Amsterdam is home to a variety of nightlife, including pubs, bars, clubs and cafés, but one of the most famous is the brown café. The brown café, the “bruine kroeg” in Dutch, is internationally renowned for its dark wood and smoke-stained walls. The atmosphere is absolutely “gezellig,” which entices people to make themselves at home. Gezellig is not a word that can be translated to English; it’s more of a cozy feeling that you experience.
The brown café is an integrated part of Dutch culture, a place where people go for a drink after work or to chat with friends on the weekend. They are great to unwind and relax. Most brown cafes serve beer and wine, as well as jenever, similar to gin. Bring some cash with you; most do not accept credit cards.
Every brown café has its own charm and character. Some, such as Café Hoppe and Café Chris, date back to the 1600s. Part of Café Hoppe is even a National Monument. The moment you walk into these historical buildings, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Others stand out for different reasons. De Dokter is the smallest cafe in the city, while De Sluyswacht is slanted even more than the Tower of Pisa. Arendsnest provides a taste of the Netherlands, serving only Dutch beers, while De Zotte offers 130 Belgian beers, eight of which are on tap. For an authentic Amsterdam experience, visit one of the “gezellig” brown cafes.
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