10 Best Brown Cafes in Amsterdam to Unwind and Have a Drink

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.

Central Canal Ring

Café Galerie Het Molenpad is not your typical Amsterdam brown café. Het Molenpad incorporates traditional elements, such as the dark wood panels, but adds a modern flare with the bar countertop and lighting fixtures. You can pop by for a drink...  Read More

Established in 1624, Café Chris is the oldest operating bar in the Jordaan. Rumor has it Westertoren construction workers received their payments here. The famous painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, also lived in the area. He even had a studio nearby....  Read More

Old City Centre/Old Side

Café Int Aepjen is the perfect mix of history and pleasure. Upon entering the establishment, you'll discover yourself inside one of Amsterdam's oldest wooden houses. The cafe has quite the history; it was once a house, trading location, inn and...  Read More

Spend an evening at De Twee Zwaantjes. You're guaranteed to have a good time. De Twee Zwaantjes, which translates to "The Two Little Swans" in English, is a cozy brown café in the Jordaan that welcomes a diverse group of visitors, locals and...  Read More

Central Canal Ring

Cafe de Wetering is a little gem hidden in the heart of Amsterdam. It is a place that welcomes people of all ages. When you walk in, make your way to the bar and order a cold beer. There are usually three on tap: Heineken, Amstel and Palm. In...  Read More

There are not many times in life when you can say you are simultaneously drinking a beer and standing in a National Monument. At Café Hoppe, you can. Hoppe, founded in 1670, was initially a distillery. Now it is one of the most popular cafes in...  Read More

Call your friends and meet at De Zotte, a Belgian beer cafe. Sit at the bar and chat with the bar tender or find a table and make yourself comfortable. Look around; the benches are worn in and the walls are elegantly decorated with signature...  Read More

Drop by for a drink at the smallest café in Amsterdam: Café De Dokter. Among the options, you'll find Brand beer and house wines. The cafe is also a great place for whiskey connoisseurs. De Dokter offers a fine selection and even features a...  Read More

Old Center / Red Light District
De Sluyswacht

Café De Sluyswacht is more than just a popular hang out. This cute brown café has quite the history. The building, situated right next to the lock, was constructed in 1695 as the home for the lockmaster. The lockmaster operated and maintained...  Read More

Western Canal Ring

Arendsnest distinguishes itself from other brown cafes in Amsterdam by serving beer only from Dutch breweries. Therefore, if you want to receive a taste of the Netherlands, you've come to the right place. Step up to the bar. Arendsnest offers...  Read More


Meet Jessica Lipowski

Jessica has fallen in love with the Netherlands. She moved in 2011, seizing an opportunity to live abroad, a long-time dream.

In May 2016, she published a non-fiction book, "Flavors of...  More About Jessica

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