On a rainy day you may just want to escape into a different dimension, and visit a cinema to see a movie. As a tourist you can easily go to the movies in the Netherlands, because movies are never dubbed here. Read on to discover how you can find out which movies are on, how to book tickets and what are the nicest cinemas in Amsterdam.
I love going to the movies. When I still lived in Amsterdam, I went to the movies about once or twice a week. Amsterdam is a movie lover’s paradise! There are a lot of cinemas, showing a tremendous amount of movies, from blockbusters to extremely obscure art house movies. On top of that, there are movies to be seen at almost every time of the day. I loved going to the movies on Sunday mornings for example.
Though going to the movies is not a typical tourist activity, as you are in Amsterdam to see the city and not so much to escape it, it may just be a relaxing thing to do anyway. For example when it’s raining. Or in case all these new experiences are just a bit too much to take in.
Going to the movies is an accessible activity for tourists, as all movies are screened in their original language, and subtitled in Dutch. The only exception are children’s or animation movies, these are often dubbed. Most of the movies that are on are originally from the USA, so if you are English speaking you’ll have plenty of choice, especially when it comes to blockbusters. Art house theaters screen movies from a wider variety of countries and in a wider variety of languages.
How do you find out which movies are on in Amsterdam?
Most cinemas publish their programs on their websites. However, it is rather time consuming to visit each and every website. The easiest way to find out what movie shows where in Amsterdam is to use the Filmladder website.
On this website you can see the program per cinema, per movie and per day. For each movie it shows a short synopsis in Dutch and a trailer (usually in the original language of the movie). Filmladder works for cinemas in other Dutch cities too.
Note that the film week in Holland starts on Thursday and ends on Wednesday. The program for the coming film week will usually be published Wednesday afternoon.
How do you book a ticket for the cinema?
The easiest way to buy a ticket is to go to the cinema and buy it there. Note that especially in weekends (and weekends more or less start on Thursday evening for many Dutch people) it can be rather busy, so make sure that you are on time. Or buy your ticket earlier on the day.
Most movie theaters in Amsterdam offer the option to buy your ticket online, via their website. You will need a creditcard for that.
If you make a reservation without payment, you’ll have to pick up your ticket at least 30 minutes before the start of the screening. If you don’t they may sell the ticket to others.
Cinemas in Amsterdam
Roughly there are 2 types of places to go to the movies in Amsterdam:
- big commercial cinemas, owned by a company called Pathé, that have comfortable seating and show mainly American blockbusters
- small(er) independent art house cinemas that screen movies from a wider variety of countries.
In reality it is not as black-and-white as that may sound, as some of the big cinemas may show (the more accessible) art house movies and some art house theaters may show the occasional blockbuster. I usually prefer the art house theaters, because of the more intimate atmosphere. In the course of the years I have visited all of the movie theaters in Amsterdam, so I will briefly tell you about them, so that you can decide what suits you best.
Shortcuts: Arena (Pathé) | de Balie | Cinecenter | City (Pathé) | EYE | FC Hyena | Filmhallen | het Ketelhuis | Kriterion | the Movies | Munt (Pathé) | Rialto | Studio K | Tuschinski (Pathé) | de Uitkijk
Commercial cinemas in Amsterdam
1. Tuschinski (Pathé)
Tuschinski is by far the most beautiful cinema in Amsterdam. This cinema is located close to Rembrandtplein in the center of Amsterdam. It was built in 1921 for a spectacular amount of money, and it still has that exquisite grandeur of the 1920’s. It was renovated about 10 years ago and regained some of its original splendor. Are you interested in the building, but do you have no time or interest in seeing a movie here? Then book a tour to learn more about the history and architecture of this amazing Amsterdam cinema.
If you have the opportunity to see a movie here, by all means, do! It’s especially the lobby and Tuschinski 1 (the biggest of the Tuschinski theaters) that are spectacular. Unfortunately they don’t usually say which movie they show in Tuschinski 1 on their website. Count on the most recent blockbuster. Or ask at the ticket office.
Address: Reguliersbreestraat 26-34
2. Munt (Pathé)
Pathé de Munt is just around the corner from Tuschinski. Though it looks small from the outside, this is actually a huge cinema, with 13 different movie theaters. It’s quite new, with comfortable seating. Still, this is not my favorite place in Amsterdam to go to the movies, especially because I think it’s quite dirty. I have actually seen mice here once! In the lobby! Not strange when you notice the amount of popcorn being sold. Quite a bit of that ends up on the floors. I find that during daytime this cinema is more enjoyable than during the evenings, when it is a lot busier with groups of loud teenagers.
Address: Vijzelstraat 15
3. City (Pathé)
Pathé City is situated just around the corner from Leidseplein. It contains 7 movie theaters. Pathé presents this as its “art house” cinema, but most of the movies on are blockbusters anyway. They do usually show a couple of art house-ish movies. The place was completely renovated a couple of years ago and the theaters are modern and comfortable enough. However, this place completely lacks atmosphere. This is the kind of cinema you only enter to see a movie, and after that you escape to a nice Amsterdam bar for a drink. Luckily there are a lot of bars around this cinema.
Address: Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 15-19
4. Arena (Pathé)
The Pathé Arena cinema is quite far out of the city center. It is located next to the Johan Cruijff Arena (soccer stadium) and the Ziggo Dome concert hall in Amsterdam Zuidoost. Catch a metro to get here. This is not the most attractive part of Amsterdam, so I wouldn’t recommend going to the movies there, unless you are a fan of IMAX theaters. This is the only cinema with an IMAX theater in Amsterdam.
Address: ArenA Boulevard 600
Art house cinemas in Amsterdam
The Movies is to Amsterdam art house cinemas what Tuschinski is to the big cinemas. It has a historical ambiance. It’s actually the oldest cinema of Amsterdam! It opened in 1912, in a building that’s even older. On the outside you won’t see any of that grandeur that Tuschinski shows. You will notice the historical character in the lobby though, and in The Movies 1 (their biggest theater) and funnily, in the ladies toilets. (I don’t know about the gents!).
They have a small café and restaurant and show the more accessible art house movies and the occasional blockbuster. It is a lovely cinema to visit from a touristic point of view. Be aware though that 3 of their 4 theaters are rather small and the place can be absolutely packed on popular days such as in the weekends and on Friday night. It is located on Haarlemmerdijk, on the western edge of the city center just north of the canal district. It’s a nice area with a lot of restaurants and bars to go to before or after seeing a movie.
Address: Haarlemmerdijk 161
The Rialto cinema is what I call a die-hard arthouse cinema that will never show a blockbuster. It specializes in films from countries that you wouldn’t normally see movies from. Think of Iran, Japan, Chile or Mexico. This might be a problem if you are English speaking, as the movies will be screened in their original language, with Dutch subtitles. So make sure that you check the language before you buy your ticket.
I find this cinema a pleasant place to see a movie. Volunteers more or less run the place. It has a nice bar to spend some time before or after seeing a movie. It is located in Amsterdam Zuid, in the de Pijp area that is known for its many bars and restaurants.
Address: Ceintuurbaan 338
Just behind Leidseplein you can find the Cinecenter cinema. It’s right opposite the Melkweg concert venue. It has 4 small movie theaters, 2 of them extremely small (as if you are doing a home screening!). They show a wide variety of art house movies, with an emphasis on French films. Cinecenter is a cozy place to visit, with a small bar to have a drink or a small snack. Because it is so small, the lobby sometimes fills up rapidly and doesn’t really invite to hang out longer than necessary. As it is so central, this shouldn’t be a problem though.
Address: Lijnbaansgracht 236
Kriterion is a cinema that is completely run by students. That has been the case since it was established, in 1945. The underlying philosophy is that by working here students can be financially independent.
Now you may think that this is an amateurish place, or perhaps that you may not feel welcome here if you are past the student age. That is a misconception though. Kriterion is a professional art house cinema, with an emphasis on what they call “edgy art house movies”, which I would like to translate as the more intellectual or challenging kind of movies. The audience consists of people of all ages, though their café tends to fill up with students from the neighboring university.
It is located in the eastern part of the city center, not too far from the Amsterdam zoo, Artis.
Address: Roetersstraat 170
The smallest of the movie theaters in Amsterdam is De Uitkijk. It is located on Prinsengracht (the outer one of the canals), close to the Leidseplein. Like The Movies, they claim to be the oldest cinema of Amsterdam. I can’t say who is right. Let’s just say that they are both old and kind of scenic. De Uitkijk has only one small movie theater, and since 2007 it has become part of the Kriterion-group, that runs the Kriterion theater and Studio K as well. This means that it’s completely run by students now. As this cinema doesn’t have a café, you won’t pick up on the student-vibes here.
Address: Prinsengracht 452
Located in the Westerpark, het Ketelhuis is a relatively new cinema with 3 theaters. It is part of the redevelopment of the Westergasfabriek, a 19th century gas plant just west of the city center. There’s a lot going on in this area: bars, restaurants, small companies, a brewpub (Troost) and sometimes big parties, festivals, art markets or TV shows. I think that it is a nice area to visit as a tourist, even if you aren’t going to see a movie. Ketelhuis is an art house cinema that tends a little towards Dutch movies, though definitely not exclusively. It has a nice café/restaurant to hang out in.
Address: Pazzanistraat 4
One of the newest cinema’s in Amsterdam, Filmhallen is located in a former tram depot in the Oud West neighborhood, just west of the city center. This 19th century tram depot was renovated and now houses a food court, several small businesses, shops and a cinema with 9 movie theaters. This cinema is perhaps not a true art house cinema as it shows a mixture of art house and blockbuster movies. Nevertheless it is a comfortable place to see a movie. You could combine your visit to this cinema with lunch or dinner in the adjoining food court.
Address: Hannie Dankbaarpassage 12
The Indische buurt, in the east of Amsterdam, is home to Studio K. Studio K is a combination of a cinema, a bar and a restaurant, and right around the corner of the StayOkay Amsterdam Oost hostel. If you are staying in that hostel Studio K is a nice place to go for drinks too. The café/restaurant is light and spacious and it has a sunny terrace (in summertime that is). Studio K is part of the Kriterion group, a small chain of Amsterdam cinemas run by students.
Address: Timorplein 62
The Eye cinema is part of the Amsterdam Film Museum and located in Amsterdam Noord, north of river IJ. It’s easy to get to though. Just take the free ferry behind Central Station to Buiksloterweg, and walk westward, to a quite striking white building that looks a bit like an UFO. The Film Museum moved to this building about 5 years ago, and I must say this was a big improvement, despite the fact that they were located in Vondelpark before.
I think the building is quite amazing, even if it were only for the views that you have from the restaurant/café. This has huge glass windows and offers spectacular views of the river IJ, the boats sailing by and of Central Station at the other side of the river. You can enter the café and restaurant without having to buy a ticket for the museum or the cinema.
You may think that as this is a film museum they show only classic movies. That isn’t the case though: they screen recent art house movies too.
Address: IJpromenade 1
Of all the Amsterdam cinemas I wrote about, FC Hyena is the only one that I haven’t visited myself. This is because it opened recently, after I moved away from Amsterdam. It looks like a fun place, in a new up and coming area in Amsterdam Noord.
Address: Aambeeldstraat 24
Though not really a cinema, rather a café/restaurant and a venue for contemporary arts, politics and culture, De Balie does show the occasional movie. It’s located right opposite the big City cinema, close to Leidseplein.
Address: Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10