Gay-friendly Amsterdam belongs on every LGBTQ traveler’s bucket list. Whatever you’re looking for, we can’t think of a more gay-friendly cruise port. Queer travelers always seem to leave this city feeling satisfied, regardless of what they sought when arriving here. (Parties, nightlife, history, museums, art, cannibis cafes, or simply the chance to “Be U,” you’ll find it in Amsterdam.)
Our most recent visit to this wonderful port city occurred as an overnight stay on Azamara Club Cruises Journey. In the run-up to the trip, we eagerly anticipated our return to Amsterdam. This city holds a lot of personal significance for us. Amsterdam represents ancestry for Mark, whose grandparents on both sides emigrated from the Netherlands. Plus, we visited Amsterdam on our first trip to Europe as a couple.
Getting to know the city
In the midst of this busy, beautiful city, a stroll along one of the tree-lined canals feels magical. Find an outdoor cafe and take a break for the legendary sweet or savory Dutch Pancakes. Grab a refreshing local beer and some fabulous cheese or a decadent ice cream cone. Take advantage of the excellent people-watching opportunities. The canals range from narrow and cramped to broad like a boulevard. Each neighborhood offers a different vibe, each charming in its own right.
Walk along the canals and get lost in the sometimes confusing concentric rings around the central city. You’ll easily imagine yourself back in Holland’s prosperous Golden Age of ruffled collars, oil portraiture, and ships laden with spices from the East Indies.
We love to admire the different types of caps on the facades on historic homes and compare the different styles. You can find plenty of bike rentals available, but we recommend strolling through the city to get a more intimate feel.
Cafe ’t Mandje at Zeedijk 63, known as the oldest gay bar in Amsterdam, opened in 1927. Pioneering lesbian owner Bert van Beeren died in 1967 and her sister Greet took on the bar responsibilities. When it became too much for Greet, she closed the bar in 1982. However, the bar’s decor remained lovingly preserved. Twenty years later, another family member reopened the bar. Today, it stands not only as a community meeting place, but as an icon of the LGBTQ community everywhere.
Photos of Cafe ‘t Manjie’s founder Bert van Beeren. Inside you’ll find hundreds of mementos and objects kept just as they were decades ago.
Amsterdam’s Homomonument honors LGBTQ people who have suffered from persecution in the past, present, or future. Appropriately, the monument sits just steps away from the Anne Frank House. Together, the two serve as an important reminder of the ongoing need to strive towards equality for all people.
There is an information kiosk near the Homomonument that provides information about what is going on in the LGBTQ community locally and regionally. You can buy all kinds of gay-themed tchotckies here. We purchased rainbow cocktail coasters and cute little wire bicycle about 4 inches long for our Christmas Tree.
Art and history
The majestic Rijjsmuseum (below) boasts paintings from the Golden Age of Holland. If you want some peace and quiet, a wonderful park with fountains, art, and even a little grotto-like refreshment stand surrounds the museum, accessible on either side of the main entrance. The park provides a perfect oasis of quiet and calm in the bustle of the area, ideal for a post-museum snack break.
Below is a photo of Dam Square, with the magnificent Town Hall from the 1600’s on the left and the Oude Kerk (old church) just to its right. The square bustles with people and life. Here, you can get virtually anywhere in the city with east-to-use trams and busses.
MMOB HINT: A one-day pass for all routes on the GVB, includes the super-convenient tram from the cruise port to the nearby Central Station and beyond. Busses and metro rides are also included in the fare. For only 7.5 euros per day, the pass is a great value. It can be purchased on the tram, at kiosks in Dam Square and multiple other locations.The GVB is now totally cashless so “don’t leave home without it.” Your plastic, that is.
The view from a canal bridge of the Munttoren, (Mint Tower) which luckily survived bombs dropped nearby during WWII. Despite the summer crowds, Amsterdam is still extremely manageable on foot and can even have a peaceful feel. This city is like none other on earth. Gay-friendly Amsterdam is a must-see destination for all LGBTQ travelers.
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