Amsterdam: the city famous for its coffee shops and the red-light district. Tourists seem to be mainly interested in those aspects, but Mokum (as Amsterdam is nicknamed) has a lot more to offer. Besides: you’re not a tourist, but you're a soon-to-be local! In our previous blog, Liesbeth already provided you with 10 Dutch Dishes You Have To Try. In this blog, I’m going to help you discover Amsterdam’s best bars and clubs for students!

My name is Michiel and I’m a business student at VU Amsterdam, where I joined the marketing committee of ESN this year. In this blog, I’d like to share some of my favourite nightlife spots in Amsterdam. As I am part-time deejaying in the city, I like to think I know a decent place or two! 

In the list below you’ll find a mix of bars, clubs and other venues; so whether you prefer having a casual drink or feel more like raving all night long (like a certain Lionel Richie), you'll certainly find some nice spots in my recommendations that are perfect for you!

1. Het Paardje (pub/bar)


Cafe 'Het Paardje' has potential to become your local. Located right in the heart of Amsterdam’s most cosy neighbourhood called De Pijp, Het Paardje (‘Little Horse’) never lets you down. A good spot to have a pint or two with friends and discuss life’s most important topics. Around 22ish music gets louder and seats and tables are removed to create space for those who want to dance. There’s an outdoor seating area for sunny days as well!

2. Disco Dolly (bar/club)


One of my favourite crossovers between a bar and club in the historical centre. Open 7 days a week, so very hard to miss out on. Formerly called ‘Dancing at Jansen’ this venue has gathered fame around the globe. Disco nights on Thursdays obviously include hits from Abba and The Beegees and yours truly can only approve.

3. Chin-Chin (club)


Your go-to on Thursdays or the weekend. Probably the hottest club in town, so don’t be surprised if you have to queue for a while. Expect the latest club tunes and classics from the 80’s & 90’s you sing along a bit too passionately. Drinks are reasonably priced, and you are welcomed by around a hundred maneki nekos (Japanese waving cats.) Oh, there’s a massive tree in the middle of the dancefloor as well.

4. Nyx on Thursday (club)


Nyx, in the famous Reguliersdwarsstraat, is quite something. The club is known for its diversity and open-mindedness. Thursdays offer an accessible way to get introduced to this legendary venue. Just give it a go!

5. Escobar (restaurant but then suddenly a bar)


Heading out on a Friday or Saturday night, but not keen to have drinks in the Leidseplein area? Escobar (address: Eerste Sweelinckstraat 10) is a very decent alternative. This restaurant transforms into a trendy bar with pop music and plenty of guilty pleasures. Food- and fashionbloggers, students and young professionals gather here to celebrate (the beginning of) the weekend!

6. Café Hans


The odd one out on this list, but Café Hans is definitely worth checking out. This is the real Amsterdam-style pub and still as authentic as can be. Make sure to order a ‘Kopstootje (‘Little-Head-Beater’), which is a combination of beer and shot of Dutch gin! Just before downing your shot, shout ‘Proost’ (‘Cheers’), while looking in the eyes of your drinking buddy. Finally, take a sip of your beer to get rid of the shot’s taste!

7. De Gieter


Don’t expect anything fancy. Instead, rumour has it this place offers the cheapest beers in town on weekdays (a.k.a. student nights). No entrance fee, no bouncer, no cloakroom, no bottle service or private booths, just a bar and cheesy pop songs. Not a bad option for every now and then.

8. Waterkant (outdoor bar)


What happens if you create a bar at the most boring spot in town (a parking garage in particular)? Somehow you manage to create the number one hotspot for summer days. Whether you’re able to get a table or just chill on the dock, you’ll have a great time at  Waterkant. Don’t forget to order some
Bitterballen to fully experience the Dutch culture!

9. Hanneke’s Boom


Another recommendation especially for the spring and summer season is ‘Hanneke’s Boom’ (Hanneke’s Tree), with a large outdoor seating area. The view and unique vibe are the key advantages here. Live music is played regularly, so just check the agenda to pick an artist you like!

10. Coco’s Outback

You know this one already! Wednesday nights are Coco’s nights! The one and only place where all international students of Amsterdam gather. Free entry with the ESNcard and a themed party every now and then - what more could you wish for?


Thanks for reading my blog! As you can see, Amsterdam has something for everyone. And of course, this list is not even exhaustive. Check for instance the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein entertainment areas or start your own pub-crawl in De Pijp and explore Amsterdam, it’s probs one of the best ways to make you feel at home in your new town!

Last but not least, as a famous Dutch beer brand already recommends: enjoy all of this responsibly. Any hotspot you’d like to add? Leave it in the comments!

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Read more blogs:

ESNblog1: 6 Essential Survival Tips for Living in Amsterdam
ESNblog2: How To Become A True Amsterdammer
ESNblog3: ‘10 Dutch Dishes You Have To Try’