Let’s be honest, Amsterdam’s summer is short lived. But Dutchies sure know how to make the most of it. If you’re lucky enough to be in town during the week that the Netherlands gets to call summer, you’ll notice that we all try to lap up as much sun as possible. To do that, we get as close as we possibly can to it, flocking to rooftops across the city to enjoy warm evenings spent outdoors with a chilled drink in hand. Socialising, sunshine and a view – what more can a person want? But not all rooftops are the same. These five sky-high bars are the places to be seen this summer.
This is a personal favourite of mine and where I like to bring friends visiting from abroad. It’s a great location year-round, as the bar itself is enclosed by glass. But the real highlight is the outside terrace, which is perfect on balmy summer evenings. SkyLounge Amsterdam, part of the DoubleTree by Hilton, is only five minutes’ walk from the central train station, but its prime position also comes at a cost. Don’t be shocked by the prices though. Yes, you pay €6 for a coffee (with some chocolates!) but that also includes a free refill, so by Amsterdam standards, that’s not bad. Alternatively, you can just walk in, enjoy the view, and walk out. It’s always so busy that no one will notice.
By contrast, Floor17 is located quite a way from the city centre, but it’s worth the trip. This is one of the highest rooftop bars on this list, and thus the views are spectacular.
The bar at Floor17 is really well designed, divided into small sections offering both sunny and shady spots to relax. Its music playlist is always spot on and their food is absolutely amazing (I highly recommend their squid). The chef here is also particularly friendly and happy to tell you all about the dishes that feature on the menu.
For those travelling on a budget, Blue is the place to go. Located on the third floor of the Kalvertoren shopping centre, rooftop is a relative term with this one. But, if you feel this means lesser views, you’re wrong. Smack bang in the old city centre, it offers charming views of narrow streets and old churches. It’s also where you can get home-made iced tea for €3 – a price you’ll be hard pressed to beat.
Twenty Third Bar
On the other side of the spectrum is the gorgeous Twenty Third Bar, sitting atop Hotel Okura. It opens at 6pm and is quite possibly the best place to watch the sun set over Amsterdam. This is one for the special celebrations, like birthdays and anniversaries. It’s worth noting that the dress code is quite classy and the prices reflect this, but for special celebrations – like birthdays or anniversaries – it’s perfect. Cocktails go for €15, but one glance at the sun twinkling over the rooftops of Amsterdam will certainly justify the price.
The official name is Canvas op de 7e and this is my absolute favourite rooftop venue in the city. The crowd is mostly trendy twentysomethings meeting up with their friends, and it has a very creative, relaxed vibe; a place where you can take your shoes off, play cards and let your hair down. This bar also belongs to Volkshotel, whose lobby is a very popular spot for freelancers (like me!) who enjoy working in an artsy and relaxed environment.
Fun fact: this building used to house the Volkskrant offices, one of the Netherlands biggest newspapers. (If you’ve ever been on the editorial floors of a newspaper, you’ll be very happy to hear the hotel doesn’t even slightly resemble them anymore.)