If there's one European city which has achieved almost legendary status amongst British gay men, it has to be Amsterdam. It seems to be a city where just about anything goes and it probably does. The Dutch laws are amongst the most relaxed in the world when it comes to personal freedom. And there aren't many cities around the world which can boast that they have a monument dedicated to the struggle for homosexual equality, and those in the past who've been persecuted for their sexuality.

Amsterdam is a city where you can legally purchase soft drugs such as marijuana and hash for your own consumption in one of the numerous "coffee shops" in major streets around the city. There are however harsh penalties for anyone caught illegally dealing. Prostitution both male and female is entirely legal and is a bigger tourist attraction than the wonderful Van Gogh museum. Gay couples are everywhere and 15 years ago in 2002 the Dutch became the first nation to make gay marriage legal. So is it a gay paradise?

Well, yes and no. The canals give the city a wonderfully relaxed air, and with more museums per sqft than any other country in the world, there are plenty of artistic pleasures available once the gay scene begins to take it's toll. However accomodation particularly in Amsterdam's many gay hotels is expensive and standards can be quite basic. Even the official Dutch tourist board admit that the Damrak, the street which leads from the Central Station to the Dam Square and the Royal Palace, is one of the tawdriest in Europe. Outside the Spring and Summer the weather can be cold and wet.

But whatever it's issues Amsterdam is a great place to go if you're gay, and is a very refreshing answer to conservative countries who believe that publicly recognising the rights of gay people is likely to lead complete moral decay and the breakdown of all law and order. Actually Amsterdam is just as safe and law abiding as any other major european city, and it's a good deal more fun!


The Amsterdam gay scene is divided into three areas. Around the Reguliersdwarsstraat you'll find trendier bars who are continually opening and closing for even trendier refurbishment. This a great place to go before going out clubbing and has the same feel as bars in Old Compton or Canal Street. The Soho Bar is one of the best - it has a relaxed and inviting atmosphere which really could have come straight out of Manchester's gay village. Just down the street is Exit a busy club which is gay everynight. It boasts a large pub on the ground floor, a smallish dancefloor and a very busy backroom. There are quite a few restaurants in the street popular with a large gay clientele.
In the Spuistraat you can rent just about everything you'll ever need - a bed, a bike or a boy. If you want great company just head for number 21 in the Spuistraat, Boys Club 21. In the pleasant bar which has four TV screens you can enjoy a drink and make your choice in a relaxed atmosphere.
The friendly, multilingual and discreet guys are there for your enjoyment and they provide lots of it. You can rent a variety of rooms in which to relax with them. Every room is equipped with clean towels and sheets, a shower and/or bath, soap, shampoo, condoms and lubricant. All rooms have a colour television, video and music. It's good value for money, clean and well run.

Further down the Spuistraat you can find the Gay Tourist Information Center (GAYtic) which offers independent and comprehensive information on the LGBTQI+ community in Amsterdam.

While in the Spuistraat we'd stop off at Prik a cosy pink bar where you can experience their "Lovely Liquids, Sexy Snacks & Twisted Tunes". This is one of Amsterdam's best gay bars - it's relaxed and fun, very popular and extremely pink. This is a bar that's not to be missed.
There's a far more traditional bar scene round the Amstel and the Rembrandtsplein. Amstel Fifty Four is one of the oldest gay pubs in Holland and has a completely disarming naffness. Probably best avoided unless you enjoy a sing-a-long down at your local British Legion.

If you want to spend time in a MAN's bar, you can't go wrong visiting Spijker Bar Amsterdam which you'll find in the Kerkstraat. Spijker Bar claims that it's the oldest, most friendliest and attitude free gay bar in Amsterdam. It's been serving the gay community since 1978 and certainly is a cosy bar, popular with a mix of local residents and visitors to Amsterdam. Alternative music, pool table, traditional pinball, fireplace, fresh flowers on the bar and two TV's, one showing cartoons and the other showing gay action movies :-)

There's a much heavier leather scene around the Warmoesstraat which can be found just off the Dam Square down the street from the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. The bars are all around the start of the Red Light District so be prepared to be the subject of stares from hordes of American and Japanese tourists being herded through the streets of sex shops and prostitutes in windows. Most of the bars boast busy backrooms and a leather dress code and look out in particular for Web, Dirty Dicks and Eagle.

Amsterdam is not a big city and the scene tends to reflect this. There are few mega gay clubs, but plenty of special nights, jack-off parties and backrooms. If you like Manchester where generally everything gay is within walking distance, you'll love Amsterdam.


Amsterdam Pride for 2024 starts on July 27th and runs until August 4th. It's made up of over 300 different events being staged throughout the city. The charity Pride Amsterdam looks after the bigger events, including the world famous canal parade with 80 floats taking part on 3rd August. The theme for all the events this year is "Together".

Lucien Spee de Castillo Ruiz director of Pride Amsterdam says, "To reinforce the TOGETHER theme there is €150,000 available this year for empowerment initiatives and decoration of boats. We have made the announcement of the participants and ambassadors, so now everyone can get to work on making Pride 2024 an unforgettable event. Nickie Nicole, Inge Lamboo, Karen de Lathouder, Rikkie Kolle, Andre Donker and Haroon Ali are joining Pride as ambassadors this year to reflect the diverse stories that inspire the entire rainbow family and show that being yourself and loving who you want is and remains important to everyone."

Accessibility for everyone is an important topic this year. For example, a boat sails for the deaf and hard of hearing, people with a mild intellectual disability, young people and the elderly.

It all starts at 11am on 27th July with the annual Pride Walk on the Amstelveld. The first Dutch Pride March ever started at this historic location in 1977. From about midday they begin the walk along Utrechtsestraat, then into Rembrandtplein, Reguliersdwarsstraat and after via Leidsestraat to the Vondelpark for a day filled with sports & games, performances and a pink market.
The main event is the Pride Parade on Saturday 3rd August. It takes place on boats and barges that sail along the Prinsengracht - the most famous of the canals in the city. Amsterdam Pride is unlike any other you have ever experienced. A true family event with gay and straight families enjoying dressing up and sharing the liberation, freedom and respect that defines the most beautiful city in Europe. Participants include small local LGBT foundations, national LGBT interest groups, gay hospitality, pink networks of multinationals and banks, pink government institutions, political parties, ministries and media companies that support the emancipation of the LGBT community. Despite its reputation for being the gayest city in the world, occasionally some intolerant conservative views occasionally rear their ugly head, but when they do the Dutch people react.
A year or two ago a City Councillor started a crusade against the screening of porn films in gay bars and backrooms, and a previous Mayor said he wanted to ban nudity on the annual Canal Parade. So in true Dutch style there's now just as many sex filled screens in bars and, normally when staged, there's even more nudity to enjoy on the Pride Parade. It's the attitude of a majority of the Dutch people and their encouragement and inclusion of the LGBTI+ community which makes The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, such a great city to visit if you are gay.
Amsterdam Pride is run by a non-profit organisation committed to emancipation, social, legal and social equality and acceptance of gay men, bisexuals and lesbians, and also for those who do not want socially dominant gender roles or to conform (as masculine women, feminine men and queers) or assume a different physical gender identity throughout their lives (such as transgenders and transsexuals). They believe that to achieve visibility for diversity is particularly necessary. The primary objective of the Amsterdam Pride Foundation is to organise activities and events in a wide range of diverse public spaces.


If you are looking for infomation, the Pink Point at Westerkerk provides an excellent overview. The friendly team at this gay tourist information stand are always willing to help with maps, club night listings and insider advice. The Pink Point is open 10:30 to 18:00 every day.


As you'd expect for one of the world's premier gay destinations, Amsterdam boasts a large number of gay hotels catering for a wide variety of tastes. Prices aren't cheap and facilities are often basic, though there are some exceptions we've come across (literally). Hotel Seven Bridges though not exclusively gay has some stunning rooms. Amsterdam Hostel Orfeo is a friendly low cost option and has a number of apartments in an annexe which though clean could do with refurbishment. Worth investigating if you're into leather and S&M is the Hotel Anco. They are known as the hotel "Where only men check in" and are in the heart of the red light district in the Warmoesstraat. Amistad Hotel is also gay and uses the motto "Sleep with us" - you'll find it in the Kerkstraat.

There are the usual selection of international chains and particularly recommended for those where money is no object are the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square and the Hotel Pulitzer which is found on the very beutiful Prinsengracht canal. Our hotel partners Bookings are based in Amsterdam and have an outstanding selection of hotels at special online rates.


Dam Square or the Dam lies in the historical center of the city just south of Centraal Station, at the original location of the dam in the river Amstel. On the west end of the square is the neoclassical Royal Palace, which served as the city hall from 1655 until its conversion to a royal residence in 1808. The National Monument, a white stone pillar designed by J.J.P. Oud and erected in 1956 to memorialise the victims of World War II, dominates the opposite side of the square. Overlooking the plaza is the upscale department store De Bijenkorf. If you have money to spend they offer many beautiful items to tempt you.

The Van Gogh Museum has a world-beating collection of Van Gogh originals in a stunning building. The pictures are displayed without glass so you can really appreciate the texture of his work. It's extremely popular so be prepared to queue unless you get there early. The Anne Frank House has a moving collection of photographs from the Nazi era and you can see exactly how Anne and her family hid during the Occupation before being discovered and being murdered in a concentration camp.

Right next to the house in Westermarkt, the market square, is the church mentioned by Anne Frank in her diaries. It's called Westerkerk and it opens to the public several mornings a week. It's a truly stunning building noted for it's inclusivity, that follows the calvinist tradition - a mixture of catholic, protestant and jewish religions. It's a great church for a gay wedding, they welcome everyone with open arms.

The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands dedicated to Dutch arts and history. There are many paintings by Rembrandt on display here, as there are at The Rembrandt House Museum a few streets away in the Jodenbreestraat. The painter lived and worked in the house between 1639 and 1656 and it's 17th-century interior has been lovingly reconstructed.

Outside is Homomonument, a beautiful modern memorial which commemorates all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality. Opened on 5 September 1987, it takes the form of three large pink triangles made of granite, set into the ground so as to form a larger triangle, on the bank of the Keizersgracht canal.

The Homomonument was designed to "inspire and support lesbians and gays in their struggle against denial, oppression and discrimination." It was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians who were killed by the Nazis. The design is by Karin Daan, based on the pink triangle sign used by the Nazi's to signify the sexuality of gays in the death camps.

As well as the triangle on the canal, which has a set of steps leading to the water where floral wreaths are frequently laid, there is a triangle on land 60 cm high and a memorial triangle at street level. The three triangles each measuring 10 meters (30 ft) on each side together form a larger triangle connected on each side by a thin row of pink granite bricks. The alignments of the three points of the larger triangle are symbolic. One points towards the National War Memorial on Dam Square. One points towards the house of Anne Frank, and the third points towards the headquarters of COC Nederland, the Dutch gay rights group founded in 1946, making it the oldest continuously operating gay and lesbian organisation in the world.
Sauna Nieuwezijds at the Nieuwezijds Armsteeg 95 is a stylish and cruisy sauna that's open every day. It offers a fully licensed bar with lounge, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, private cabins, smoker's lounge and ample relaxing and very busy cruising space.
They have a no towel night on Tuesdays and a Bears night on the last Saturday of the month for bears, daddies, chasers, chubs and their admirers. It's worth noting that both of Amsterdam's well known Thermos Saunas - the Day Sauna and Night Sauna, have been closed down.


This advice comes from the Dutch Tourist Office and others -
Don't stand in a bike lane. You'll only get mown down.
Don't bring a car into the centre. Not only is parking difficult and expensive, the clampers don't distinguish between foreign or Dutch cars.
Don't ride a tram without a ticket. For most tourists, day or multiple day tickets are the best deal. They entitle you to unlimited travel through Amsterdam, day and night by GVB-operated tram, bus and metro. Whilst you can buy tickets on some trams you are better off buying in advance from newsagents, train stations, post-offices and other outlets. Getting caught by the spot checks will set you hefty fine and ruin your trip.
Don't buy drugs in the street. Don't ever buy hard drugs on the streets which you'll be probably be offered frequently. What's sold as coke is usually washing powder or caffeine,and what they sell as ecstasy might be anything.
Don't stand in a bike lane. It's worth saying again! You really will get mown down by cyclists who stop for nothing.

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Amistad Hotel (Kerkstraat 42; T: 020 624 8074; Website)
Amstel Fifty Four (Amstel 54; T: 06 12232254; Website)
Amsterdam Hostel Orfeo (Leidsekruisstraat 12-14; T: 020 623 1347; Website)
Amsterdam Pride (Website)
Anco (HOTEL ANCO) (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 55; T: 020 624 1126; Website)
Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis) (Westermarkt 20; T: 020 556 7105; Website)
Bar Exit (Reguliersdwarsstraat 42; T: 06 82363649; Website)
Boysclub 21 (Spuistraat 21; T: 020 622 8828; Website)
de Bijenkorf Amsterdam (Dam 1; ,T: 020 808 9333; Website)
Dirty Dick's (Warmoesstraat 86; Website)
Eagle Amsterdam (Warmoesstraat 90; Website)
GAYtic (Spuistraat 44; T: 020 330 1461; Website)
Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky (Dam 9; T: 020 499 0163; Website)
Homomonument (Westermarkt; Website)
Hotel Seven Bridges (Reguliersgracht 31; T: 020 623 1329; Website)
Pink Point (Westermarkt t/o 9; T: 020 428 1070; Website)
PRIK (Spuistraat 109; T: 06 19653239; Website)
Pulitzer Amsterdam (Prinsengracht 323; T: 020 523 5235; Website)
Rembrandt House Museum (Jodenbreestraat 4; T: 020 520 0400; Website)
Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1; T: 020 674 7000; Website)
Sauna Nieuwezijds (Nieuwezijds Armsteeg 95; T: 020 331 8327; Website)
SOHO Amsterdam (SoHo) (Reguliersdwarsstraat 36; Website)
Spijker Bar Amsterdam (Kerkstraat 4; Website)
The Web (Sint Jacobsstraat 6; T: 020 623 6758; Website)
Van Gogh Museum (Museumplein 6; T: 020 570 5200; Website)
Westerkerk (Prinsengracht 279; T: 020 624 7766; Website)

Revised June 2024.


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