Gay Amsterdam 2018: our guide to the best gay cafes, bars, clubs and hotels
We love visiting Amsterdam. Whether it's for a city break, romantic weekend or a gay party, we always know we're going to have a terrific time.
Whilst Amsterdam is most notorious for its “coffeeshops” where you can smoke joints legally, it is also culturally rich with excellent museums and has the most distinctive urban landscape. The city is dominated by water, with 165 canals, around 500 bridges, lots of cute narrow cobblestone streets and many many many bicycles! It's so picturesque that the network of canals in the 17th century historic old town (called the “Canal Ring“) was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Amsterdam is also super gay, which is not surprising given that it is the capital city of one of the most gay friendly countries in the world! Just like the gay scene of Berlin, Amsterdam is one of the few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking the streets holding hands, or don't feel like we have to look over our shoulders when kissing in public. It also has some fantastic parties, gay hangouts and many events, which we've summarised in this gay Amsterdam travel guide:
Table of Contents
- 1 Gay district of Amsterdam
- 2 Amsterdam gay cafes and coffeeshops
- 3 Amsterdam gay bars
- 4 Amsterdam gay clubs
- 5 Amsterdam gay parties
- 6 Gay cruising Amsterdam
- 7 Gay saunas and bathhouses in Amsterdam
- 8 Gay Amsterdam events
- 9 Gay shops in Amsterdam
- 10 Amsterdam gay hotels
- 11 Practical tips for gay travellers to Amsterdam
Gay district of Amsterdam
Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main gay street of Amsterdam. It is located just outside of the city's Canal Ring in the south of the city. Here you can find most of the gay bars, shops, clubs and cafes.
Further up from Reguliersdwarsstraat just by the Westerkerk church you can find the large pink Homomonument triangle memorial. When it was opened in 1987, it became the first memorial in the world to commemorate all gay men and women who were persecuted because of their sexuality by the Nazis. Next to the Homomonument is the “Pink Point“, Amsterdam's official gay and lesbian information kiosk.
Amsterdam gay cafes and coffeeshops
Our favourite coffeeshops and gay cafes in Amsterdam are located on Reguliersdwarsstraat. Remember in Amsterdam a cafe is a place you go for caffeine and a coffeeshop for smoking marijuana.
- Lunchroom Downtown: a staple since the 1970s. This is a cool place to hang out during the day especially on the outdoor terrace on a sunny day. It's open everyday until around 7pm.
- The Otherside: very trendy gay friendly coffeeshop with the coolest artwork to enjoy as you get high. It is open everyday until midnight.
- Betty Boop: chilled atmosphere for smoking hash and weed. It has 2 floors and a small terrace. Betty Boop is open every day until 1am.
Amsterdam gay bars
There are so many gay bars in Amsterdam that your best bet is to head to Reguliersdwarsstraat and go from there. These are some of the best gay bars of Amsterdam, which are mainly located on Reguliersdwarsstraat, unless stated otherwise.
- SoHo: one of the largest gay bars which becomes a dancing venue late in the evening. The outdoor terrace is a cool place to hangout when the weather allows it. SoHo is open Wednesday to Sunday from 6pm until 3am (4am on weekends).
- Prik: we love the play on words with Prik (which means bubbles in Dutch). As well as being a fun place to hangout, Prik also has events like Speed Dating, Karaoke and the Prik Pride street party in the summer. Check their Facebook page for full details. Prik is open everyday from 4pm to 1am and is located at Spuistraat 109.
- Amstel 54: a modern video bar with hilarious drag performance on Sundays. It is located a few streets away from the Reguliersdwarsstraat at 1017 AB Amsterdam and is open everyday from 5pm to 3am (4am on weekends).
- Taboo: another popular and quite large gay bar in Reguliersdwarsstraat spread over 2 floors. It is open everyday from 5pm to 3am (4am on weekends).
- Cafe Reality: dubbed as “the hottest Black and White Gay Bar in Amsterdam“. It's the place to come if you love Latino and Caribbean music. It's particularly popular with the Surinamese and Antillean LGBTQ community, especially “black and coloured” men (as stated on their website). Cafe Reality is located at the Rembrandtplein end of the Reguliersdwarsstraat and is open everyday from 8pm to 3am (5am on weekends).
- Exit Cafe: Exit is one of the popular gay bars on Reguliersdwarsstraat, decorated in a quirky après ski style. It is often crowded, with a fun mixed crowd that spills out onto the outdoor terrace. Exit Cafe is open every evening until 4am (5am on weekends).
- Cafe het Dwarsliggertje: a very Dutch bar on Reguliersdwarsstraat attracting a more local crowd. It is open everyday until 3am (5am on weekends).
- Duke of Tokyo: after years of moving around to new locations, the Duke of Tokyo finally settled into its new permanent home on Reguliersdwarsstraat. As the name suggests it is Japanese inspired, decorated so that you feel like you're in a small alley in Tokyo. It also has 8 private karaoke booths which can be rented by groups of 4-25 people. It is open everyday (except Tuesday) from 5pm to 1am (3am on weekends).
- Cafe Lellebel: one of the best drag bars in Amsterdam with some killer lip synch performances! We love the live shows here, which we definitely recommend checking out. Lellebel is located a few blocks away from Reguliersdwarsstraat at Utrechtsestraat 4 and is open everyday from 9pm till 3am (5am on weekends).
- Spijker Bar: proudly serving the gay community since 1978 when it used to be a jeans and leather bar. Today Spijker is a cool bar for everyone, with the ad hoc fetish sports nights. Check their Facebook events page for details about the next one. Spijker is located at Kerkstraat 4 and is open everyday until 1am (4am on weekends).
- Queen's Head: one of the more charismatic gay bars in Amsterdam, decorated with fifties glam kitsch and famous for its Drag Bingo nights. It's located at Zeedijk 20 right in the middle of the Canal Ring at the edge of the famous Red Light District. The Queen's Head is open everyday until 1am (3am on weekends).
- Getto: unpretentious gay bar going strong since 1996, which welcomes everyone. We love the creative names given to their cocktails and burgers, named after drag queens, like “Horny Queen Maxima“, “Jennifer Hopelezz” and “Windy Mills“. Getto is located on Warmoesstraat 51, which is the focal point for Amsterdam’s leather scene. It is open everyday (except Mondays) until 1am (2am on weekends).
- Cafe Fame: small and intimate gay bar overlooking the Amstel river. It attracts quite a young crowd and has lots of happy hours each evening. It is located around the corner from Reguliersdwarsstraat on Amstel 50 and is open everyday until 3am (4am on weekends).
- Montmarte: friendly gay bar which you'll love if you're into 80s and 90s pop classics. They have a daily happy hour between 6-8pm and every 2nd Friday is “Goed Draag” Day. Montmarte is located in the Canal Ring at Halvemaansteeg 17 and is open every day until around 3 (4am on weekends).
Amsterdam gay clubs
These are some of the best gay clubs in Amsterdam, which we loved:
- Club NYX: huge club on Reguliersdwarsstraat spread over 3 floors. It is named after Nyx, the Greek Goddess of the night. It attracts quite a young trendy crowd, particularly the Thursday “Sugar Daddy” night. Club Nyx is only open on the weekend, from 11pm until 4am on Thursdays and 5am on Fridays/Saturdays.
- Club YOLO: very cool weekend club where the cool kids go to party. They sometimes have themed evenings like the Friday “Latin Night“. YOLO is located at Amstel 178 and is only open Thursday to Sunday from 8pm till 7am the next morning.
- Eagle Amsterdam: a men-only gay cruising club spread over 3 floors complete with dance floor, wet & piss areas, douche facilities, darkrooms, showers, slings, glory holes and more. It's open Tuesday to Sunday until 4am (5am on weekends) and is located at Warmoesstraat 90.
- Club Church: Amsterdam's best gay sex club that organises various themed nights everyday like Blue Kooking Klubbing drag night on Thursdays, Zonderbroek underwear party on Fridays, SOS Sex on Sundays, and more. Church is located at Kerkstraat 52. Check their website for details of the latest events and opening hours, and watch this fascinating video about it:
Amsterdam gay parties
These are some of the best monthly gay parties in Amsterdam you may want to look out for during your visit:
- FunHouse XL by Rapido: one of the most popular monthly “circuit” style gay parties in Amsterdam taking place at various locations. Check out the Events section on their website for the latest information and to buy tickets.
- Shelter is Burning @ Shelter: gay electro night at alternating venues throughout the year. Check their Facebook Events page for details about the next party.
- Backdoor Party @ Circus Melkweg: this is more a show than a party, an evening of lots of entertainment and non-stop dancing every Saturday evening at the Melkweg, located at Lijnbaansgracht 234-A. It gets busy after midnight and goes on until 7am.
- The One @ Eagle Amsterdam: every month, The Eagle club hosts “The One” club night, which gets pretty busy! Check out The One's Facebook page for the latest information about the next event.
- Bear Necessity: Amsterdam's largest monthly bear party taking place on select Saturday evenings at Panama Amsterdam on Oostelijke Handelskade 4. Check their website for details about the next party.
Gay cruising Amsterdam
Gay cruising clubs like Church and Eagle (see above) are the best places to head when it's too cold or wet outside. For outdoor fun, these are the more notorious gay cruising spots in Amsterdam:
- Nieuwe Meer lake at Oeverlanden: Nieuwe Meer is a small lake in the Oeverlanden park, which is just outside the Canal Ring. It has a clothing-optional sunbathing area, making it a popular spot in the summer months. As this is the only place where cruising is officially recognised and tolerated, you can find action happening both night and day.
- Oosterpark: large park in Amsterdam East, which gets cruisy after dark in the area next to the Tropenmuseum. It goes without saying you should take care here when cruising at night as robbery and stabbings frequently take place.
- Vondelpark Rose Garden: public urban park in Amsterdam South with a popular gay cruising spot on the right hand side of the park towards the end known as the “Rose Garden”. Cruising usually happens after dark, but during the summer months you can see some daytime action as well.
- Zandvoort nudist beach: Zandvoort is a beach resort town around 30 minutes train journey from Amsterdam Centraal followed by a 30 minute walk south to the official nudist beach. Just like the gay beach of Gran Canaria, it is surrounded by dunes which makes it popular for cruising.
Gay saunas and bathhouses in Amsterdam
Currently there is only one gay sauna in Amsterdam called Nieuwezijds, named after its address at Nieuwezijds Armsteeg 95. It is conveniently located in the Canal Ring, very close to Amsterdam Centraal station.
Nieuwezijds has events like “Mellow Mondays“, “No Towel Tuesdays” and a bear night on the last Saturday of each month. It is open every from midday until 6am the next morning (extended to 10am on weekends).
Gay Amsterdam events
Amsterdam Pride is the big one that takes over the entire city and is one of the most famous Pride events the world. There are also a handful of other gay events taking place throughout the year:
- Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March: the best way to welcome the Spring to the city, with your bear buddies to hand! The Bear Weekend includes pub crawls, parties and the election of the “Mister Bear Netherlands“.
- Amsterdam gay Pride in July/August: the last week of July and first week of August the city turns into one fabulous colourful party. The Amsterdam gay Pride parade in early August is world famous because it is the only one that takes place on water, with 80 boat-floats making their way through the canals. Also not to miss during Pride are the street parties, particularly on Reguliersdwarsstraat.
- Amsterdam Leather Pride in October: the biggest leather party in Holland attracting thousands of leather and fetish fans on the last weekend in October. As well as lots of parties, it includes the crowning of the new “Mister Leather Amsterdam“, “Mister Leather Netherlands” and “Mister Leather Europe“.
- International Queer & Migrant Film Festival (IQMF) in December: queer film festival featuring LGBTQ films as well as panel talks, debates, masterclasses and parties.
Gay shops in Amsterdam
There are many gay shops in Amsterdam depending on what you are looking for. These are some of the best ones:
- Artem Bodywear: sexy underwear, swimwear and trendy sportswear for men, located on the Reguliersdwarsstraat street.
- Black Body Shop: has the biggest collection of rubber clothing and toys in Europe. It is located at Kerkstraat 173.
- Drake's Luxury Boutique: offers a wide range of gay-orientated clothing, home accessories, adults toys. It is located at Damrak 61.
- RoB Amsterdam: sells a variety of clothes, toys, gadgets and more. It is located at Warmoesstraat 71.
- Mister B: popular leather and fetish chain, which sells a range of toys, clothing and accessories. It is located at Prinsengracht 192.
Amsterdam gay hotels
Amsterdam is one very gay friendly city where you are unlikely to ever have any problems finding a place to stay that welcomes gay travellers.
Whether we were travelling on a budget, a romantic break to celebrate an anniversary, a weekend city break from London or a stag weekend, every place we've stayed at has been welcoming and never had an issue about us sharing a double bed. For more information, check out our top 10 favourite gay hotels in Amsterdam guide. We also recommend checking the listings on Misterbnb, which are plentiful in Amsterdam. If you use our link or click on the image, you can claim a €10 credit.
Practical tips for gay travellers to Amsterdam
Travel insurance: is a must! You don't need travel insurance until something serious happens, so make sure you're covered! Whether it is through your credit card, or other private insurer, it doesn't cost much and it will give you peace of mind during your trip. We personally use World Nomads because they offer a great cover at a reasonable price. You can also compare the best quotes for travel insurance here.
Accommodation: whether you're looking for luxury, budget, hipster, trendy or classic, Amsterdam has accommodation to suit everyone. For more, check out our 10 unique gay friendly hotels in Amsterdam. TripAdvisor is a good place to start your research. But if like us, you prefer renting an apartment, which allows you to do your own cooking and give you more flexibility, Airbnb has a huge offering for Amsterdam as well as Misterbnb.
Don't get lost: one tip is to use the GoogleMaps on your phone as it has the most up-to-date information about all transport options.