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22 March 2016 City in the spotlight, On a shoestring, Location Guides, Insider’s Guide

Announcing your plans for a weekend in Amsterdam is often met with knowing looks and sniggers from friends. True, the Dutch capital has an international reputation for mayhem and mischief, but behind the notorious image is an understated and beautiful city that’s home to some world-class nightlife.

This guide will pick out some of the latest gems to be found in one of Europe’s party capitals, balancing the strobe lights with more serene amusements. You’ll take in canal side views and lose yourself as we take you through some of the city’s awesomely alternative haunts.

Before launching yourself into a sweaty crowd of continental clubbers, it may be worth easing into the night with some more relaxed pre-gaming. A day of sightseeing and marvelling at museums could be followed by embracing traditional Dutch drinking habits at a “brown café.” Odd names aside, these watering holes are easy on the eyes and kind to the tastebuds thanks to their selection of local brews on tap.

Cafe Tabac is right on the edge of the Jordaan neighbourhood, where streets are lined with smart 17th century houses and boutique shops just screaming to be photographed. Here you’ll mix with locals and tourists alike in a stylish setting with canal views, tasty Asian snacks and fresh seasonal beers. For a more modern choice consider Het Paardje way across town in Pijp. Its wide open terrace is perfect for soaking up some Spring sunshine and grabbing an early evening bite that will set you up for the night ahead.

A tame yet tasteful start to the evening should be contrasted with some more intense settings. 9pm is hardly party time, but there are plenty of buzzing bars and music venues that will get you into gear. Former milk factory turned concert venue Melkweg hosts big name international acts as well as local heroes and is conveniently placed just inside the Canal Ring. Otherwise the iconic Paradiso is a live music mecca inside a former church, where artists play against a backdrop of stained glass to add to the atmosphere.

If dinner and a show is more your thing, the People’s Palace is a classy affair as modern design is combined with great food and concerts to tick all the boxes. Meanwhile, true fans of underground music should head to OCCII, which champions DIY shows and events, giving the venue a real sense of community without losing any of its edge.

After jumping into the live scene, it seems only fitting to graduate to DJs. Holland has always championed electronic artists, with superstars like Tiësto, Fedde Le Grand and Martin Garrix exporting euphoric beats around the world. Amsterdam’s club scene is testament to this culture, celebrating a wide range of genres whilst packing clubs into small areas making it perfect for party hopping. 

Tucked away in a small two storey building is Club Up, which brings house, funk and disco to an adoring crowd every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, guaranteeing feel good vibes late into the night. DJs spin sultry deep house where you’ll lose yourself and your worries, with the party going on until 5am.

You’ll have to take a lift to the 7th floor to experience Canvas, but it’s worth it for the panoramic city views and fresh cocktails. Ambient, chilled out beats add to the sophisticated setting, which was a newspaper headquarters before its transformation. It also happens to be just a 10 minute cycle (the primary means of transport in the city) away from easyHotel Amsterdam City Centre South, where you can relax knowing you’ve got the best deal on holiday accommodation.

Want to up your hipster credentials? Then look no further than QT301. Once a film school, this cultural centre-cum club comes with all the trimmings, from graffiti covered corridors to a relentless sound system for underground techno and drum and bass DJs to abuse all night long. The much-celebrated Red Light Radio hosts nights here too. The ideal venue if aching to keep up to date with the latest talent from the city’s electronic music scene is your thing.

Swap blaring beats and concrete walls for art-school charm at De Nieuwe Anita. The comfy furniture, retro wallpaper and jam jar cocktails make you feel like you’ve stepped into a 70s house party, except for when you head downstairs into the basement club.

Whether you’re a raver, a muso or a foodie, a night out in Amsterdam won’t disappoint.

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