Topping the list of gay-friendly destinations, Amsterdam is an oasis for travelers who can let loose, showing their true colors in one of the most liberal-minded cities on the map. The Netherlands has a progressive history when it comes to tolerance and rights for minorities. It even set the bar in 2001 as the first country to officially recognize same-sex marriage. The city of canals boasts a compact center that makes almost everything walking distance. If you’re feeling particularly Dutch, venture out on a bicycle to admire farther sights.
After a day of cycling around town and hitting up the city’s LGBT districts, rest up for some energetic nightlife. From going to Church to Taboo, Amsterdam is packed with gay-friendly bars and clubs.
Table of Contents
1. General Tips
2. Transportation & Airport Transfer
3. Gay Hotels in Amsterdam
4. Sightseeing & Activities in Amsterdam
5. Amsterdam Gay Tours
6. Restaurants and Cafes
7. Amsterdam Gay Bars
8. Amsterdam Gay Clubs and Parties
9. Amsterdam Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
10. Gay Events in Amsterdam
11. Day Trips from Amsterdam
Amsterdam is probably one of the few cities in the world where the traditional idea of a gay bar is probably no longer necessary. The Netherlands was in fact the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage so it’s no surprise its iconic city of Amsterdam is so progressive. Remember, this is the place where prostitution is legal and you can actually buy and smoke (or eat!) marijuana legally in places called “coffeeshops” all throughout the city including The Otherside Coffeeshop, a gay favorite place in town.
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Transportation & Airport Transfer
Public transport in Amsterdam is effective and easy to use. If you’re flying in, you’ll arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Simply catch the train at Schiphol to travel directly Amsterdam Central Station, which only takes about 15 minutes. From Amsterdam Central Station, you can transfer lines or walk to your hotel or accommodation, depending on where you’re staying. The one-way train ride costs about 6€.
Public transport in Amsterdam consists of trams, buses and metros. The most convenient option for visitors is a disposable one-hour card or day card (valid for one to seven days). One-hour tickets can be bought from the conductor or driver on the tram or bus. Day tickets can be bought on the tram or purchased in advance.
Gay Hotels in Amsterdam
When visiting Amsterdam, it’s best to stay central which makes getting around the city’s attractions easy. There aren’t currently any gay hotels in Amsterdam, but there are many gay-friendly options.
Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam – perfectly located, this 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of Amsterdam offers luxurious rooms in an unique historical ambiance with French elegance. A blend of Dutch history and French luxurious contemporary design. It features a top-level restaurant, various bars and a spa with an indoor pool area.
Lloyd Hotel – offers unique rooms in a transformed historic building. Within 10 minutes you will reach Amsterdam Central Station by tram. The iconic building of the Lloyd Hotel has spacious rooms in all shapes and sizes and every room is unique. Guests who wish to explore Amsterdam in an active way can rent a bicycle at the hotel and request a packed lunch for their trip.
NH Amsterdam – this hotel is located in the museum and fashion district and combines leisure facilities, elegant rooms and a convenient location. Amenities include a fitness center, sauna and steam bath. Guests can also enjoy a drink at the Bar & Kitchen Copper onsite.
Quentin Golden Bear – it’s a mainstream hotel with a gay history. Previously an LGBT-owned property, it’s now simply gay-friendly. Centrally located in Amsterdam in Kerkstraat and walking distance from the well-known Club Church. A Dutch breakfast buffet is available each morning.
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Sightseeing & Activities in Amsterdam
Sex Museum –The Sex Museum has been around for more than 20 years and has managed to collect many hundreds of interesting pieces of art, unique objects and rare old photographs, but avoids the bluntness of pornography to bring them together in an organized and interesting way.
Ann Frank House – the home where Ann Frank and her family lived and hid during the war. It’s a writer's house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. It preserves the hiding place, has a permanent exhibition on the life and times of Anne Frank and has an exhibition space about all forms of persecution and discrimination. Book tour →
Canal Cruise – See Amsterdam at its most picturesque on a 1.5-hour canal cruise by night. Discover the historic city center as you sail past the Skinny Bridge, Golden Bend, and more. Marvel at the illuminated merchant houses and learn where the local hotspots are. Book tour →
Red Light District – From brothels to sex shops to museums, the Amsterdam Red Light District has it all. But contrary to what a lot of people might think, the Amsterdam Red Light District has a very friendly atmosphere and isn't as dangerous as it used to be. Book tour →
Amsterdam Gay Tours
LGBT History Tour Amsterdam – Get an in-depth look at LGBT history in Amsterdam on this walking tour with a guide who lived through the beginnings of the movement. Listen to the history of the 1980s and 1990s, when Amsterdam was the gay capital of the world, and visit landmarks important to LGBT history. With a small group, you'll have plenty of chances to ask questions and enjoy an intimate group atmosphere. Book tour →
Gaily Tour in Amsterdam – be immersed in Amsterdam’s vibrant LGBT scene on this private walking tour of the Dutch capital. Choose a time and package that works for you, then set off with your guide to learn about the community’s history, exploring neighborhoods such as Jordaan and De Wallen and hearing plenty of personalized insights along the way. Book tour →
local gay guide – find various tours offered by local gay guides in the city. Their guides create an authentic experience for you and make you feel like a local as well. Check out neighborhoods outside of the tourist areas, see the LGBTQ+ scene, get recommendations only locals know and of course, visit the iconic places too. Some tours offered in Amsterdam include: Queer history tour and Explore hidden streets. Book tour →
Restaurants and Cafes
Café de Jaren – a bright and spacious café located in the center of Amsterdam. The first-floor balcony and sunny canal-side terrace on the Kloveniersburgwal offer views across the River Amstel. Café de Jaren owes its popularity to the quality of the food and drink it serves, the reading table, the canal-side terrace and balcony, the variety of tucked-away places to sit and the light and spacious atmosphere.
Supperclub – a place where like-minds find each other and go home with a story at the end of the night. Supperclub brings you a night full of spectacle, from an exciting 5-course surprise menu, to amazing music, exciting performances and visuals. Everyone plays a role, even you, and fills in the white canvas that is the Supperclub.
Restaurant d' Vijff Vlieghen – The restaurant is often referred to as a culinary museum. Walls are decorated with beautiful gold-plated leather from the 17th and 19th century. d’Vijff Vlieghen is situated in the center of Amsterdam and is an ideal location for a romantic dinner.
Amsterdam Gay Bars
Prik – Award winning cocktail bar that is nonetheless completely welcoming and unpretentious. Locals, expats and tourists alike hang out in the chic pink interior and large terrace – with a busy dance floor on the weekends. Prik doesn't mean what you think though: it in fact means ‘bubbles’ in Dutch in reference to the Prosecco they serve from the tap!
Café ’t-Mandje – They say it’s rude to ask a woman her age, but this bar wears it as a mark of pride. Cafe ’t Mandje is the oldest gay bar in Amsterdam – it's been around since 1927 and was opened by the legendary lesbian “aunt bet”. Thus it is as much an important symbol in gay history as it is a bar and café. The bar staff are friendly and it has a cool, busy vintage interior with testaments to its history shown through pictures and art.
Soho -Sexy and sassy and everything you’d expect from a gay party bar. It's big, which is fortunate as it gets busy most days. They also have a happy hour and play house and pop tunes with hot go go dancers strutting on the bar. Found on Reguliersdwarsstraat – the busiest gay street.
Exit Café – Known as “the coziest terrace in Amsterdam”, Exit Café is found right in the center of Reguliersdwarsstraat. Open every day till midnight it's a great meeting place and focal point for the gay nightlife of the area – whether you plan on a quick drink or a heavy night out. Inside it has its own dance floor with DJs playing the best commercial music.
Taboo -This fun bar is part of the gay secret village, close to the flower market in the main gay street of Amsterdam. It is easy to see why this bar is so popular as they have not one, but two happy hours – the first between 6-7pm and the latter between 1-2am – making it a great place to drink before clubbing. Throughout the week they host a range of nights but their most advertised event is a Wednesday cocktail party, which includes games, drag shows and of course cocktails.
Amstel 54 -Named after the area it is found in, Amstel 54 is a more traditionally Dutch bar with a tavern-like feel to it. The warm atmosphere is complemented by DJs and drag shows on Sundays.
De Lellebel – Also found in the Amstel district, this cafe/bar is all about the drag and has a well-earned reputation for its glittering lip-sync performances. The bar is run by trans women and drag queens – the ladies of the house of Lellebel – and has a fabulous array of cocktails on offer to enjoy with their spectacular shows. Sundays are dedicated to the Transgender community with events run by the Netherlands Transgender support groups.
Amsterdam Gay Clubs and Parties
Amsterdam’s gay glory days are probably in its past, which peaked in the 70’s and 80’s. Due to the open and progressive nature of the city, Amsterdam just doesn’t have the same type of gay clubbing scene that you might expect in other big European cities. That said, one or two clubs still remain and there's always the odd circuit party.
NYX – Charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent – this club has all that. Only add fun to the mix…with a sprinkling of glitter. Every Friday NYX club plays a range of tunes from House to Pop, complimented by shows and snazzy effects. A trendy yet unpretentious atmosphere which caters to the full rainbow of the LGBTQ+ community.
Rapido Events – Great international DJs, cool lights, hot topless guys. Need we say more! The biggest monthly circuit party-esque club in Amsterdam.
De Trut -The place to be on a Sunday for any queer person not into the commercial scene. The club represents great music, cheap drinks and sound ethics. De Trut has been going since the mid-eighties and is completely run by volunteers, with the profits from the party going to LGBTQ+ projects. It also operates a refreshing “no phones” policy whilst in the club to encourage visitors to enjoy the moment.
Amsterdam Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
The other popular gay area in Amsterdam is around Zeedijk and Warmoesstraat, which is where you’ll find the fetish shops and several gay cruising bars.
The Eagle – there are many Eagle bars scattered across the world and the one in Amsterdam lives up to the name. For over 43 years it has been a playground for the gays – especially for leather fetish gays but everyone is welcome really. It is both a dance club with great DJs and cruising bar with a darkroom and slings.
Cuckoo's Nest – a free to enter bar that has a rather busy darkroom attached to it. A great place to hang out and…see what happens. They run special fetish based events from time to time including Mr. Sportswear.
Dirty Dicks – perhaps appropriately located near Amsterdam’s red-light district, in the center of Amsterdam sits this “anything goes” fetish bar. A cozy bar at the front and a raunchy two floor darkroom at the back – equipped with slings, cabins, glory holes, a wet area and more. It is one of the oldest in Amsterdam and has no strict dress code, but fetish gear is highly encouraged.
Nieuwezijds – The only gay sauna in Amsterdam, but it’s a good one and found close to Central Station. It has all the usual steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzi, a darkroom and a bar area to unwind in. They run special events like No Towel Tuesday, Gender Fluids’ Wednesday and a Bears Working Up A Sweat night once a month on a Saturday.
Gay Events in Amsterdam
Pride Amsterdam – a truly one-of-a-kind experience with the canal parade attracting over 300,000 spectators, street and club parties and a Drag Queen Olympics. The parade actually takes place on the water with spectators watching from the banks of the famous canals. Huge boats full of everything from sexy dancers to leather-bound bears pass down the waterways of the city during late summer as hundreds of thousands celebrate in one of the most open and progressive cities on the planet.
King’s Day – takes place in April in honor of the Dutch King. The main day’s activities are followed by a gay-inspired night with many parties across the city.
Milkshake Festival – a relatively new LGBT-focused, outdoor music and dance festival held in July.
Day Trips from Amsterdam
Rotterdam – Rotterdam is the second largest city in The Netherlands – one hour south of Amsterdam and two hours north of Brussels. It’s an incredibly modern and diverse city and is not at all what you might think when you imagine a major European city. The sightseeing in Rotterdam isn’t historic and the architecture isn’t old. But this is what makes Rotterdam stand out. This is the contrast to the rest of Europe.
Bruges – The city of Bruges owes its name to the various bridges you will find in it. It was declared a World Heritage City in 2000 and is also known as the Venice of the North. It also has a great Medieval period architectural heritage, which you can enjoy as you walk through the city. Book tour →