Gay Amsterdam · City Guide
Planning a trip to Amsterdam? Then our gay Amsterdam city guide is for you.
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Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of The Netherlands. It has an urban population of over one million and a metropolitan population of over two million.
Amsterdam is known as “Venice of the North” because of its historic canals that criss-cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. There is something for every traveller’s taste here, whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city.
The city has long been a centre of gay culture and travel in Europe, boasting some of the best gay clubs, bars and hotels in the world. Amsterdam is rich with cultural heritage that is waiting to be explored.
Gay Rights in The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a world leader in terms of liberal policies towards and public acceptance of the LGBT community. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1811. The first openly gay bar opened in 1927 in Amsterdam.
One of the world’s first gay rights’ organisations, the COC, was founded here in 1946. In 1993, an Equal Rights Law outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in areas such as housing and public services.
As early as the mid-’80s, a group of gay rights activists asked the government to allow same-sex couples to marry. The law was changed on 1 April 2001 and The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.
Dutch law requires either partner must have Dutch nationality or reside in the Netherlands. The marriageable age is 18, or below 18 with parental consent. The law is only valid in the European territory of the Netherlands and does not apply to the other constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Considered the gay capital of Europe and the birthplace of gay rights, Amsterdam is naturally one of the top destinations for gay tourism.
There is a strong LGBT community, and numerous gay-owned or gay-friendly hotels, nightclubs and cafés. Nowhere else in the world will you find so many gay attractions per square meter as in the city centre of Amsterdam. The city is home to a plethora of gay clubs and bars that will suit all tastes and interests. One of the most popular gay bars in Amsterdam is Bar Blend, a lively and stylish venue spread across two floors and featuring weekly drag shows and bingo. The bar attracts a cross-section of Amsterdam’s gay scene.
There are several major gay areas. Reguliersdwarsstraat is rather mainstream and particularly popular at weekends. Nearby, the area around Amstel street with its many gay bars in traditional Dutch fashion offer style and vibe. Kerkstraat is home to a few gay hotels and some gay venues, and finally, there is the Warmoesstraat with infamous gay cruise clubs and fetish shop, such as the Black Body Shop.
Annual gay highlights in Amsterdam are New Year’s eve, the Queen’s Day on the 30th of April, the Amsterdam Gay Pride with the canal parade in August and the Leather Pride weekend in October.
For more information read Travel Gay’s gay guide to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has a huge range of accommodation to suit the desires and tastes of all gay travelers. The city is home to a number of gay-owned and focused hotels and guesthouses. These venues tend to be located in the gay districts such as Reguliersdwarsstraat and Zeedijk. A couple of the best hotels in the heart of Amsterdam’s gay districts are the Hampshire Hotel in Rembrandt square and The Albus.
Due to anti-discrimination laws and the city’s liberal views, gay travelers can expect most hotels to be gay-friendly, meaning staff are obliged to treat all guests the same regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
One of the most popular gay-friendly hotels in the city is Eden Amsterdam. Housed in a medieval building overlooking the Amstel river, Eden is perfectly located close to many of Amsterdams top gay bars and clubs, most of which can be reached quickly on foot. The hotel boasts comfortable and well-furnished rooms, and guests can enjoy the in-house bar and restaurant.
There are hotel options for gay travelers on all budgets and for a list of some of the best hotels in Amsterdam for gay travellers, please visit our Gay Amsterdam Hotels and Gay Amsterdam Luxury Hotels pages.
Art and culture in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has been home to many iconic figures of history, social movements and artistic revolutions, and the signs of these moments and people can still be observed throughout the city. Visitors looking to understand the Amsterdam’s unique history through an LGBT+ lens should take a gay focused guided tour. There are a number of tours centred on Amsterdams queer history and culture so check in advance to see which one is right for you.
Amsterdam is also home to some of the most famous museums and galleries in the world including the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandthuis and Stedelijk Museum.
There is a range of massage experiences and venues throughout Amsterdam. Opportunities vary from gay yoga and massage classes to more traditional services. The majority of massage venues in Amsterdam are maintained to a high standard and offer travelers a comfortable and relaxing experience.
Slaunge is a premium gay massage venue offering a variety of services and massage techniques. Slaunge centres the personalisation of guests experiences and visitors can enjoy the typical dutch liberalism that can be found throughout the city. The venue is located in the heart of Amsterdam, making it an accessible and convenient location for any gay traveler.
Travelers to Amsterdam can also enjoy the more unique experience offered at OneStudio, where visitors can take part in nude and orgasmic yoga sessions as well as workshops in tantric sex and sexual healing. OneStudio is located in the KSNM island region of Amsterdam.
Getting to Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is located 15 km southwest of the city and is served by major carriers from around the world. Schiphol is a large airport, so arrive at least two hours in advance of departure.
The best way to reach Amsterdam from the airport is to take a direct train to Central Station. There are 4-5 trains per hour at peak times. Trains run all night, although between 1 am – 5 am only once an hour. One way tickets can be booked in advance for €9.50 and the journey time is around 20 minutes.
Alternatively, take the local bus 197. The journey time is about 30 minutes and proceeds directly to the southwest of the centre of Amsterdam. Singles cost €5. Do not use a taxi unless there is no alternative as taxi fares from Schiphol are very expensive.
The shared Connexxion Hotel Shuttle serves over 100 city centre hotels and departs about every half hour between 6 am and 9 pm. It is more convenient than the train if you have heavy luggage and cheaper than a taxi with rates starting at €17.
Getting around Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s centre is fairly small and almost entirely flat, so you can get to most tourist destinations on foot within half an hour. Alternative public transport options include:
The main form of public transport in the central area. A single on all forms of public transport costs €2.90 but it is only reasonable for longer journeys instead of on shorter stops.
There is a four-line metro including a short underground section in the city centre.
Just like the tram and metro, local buses are operated by the GVB.
There are several free ferry services to Amsterdam North. The most frequent runs every 7 minutes. They all leave from a new jetty on the northern side of Central Station.
A nice way to cover a lot of ground is to ride a bicycle. The city is very bike-friendly with separate bike lanes on most major streets.
Metered taxis in Amsterdam are plentiful but expensive. Cheaper tuk-tuks are available and priced according to zones.
Things to do in Amsterdam
There are countless options when it comes to things to do in Amsterdam. However, the most worthwhile attractions include:
- Tour Anne Frank’s house
- Discover the Van Gogh Museum
- Visit the memorial for LGBT+ victims of the Holocaust at the Homomonument
- Pay a visit to Rembrandt’s house
- Relax in Vondelpark
- Be immersed in history at the Rijksmuseum
- Wander the streets of De Negen Straatjes
- Spend an evening in the Red Light District
As the Netherlands is a European Union member state, travelers from other countries within the union can enter the country without a visa. However, travelers outside of the EU will need to apply for a Schengen Visa, which permits travel throughout the Schengen Visa region. Check the visa requirements for travelers from your country before traveling.
The currency used in the Netherlands is the euro expressed as EUR or €. There are many places to change money in town. Post offices usually give the best rates. However, you shouldn’t need to change money if you have an ATM card. Debit cards are widely accepted in shops, restaurants and hotels.
Credit cards are not as widely accepted in the Netherlands as in other countries. Always ask first if you want to pay by credit card.
When to visit
April is one of the best months to visit Amsterdam. During the spring, the temperature is milder, tourist traffic is lower and the city’s iconic tulips are in full bloom. However, for travelers wanting to experience the city at its most alive, June is the perfect months. The residents of Amsterdam feel obliged to make the most of the warm summer weather so the streets and canals are alive and bustling with activity. Be aware that in the peak summer months ques for attractions can get very long and some parts of the city may feel overly busy.
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