Live music venues in Amsterdam are everywhere, and there’s one of every kind: big, small, famous, underground. But how can you know where to go?
Well, we have the ultimate list for all your live music needs — from old Irish sea shanties to full-on raves.
I’ve lived in Amsterdam for the past five years, and I’ve spent my time scoping out the best of the best music venues. Here are my favourites.
1. Paradiso: Heavenly music
We had to start with a city staple. Paradiso is bang on the famous Leidseplein and is home to all types of music. Whether you love DJs or intimate acoustic shows, Paradiso has it all.
This classic Amsterdam venue used to be a church, and the big windows still give off that vibe. The place doubles as a concert venue or just a club. Either way, you’ll feel like you’ve ascended into heaven.
2. Melkweg: A local classic
Just a hop and a skip away from Paradiso; you have Melkweg. This music venue is more modern than its godly neighbour and has a similar intimate feel to it — despite being able to hold 1500 people.
Amsterdam’s Melkweg hosts everything from club events to full-on concerts, and all are worth checking out.
Plus, it’s a top venue to check out rising artists before they rise to the arena-show level.
3. Mulligans Irish Music Bar: The oldest Irish pub in Amsterdam
This tiny, cluttered, warm, cosy, loving, lively pub dates back to 1913. The current owner (Miriam, who you can find behind the bar or in her designated spot with a glass of white wine) has owned Mulligans for over 30 years.
Twice a week, local Amsterdam musicians from around the city gather around a table and play old-school Irish music. There are few things like it, and many Irish guests confirm it feels like a slice of home.
Address: Amstel 100, 1017 AC Amsterdam
4. Bitterzoet: Hiding right under your nose
I’ll admit it: I only realised where this music venue was after I had lived in Amsterdam for years. It hides in plain sight, just 500 metres from Amsterdam Central Station.
Bitterzoet is another small venue where you can enjoy some great up-and-coming live music. Local and international artists alike will put on a great show here, and you can catch them before they’ve made it to the big leagues.
Address: Spuistraat 2 HS, 1012 TS Amsterdam
5. Café Soundgarden: For all the old-school folks
4. cafe soundgarden, only the best of the best bars in amsterdam, fight me on this pic.twitter.com/muQ7Dk2CkB— alina latinina (@alinalatinina) May 2, 2023
Café Soundgarden has something for everyone. Comfy leather couches, tables by the water, a pool table, a pinball machine, and a foosball table. And let’s not forget the most important part: live music every Thursday.
You can sit in this bar for hours, chatting with your friends or the friendly staff. It has so many entertainment options — from games to gigs — and still keeps that laid-back vibe.
6. The Waterhole: A classic, timeless staple
The Waterhole in Amsterdam is in full swing! Parallel universe! pic.twitter.com/6SH8sc1Hdh— Fiona Madigan (@FMcACork) October 1, 2021
The Waterhole is the Amsterdam venue for unplugged live music. Local musicians bring their guitars and belt their voices out into the cosy space.
And you can enjoy the music with cheap drinks for a long, long time. Why? Because this place has a happy hour for NINE straight hours.
7. Pllek: Ideal in the summer
For this one, you’ll need to get to Amsterdam Noord — which has a lot of gems of its own! Pllek specifically will feel like a day at the beach. The sandy area right by the water outside is perfect on a sunny day.
Do you like DJs? They’ve got them! How about laid-back acoustics? Done! This venue boasts all genres of live music, welcoming Amsterdammers of all ages. Plus, it’s one of the few venues in Amsterdam that resembles a tropical getaway.
8. OT301: For all the club heads
Now, this music venue does kind of look like you shouldn’t be going there because it doesn’t really have the world’s most welcoming front door. But trust us, it’s a good time. OT301 is a space for the arts, politics, and subculture.
If your live music preference is usually a performer with a guitar onstage, maybe skip this venue. It focuses more on DJ sets than acoustic sets. But for electronic music lovers, this is the place to be!
Address: Overtoom 301, 1054 HW Amsterdam
9. Bourbon Street: Live blues every night
If you want a reliable venue with live music every single night, then head over to Bourbon Street. The music is always good, and chances are you can befriend the bands too! There’s no backstage, so musicians will be in the crowd with you when they finish playing.
It’s not the biggest live music venue in the world, but it’s got plenty of space to boogie to the sweet, old-school tunes of the performers. 🕺
10. Hannekes Boom: Colourful, cosy, comfortable
Another canal-side live music spot with a spacious interior, Hannekes Boom is just a 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal.
As someone who has been there during a storm, I can confirm: rain or shine, this place is gezellig. They’ve got yummy food, tasty drinks, and, of course, all kinds of live music. Perfect for a chill night out!
Address: Dijksgracht 4, 1019 BS Amsterdam
11. Jazz Café Alto: you can do jazz hands all night long
@milanovinoah Have you ever been to a Jazz Cafe?🎺 #jazz #music #amsterdam ♬ original sound – noahmilanovi
This music venue doesn’t mess around. Every night since 1953, Jazz Café Alto has hosted live jazz jams.
Who’s welcome? Everyone! Surround yourself with photos of iconic musicians and let yourself be inspired by the local jazz music scene. You’ll leave wanting to play the saxophone.
12. Tolhuistuin: for artists of all kinds
Tolhuistuin is a melting pot for all things art. The venue has everything from live music to full-on political debates. Because it’s dedicated to all types of art, it’s also got all types of music — from established art rap performers to low-key string sessions.
The venue is in Amsterdam Noord, and it’s a gorgeous garden to watch some local Amsterdam live music. It’s open daily, so just stop by and see what’s happening!
Address: IJpromenade 2, 1031 KT Amsterdam
13. A’DAM TOWER: A drink with a view
Amsterdam’s very own A’DAM TOWER hosts DJs and live acts alike, but where it really shines is the 360º view of the entire city of Amsterdam.
Usually, this venue hosts planned events, so you probably need tickets beforehand (as opposed to a lot of these other music venues, where you can just rock up). But there is live music every Friday and Saturday, so you’ll never have a dull weekend again!
Address: Overhoeksplein 1, 1031 KS Amsterdam
14. Toekomstmuziek: Feels like a (house) party every day
Walking around Toekomstmuziek feels like an old house one second and an old warehouse another. But one thing is clear: the venue has got some really great DJs. (Sometimes, even with some hypnotic dance performances.)
It has a very “Amsterdam” feel to it: an industrial, gezellig inside area to enjoy the live music and a cute, quirky garden to catch some fresh air or have a chat with your buddies.
Address: Danzigerbocht 29, 1013 AM Amsterdam
15. Radio Radio: The best DJ sets
Radio Radio is the place to be if you’re looking for a straightforward club with an overall easy vibe and reliably banging DJs.
Located at Amsterdam’s Westerpark, you can enjoy a day in nature and end the night by dancing to some live sets in this exciting, youthful-in-nature venue. What more could you want?
Address: Pazzanistraat 3, 1014 DB Amsterdam
16. Bierfabriek: Live music and artsy beers (for cheap)
Your dad (and you!) will love this venue. But let’s be real: acoustic live music and artisanal beers are for everyone — and so is Bierfabriek.
This venue is right behind Amsterdam’s bustling Rokin, with some pretty exciting local live music. Best of all, you’ll get delicious food and a cheap litre of beer while you enjoy the tunes. Proost! 🍻
Address: Nes 67, 1012 KD Amsterdam
17. ‘Skek: A nonprofit pub for the people
If you know the Kriterion bar across the street from the University of Amsterdam, it’s time to check out its little brother. ‘Skek was started by a group of five Amsterdam students in 2006 who used to work at Kriterion.
Now, ‘Skek hosts events multiple times per week. Their DIY ethos translates into their music taste, hosting local punk bands and live music workshops. But if you’re a theatre kid, they’ve got your back, too, because they aren’t strangers to a cabaret performance.
Address: Zeedijk 4-8, 1012 AX Amsterdam
The live music scene in Amsterdam
The live music scene in Amsterdam is exciting, eccentric, and welcoming to established and rising artists.
Although the DJ and electronic music scene seems to be dominating the zeitgeist currently, there is still a massive variety of genres.
Maybe electronic events are easier to find, but these music venues in Amsterdam will definitely give you something to scratch every live music itch.
Amsterdam is a very creative city, so these places aren’t just good for music. It attracts many people, so you always have the best conversations. Whether with the musicians or other audience members, it’s always easy to make a new friend.
Plus, there’s the added benefit of it being a major city, so pretty much every artist will have a show there! Especially the rising artists, who usually play in Amsterdam’s local bars rather than big arenas or festivals.
How to find the best live music venues in Amsterdam
The thing that everyone says about Amsterdam is that there’s always something happening. And it’s true. While this list covers some favourites, chances are you’ll stumble into a bar (no pun intended), and someone will be playing music.
There is no secret to finding the best live music in Amsterdam (other than hanging out at these venues, of course).
The best way is to just go to events, talk to artists, follow Amsterdam-based creative collectives on Instagram and see what they’re up to. The most exciting things are usually discovered through word of mouth.
Once you get in touch with the local creative culture, a whole new world will open up to you, and you’ll only find more exciting things from there.
What’s your favourite music venue in Amsterdam? Tell us in the comments below!