|Written by R Majid|
Leidseplein is one of Amsterdam’s most busiest nightlife centres with a wide range of bars, restaurants and clubs. Located south-west of Amsterdam’s canal ring district, Leidseplein is the perfect place to stop for a break during your sightseeing and/or shopping trips as well as to spend a night having a bite, a few drinks and dancing at one of the trendy bars or clubs in the area.
Leidseplein, when translated literally means Leiden Square, sits at the end of Leidsestraat, a street lined with high-street shops. What was historically the end of a road leading to the town of Leiden (hence the name) and a parking lot for horse-drawn traffic, today allows modern traffic to pass through the square.
There is plenty to see and do in this part of Amsterdam that attracts hordes of locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re waiting for a tram or stopping for a break during your trip, don’t be too surprised to find yourself being entertained by street performers putting on a show such as acrobatic breakdancing or even a spot of freestyle jazz. Cross over to the other side of the tram tracks that intersects the square and relax at one of the large terraces that is always buzzing. With the onset of the festive season this side of the square transforms into a wintery wonderland, complete with an outdoor ice rink, Poffertjes (mini pancakes) and Oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts) stands to warm you up.
Home to some of Amsterdam’s best nightclubs, many locals flock to Leidseplein to dance all-night-long at the likes of Paradiso, Melkweg and Jimmy Woo. Some may choose to come to this area for a casual drink with friends at one of the Irish pubs, brown cafes or bars on the square or side streets. Whether you are looking for a relaxed, no-fuss night out, or for a trendy hotspot to be and be seen, Leidseplein has it all. It’s good to know beforehand that some sought after clubs like Jimmy Woo have a dress code, so it’s best to leave the sneakers at home to avoid any disappointment at the door.
The area is also popular with diners who like a range of international cuisine. There’s the upmarket Little Buddha restaurant and bar for cocktails and sushi, or the infamous Wagamama chain across the road on Max Euweplein. Or why not tempt yourself with dinner at one of the many international eateries dotting the side streets trailing off from Leidseplein and Leidsestraat. You will find everything from Indian to Italian and from Argentinean to Mexican to satisfy your culinary needs. If you are however counting the cents then a Falafel (deep fried chickpea balls in pita bread) or Patat (fries) from Leidsestraat always goes down a real treat!
Another great way to spend a night in Leidseplein is to surrender yourself to Boom Chicago, a restaurant theater opened by American expats presenting improvised comedy inspired by life in Amsterdam. You may opt to start the evening with dinner at 6pm or show up later for the show starting at 8.15pm. Whatever you decide to do, be prepared for a barrel of laughs and, if you’re lucky, maybe even taking part in the show for the night!
For a classy night out then the Stadsschouwburg theater might be just what tickles your fancy. This building is hard to miss as a notable architectural landmark on the square with its neo-renaissance style dating back to 1894. If jazz and blues quenches your thirst then a visit to Cafe Alto is an absolute must! Just a short walk down the road from Leidseplein is this small, smoky cafe, which is one of the oldest jazz joints in town. This humble cafe opens the floor to the infamous Dutch saxaphone player Hans Dulfer every Wednesday night, who performs before a jam packed room full of jazz music lovers from all walks of life. Get in from 9pm onwards to try and secure yourself a seat next to the stage and prepare yourself be carried away on jazz notes till the early hours of the morning.
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of Leidseplein you may wish to withdraw to a place of peace and quiet. De Balie is a relaxed place to reprise for a fresh mint tea or spot of lunch, while Cafes de Lux and de Koe on Marnixstraat are perfect for having drinks and dinner with friends. If you are in dire need of saving from the rain and the rest of the world then the recently renovated cinema Pathe City is always an option. Be sure to find out which movies are English spoken before buying your ticket!
As one of the major nightlife hubs of the city, Leidseplein is also bubbling with a range of accommodation suitable for every traveller’s needs and budget. There is of course the American Hotel that’s hard not to spot, as well as the Marriott Hotel on the Stadhouderskade. For an extensive list of all the apartments and hotels available in the area, please click here.
Transport in and around Leidseplein is well serviced. Trams 1, 2 and 5 from Central Station stop frequently in the square, while tram lines 7 and 10 stop along the intersecting road. But when in Amsterdam, why not do like the Dutch do and ride a bicycle? Drop into the Mac Bike store on Max Euweplein to rent yourself a set of two wheels for your trip!