Everyone agrees that Amsterdam bars are not average. Especially those located in the heart of the city – Red Light District. The area is home to hundreds of bars and coffee shops and many of them are just exceptional. If you don’t visit at least a few bars out there, you cannot say you’ve been in Amsterdam. This is why I thought that it might be a good idea to give you an overview of the best bars in the Red Light District. All checked, recommended and worth having a peek inside! Recommendations are based on my (and my friends’) personal feelings and some internet research.
Here’s a list of the best bars in Amsterdam’s Red Light District:
- The Tailor
- Café Trinity Bar
- Excalibur Café
- Rosalia’s Menagerie
- Wynand Fockink
- Het Elfde Gebod
- Molly Malone’s Irish Pub
- Proeflokaal De Ooiveaar
- Queen’s Head
- Cut Throat
- De Kroegtijger
- In’t Aepjen
- Hunters Bar
- Nightbar The Bottle
Location: Dam 9, 1012 JS Amsterdam
The winner of ‘The Best Hotel Bar Award’ in 2017. Yes, the bar is a hotel bar, situated at the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Its name probably comes from a tailor who set up a coffee house that would finally become the foundation of the legacy we know now. And the history is easy to notice at first sight there. Both the bar menu and the décor refer to the art of tailoring, but somehow it looks like a perfect combination of retro and modernity. To me, the bar just has a great ambiance. Drinks are grouped in themes around the rooms in the hotel. One of the bartenders – Thalys – is considered one of the best bartenders in the city. In general, drinks are right on the button. If you’re a Martini-lover, you will bow at the temple here! A Tailor Martini will make you revisit this place many times, that’s for sure.
Café Trinity Bar
Location: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 46, 1012 GE Amsterdam
A perfect place to relax at in a warm, summer evening, mainly because of outdoor seating. Charming location, a historic building, cozy atmosphere. The entrance looks extremely inviting – it makes you want to check the bar right away. Especially for those who love beer – the selection is quite wide; the beer’s quality is satisfying. There are also pretty good shots at a very reasonable price. The customer service is okay. The bar is quite popular so it’s always loud and crowded. I like the fact that it’s usually open until 3 am. And after nice chillout with a beer or shot at Café Trinity Bar, you can always go to the karaoke place nearby. It’s open until 5 am so you can party all night long there.
Location: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 48, 1012 DP Amsterdam
Especially for fans of some hard rock music and those who love motorcycles. The décor corresponds with the music, you will be surprised when you see the King Arthur style memorabilia. There are also many cool motorcycle objects. So, in short, the décor may be just called ‘Motorcycles and Knights’, with band posters and funny slogans on the walls. And you will definitely like the views onto the main thoroughfare of the district when you sit in the window. The drinks are above the average (and prices are really ok). Excalibur Café has many offers on beer so beer fans won’t be disappointed. Customer service is really impressive – they really do their best to interact with customers. I think I may even say it’s one of the friendliest staff in the whole district. The bar also has pool tables at the top floor and Sky Sports TV.
Location: Kloveniersburgwal 20, 1012 CV Amsterdam
Rosalia’s Menagerie is a traditional Dutch bar, stitching with the history of trade, innovation and distilling. It opened first in 2017 so it’s quite new, but the spot quickly won thousands of fans, both locals and tourists. The place is just different than others – there’s a living-room atmosphere, a flower wallpaper, dotted bars, bird cages, vintage tables and curiosities the owners gathered during their travels. Such décor could be easily called tacky but Rosalia’s Menagerie somehow looks chic, intriguing and cozy. To me, this place is a hidden gem. Bartenders at Rosalia’s Menagerie serve amazing cocktails. The menu is crafted, and bartenders really know what they do. For cocktails, they make use of extraordinary products from all over the world. Don’t hesitate to ask about the ingredients, I’m sure you will get an interesting answer – they love revealing their drink secrets! For sure, they have a real passion for locally-made spirits (they are just crazy about Jenever and Korenwijn).
Location: Pijlsteeg 31, 1012 HH Amsterdam
One of the most ‘traditional Proeflokaal’ (Dutch for-tasting tavern) in Amsterdam. What I really like, the bar has retained its 17th century character. The name comes from Wynand Fockink who bought a distillery and a bar in 1724. The liqueur distillery was managed by Wynand’s descendants until 1954. During those years, it became one of the largest Dutch distilleries. In 1954 it was acquired by Lucas Bols – its biggest competitor. Until now, they still make liqueurs and jenevers using the traditional craft method. At the bar, they serve an extraordinary collection of bottles. Wynand Fockink is now famous for great spirits and draft beer tastings. The wide selection of jenevers and liqueurs, I especially recommend a Perfect Bliss or Jack in the Cellar. You can also try some snacks at the bar. And, last but not least, prices are decent!
Het Elfde Gebod
Location: Zeedijk 5, 1012 AN Amsterdam
A hidden gem in the very center of the city, named after a Belgian beer that isn’t made anymore. A little bit dark inside, but with some nice spots of light. The selection of beer is just huge (mostly Belgian beers) and the bartenders are totally skilled. They are happy to help you get what you really want. From my experience, I can say that their recommendations are always good. It’s not a place pouring pitchers of Heineken, it’s beer-lovers heaven that certainly has character. To be honest, if you try a few different beers each time you visit Het Elfde Gebod, there’s a chance you’ll never have to try the same beer twice. A big ‘Yes’ for the presentation – all beers are served with bar’s original glassware, they are poured beautifully and served at a perfect temperature. Also, high marks for the atmosphere.
Location: Warmoesstraat 129, 1012 JA Amsterdam
The comfy atmosphere, couches, extraordinary music and delicious food (they may have the best burgers in Amsterdam) – here’s one of the most famous bars in Red Light District. Those who are crazy about alternative-indie-rock-rock-punk-electro tunes will be in heaven. I’ve heard that Belushi has the longest happy hours in Amsterdam – they run every day from open until midnight. On offer, you’ll find Russian vodka, Gordon’s gin, Brugal and Captain Morgan rum. Sometimes, on some special occasions, free shots are served! Can you think of a better recommendation? The venue, besides the bar, hosts a beautiful garden and a restaurant. To me, it’s one of those places you can easily make a good start to a night out at. It’s always alive with people and music, even on Sundays.
Molly Malone’s Irish Pub
Location: Oudezijds Kolk 9, 1012 AL Amsterdam
The bar is situated in a former warehouse. The interior is vintage – there are old whisky barrels and some Irish antiques. Personally, I instantly fell in love with the stunning oak bar – it’s just beautiful. Besides good beer (try their Guiness!) and tasty cocktails, Molly Malone’s also has a well-operating kitchen. They serve traditional Irish food using old Irish recipes. Their most famous dish is the Irish ribs. Prices are reasonable. While in Amsterdam, you should consider visiting one of the Molly Malone’s live music sessions. A great thing is that you can relax in the bar watching the boats passing by on the canals. And if you like Molly Malone’s you will also love other Irish bars in the city.
Proeflokaal De Ooiveaar
Location: Sint Olofspoort 1, 1012 AJ Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s liquor history is what’s been an inspiration to bring Proeflokaal De Ooiveaar. The building was built in 1605 and its vintage style can be recognised in decors and details. The bar is really small, actually it might be one of the smallest bars in the whole city. There aren’t many tourists inside, most of clients are locals who are in love with quality liquors. There’s no TV and no wi-fi. It’s a place where people are supposed to chat with each other. How cute is that?
The selection of traditional liquors is huge, some of them are house made using very old recipes. Make sure you join tastings of both old and young jenever. My number one is cherry Jenever. Don’t forget to take some bottles home with you! Bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable. You don’t have to be a jenever expert, they will gladly help you choose a liquor you’ll like.
Location: Zeedijk 20, 1012 Amsterdam
A popular gay bar, probably the oldest gay bar in Amsterdam. Owned by a drag queen and her partner, it’s an extremely nice spot in the area with cushioned sofa type seats. All guests are welcomed – no matter the race, gender, age and sexuality. This is why the clientele is quite diverse. The bar has a small terrace with a canal view. The décor is very traditional and bartenders are really helpful. Once a week, the bar has a bingo night hosted by one of the Amsterdam drag queens. There are also social meet-ups called Nethebears for bears, bearded men and admirers every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. The bar is well-equipped, you’ll find pretty much anything you want there. Keep in mind that smoking inside is not allowed. What I really like is the chilling atmosphere and openness – everyone feels at home at Queen’s Head.
Location: Beursplein 5, 1012 JC Amsterdam
You cannot tell Cut Throat is only a bar. It’s kind of a combination of a bar, restaurant and… a high-end vintage barber shop! That’s right! The venue is rustic and modern at the same time. The atmosphere is a bit hipster, laid back, the vibe is awesome. Cut Throat serves a variety of liquors but to be honest, my absolute number one there is Chai Latte. I have never tried as creamy and rich chai latte as the one I’ve had at Cut Throat. The cocktails from the menu are very good too, though. The bar also serves food and some of dishes are really exceptional, even if the menu is super limited. Sweet potato fries are finger-licking good (same as Kiwi Breakfast) and I also heard many recommendations of Man Bun Burger. Prices are quite decent and the plates you get look totally stunning, like a piece of art.
Location: Zeedijk 134A, 1012 BC Amsterdam
One of the best bars when it comes to gin and tonics. The bar is small and cozy, like most of the bars in Red Light District. Once you step in, you see a huge mural of a tiger with four eyes. Looks really impressive. The bar itself is something between a bar and a brown café. The décor is modern but older guests will also feel like at home. Prices are something between acceptable and a-bit-above-the-average (for example, a standard cocktail costs around 9 Euro) but the atmosphere is truly amazing. Make sure you have a few words with a bartender – he’s one of the nicest guys in the city. He always gives tourists great tips for enjoying their visit even more. The bar is run by a group of friends who often stand behind the bar themselves.
Location: Zeedijk 1, 1012 AN Amsterdam
In’t Aepjen is located in the oldest wooden house of Amsterdam, one of the two remaining wooden buildings. The building dates back to 1475, since the 17th century is has served as a tavern. The name literally means ‘in the monkey’ (it’s said that a sailor travelling from the Far East brought the monkey to Amsterdam in order to settle a debt). In’t Aepjen is something a tourist shouldn’t miss out on while visiting the city. I absolutely love the interior – there are old paintings, jars where strong spirits used to be kept and an old tap with a bronze image of a 17th century man. In general, the atmosphere is just unique. The beers on tap come from all European countries and some of them are really worth trying. There are also many spirits to choose from. I highly recommend that you should try their locally made jenever – this is nothing but a real Dutch experience!
Location: Warmoesstraat 35, 1012 HV Amsterdam
Hunters Bar was first open in 1985 so it’s a bar with a history. It’s actually one of the oldest bars in the area! A great plus for a ventilation system. You are allowed to smoke inside but the cold air conditioning makes the bar almost smoke-free. Besides, their space cakes are to kill for, believe me. Mild, mellow, mouth-watering. Prices are okay – 4 Euro for Jack Daniels, 10 Euro for Heineken pitchers. To me, it’s definitely one of the coolest spots in the area. And what’s even better, they actually have more locations (e.g. their sister Vodka Bar). They even have a coffee shop right across the street. If you’re in a hurry, right before taking off from the Amsterdam Central Station, take a quick 5-minute walk to Hunters and enjoy a last-minute session! Highly recommended.
Night bar The Bottle
Location: Oudebrugsteeg 25 Alley, 1012 JN Amsterdam
Nightbar The Bottle is a good place to start an evening out. For the first time, I stumbled on it accidentally but it’s definitely worth revisiting every time you go out for a pub crawl. To me, a small minus for a very loud music – it’s cool when you want to party but when you want to chat with your friends, it may be a bit annoying. The bar is famous for extremely friendly staff – these people just love what they do. Many people appreciate the fact that you can get to Nightbar The Bottle very late/early hour’s morning. The bar is open until 4am so there are always many people out ending their night there. Prices are decent and the vibe is just exciting.
Ready For a Bar Crawl?
There are probably many other bars in Red Light District one could easily recommend. New bars pop up, more and more tourists come to the city, it’s easy to miss the one you would call the best. However, all these above can be recommended as worth visiting. I hope to check some of the new ones soon though! In the meantime, check how expensive is Amsterdam when it comes to beer and other drinks.