Amsterdam is the king of European stag weekends, with a reputation as a kind of adult playground. Partygoers stagger through the Leidseplein well into the wee hours, while De Waller (Red Light District) unabashedly caters to human desire. Come sunrise, many a hangover is mellowed in the smoky coffeeshops of the Rembrandtplein.
For such a small city, Amsterdam packs in tons to do: grand art galleries, museums, vintage shops and markets just the tip of the list. Most attractions are in walking distance, meaning you can pick up a stroopwafel on your way to the Rijkmuseum, or pop in for a craft beer at one of the city’s excellent breweries. People here prefer to take the scenic route, cycling or hopping on the free ferries along its sprawling network of canals.
However, the best thing about the Dutch capital is the sense of freedom. An air of ‘free love’ remains from the 60s, with progressive laws on sex work and drugs. Locals enjoy these liberties responsibly, taking their time inside atmospheric old bars (aka brown cafes). This forward-thinking mindset translates to the city’s fascinating supply of local businesses: quirky condom emporiums, smart shops and the Electric Ladyland fluorescent museum make for brain-bending experiences.
Get cosy and leave your inhibitions at the door - Amsterdam has little room for them.
If you are thinking of organising your stag do in Amsterdam then why not check out ourAmsterdam Stag Optionsor talk to one of our stag experts who will help organize everything from accommodation, airport transfers, bars crawls, VIP night clubs and every type of experience and activity you can think of to make your stag weekend the most memorable of your life!
The Red Light District (De Wallen)
Amsterdam’s world famous Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. Anything goes in the neighbourhood that is devoted to sex shops, erotic shows, brothels and sex museums. Amsterdam is banning all tours of the Red Light District from 2020, as it’s causing congestion and preventing sex workers from getting any actual business (most people just come to stop and stare). If you wander off to a brothel for a giggle, don’t be surprised if you get asked to make a transaction. Note that taking photos of sex workers in display windows is illegal.
You can buy weed legally at acoffeeshop in Amsterdam, and you’ll find hundreds of them spread across the city with every establishment having their own unique atmosphere. Make sure you go to a real coffeeshop though, rather than a ‘cafe’ or ‘coffee shop’, as these are usually bars or actual coffee houses.
Get your mates on aBeer Bikeand take in the great views of the city - you can even pour yourselves pints as you pedal during this boozy guided tour! There are more bikes than people in Amsterdam, it's one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world, so there's no better way to explore the city’s streets than by pedal power.
Canal Boat Cruise
A great way to experience the city is to take acanal cruisealong the Amsterdam Canals. After boarding your canal boat, you can get the drinks flowing as you set sail along the river while taking in the best sights of Amsterdam. After a few drinks, you can even hit the dancefloor and cut some shapes to the onboard soundtrack.
Heineken Brewery Tour
This self-guided tour takes you aroundthe original Heineken brewery, which dates back to 1867 and has now been converted into a unique interactive experience. You'll learn about the history of the world famous Amsterdam beer, the ingredients behind it and the brewing process, before topping off the tour with two free pints - nice!
Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein
Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein are considered to be the main stag nightlife areas in Amsterdam, with most of the popular venues found in these two districts. Rembrandtplein has become a vibrant hub of activity for both locals and visitors full of bars, nightclubs and live music for you to dance the night away in. Leidseplein is also a busy spot - on any night, young people can be seen coming and going from the many venues around the square, with most not shutting until the early hours.
As night falls, Amsterdam leaves its cutesy persona at home and grabs a fistful of glowsticks, offering experiences that range from homely to hardcore. You’ll finddance clubs, live music, cosy pubs and trendy speakeasies, alongside a thriving LGBTQ scene. Most clubs stay open until 3 am during the week and 4 am on the weekend, with some exceptions keeping it pumping until sunrise.
Expect to pay an entrance fee to most venues, with a casual (but tidy) dress code. The legal drinking age here is 18 and expect to show ID at the door. The history of rowdy stag dos in this city means that venues are wary of letting large groups of loud, drunk men inside - so having good manners go a long way. Whether you prefer casual drinks inone of the Amsterdam’s many barsor a wild night in one of the city’s lively nightclubs. Amsterdam will deliver.
Located on the Leidseplein, this stylish, boutique nightclub offers exclusive table service and VIP tables. The club is also great for big groups with a massive dance floor and one of the best sound systems in the city blasting the hottest nightclub classics.
Guided Bar Crawl and Club Entry
Eat like a local
When in Amsterdam you have to try some of the famous Dutch delicacies such as pickled herring (nicer than it sounds) or bitterballen (deep fried crispy meatballs!). If that's not your thing then never fear, there are plenty of international restaurants spread across the city that will feel a bit more like home.
This huge indoor food market is set in an old tram depot in Amsterdam west. There is a huge bar in the centre of the market surrounded by around 20 different food vendors inside serving both local and international dishes. Try the Entrecôte Mobiel (steak sandwiches), The Butcher (gourmet burgers) and Jabugo (authentic Spanish deli) stalls.
Febo is the ultimate fast food chain. The Dutch restaurant keeps its products in small warm compartments in a vending machine. Just put your coins in, and the door to your snack will open. No waiting - this is the ultimate fast food. With prices between €1,20 and €3,00, it's a great cheap spot. Plus, with most Febos open until 3am in the main nightlife hotspots, it will satisfy all of your drunken cravings.
Useful Amsterdam phrases
Kunt u nij helpen?= Can you help me?
Kan ik je lets vragen?= Can I ask you something?
Kan ik lets bestellen?= Could I order?
Ik ben op zoek naar…= I’m looking for…
Kunt u mij vertellen waar de toiletten zijn?= Where are the toilets?
Kan ik een biertje bestellen?= Could I order a beer?
Kunt u mij vertellen hoe laat het is?= Could you tell me how much that is?
Hoe veel kost dit?= How much does it cost?
Kan ik betalen?= Can I pay?
Amsterdam Local Areas
De Pijp – a little slice of heaven for foodies
This area of Amsterdam is well known for its trendy bars, upmarket restaurants and a huge variety of ethnic eateries. De Pijp is also home to the famous Heineken brewery which offers tours to the public and is a real hit with tourists.
Noord – look north for bohemian vibes
With a distinctly bohemian vibe, Noord (Dutch for ‘north’) is where you’ll find an exciting mix of festivals, quaint villages and unique restaurants. Originally a shipyard on the other side of the IJ lakes, the area has been transformed into a cultural hotspot. The ferry to Noord is located behind Amsterdam’s Central Station and runs every couple of minutes. Free to ride, it’s a great way to see the city from the river.
Oostelijk Havengebied – Amsterdam’s ultra modern east side
The Eastern Docklands is the best place to take in and admire the city’s modern architecture. It’s also one of the best areas for late nights, with many of its quirky restaurants and bars staying open until the early hours of the morning.
Oud-West – a relaxed area for Amsterdam’s residents
Oud-West is predominantly a residential area dotted with large mansions and cool, laid-back places to eat. There is a much slower pace of life here compared to the Centrum and other areas.
Westpark – Centrum’s lively next door neighbour
Westpark is next to Centrum and there’s always something going on. A great location for eating out, late night drinks and clubs, Westpark’s architecture is also a key focal point. De Amsterdamse School can be found here, and interested parties can learn about the city’s unique architecture. The creative spaces at Westergasfabriek are also worth a visit, with many events held there during the summer months.
When to Visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam has its charms whatever time of year you go. Spring (April to June) summons the arrival of tulips, painting the Keukenhof Gardens in a gorgeous sea of colour. Longer days coincide with some of the country’s most important public holidays, including King’s Day, where citizens wear orange (the national colour) and take over the capital for merrymaking. Summer (June to September) is peak season in The Netherlands, with the year’s most expensive flights giving you access to gorgeous weather, perpetual sunlight and mad music festivals. Things start to cool down in autumn (October to December), as Amsterdam enters its low season. This is the best time to enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam at lower prices, as leaves start to fall across the amber reflections of the canal. Winter (January to March) offers huge hotel discounts, Christmas lights and the chance to see Golden Age architecture covered in a blanket of snow.
Getting Around Amsterdam
With Amsterdam’s canals and environmentally-friendly traffic policies, you won’t find much congestion, but this also means you’re limited when it comes to buses and taxis (though Uber is widely available). Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives that better show off the city’s charms.
Bicycles are a local favourite and Amsterdam’s streets are designed with this in mind, making for safer, smoother journeys. Rent one from your hotel or from one of the city’s many ‘fiet’ (bike) shops. Prices start from around €8 per day. Alternatively, download the FlickBike app and pick up a rental nearby.
With GVB Amsterdam’s public transport options, the city is very well-connected. You’ll find GVB buses, trams, trains, the metro and ferries (which are free), all easily paid for with an OV-chipkaart - a smart card that gives you unlimited travel for its duration (making it simply the best travel card for Amsterdam). If you’re there for a few days, grab a multi-day or single-day ticket (valid for 24 hours). Check out this Amsterdam public transport planner to find the best route.
Cruises and Ferries
A more relaxing alternative is seeing the city from the water with a canal cruise, which makes frequent stops at top attractions. Free ferries are also available at Centraal Station to and from Amsterdam Noord, which cater to cyclists.
Where to stay
On a tight stag budget? When staying in Amsterdam, there are a lot of trendy and affordableaccommodation choices. If you’re just looking for a cheap place to dump your bags, a dorm room is your best bet. Or, if you want to splurge on somewhere a bit more impressive, you’ll find a lot of stylish hotels in the city. Whatever you choose, Amsterdam is a compact city so it’s likely to be close to the city centre.
Top stag bar crawl bars in Amsterdam
Best bars in Amsterdam:
Café Belgique, Gravenstraat
A tiny bar offering a wide selection of beers, with eight on tap and 30 different bottles. 8 on tap and 30 bottled. Despite being located close to the tourist traps, it still manages to hold on to its unique charm. It’s also the main hangout for many local DJs and artists.
De Zotte, Raamstraat
A Dutch take on a classic Belgian beer cellar. Serves over 130 beers with a specialist glass to match each one. An absolute haven for beer connoisseurs.
De Doffer, Runstraat
De Doffer is one of Amsterdam’s many classic ‘brown cafes’ – traditional Dutch pubs with wooden interiors and smoked stained ceilings. But unlike most, this one plays host to a wonderfully mixed crowd. Offers a fantastic selection of beers and is also a great place to meet the locals.
Brouwerij ’t IJ
The Brewery Mill, as it is commonly known, brews its own beer in the windmill towering above it. This place serves very high percentage beer at relatively cheap prices in one of the coolest settings in the city. Be warned though, locals refer to the drunk tourists who stagger out of here as having been ‘spinmilled’ – and with good reason.
Canvas op de 7e, Wibautstraat
Located on the top floor of a building previously occupied by a Dutch newspaper, Canvas on the 7th is an excellent roof top bar providing unmatched views across the city. This is where creative types meet to eat, drink and dance. After dinner the place turns into one big dancefloor.
One of the few bars you can enter after 3am, Bloemenbar always has a crowd and a buzzing atmosphere. Comfortable sofas surround the dancefloor so you can catch your breath between songs.
Read here for moreAmsterdam bars.