Beach Bars in Amsterdam
Mar 29, 2018
Think Amsterdam, and you don’t immediately think of hot sandy beaches… but as the weather in the Dutch capital warms up, locals and visitors alike are flocking to the city’s urban beach bars to soak up the sun – and a sangria or two. We sent our Amsterdam correspondent, Vicky Hampton, out to wiggle her toes in the sand…
Perhaps not surprisingly, Amsterdam’s so-called beaches are sort of man-made, but they definitely scratch the sandy itch that city dwellers tend to get around this time of year. They’re also not in the city centre – whether north, south, east or west, they’re a little off-the-beaten-track. But this can be a good thing: the weekend I headed out in search of that quintessential beach bar atmosphere was a scorcher, which meant that I had a far higher chance of scoring a seat in an out-of-town beach bar than on any of the terraces in the centre of the city!
I started in the north, with a quick hop over the (free!) ferry to Amsterdam Noord. The up-and-coming NDSM area used to be home to a huge ship building business, and its industrial roots are still everywhere in evidence. Amsterdam Noord’s best beach bar spot is Pllek, facing south overlooking the IJ – the body of water separating the two halves of the city. It’s not exactly sandy (more pebbly, really) but the beach is covered in chunky beanbags as well as tables and seating made of what passes convincingly for driftwood for a fairly authentic beachy feel. The bar itself is made of a series of connected containers, which gives it a kind of industrial-chic vastness that you don’t find anywhere in the centre of town. Drinks comprise a fairly standard wine list, an assortment of beers and various spirits, but the food is top-notch and the venue captures every bit of sun imaginable. In short, Pllek is definitely worth the ferry ride it takes to get there.
Next, I headed west – this time to the port area known as Houthavens. “Strand” means beach in Dutch, so it’s no surprise that two of the beach bars I tried use the word in their name. Strand West.overlooks the IJ (but from a different coastline than Pllek) and offers a great line in drinks and DJs. During the day, you can lounge around in hammocks or bean bags, and at night settle in for a sangria (they also do a good range of juices, if you’re feeling a little delicate from the night before or prefer to go alcohol-free in general). But beware: Strand West is right behind a large student housing complex – so be prepared to feel like a pensioner if you happen to be over the age of 23!
While its name may sound similar, Strand Zuid (zuid meaning south) is about as different from Strand West as they come. Located right next to the Zuidas business district, Strand Zuid attracts wealthy business types as well as “Bekende Nederlanders” (Dutch celebrities) rather than students and hipsters. Of course, it still boasts a beach – this time a sandy one overlooking the tail end of a canal and (on the other side of that) the leafy Beatrixpark. Many of its clientele pull up by boat and hop out for a glass of bubbly, a beer or (the bartender’s choice) a “Martini Royale”. Alternatively, stop for longer and have dinner there for an extra-long people-watching session…
Finally, if you find yourself in the east side of town, creative hangout Roest also boasts its own city beach – this time overlooking Wittenburgervaart. Find out more about Roest in our previous Amsterdam bar guide.
Written by Vicky Hampton the Amsterdam Foodie