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CityXplora's Best Bars In Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is a world class city renowned for its phenomenal visitor attractions, be they marvels of high culture or quirky and indulgent novelties. At CityXplora we normally focus on the means of sightseeing and how to book the best things to do along the way, but we also recognise the desire to occasionally just kick back and sample the local tipple.

Our Favourite Bars In Amsterdam:

After doing a bit of research and taking into consideration our own opinions we've put together this list of the finest bars in Amsterdam. The list is alphabetical, and no one is held in higher regard than the other. Its main aim is to help you make your own choice and to save you time in tracking down Amsterdam's best loved watering holes. Visitors should note the extent to which the bar is engrained in the cultural fabric of local life, with most acting as cafés as well as pubs. So not only could you find your new favourite brew, but add to it some incredible grub.

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1, 't Smalle (Egelantiersgracht 12, 1015 RL Amsterdam)

Café 't Smalle is one of those archetypical Amsterdam 'brown cafés', with a backdrop and façade that makes it a joy to behold. Located on the edge of the Jordaan district it faces out onto two intersecting canals and is surrounding by an embellishing mixture of colourful bicycles and greenery. 't Smalle has bags of history, the site that the café currently occupies was the site of a liqueur distillery founded in 1780, a time when the district would have been alive with the activity of maritime trade.

The bar serves pretty much everything from koffie verkeerd and syrup pancakes to various varieties of Heineken and fine wines from around the world. You can also try a glass of their special 'Hoppe Young Jenever', a famous Dutch Gin.

2, Brouwerij 't IJ (Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam)

The name translates as 'The IJ Brewery' with IJ being derived from the nearby IJ lake. The building is in fact a micro-brewery, and is instantly recognisable as it adjoins the iconic De Gooyer Mill, the tallest wooden windmill in Holland! Besides this landmark feature and the placid canalside surroundings, the IJ Bar/Brewery is most notable for brewing its own draught beers on site. According to them the draughts are created at Funenkade (the main site), while bottled beers come from their second brewery at Zeeburgerpad.

Their craft beers are pretty strong, with some reaching alcohol volumes of 9%! At least you won't have to spend much before cracking the dance moves out.

The bar at Funenkade is open everyday from 14:00 till 20:00. You can enjoy your drinks inside or out on the sprawling terrace. Not only does the pub serve the brewery's own products but also wine and soft drinks for those who are not so keen on beer. Tours of the building are available to organise on their own site.

3, Bubbles and Wines (Nes 37, 1012 KC Amsterdam)

Bubbles and Wines, as the name suggests, is a wine and champagne bar located in a picturesque little street in central Amsterdam. The bar specialises in top quality products and quality serving methods that enhance the drink's natural flavour. They have over 50 varieties available by glass and 180 by the bottle, as well as an eclectic platter of fine apéritifs.

4, Café Belgique (Gravenstraat 2, 1012 NM Amsterdam)

Café Belgique is actually one of the smallest bars in Amsterdam, but is gigantic in virtually everything else. Its walls are laden with incredible art, designs and posters displaying the kitsch, the quirky and the downright awesome. What really matters though, is the dizzying selection of Belgian beers available. They have 8 varieties on draught and over 50 on bottle. Even if you don't like beer very much this place is well worth a visit, as it is loved by locals, tourists, musicians and artists alike.

5, Hannekes Boom (Dijksgracht 4, 1019 BS Amsterdam)

Hannekes Boom is a bar with some serious history and nautical traditions. It was founded in 1662 on the IJ waterfront in the north of Amsterdam's central district. It would cater to sailors, soldiers and all other sorts. Nowadays, its one of the most highly regarded bar/restaurants in the city. Its best feature is the large outdoor terrace, which has a palpably authentic 'beer garden' feel that melds well the overall bohemian atmosphere. Hannekes is easy to find, as it is located in the middle of the Oosterdok right next to Centraal Station.

6, Pllek (Tt. Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB Amsterdam)

Speaking of bohemian atmosphere, Pllek is a place which embodies the very meaning of the term. Located along the shores of lake IJ in the Amsterdam Noord district this large open-air bar is reachable via a free ferry ride from behind Centraal Station. A couple of things really stand out about this place: the main structure is built almost entirely out of old shipping containers and other pieces of industrial junk, and in place of a normal terrace they have a small artificial beach!
Food and drink are held in equally high regard at Pllek, especially the food, which uses only locally sourced meat and fish specially prepared by their professional chef. Head over as the sun begins to set, because the views of central Amsterdam to the south are spectacular after dark. Sit on a bench, sit on a chair, sit on a sofa, even sit by a campfire, the choice is yours.

7, Tara (Rokin 85-89, 1012 KL Amsterdam)

The Tara is one of Amsterdam's best Irish bar lounges and also one of its biggest bars in general. There's ample space to chat with a beer and plenty of authentic atmosphere to absorb. If you choose to have a meal expect a hearty platter created using the best produce and prepared in a true homemade style. You won't be stuck for choice when it comes to drinks, as the menu features just about everything you could desire.

8, Vesper Bar (Vinkenstraat 57, 1013 JM Amsterdam)

The Vesper Bar is all about suave décor, unpretentious sophistication and great cocktails. The allusions to classic 007 himself couldn't be more palpable in this unmissable Jordaan hangout. Vesper doesn't just do run-of-the-mill mixes, their passionate and professional barmen shake and stir up some of the city's most unique concoctions, such as 'The Vesper Martini', the 'Casablanca', and the 'Bromance'.

If you're interesting in sleuthing some of the bar's secrets for yourself then join one of their cocktail workshops. Details on how to do so can be found on Vesper's own website.

Photo Credits:

  • Hannekes Boom photos © Pim Evers - Indysign Communicatieadvies Amsterdam.
  • Pllek photos © Charlene Kwee.