Best Things to Do in and around Leidseplein Square, Amsterdam
Leidseplein (also known as Leiden Square) is one of Amstedam’s most vibrant areas, where you’re guaranteed to experience the late-night buzz and party atmosphere. On a trip to Amsterdam, you have to have a few nights out in Leidseplein to get a real feel for the city. Filled with brimming restaurants, clubs, local theatres, live music venues and street performers, Leidseplein is like the London equivalent of Piccadilly Circus (just not as huge). We have you covered for the best things to do in this centrally-located nightlife hub from where to eat, where to drink, where to party and more…
Looking for accommodation near Leidseplein Square? Check out the Flying Pigs
De Vier Pilaren
If there’s one thing you have to try when in Amsterdam, it’s poffertjes - little puffs of pillowy deliciousness. De Vier Pilaren is one of the best places in the city for these mini Dutch pancakes, covered in butter, strawberries and icing sugar, and it’s just a few minutes walk from Leidseplein over the river. Sit by the canal if it’s nice outside, or cosy up inside with your hot, melting pancakes.
Craving some good Italian food? Porto Carrara is where you’ll get some of the best value pizza and pasta in Amsterdam, with the entire menu being just €5 per dish. Tucked away down a small street just off Leiden Square, this is the ideal spot if you want something filling and delicious but that won’t leave you with a hole in your wallet. €5 for a pizza topped with all the classics and more, or a huge, hearty bowl of pasta is unheard of in other Italian places in Amsterdam! Make the most of it and head here to line your stomach before a night out in Leidseplein Square.
Stoop & Stoop
Pull up a chair in the quaint Dutch restaurant, Stoop & Stoop. Here you’ll find hearty dishes being served up at reasonable prices (although not the cheapest) with a Dutch take on them. Expect steak, spare ribs, schnitzel and more, and Dutch mashed potato with stewed beef and vegetables. You can also try bitterballen - a classic Dutch snack.
Dig into some real homemade Dutch food at the Pantry, where you can get a 3 course meal from just €21.50. It feels like a pub, but the food that comes out of it is seriously tasty. At this family-run restaurant you’ve got a choice of 4 different 3-course set menus each at different prices, and all will give you a taste of what Dutch home cooking is really like.
Kick back in this casual burger joint around the corner from the main square. Bar B doesn’t just do great burgers and an insane range of beer on tap, but the atmosphere could be the best thing about it. Choose a burger off the menu or build your own while you make the most of the beer selection, or turn up later for a night of drinking in one of the most buzzing places near Leidseplein.
Party & Live Music
After a few pre-drinks in Leiden Square (the prime nightlife hub in Amsterdam), head to some of the city’s most iconic clubs and live music venues where you can dance the night away. Melkweg is a popular live music venue housed in a former milk factory, just a 2 minute walk from Leidseplein. It’s regular weekend club nights and concerts fuelled by an eclectic crowd makes it a favourite party spot in the city.
If you’re into music, you also have to see a gig at Paradiso, an intimate live music venue just 3 minutes walk from Leidseplein. The awesome thing about this club is that the killer sound system and underground artists who take to stage representing all different genres . The atmosphere is pretty unbeatable at Paradiso so check out the website to see who's playing when you’re in the city.
Want more? Check out the 9 Best Clubs in Amsterdam
Hitting Leidselspein and fancy a smoke? The Bulldog Palace on Leiden Square is a frontrunner on the late-night smoking scene for backpackers visiting Amsterdam. While it’s a coffeeshop chain, the best thing about this particular Bull Dog is that it delivers a buzzing party atmosphere that Leidseplein is famous for, as well as the ‘goods’. With house DJs four days a week, professional karaoke, a heated patio and VIP areas, this is a hotspot for weed smokers or people who want to try a joint to get the full Amsterdam experience.
For a coffeeshop with a more laid-back atmosphere, The Rookies is a local favourite in the centre of Amsterdam and right by Leidseplein Square. This chilled out little cafe is the perfect place to put your feet up after a long day where the knowledgeable ‘budtenders’ can help you out with any questions or advice you need on what products to try. Serving up a range of soft drinks, hot drinks and snacks incase you get the munchies, this is a cool little spot to escape from the tourist crowd where you can test out some good quality smoke.
If you’re after a spot in Leidseplein to sit, drink and people watch all day or night, Heinekenhoek (Heineken Corner) is in the middle of all the action on the square. Sit inside with a wine, rum and coke or, of course, an extra cold pint of draught Heineken, and soak in the buzzing atmosphere. Or if it’s not raining then sit out on the terrace. Don’t be surprised if your casual weekend drinks here turn into a big night out, as Fridays and Saturdays are Serve Nights - DJs arrive from 10pm and the Jagerbombs come out to play!
Stylish cocktail bars in Leidseplein aren’t the easiest to scope out, but one of our favourites is Players. Perfect for a tasty, no-nonsense cocktail, pop in to sample some of the refreshing drinks. The cocktail menu features the classics such as Aperol Spritz, Mojitos, Espresso Martinis and Mai Tai’s but also has some of its very own signature cocktails and inventive creations.
Piano Bar Maxim
If live music is your thing, then you’ll love Piano Bar Maxim. Here you’ve got a real old-school atmosphere that anyone of any age will go crazy for. Sip on a cocktail while the pianist plays a song of your request and as the night goes on the whole bar will be singing along. Piano Bar Maxim has new local and international pianists playing all the time, with a few regulars there each week who keep loyal customers coming. Sit down and enjoy the music or get up and dance! This bar is the ideal spot for whatever mood you’re feeling.
Jazz Cafe Alto
This cosy little cafe is the place to be if you’re a jazz lover. With live music every night of the week, Jazz Cafe Alto is an intimate boho bar with regular customers who come back over and over again for the nightly jazz performances where the musicians come out armoured with saxophones, guitars and drum kits. Sip on a glass of red wine while you sit back and take in the music.
Café De Spuyt
When you crave a cold beer, Café De Spuyt won’t let you down. It’s one of the most highly rated pubs in Leidseplein specialising in craft beer and traditional Dutch stouts and Trappist brews (on tap and bottled). If you’re a beer lover, this place may just become your favourite pub in the city.
Just behind the casino on the other side of the canal you’ll find the starting point of Amsterdam Canal Cruises. If you’re in Leidseplein but you’re ready to go explore the rest of the city, hop on a famous canal cruise and let it take you around some of the main city sights. Look up and around at Amsterdam’s iconic 17th century town houses, and pass through some of the more modern parts of the city, on the other side of the River IJ for example. If you’re not in Dam for long, this is a great way of seeing a lot in a short space of time.
See a Theatre Show
Leidseplein Square is home to Amsterdam’s theatre district. We highly recommend getting tickets to see a musical or play while you’re in the area. The three main theatres on the square are DeLaMar Theater, the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam and Theater Bellevue. Check out what’s on when you’re in the city. The DeLaMar theatre shows some of the biggest musicals, dances and plays in the city such as Lazarus (a musical tribute to David Bowie) and Annie. The Internationaal Theater Amsterdam was the former home of the National Ballet and Opera but now it showcases up-and-coming acts to some of the leading shows in Dutch theatre. Theatre Bellevue on the other hand is an arty venue where you can catch the latest comedy acts, dance and more!
Try your luck in the Holland Casino, right by Leidseplein Square. This is the biggest casino in the city, so it’s worth popping in if placing a few bets is your kind of thing. Why not put a couple of euro on the roulette? Or have a game of Blackjack? Just don’t go too crazy - you don’t want to lose a load and that be the end of the budget for your trip!
Where to stay?
The Flying Pig Uptown
At the Flying Pig Uptown you’ve got the best of both - the open, green space of Vondelpark and the hustle and bustle of Leidseplein and the rest of Amsterdam’s city centre. The Uptown hostel is only a 5 minute cycle from Leiden Square, so if the plan is to spend a fair bit of time around here then it’s the ideal place to base yourself. Located inside a typical Dutch mansion, you’ve got the choice of dorm rooms or private rooms - both seriously affordable options. Plus there’s a party bar downstairs which is buzzing at all times of the day or night. Rather not venture outside for a coffeeshop? There’s even an indoor smoking room. Whether you’re drinking, smoking or partying, you’re guaranteed to meet other like-minded backpackers from all over the world.
Article by Shereen Sagoo and Darcy King