The city may be abundant in gardens and museums—but it's got plenty of classic watering holes, too.
The city of Amsterdam is perhaps best known for the curb appeal of its canal-side rowhouses, springtime tulips, and abundance of bikes. It’s got no shortage of world-class attractions or award-winning restaurants—but what about its watering holes? Turns out, the edgy city has plenty of classic bars, too. Here are some of our favorites.
What the Last Waterhole lacks in sophistication—this saloon-style venue looks like it hasn’t been decorated in decades—it makes up for in fun. There’s live rock music every night (think cover bands), and entrance is either free or for about $2. Inside, there’s a dance floor, three pool tables, and a lively, friendly crowd, from tourists to locals of every stripe: Students, old rockers, and ironic hipsters. The drinks are cheap, especially for the area, which is just off the Leidseplein: a frosty pint is only $4 during the nightly happy hour (6 p.m. to 9 pm.).
With an old-fashioned jukebox, a good pool table, free wifi, reasonably priced food and five screens showing live sport, Susie’s attractions are many, but number one is the cheap beer. Just $4 a pint during happy hour (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. to midnight), or opt for the $14 pitcher the rest of the time. This canal-side location has a great terrace and plenty of room inside. There’s a bit of a rugby theme, with jerseys adorning the walls and ceilings, and there’s a smoking room, too. Susie’s is popular with bikers, expats, tourists, and rugby fans—and it even does a nice line in merchandising should you want a souvenir shirt.
Proudly billing itself as “Amsterdam’s last remaining punk rock café,” The Minds is the place to mingle with local mohawks, characters, and rebels of all ages (note: the bar allows smoking). The décor is gritty and grungy, featuring old punk posters and Doc Marten boots dangling from the ceiling. Music is loud and ranges from ‘70s punk (of course) to ska, skater metal, and psychedelic rock. There’s a pinball machine and a pool table. Beer and other drinks are cheap (often less than $3). As for the name, the current owner bought the place in 1984 and named it after his favorite band, Simple Minds, but when they objected, he removed the ‘simple.’
Jane Szita is on the Netherlands beat for Travel + Leisure. She lives in Amsterdam.