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Enjoying Bitterballen & A Beer at Cafe de Sluyswacht

Cafe de Sluyswacht can be found along the De Oude Schans canal and is the perfect spot to enjoy Bitterballen and a beer following a day of sightseeing…

Of course, not all travel experiences have to be about seeing the most famous paintings, visiting the top rated destinations, or snapping photos of world-famous monuments.

Indeed, some of my favourite travel memories include remembering the sights, smells, and sounds of a certain place, not to mention sampling the local food! Café de Sluyswacht also has plenty of indoor seating over two floors, making it the perfect to hang out in Amsterdam when it rains.

Enjoying Bitterballen & A Beer at Cafe de Sluyswacht in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Cafe de Sluyswacht exterior in Amsterdam

A brief history of Cafe de Sluyswacht

Once upon a time, the bar and brasserie that is now Cafe de Sluyswacht began life as a keeper’s cottage. All slanting walls, wooden beams, uneven stone floors, and precariously perched above the very fringes of the water, the building itself dates back to the 17th-century (1695 if we’re being precise!).

Head inside, and you’ll soon spy that the interior is split over two levels, with a narrow ladder-like staircase separating the nostalgic bar from the intimate seating upstairs. In the summer months, there’s sprawling outdoor terraced seating which spills into the nearby square.

Cafe de Sluyswacht bar in Amsterdam

But don’t worry, there’s still always plenty of space inside for when it rains (such is the case with the temperamental weather that’s so synonymous with the city!) The Eastern Amsterdam Café is named ‘Sluyswacht’ for the man who would have once controlled the nearby St Anthony’s lock, a lock that itself was installed at the turn of the 17th-century.

During its day, the lock would have served several purposes; to keep out unwanted would-be invaders and to control the water levels. Today, Cafe de Sluyswacht has been serving locals and tourists alike for well over twenty years, providing plenty of happy memories by the side of Amsterdam’s widest canal. Check out the cafe website for further directions!

Upper floor of Cafe de Sluyswacht in the Netherlands

Tasting Bitterballen for the first time

When I asked my friends and family for recommendations during our Amsterdam visit, I was met with a few suggestions over and over again: sample the local beer and let me know what you think of the Bitterballen! Well, for those not in the know, Bitterballen are a quintessentially Dutch speciality which are basically Dutch meatballs.

Luckily, for the non-meat-eaters, Cafe de Sluyswacht also serves up vegan Bitterballen which are equally as tasty. Both kinds of Bitterballen are served with a spicy mustard-like sauce (though we’re still unsure as to whether we preferred the food with or without the sauce!) Other delights to be found at this famous Amsterdam pub include wit bier (white beer), and mouth-watering cheese platters.

Bitterballen and beer in one of the best pubs in Amsterdam
Bitterballen and beer in front of the Oude Schans Canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Visit Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Nearby, be sure to check out Rembrandt’s former residence, which is quite literally on the opposite side of the spacious square from the Sluyswacht bar. Also worth noting is that the oldest recorded painting of St Anthony’s Lock is actually by Rembrandt van Rijn!

The house itself is easily one of the best small museums in Amsterdam and dates all the way back to the 17th-century when it served as the home, office, and studio of the world-famous Dutch painter.

Today, the shuttered windows of this sloping house is home to a collection of drawings and paintings by Rembrandt, as well as artefacts from his time. Check prices and further information for visiting Rembrandt’s House here.

Enjoying Bitterballen & A Beer at Cafe de Sluyswacht: one of the oldest and best pubs in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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