10 Eerste Sweelinckstraat
Netherlands 1073 CM
Tel: 31 20 675 9669
In this multi-culti capital, the Badcuyp is the city's leading world-music venue, proudly carrying the flags of many nations near the Albert Cuypmarkt. From the ever-changing list of performers, look for African dance or salsa nights, improvisation, jazz jams influenced by North America and North Africa, and even Dutch hip-hop. Simple meals and thoughtful art exhibits in the café round out the experience.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays at 10 pm. Check online for schedule.
18 Korte Leidsedwarsstrat
Netherlands 1017 RC
Tel: 31 20 626 3150
Jimmy Woo's has a capacity of 600, but there's still always a line out front. The look is out of Once Upon a Time in America: Nobuyoshi Araki photos, opium beds, and antique Chinese lamps punctuate the otherwise minimalist, multitiered space. The dance floor is pulsated by a sound system that won the prize for best in the Netherlands in 2005. Events vary nightly: DJs spin hip-hop at Thursday's Woo-haa party, and the weekends thump with house, electronica, and soul. If that's all too much, chill (sort of) at Suzy Wong, the plush red-walled cocktail bar across the street (45 Korte Leidsedwarsstrat, Southern Canal Belt; 31-20-626-6769).
Open Wednesdays through Mondays 10 pm to 3 am (Fridays and Saturdays open till 4 am)
Netherlands 1017 AW
Tel: 31 20 521 8555
The former brewery dating from 1662 has seen a lot of history: President John Adams visited it, the Concertgebouw got its start here, and in the 20th century, the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, and John Paul Gaultier shook their stuff here. Yet this storied venue fell on hard times until a 2005 redo courtesy of the owners of Hotel Arena. Once again, it's fit for dignitaries of politics, society, and the arts. In the front bar/restaurant beneath the original vaults and wooden ceilings, glam, oversized murals of models mean you'll probably ignore the otherwise riveting views of the Singel canal. Upstairs a neoclassical concert hall turns into a nightclub studded with tiny pedestal tables for cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights.
Open Thursdays through Saturdays 11 pm to 5 am.
4 Oostelijke Handelskade
Tel: 31 20 311 8686
Located in a former Port Authority building on the IJ, this entertainment complex is the safest bet if you only have one night out in Amsterdam. It's best known for its perennially packed nightclub, but Panama is almost as popular for its café-restaurant, and a terrace open on balmy summer nights. The club's roster of musical events changes weekly (check the Web site), but there are jazz performances every Thursday and Sunday, and resident DJ'sincluding international legends Deep Dish, Sasha, and John Digweedhost Friday and Saturday club nights. Locals also look to the Panama for its eclectic range of themed evenings that keep things fresh and unexpected. How unexpected? A recent Latin Fever meets Viva Las Vegas Sunday-night party featured a Las Vegas show ballet and a roulette table, for the sake of sheer kitsch novelty.
Opens daily at noon.
Amsterdam is one of the world's gay playgrounds—small wonder in the world's first nation to recognize same-sex marriages—and this street, steps from Rembrandtplein, is its epicenter. The crux of "de Straat," as it's known to its friends, is three nightspots: the neo-Victorian bar SoHo (36 Reguliersdwarsstraat; 31-20-422-3312; www.pubsoho.eu); April, where a rotating back bar allows for flirting without the need for walking (37 Reguliersdwarsstraat; 31-20-625-9572; www.cafeapril.eu); and dark, black-clad Exit, the edgiest of the three (42 Reguliersdwarsstraat; 31-20-625-8788; www.clubexit.eu). The crowd shifts among them, following drink specials as the night progresses; on busy nights the area becomes one giant street party. Along the block are gay-oriented stores—buy last-minute club clothes at the Shirt Shop (64 Reguliersdwarsstraat; 31-20-423-2088)—restaurants, and even a gay-oriented "coffee shop," the Other Side (6 Reguliersdwarsstraat; 31-20-421-1014; www.theotherside.nl).
A late-19th-century Westergasfabriek (city gasworks) is enjoying a new lease on life as a "culture park" after extensive renovations in 2005. Its once-contaminated grounds now house the undulating Westerparknotice how the landscape gradually changes from urban to wilderness as you walk west out of townand a fountain pool where kids can frolic and moms and dads look on. Among the Fabriek's buildings are Pacific Parc, a grand restaurant with nighttime DJs and guest performers (Polonceaukade 23; 31-20-488-7778; www.pacificparc.nl), a branch of de Bakkerswinkel, Amsterdam's favorite bakery, (Regulateurshuis 1; 31-20-688-0632; www.debakkerswinkel.nl), the art-house cinema Het Ketelhuis (Haamlemmerwag 8-10; 31-20-684-0090; www.ketelhuis.nl), and postindustrial Westergasterras party venue (Klonneplein 3). Café-Restaurant Amsterdam is across busy Haarlemmerweg, in the 1900 municipal waterworks (Watertorenplein 6; 31-20-682-2666; www.cradam.nl).