A cafe in Amsterdam is the place to go for a bit of people watching while you enjoy a drink or two.
There are several different kinds of cafes, so you should make sure you know your terminology before looking for a place to visit. Most importantly, a cafe is not the same as a coffee shop where marijuana is sold. A cafe in Amsterdam is what you might call a pub elsewhere, and they serve beer and liquor along with the usual coffee, soft drinks, snacks and sometimes light meals.
Most cafes open in the afternoon (unless they serve breakfast), and stay open until at least midnight. On the weekends, many will keep their doors open until 3am.
Generally speaking, there are three kinds of cafes in Amsterdam: the brown cafes, designer cafes and grand cafes. Here are a few of the best ones of all three types.
Casual and comfortable, brown cafes get their name from the typical dark wood buildings. Locals often sit at a brown cafe for hours, like it was a room in their own house. Many of them are quite historic.
Cafe De Sluyswacht – Jodenbreestraat 1
This little cafe was originally a lock-keeper’s house in 1695, and is a popular cafe even though the building noticeably leans to the side. Don’t worry, the building is perfectly safe.
Cafe De Prins – Prinsengracht 124
Near the famous home of Anne Frank, this cafe is particularly popular with students. They have great food, and a terrace on the water.
Lokaal ‘t Loosje – Nieuwmarkt 32-34
A cafe for anyone exploring the Red Light District, on Nieuwmarkt square. It’s a 200 year old tram depot, and they have a large numbe of beers to choose from.
De Bekeerde Suster – Kloveniersburgwal 6-8
A 16th century monastery gets a new life as a busy cafe. Plenty of artwork inside, not to mention a varied menu.
Unlike the dark down-to-earth style of a brown cafe, designer cafes are modern and stylish. For a hipper crowd.
Dylan – Keizersgracht 384
This cafe is in the lobby of the Dylan hotel, and is quite trendy. Guests for the restaurant are seated first so you may have Jamaican food a bit of a wait to get inside if its busy.
Cafe Diep – Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 256
You can find just about any kind of person at the Cafe Diep, from artists to businessmen. The couches are comfortable and the DJ plays a mix of music styles.
Finch – Noordermarkt 5
Retro and funky, the Finch cafe is near the popular organic food market in Noordermarkt. It’s where the hip people come to relax.
Lime – Zeedijk 104
It’s near the He Hua temple and the Red Light District, and a popular cafe to visit before hitting the dance clubs.
The last type of Amsterdam cafe is the grand cafe. They’re classy, spacious and traditional. The menus are more diverse, and you can usually find open space to just sit and read.
Cafe De Jaren – Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20
You can find one of the loveliest terraces in Amsterdam at the Cafe De Jaren. It’s right on the Amstel river. Has a good reading table, too.
Cafe Dante – Spuistraat 320
An art deco cafe that comes alive after the work day is finished. There is seating for a quiet drink, or for more rowdy conversation. An art gallery takes up the second floor.
Cafe Luxembourg – Spui 24
Their lunch menu is well-known, and the interior of the Cafe Luxembourg is classic and stylish. You can find a number of great Belgian beers to enjoy along with your meal.
Cafe Dantzig – Zwanenbrugwal 15
Behind the Waterlooplein market, the Cafe Dantzig has a large terrace over the river. Many politicians favor this cafe since it is near the city administration offices.