at night. Honestly, this is one of the trendiest shopping destinations in the whole city. 9 streets are located in the middle of the Old Town.
Technically, those are 3 streets crossing Herengracht and Keizersgracht. As those three streets cross two canals, nine small sections are made. They stretch from Prinsengrracht to the Singel. The 9 Streets are packed with a variety of trendy shops, cool restaurants and coffee bars, spas, hairdressers and bookshops. This is a place where Amsterdammers go shopping, eat and get beautiful. However, the area is much quieter than other parts of the city.
Even if the area is full of art galleries and boutiques, it is just perfect for those who want to enjoy the architecture and ambiance. Especially at night. The lights look just magical when it gets dark. The 17th and 18th – century buildings are illuminating, and this makes them extremely impressive.
When you wander around the 9 Streets at night, you can still feel the atmosphere of the past. The streets and small, cozy and romantic, the archway bridges are just pretty. The facades are lit when it gets dark and it all makes you feel like you are back in the 17th century. To me, a foreigner who became a local, a stroll through the 9 Streets is the best possible introduction to Amsterdam.
8. Cafe De Dokter
No doubt, this is one of the most iconic places in the whole of Amsterdam. To many locals, it represents a huge part of Amsterdam’s history. Café de Dokter was first opened back in 1798. It was founded by a doctor from the Binnengasthuis hospital.
Nowadays, it is a bar situated at Rozenboomsteeg alley, not even 10 minutes from Centraal Station. It is now run by the Beems family (for six generations already!). As far as I noticed, most visitors are regulars, mainly locals, but there are also newcomers, ready to experience something new in Amsterdam.
If you are a fan of high-quality drinks, this is your place to visit. The club design is a nice combination of vintage and jazz, like Ella Fitzgerald or Billy Holiday. There are many old-fashioned decors like curios, old clocks, chandeliers and so on. There is even a dangling doctor’s bag. To be honest, at Café de Dokter you feel like you are in a time capsule, going back to the eighteen centuries. The bar is a little bit dark but it makes the atmosphere even more unique. As the place is really small, there are only four tables. This makes you feel at home though.
Café de Dokter only measures 18 m2 which is quite funny. The place itself is cozy and unique and the atmosphere is just outstanding. One of the things that make Café de Doktor so famous is the Limburg’s beer that is being served there. There are also tasty house wines and dozens of whiskeys.
Prices are quite ok, it is one of the most famous bars in Amsterdam after all. I like the idea of ‘whiskey of the month’ – you can buy a nice glass of whiskey (one of the most popular kinds of Scottish whiskeys) for as little as 4.50 Euro. On top of the beverages, quite a nice food is served. There are various types of Dutch cheese and traditional smoked beef sausages (the most famous ones are the traditional smoked raw beef sausages) and of course some Amsterdam pickles.
A unique place with a very long history. Paradiso was first a church, then evolved into a concert hall and a club. It is extremely famous in Amsterdam, no matter the age. The Main Hall is visited by stars like Lady Gaga doing their show. It is well-suited, and it has a capacity of around 500 people. The Small House, perfect for nearly 250 guests, is a place for other artists like e.g. Kings of Leon.
The cool thing is that Paradiso is quite intimate, it is not very massive, so you are very close to the artists performing the show. This all makes the general experience more satisfying.
You will hear almost all types of music here. There is rock, soul, country and folk but also some reggae and blues. The club is open five days a week. On top of music events, there are also some fashion shows and dance performances. You will see both the most famous international brands and some local, small groups and local artists. The sound system is absolutely outstanding. I also like the electric atmosphere and a cool fusion of music – very often well-known rock songs smoothly evolve into very underground acts.
Paradiso is situated at Weteringschans 6-8. It is very close to the busy Leidseplein. Ticket prices vary. They mainly depend on the type of the event. As the club has become more and more popular in Amsterdam, a sister club has been created – Paradiso Noord, right next to the Eye Film Institute.
If you are in a ‘club’ mood and Paradiso is not enough, you can make the evening even more epic. If you want to break a night, the following rockin’ clubs are also worth recommending: AIR Amsterdam, Belushi’s (very affordable) and Sugar Factory for techno fans. And if reggae and hip-hop vibes are what you like most, you should definitely go to Bitterzoet located at Spuistraat.
No matter which one of the nighttime attractions you choose, Amsterdam is a heck of a city to spend the time of your life. To me, the best option is to just walk around the city center and act in impulse. It works best in the summer when the nights are warm. What I also like about Amsterdam is that a trip does not have to be a squeeze on the wallet. Even if the city is relatively expensive, it is full of fantastic things to do for free. So, are you ready to spend your night adventure in Amsterdam?