There are so many great things to do and see in Amsterdam. Here we are not talking about the coffeeshops or the red light. There is so much more to Amsterdam than that, and everyone knows it. So you live here and want to have fun? Work will take up a large part of your week, but in the evenings and at the weekends, you will have a huge choice of things to do to occupy your time. There are a lot of distractions for having fun in Amsterdam. Not just fun, but also lots of lovely cultures, comedy and things to do.
Entertainment in Amsterdam
Here is a non-exhaustive list of what there is to do and entertainment in Amsterdam. Most of the activities are not so expensive, and many are free. Or there are different types of cards you can get and use all year long to get a maximum of entertainment and culture for your budget. More nightlife will be added soon.
Right slap bang in the centre of Amsterdam on Spui, you can find a special place to get lost for hours choosing from a great selection of books. The American Book Centre (ABC). It has so much stock that it is difficult to leave with only one book. They have racks and racks of magazines and periodicals too. The staff are knowledgable and helpful and clearly love working there. The ABC hold regular events or readings, and you should keep an eye on their website to see what is coming up.
Website: ABC Bookshop Amsterdam
Just around the corner on Kalverstraat, you can find a Waterstones bookshop. There too you can find a really decent selection of books, magazines, toys, stationary and even some British foodstuffs. That is handy since Marks and Spencer closed up shop. Again, here is quite a large bookshop with great staff. They are sometimes great deals to be had too.
Website : Waterstones Amsterdam
Just along the street on Muntplein, you can find one of those bargain bookshop places with books based on all sorts of subjects. The accent here is on the price. There are some classic novels to be had for under 5 euros, but a lot of it is sports or rock music books. There is a decent selection of books for kids if you are looking for bargains of that kind.
Other bookshops can be found in Amsterdam of course, but these are the main three in the centre for English-language content. Despite Amazon’s best efforts to monopolies the sales of books, independent and larger bookshops seem to thrive in the Netherlands, and that is a good thing.
English language media
The internet, of course, has a whole selection of sites in English about Amsterdam. You can find pretty much everything you need for Amsterdam there. Here at International Locals, we endeavour to collate all the essentials you need into one handy place. Another resource you should be keeping an eye on the iamsterdam.nl website. It is created and curated by the local government and covers lots of topics you will find helpful. The events listings are complete and exhaustive. It is also full of great advice for everything you need in Amsterdam.
Our go-to source for what is happening in The Netherlands is Dutch News. All the news you need to know about, but in English. A handy resource.
If you listen to the radio and some do it all the time, then you might like to have some English-language radio in Amsterdam. Well, you are lucky because there is a brilliant English Breakfast Radio show. Lots of news, chat, interviews and more. It can be found by clicking here.
A cinephile paradise. Amsterdam has a large number of cinemas showing the various latest Hollywood blockbusters and reruns of classics. You can also see world cinema, film festivals and themed ‘cycles’ of films by director or topic. There really is so much choice! The addition in recent years of the Filmhallen in the centre and the Eye Film Museum in Noord have boosted screen numbers and showings to the next level.
Here are a list of the cinemas in the Amsterdam area and their weblink :
There are also several large Pathé cinemas in the Amsterdam area, and their listings can be found here: Pathé cinemas
Save money and see more films with two cards schemes that give you unlimited access to films all month long for a fixed price:
This card covers all of the cinemas in the first section above and more around the country. It allows you to go to 43 cinemas in all. The beauty of this card is that the cinemas are all so different and you can discover so many fabulous places. The monthly cost is just under 20 Euros, so if you go at least twice, you have it covered. Anything above that is effectively free.
The selection is just huge.
See more on the Cineville site
Pathé Unlimited. – This card covers the Pathé network of cinemas in the Netherlands. It is also 20 Euros a month. Also, a great option if you want to see more of the latest films in larger, more modern cinemas.
See the Pathe website
Arts and culture
In the last ten years, some fabulous museums have opened up, and Amsterdam has really set out its vision as a cult centre on the world scale. Of course, this has led to a massive upswing in tourism, and not all the locals are really pleased about that, but it has meant that the cultural offerings and choices have blossomed.
Here are some of the premier museums you can visit in the Amsterdam area for modern art, contemporary art, history, classical art and more
Van Gogh Museum
The Amsterdam Museum
There is a larger selection of the other museums here at the Amsterdam site on their Museums page.
Amsterdam loves music, and musicians love to come to Amsterdam. It is a go-to place for bands to perform live and has all the necessary venues for all levels of fame and popularity. venues go from the very small and personal to the vast stadium level. It depends on who is playing, but the Paradiso, with its 1500 capacity, is one of the best places in the world to see a mega-band play as it always feels like you are close to the stage and can see the artists without having to watch on a huge LED screen from miles away.
Here is a list of a selection of great places to see live music of all genres in Amsterdam, from blues to rock and from opera to folk. The links will take you directly to the agenda section of each venue so you can see who is playing, and you can reserve your tickets directly on the venue websites.
The Dutch might all speak excellent English, but there is not a lot of English language theatre going on, which is fair enough; this is The Netherlands, after all! There are all the same regular performances, but you must keep your ear to the ground to see some English-language plays. It is becoming more prevalent, and many of them can be found on our Facebook page or our Facebook group.
Here is a selection of venues and groups that have regular English-language theatre in Amsterdam:
Here is a selection :
The Queen’s English theatre Company
You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? Well, you will be if you go to these venues in Amsterdam. Stand-up comedy and improv nights have really blossomed in Amsterdam, and many of the biggest and best comedians come to Amsterdam and sell out quickly. Some are filling stadiums, and some are filling the little cosy venues where the laughter bounces off the walls. Nowadays in Amsterdam, you can go to a comedy night pretty much every night, and in the summer, there is a raft of international comedy too. There is no shortage of laughter and fun in these clubs. For us, a live comedy show is the ultimate entertainment in Amsterdam.
Here are some of the best venues to see comedy in Amsterdam :
The Comedy Café
We love this little comedy club just 5-minute walk from the central station in Amsterdam. Keep an eye on the agenda, as they have some top UK talent performing here. Regular comedy nights in English and Dutch.
Perhaps less well known than the famous hotel above it, the Toomler is a lovely little comedy venue under the Hilton Hotel in Oud Zuid. No hair and peace bed protests here though, as it is all out great stand-up. There are a lot of Dutch performers here, but the link below will show you the international comedians at the Toomer.
This great venue is bursting at the seams with fabulous productions. It is not just a comedy club but has a vast agenda of shows of all types. It is so varied that you can come here several times a week, nearly every week! There are lots of great improv shows and political satire. There are many UK and US comedians that do stand up here too. Check the link below for the current list of upcoming shows. ‘Boom’ is entertainment in Amsterdam.
For more fun in Amsterdam, see our handy Amsterdam event listings to keep up to date.