LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

10 best football bars in Amsterdam

Top spots to watch the match in Holland’s house of fun

Sports bars, Irish pubs and Aussie haunts – where to watch the game in Amsterdam

Woo-hoo! You’re in Amsterdam! The city that gives every visitor a cheeky wink, whose attractions have broken many a young man on their first Euro adventure, and where hush-hush fun is a divine right.

Amsterdam is also a football capital, that thick red stripe defining an illustrious generational heritage of swashbuckingly successful teams.

The reality is somewhat different. Not only in terms of Ajax, dumped out of the Dutch Cup in December 2023 by rank amateurs – the city’s sports-bar scene is pretty meh. 

Yes, they open late, yes, they’re clustered around the main squares of Leidseplein and (particularly) Rembrandtplein, so a bar crawl is a cakewalk, but in truth, there’s little difference between most places focused on football.

O'Donnell's/Peterjon Cresswell

If somewhere unique like the Panenka bar can operate in Rotterdam, why not in Amsterdam you might ask? Sadly, there’s just too much money to be made from tourism, the overheads are too steep, so the easiest common denominator is a faux Irish-style bar with TV screens.

There are honourable exceptions. The Old Sailor at least feels like Amsterdam while the regulars in Regular & Jack keep the place reliably lively.

This doesn’t mean to say you won’t have a good time in Amsterdam, you surely will. You just might not remember much about the bars you were in.

coco's outback

Coco's Outback/Peterjon Cresswell

‘Lousy Food & Warm Beer’ boasts Coco’s Outback, a popular Aussie sports pub by bar-lined Rembrandtplein, with 30 screens and attractive drinks deals. Here, kangaroos feature in the logo, between burger buns (‘The Skippy’) and on the plate as part of the barbie selection.

There’s no amber nectar from Oz in the taps, however, though you will find Texels Skuumkoppe, the dark wheat beer from Oudeschild. Among the pitcher selection, Benelux brews dominate, including Australian IPA from the Brothers In Law crew in Utrecht. For big match nights and tournaments, a screen also gets set up on the terrace overlooking Rembrandtplein.

Coco’s Outback, Thorbeckeplein 8-12, 1017 CS Amsterdam. Open Mon-Wed & Sun 11am-1am, Thur 11am-3am, Fri-Sat 11am-4am.

hoopman

Hoopman/Peterjon Cresswell

‘You’ll never watch alone’ promise the good folk at Hoopman and, given their Leidseplein location, they’re probably right. As much an Irish pub as it is a sports bar, Hoopman would stick out like a sore thumb in Cork or Chicago but here in the heart of Amsterdam, it makes perfect sense.

A contemporary touch to the draught-beer selection has seen the arrival of Aberdeen’s BrewDog in four flavours and the introduction of Uitje Blond and Wit from Haarlem. The standard lager here is Swinckels, big in Ethiopia, not seen so often in Heineken-dominated Amsterdam.

The day starts with a serious breakfast menu before moving on to steaks, stamppots and spare ribs, even moules-frites – hey, you’re in the Benelux! The TVs aren’t prominent but you should be able to find a decent seat to watch the game.

Hoopman, Leidseplein 4, 1017 PT Amsterdam. Open daily 10am-2am.

café monico

Café Monico/Jannes Hartkamp

Or Terras Café De Monico, to give this grande dame her full title. The timeless sign beneath the awning, the wood-panelled interior, the black-and-white photos, this is a bar that must have served a million biertjes since its 1960s’ heyday.

Many of them have slid across the bar counter into the eager mitts of an Ajax fan, the more discerning, generally older, type of supporter preferring the Monico as a pre-match touchstone rather than/as well as raising a glass amid the bland surroundings of the stadium.

It’s not a football bar as such, but does screen games, particularly when Holland play – don’t expect them to show the League One play-off semi from Barnsley. A history of the place is just begging to be written, if only to reveal any links between the legendary Café Monico in Soho, opened in 1877 and host of world chess tournaments in the 1890s, and its Amsterdam namesake.

Café Monico, Rembrandtplein 9, 1017 CT Amsterdam. Open Mon-Wed, Sat-Sun 10am-1am, Thur-Fri 10am-3am.

O'Donnell's

O'Donnell's/Peterjon Cresswell

Fitting for the surrounding district of De Pijp, this Irish pub near the Heineken Experience is just that little bit smarter and shinier than its counterparts around Rembrantplein.

Here, TV sport is part of the O’Donnell’s experience but you’ll not have seven bevvied-up Mancunians screaming in your ear when anyone scores – it’s much more civilised than that, reflected in the club sandwiches, cheesecake and, in fact, cocktails on the menu.

That doesn’t mean to say you can’t get a good pint of Guinness, you can, and you have a 300-seat terrace to sip alfresco if you so feel. Well-chosen music at conversational level provides the aural backdrop before kick-off.

O’Donnell’s, Ferdinand Bolstraat 5, 1072 LA Amsterdam. Open Mon-Thur & Sun 10am-1am, Fri-Sat 10am-3am.

old sailor

Old Sailor/Peterjon Cresswell

“Good music, great staff and every football game there is,” boasts this venerable canalside institution at the gateway to the Red Light district – and those are just three of the many plus points here.

Seen-it-all regulars mingle with tourists delighted at having hit upon something even remotely authentic in the centre of Amsterdam, gleaming maritime knickknacks hinting at the bar’s pre-war origins.

Amstel is the main draught option, alongside Guinness, Murphy’s Red and Strongbow cider, though time had to be called on the popular Wieckse Witte after its removal by Heineken’s corporate axe. Hopefully no-one has touched the lovely collection of old match tickets on display near the toilets. The neon sign outside is another decorative gem.

Old Sailor, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 39-A, 1012 DA Amsterdam. Open Mon-Thur & Sun 11am-1am, Fri-Sat 11am-3am.

O'reilly's

O'Reilly's/Peterjon Cresswell

Behind the Royal Palace on Paleisstraat itself, o’reilly’s forms part of a four-strong mini-chain occupying prominent locations in major cities in western Europe. The look and formula are pretty much the same, a winning combination that has kept this place busy since 1994.

During that time, Irish pubs have sprung up all around Amsterdam, but location, staff, atmosphere and reliably decent food keep punters coming back – football, too, of course.

Terrace seating comes into its own in summer – note the sign for Algemeen Handelsblad above, this liberal daily once had its offices here.

O’reilly’s Amsterdam, Paleisstraat 103, 1012 ZL Amsterdam. Open Mon & Thur 11am-1am, Tue-Wed 3pm-1am, Fri-Sat 11am-2am, Sun 11am-midnight.

regular & jack

Regular & Jack/Peterjon Cresswell

With its off-Rembrandtplein location and 15 big screens, bare-brick Regular & Jack has long been one of Amsterdam’s most sought-after spots for sport-watching. Charcoal drawings of sporting icons – that’s Cruyff in the corner – add a personal touch, while the Josper grill ensures that the burgers are sizzled just right.

You could argue, convincingly, that the long, long bar counter lined with comfortable screens over the back bar is Amsterdam’s prime spot for match-watching, while the weekday opening time of 5pm lends the place a post-work vibe that lingers until the evening game kicks off.

Regular & Jack, Vijzelstraat 37, 1017 HD Amsterdam. Open Mon-Thur 5pm-1am, Fri-Sun noon-3am.

st James's gate

St James's Gate/Peterjon Cresswell

In Amsterdam’s major bar hub of Rembrandtplein, St James’s Gate has been long been serving the Guinness alluded to in its name, though there’s also Kilkenny, Belgian La Chouffe and standard Dutch Bavaria.

The black stuff also gets used in the beef & Guinness main dish, as popular as the Irish stew, bangers & mash, and breakfasts served until 3pm. Football is shown on several screens around the spacious bar interior, though by day you’ll probably want to grab one of the many tables outside and watch Rembrandtplein go by. All are equipped with umbrella heaters in case it gets chilly later on.

St James’s Gate, Rembrandtplein 10, 1017 CV Amsterdam. Open Mon-Thur & Sun 10.30am-2am, Fri-Sat 10.30am-2am.

satellite sports café

Satellite Sports Café/Peterjon Cresswell

Right on Leidseplein where Ajax fans gather for wild celebrations after major victories, this long-established, tick-all-the-boxes sports bar wins no prizes for originality but what it does, it does well.

A prominent terrace and meal deals – all-you-can-eat ribs, pitchers of Heineken – attracts an undiscerning international crowd happy to chomp and sup as live games play out on the big screen. With space being extended into the adjoining building on Korte Leidsedwarsstraat, you should be able to find a table, even on big match nights. Also open for breakfast.

Satellite Sports Café, Leidseplein 11, 1017 PS Amsterdam. Open Mon-Thur & Sun 9am-3am, Fri-Sat 9am-4am.

three sisters

3 Sisters Pub/Peterjon Cresswell

A mainstay of the tourist-focused Rembrandtplein bar circuit, the prominent corner spot Three Sisters was once a lovely old Amsterdam café-restaurant, judging by the colourfully glazed ceiling and elegant light fittings lining the bar counter. Now it’s filled with TVs screening everything from the Dutch Eerste Divisie to the League of Ireland Premier.

Which almost seems a shame, but such is the niche approach to the relentless daily schedule here that one table might be occupied by a couple of De Graafschap fans, the next one over, Sligo followers. The mood is civilised, even low-key, interspersed by the occasional near-miss gasp – football is, indeed, a universal agony.

For those immune to the dutiful game, there’s always the constant blur of Rembrandtplein to be observed from a terrace table, interrupted by the regular passing of Amsterdam trams. Few surprises hide amid the beer choice but there’s plenty of Dutch finger food to accompany, and a group of you can also order a 20-item platter to bicker over.

Three Sisters, Rembrandtplein 19, 1017 CT Amsterdam. Open Mon- Thur & Sun 10am-1am, Fri-Sat 10am-3am.