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Amsterdam at night: 9 fab things to do!

Famed for its charming architecture and picturesque canals, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations by day, but there is also so much to do in Amsterdam at night!

Local travel writer, David van Brakel of Hello Amsterdam, wrote this guest post for me about the city he has lived in all his life, and uncovered some hidden gems and must-do’s for night time activities in his home town.

Amsterdam by night
Amsterdam by night. Pic by Azhar J on Unsplash

Don’t think visiting world-class museums, boating on the canals and exploring colorful neighborhoods by bicycle is reserved for the day time only, although there is certainly plenty to see when visiting the Dutch capital and exploring Amsterdam’s best attractions.

But as well as the vast array of daytime activities, Amsterdam is a fun city to explore when the sun goes down.  Whether you wish to hop on a romantic canal cruise, sample local late-night snacks like stroopwafels and bitterballen, visit the infamous Red Light District, or dress to the nines and go clubbing, there is something for everyone when darkness falls upon the Dutch capital.

Here are 9 of the best things to do in Amsterdam at night!

1 Try delicious food at the Foodhallen

Food options in Amsterdam are plentiful and Foodhallen is definitely the best place in the city to try both local and International food delicacies when the sun goes down.

Situated inside an historic building which was once a tram depot, Foodhallen boasts a lively atmosphere and attracts hundreds of foodies every night.  

Try the local herring sandwich or go for the mouthwatering stroopwafels. The Dutch bitterballen are also extremely popular, as well as international foods including Vietnamese dishes, American burgers, sushi, and dim sum.

 International Foodhallen Amsterdam
The buzzing International Foodhallen

2 See a concert at the Concertgebouw

If you wish to see a concert while visiting Amsterdam you should definitely pay a visit to the extraordinary Concertgebouw. Designed in neoclassical style and home to the Royal Orchestra, the Concertgebouw is one of the best concert halls in the world. It is located at the foot of Museumplein and hosts a variety of concerts from orchestras and jazz sets to vocalist performances. Keep in mind that this is Amsterdam’s most popular concert hall and its recommended to book tickets for concerts well in advance.

3 Hop on a night canal cruise

A canal boat cruise is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Dutch capital, especially at night when thousands of city lights illuminate the canals and create a beautiful glow.

Amsterdam's bridges by night
Amsterdam’s bridges by night. Photo by Raphael Nogueira on Unsplash

Fortunately, there are many canal boat cruises to choose from including romantic candle-lit evening cruises for couples on vacation, boat trips that focus on architecture and history, and hop-on-hop-off tours.

Whether you are visiting Amsterdam with a group of friends or you are exploring the city with special someone, going on a night canal cruise in Amsterdam promises to be a memorable experience.

4 Explore the Red Light District

No visit to Amsterdam is complete without checking out the city’s infamous Red Light District!

Amsterdam's famous Red Light District
Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District. Pic courtesy of

For those who don’t know, the Red Light District in Amsterdam is home to everything from adult-themed shops and peep shows to sex museums and bars. It is actually the oldest part of the city and attracts millions of visitors every year.

With a festival-like vibe, the area is a popular place to go out with friends and enjoy Amsterdam’s vibrant nightlife. Keep in mind that taking photos of sex workers in the Red Light District is strictly prohibited. If you are traveling solo and don’t want to visit the district alone, there are many guided tours of the Red Light District available for booking.

5 Catch a movie at FilmHallen

Interested in watching a movie at a local Dutch cinema? Head out to FilmHallen, a lovely cinema where visitors can watch both independent European films and popular Hollywood blockbusters. The cinema also hosts screenings of short movies with Dutch subtitles.

If you are expecting modern seats and 4D movie screenings, you won’t find it here. But if you wish to experience the Dutch culture and see a movie in an old-school movie theatre, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

6 Drink cocktails at Vesper

Located in the vibrant Jordaan district in Amsterdam, Vesper is a lovely cocktail bar well-known for its speakeasy vibe and unique décor with awesome James Bond memorabilia hanging on the walls.

Not sure what to order? This lively bar offers wines, beers and a wide range of artisan cocktails. Unlike some of the other more popular cocktail bars in the city that come with a hefty price tag, drinks at Vesper are reasonably priced.

Vesper bar by night, Amsterdam
Vesper by night. Pic from HelloAmsterdam

7 Bike Amsterdam by night

Amsterdam is a bike-friendly city and one of Europe’s most popular cycling destinations. The bike paths are well-maintained and bike rentals can be found on every corner of the city.

Cycling is a great way to explore the city, especially at night when there are fewer people and it’s easier to move around. Biking around Amsterdam at night allows you to move quickly and see numerous attractions and experience the local culture in just a couple of hours.

8 Dance the night away at Paradiso

Paradiso is one of Amsterdam’s most popular music venues. This cultural center and a music club attracts thousands of visitors every evening and hosts live music acts throughout the week.

Popular artists such as Lady Gaga and Franz Ferdinand have performed at Paradiso, but this extraordinary music venue also organises shows for new indie bands. Whether you wish to see a world-class music act, dance to reggae beats, or discover a talented up-and-coming singer/songwriter, you will find it at Paradiso.

Paradiso club Amsterdam
Paradiso. Pic courtesy of HelloAmsterdam

9 Get your culture fix at Amsterdam’s Museums

Enjoy a night at the museum! The Dutch capital is famous for its museums and the good news is that some of them are open late. This means that you can avoid large crowds of visitors who come to admire art during the daytime and explore museums when it gets dark and there are fewer people around.

Want to hear more good news? On the first Saturday in November, more than 50 museums in Amsterdam open their gates past closing time until 2 am.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
I love this pic! Who’s watching whom? Three women on their phones in front of a Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!