Visiting an Amsterdam Brown Café

For a real taste of the authentic Amsterdam culture, visiting a brown café is a real must-do. These local Amsterdam bars (known as bruin cafés in Dutch) are the perfect place to relax with a local beer and enjoy mingling with some of the city’s more colourful characters!

heineken beer

The city has numerous bars which cater to the needs of tourists with widescreen TVs, blaring music and over-priced pints, but for a truly unique Amsterdam drinking experience, check out one of the city’s numerous brown cafes (many of which date back to the early 1600s and a couple from even before!). Besides the delicious snacks and drinks, sitting in a café that has seen so much history (having been built when present-day Amsterdam was still part of the Holy Roman Empire, and survived the plague, the architectural and social upheavals of the Dutch Golden Age, two world wars and everything else that the last 400 years has thrown at the city!) is a truly incredible experience and a great way to connect with the past whilst enjoying one of the city’s most popular past-times – drinking beer! With all this history, it’s easy to feel a world away from the modern beating heart of central Amsterdam as you sit back in one of the city’s brown cafés.

Beers to try in Amsterdam

Try something new in an Amsterdam Brown Café… The Kopstoot!

These local bars in Amsterdam are the perfect places to try something of a local speciality – a Kopstoot (which translates as ‘head butt’ in English). A kopstoot is a glass of jenever (the delicious precursor to gin and the national spirit of the Netherlands) served alongside a glass of Dutch pils beer. Served to the absolute brim in a tulip-shaped glass, you must put your hands behind your back and bow down to sip the first of the jenever to avoid spilling it before washing away the warming burn with a sip of cold beer! This combination has been enjoyed by locals in every Amsterdam Brown Café for centuries and is certainly something to enjoy trying!

Where to find a true Amsterdam Brown Café

You can find these quirky little local Amsterdam bars across the city, but some of the best are located in the Jordaan district. This famous neighbourhood is characterised by quaint narrow streets and beautiful canals and, although only a short walk away from Dam Square and areas like the red-light district which are packed with tourists, still retains its unique atmosphere. Brown cafés such as Café Chris (the oldest bar in the area, established in 1624) are spread across the neighbourhood.  Taking a stroll along the ancient streets and stumbling across a brown café to sit in and soak up the atmosphere is a perfect place to be!

We hope this blog has inspired you to check out an Amsterdam brown café and experience the atmosphere of these cosy local bars. If you’re looking for other ways to see the authentic Amsterdam check out our blog on how to ‘see Amsterdam through the eyes of a local’.