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Amsterdam’s Brown Cafes

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 07 February, 2024

Amsterdam’s version of the classic London pub – brown cafés (or brown bars) – have served as traditional drinking establishments for centuries.

So named for their dark wood interiors and nicotine-stained walls, brown cafes are cosy spots for sampling local beers or shots of jenever (Dutch gin) while soaking up the historic atmosphere.

While these casual, convivial neighbourhood bars can be found across the city, some of the oldest are located in the Red Light District. Many brown cafes in the Canal Ring and Jordaan also sport lovely canalfront terraces in the warmer months.

Who to go with: tour operators

1

Cafe ‘t Smalle

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Canal spring scene with green trees, boats and people relaxing in small cafe.

Experience

Dating from 1780, small in scale, wood-panelled, with candles on the gleaming, low-slung bar, ’t Smalle ticks all the boxes of a classic brown café. The icing on the cake is its dreamy terrace, projecting out over a picturesque Jordaan canal. Though discovered by tourists, it’s still a locals’ haunt, too.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: Any