Amsterdam is one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities with a long and established history of supporting its LGBT residents and tourists alike. Liberal attitudes towards homosexuality in the early 20th century continued after the second world war and earned Amsterdam the reputation of being a go-to destination for gay travelers.
The city has several gay villages and districts brimming with gay restaurants, coffee shops, clubs, and bars. Amsterdam’s most prominent gay village is Regulierswarstraat. The iconic LGBT street began to develop into a gay hotspot in the 70s and 80s with an explosion of gay bars and clubs, cementing Amsterdam’s role as an international gay destination.
Amsterdam’s annual pride celebrations are some of the biggest in the world and attract several hundred thousand people every year during the last week of July. Although many of the events take place in the city’s streets, the pinnacle of the pride festival is the canal parade, in which local residents and businesses decorate barges and boats to celebrate Amsterdam’s thriving LGBT community.
Amsterdam has experiences and venues for gay people across the board; from guided tours and historical monuments to some of Europe’s most thriving gay clubs.
Amsterdam is home to Europe’s first gay bar; Café ‘t Mandje, which was opened in 1927 and remains a popular space for LGBT people to meet and connect. Today, Amsterdam is renowned for its gay nightlife venues, both for their historical significance and vibrant atmospheres. Most of the city’s most popular gay bars are on Regulierswarstraat, which is known for its LGBT friendly venues.
PRIK! has been one of Amsterdam’s most popular gay bars since it opened its doors in 2006. The bar, which boasts a large terrace and a vibrant interior has been voted “Best gay venue in Amsterdam” twice by TimeOut magazine. Prik means bubbles in dutch, a reference to the bars prosecco on tap. If you’re after an evening cocktail in the heart of Amsterdam then look no further.
An increasingly popular venue is De Trut; a former squat converted into a non-profit gay bar. The volunteer staff at De Trut serve affordable drinks every Sunday with the proceeds going back into causes affecting the LGBT community. The bar is slightly further out from the Regulierswarstraat and other gay districts but is still accessible by a scenic 20-minute tram ride.
Gay bars and clubs in Regulierswarstraat
Bar BLEND is a lively and dynamic gay club in the heart of Amsterdam’s gay district. The venue has something for everyone with a large bar on the ground floor and a comfortable and social seating area upstairs. BLEND tends to get busier later on in the evening with a diverse range of drag shows and speciality nights.
Opened in 1978, Spijker welcomes a diverse mix of locals and tourists. Known for being a popular venue amongst the leather scene, the bar holds an array of events from Bear Dance Night to weekly gay bingo.
If you’re looking for a later night, NYX is a gay club on Regulierswarstraat main street; spanning three levels of dance floor and bar area, the club prides itself on the openmindedness of its staff and patrons. Thursday is student night with cheaper drinks and there’s 3xNYX, a club night that runs until 9:00 am on the first Saturday of every month.
Gay cafes and coffee shops in Amsterdam
“Coffee shops” in the Netherlands are cafes that hold a license to sell and serve cannabis products as well as regular coffee and light meals.
The Otherside Coffee shop is an upmarket and stylish venue located on Reguliersdwarsstraat in the center of Amsterdam’s gay nightlife district. The classy but cosy cafe provides the perfect setting to enjoy both the coffee and cannabis products on offer.
Also on Reguliersdwarsstraat is the Downtown Lunchroom; a classic and gay-friendly cafe serving a mix of traditional and healthy meals. Popular amongst the city’s gay community and tourists alike, the Downtown Lunchroom is the oldest venue on Reguliersdwarsstraat and is established within Amsterdam’s gay scene.
Amistad Hotel is a traditional and authentic gay hotel, run by a group of gay men from across the world. The hotel offers a homey experience with both double and single rooms available to guests and complete with all the personal touches of a small hotel. The popular cruising club Church is only 100 meters away and some of Amsterdam’s best shopping districts are also within walking distance.
For backpackers and budget travelers, the Hotel CC is a gay-friendly hotel situated in the very center of Amsterdam and is within walking distance to many iconic attractions including Dam Square and the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. The boutique rooms are affordable and decorated to a high standard with many of Amsterdam’s most popular gay venues nearby.
Art and Culture in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to some of the world’s most impressive museums and galleries, including the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandthuis and the Stedelijk museum.
If you’re looking to experience the rich artistic culture of the city through an LGBT lens there are plenty of gay guided tours of the city. Whether you’re interested in learning more about Amsterdam’s LGBT history or experiencing the world-renowned Rijksmuseum with a knowledgeable gay guide, there’s something for everyone.
There are a number of parks that are hotspots for cruising in Amsterdam. One of them even has a dedicated area where cruising is allowed by law – Oeverlanden. It’s worth making sure you follow the rules if you can and remember it’s important to take precautions and stay safe when doing so. Read More: Gay cruising in Amsterdam.
Gay rights in Amsterdam
The Netherlands has a strong LGBT history and in particular Amsterdam. Arguably the birthplace of LGBT rights, homosexuality was decriminalized in 1811 and the first gay bar opened in 1927. However, the invasion of the Netherlands by the Nazis led to the oppression of the city’s gay population and as such there are a number of monuments dedicated to the LGBT community in Amsterdam, one of which is the Homomonument; a large installation in memory to the LGBT people who lost their lives as a result of persecution during the second world war. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Amsterdam