It's easy to have a love-hate relationship with Leidesplein (Leidse Square), a colorful if sometimes frenetic entertainment hub near Vondelpark, at Amsterdam's southern end. Accessible via trams 1, 2, 5, 7 and 10, the square is the stage for street performers from acrobatic break-dancers to comedians and guitar duos like The Famous Unknowns. In winter, an ice rink and olliebollen stands appear, delighting holiday tourists.
Grab a front row seat at The Bulldog, where you can smoke weed, eat burgers and drink beer. At the adjacent Sports Cafe, €10 buys a bottomless plate of ribs or 10 shots of Jagermeister. Also on the menu are Dutch pannekoeken topped with sweet or savory add-ons. While you'll walk away full, don't expect gourmet food or attentive service; most Leidseplein establishments cater to tourists, relying on prime location rather than repeat business to survive.
In addition to virtually every ethnic cuisine, there's ample nightlife in Leidseplein. Amp it up at renowned music venues like Paradiso, Melkweg and Sugar Factory or chill at an Irish pub or brown café. The regal Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam's city theater, offers dramatic and musical productions, while the 1,500-seat De La Mar Theatre stages musical, cabaret and drama.
The upscale American Hotel is popular for Sunday Jazz Brunch. There's an Apple temple as well as an H & M, plus banking/money conversion services in the square. Taxis line up for tourists who will likely pay dearly for a short trip.