Amsterdam at night

Cool Things to Do in Amsterdam at Night

What do the words “Amsterdam” and “Nightlife” conjure up in your mind? While this European city may have been known as an adults-only destination in the past, Amsterdam is home to so much culture, history, art, food, and fun that you can’t fit it all into the daylight hours! Thankfully, there’s just as much to do in Amsterdam at night than there is during the day – from museums to secret bars to a history lesson with a twist, here are some of our favourite cool things to do in Amsterdam at night.

Travel to: Amsterdam

Visit a speakeasy

While Amsterdam’s party scene certainly doesn’t hide from sight, some of the city’s coolest bars do. Amsterdam is known for a lively speakeasy scene: secret bars and clubs that seat very few hidden away behind fridges, in basements, and within museums. Modelled after the Prohibition-era speakeasies found throughout America in the 1920s, Amsterdam’s speakeasies are more known for creative cocktails, delicious bar snacks, and some seriously cool atmosphere than illegal drinking.

Cruise the canals

What’s a trip to Amsterdam without a canal cruise? You can’t go anywhere in the city without crossing a canal, but one of the best ways to explore those iconic canals is by getting up close and personal with them during a canal cruise. While these cruises are great during the day, by night the city is lit up and you can enjoy gorgeous views (and a glass of wine) as you float through the water. There are many different types of canal cruises in Amsterdam: some take travellers through the Red Light District, some are focused on history and architecture, and there are even cruises designed specifically for couples looking for a date night!

a boat going through a tunnel on a canal in amsterdam
A canal cruise is the perfect way to see Amsterdam by night | © Andrew Slifkin/Unsplash

Find the best view in town

Is there anything better than seeing a city lit up at night? Yes: seeing all those twinkling lights and sparkling canals from above! A visit to the A’DAM Lookout, an observation deck on top of the A’DAM tower in the northern part of Amsterdam, offers travellers the chance to do just that. Enjoy views of Amsterdam’s port, the city’s lights, and, of course, those famous canals!

If you’re looking for more than just a pretty view, A’DAM delivers on that, too: the observation deck is home to Europe’s highest swing – travellers can swing 100 metres (328 feet) above the city! There’s no better way to see the best of Amsterdam.

A'DAM Tower, Amsterdam, by night
A’DAM’s observation deck is one of the best views in the city! | © Michal Soukup/Unsplash

Get your culture fix

Amsterdam is known for its museums: from the Dutch Masters to the Museum of Sex and even more niche offerings such as the Cat Art Museum. One of the best parts of Amsterdam’s museum scene, however, is the fact that many of these stunning buildings are open late – which means you can study up and take in some breathtaking, funny, and fascinating art while enjoying the city’s nightlife. Want to stay past closing time? On the first Saturday in November, 50 of Amsterdam’s museums are open from 7pm until 2am. Travellers are able to take in art alongside food and drink, and many museums organize workshops, concerts, and special tours.

crowds in front of The Night Watch by Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Enjoy the work of the Dutch Masters by night | © Václav Pluhar/Unsplash

Explore the Red Light District

Of course, Amsterdam is known around the world for its Red Light District, but what do you really know about this area? De Wallen (the walled part of Amsterdam in which the Red Light District is housed) is actually the oldest part of Amsterdam, making this area appealing to history buffs as well as travellers curious about this infamous neighbourhood. Most people who visit are familiar with the main rule in place – no taking photos of the women sitting in the windows – but there’s more to the De Wallen than meets the eye! Be respectful of everyone, from the sex workers to the families who call this area home, and be aware that pickpockets tend to prowl the area looking for unsuspecting tourists. You’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars in the area, as well as a sex museum – there’s truly something for everybody.

Amsterdam's Red Light District by night
There’s much more to the Red Light District than meets the eye! | © Jase Ess/Unsplash

Cool things down

There are some tourist activities that are worth it, and Amsterdam’s Ice Bar is one of them! Xtracold is open until nearly 3am on weekends, and 1am during the week, and it’s an experience you can’t miss if you’re looking to have a drink in a seriously cool bar. Kept at a constant temperature of -10°C (14°F), the bar provides travellers with an extra coat and gloves once they enter, and visitors are allowed to remain in the chilly bar for up to 20 minutes at a time. Fear not, though: the bar, in which everything from the walls to the glasses are made of ice, is attached to a lounge area that’s kept at a toastier temperature, and travellers are allowed to stay there and sip cocktails until closing!

Amsterdam is celebrated around the world as an amazing place for nightlife, but that nightlife is more diverse and exciting than many travellers realize. Whether you’re looking for the perfect social media photo, you want to expand your horizons with a little art and culture, or you’re in search of the perfect cocktail to kick-start your night, you’ll find it in Amsterdam.

Which of these things would you most like to experience in Amsterdam?

Maggie is a life-long traveller with a special affinity for the United Kingdom. When she's not reading, writing, or dreaming about her next trip, you can find her talking at length about her dog to anyone who'll listen.

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