There’s over a century of history behind Heineken, and you can learn all about the hard work and dedication that goes into building a global brand when you visit the brewery in Amsterdam.
If you’ve never been on a brewery or distillery tour, you’re in for a real treat. We’ll take you through what to expect a little later, as well as some history of Heineken and great bars nearby where you can continue the fun. But first, let’s look at how you’re going to get there.
Getting to the Heineken Experience by Train
While lots of visitors like to get around the city on foot or by bike, if you’re staying a little further away from the action, you might want to take the train.
Which station is nearest to the Heineken Experience?
The Heineken Experience takes place inside the old brewery, which is located just outside Amsterdam’s inner canal belt. The nearest metro station is called Vijzelgracht, and it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk away. If you’re taking the tram, which is perhaps the easiest way to get around, alight at Marie Heinekenplein, again just a few minutes from the Heineken Experience.
Using public transport in Amsterdam is easy, and you’ll find stations and stops scattered all around the city. If you’re visiting for a few days, you might like to pick up a multi-day travel card to cover your entire stay. The I Amsterdam Card and the OV-chipkaart are two good options which let you swipe on and off trains, trams, and buses throughout your time in Amsterdam.
Tip: You can also enjoy included entry to some of the city’s best-loved attractions with your I Amsterdam Card.
Exploring the Heineken Experience
Heineken has been around for 150 years, which means there’s a lot to learn when it comes to the brand’s history and development. The Experience is just the place for this, set inside Heineken’s oldest brewery in central Amsterdam. Although brewing stopped here in 1988 due to expansion, the historic building has been preserved and transformed into a unique and exciting museum.
Visitors can learn about the Heineken brewing process, as well as some crazy inventions, and the story behind the star. Even though nothing is brewed here anymore, you’ll still be able to look around the original brew room and enjoy a couple of perfectly poured glasses of Heineken.
Before visiting, you should know that all tours are guided in English. If this will be a problem for you, you can download the Heineken Experience app to get the most out of your visit.
What you’ll see in the Heineken Experience
As you walk around the old factory, you’ll see lots of original elements from the 19th-century building, as well as new interactive exhibitions.
Historical things to see
Look out for the enormous copper tanks which were used to brew the original Heineken! Not to mention lots of original posters and advertisements, and photographs from days gone by.
The Heineken Experience is home to the original gold medal from the International Maritime Exhibition in 1875, which you’ll recognise from the label of every bottle of Heineken today!
There are several spots where you can sit down and watch old television commercials, which provides a nice rest and some entertainment. Why not see if you can remember any from decades gone by?
When it comes to new additions, there are lots of things for tech fans to enjoy. From a fun 4D ride to virtual games which let you race to pour the fastest beer, it’s memorable for the whole family.
The Heineken Experience tour is self-guided, which means you’ll be able to walk around the old brewery at leisure. Whether you fly around in 30 minutes or linger for over an hour, the tour always ends the same way. With a fresh glass of Heineken, of course! You’ll even be allowed to pour it yourself. If you’ve never worked in a bar, this can be quite exciting. Visiting with under 18’s? Don’t worry, there are soft drinks available for younger visitors to enjoy at the bar.
Heineken History and Facts
Want to learn a little about the history of Heineken before you go? Here’s an overview of the company’s past.
It all started in 1864 when a 22-year-old Gerard Heineken discovered a passion for beer and brewing. Heineken took over the Haystack brewery, or De Hooiberg, in the centre of Amsterdam. He would later rebuild it as a state-of-the-art brewery on the waterfront, making it easier to transport products in and out. This is the old brewery we know today.
Although Heineken had very little life or brewing experience, he had plenty of confidence and spirit to drive him. He set about creating a recipe for a high-quality lager, even though the Dutch were traditionally better with ale, porter, and brown beers.
Heineken’s microbrewery quickly produced Holland’s first premium lager, and the name soon became a national symbol of quality. The second brewery opened less than a decade later in nearby Rotterdam.
The World Fair
In his quest to discover the secret of perfect beer, Heineken introduced A-yeast, which is responsible for the balanced taste and subtle fruitiness that distinguishes the beer from others. This was discovered and added in 1866, making waves in the brewing industry and earning Heineken lots of awards too.
The most significant of these awards include the Medal D’Or at the International Maritime Exhibition in 1875 and the World Fair in Paris in 1889. They awarded Heineken with the highest distinction for Dutch beers, which led to the beer supplying the exclusive restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.
Breaking into the USA
Heineken was the first imported beer to reach the USA after prohibition was lifted in 1933. This was a big deal for the Dutch brewery, which would embrace the American ways of advertising to grow the brand. Thanks to Heineken’s success in America, exports grew by 600% in just four years! You can still find the beer all over America, in bars, restaurants, and shops today.
With a newly found confidence, Heineken entered into the New York World Fair in 1939. For their unique entry, the brewery built an entire Dutch waterfront village, where visitors could enjoy their beer in an authentic setting. There was even a real-working windmill to complete the spectacle!
All this effort paid off, and the New York Fair was a huge success. After this, the brand realised that the key to their American success lay in Heineken’s Dutch identity. From then on, all American advertising included traditional Dutch symbols like clogs, tulips, and windmills.
Merging with Amstel
Amstel, named after the Dutch river which runs through Amsterdam, was launched in the city in 1870. This was another entrepreneurial brewery producing a premium product in Amsterdam. A merge made sense, and Heineken increased its market share in the Netherlands to 55% when the two companies merged in 1968.
Alfred, or Freddy, Heineken took over from his father in 1971 and made significant changes to the company’s brand and legacy. These include a considerable influence in sales and marketing and the design of the iconic green bottle.
Freddy’s leadership carried Heineken through a period of exciting innovation and expansion. By the time he retired in 1995, the family brewery was now the second-largest in the world, with the most extensive global presence.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near the Heineken Experience
When you come out of the Heineken Experience, you’ll probably feel like another beer or maybe a bite to eat. Have no fear, there are lots of great bars and restaurants close to the old brewery, which is located in the centre of Amsterdam. Let’s take a look at some of the best.
The best restaurants near the Heineken Experience
Hungry? We don’t blame you. After an hour or so touring and a couple of beers to finish, a plate of traditional fried potatoes is sure to sound tempting. These are some of the best places to eat near the Heineken Experience.
- Brasserie SenT – A barbeque specialist and locals’ favourite, it’s an excellent choice for carnivores, while the fish and vegetarian options are also delicious.
- FACTORY GIRL – This bright breakfast and lunch spot serves beautiful plates throughout the day. Food bloggers must!
- Van ‘t Spit – In the mood for chicken? Homemade fries? And comforting desserts? Head here for all three done right.
- Venster 33 – This café-restaurant is a fuss-free choice with something on the menu to suit everyone.
- Café Caron – A classic French spot for high-quality food in a timeless setting.
- Locals – A small, light-filled café that’s perfect for a late breakfast or lunch after your Heineken Experience.
The best bars near the Heineken Experience
You’ll finish your Heineken Experience with a couple of beers in the bar. If you feel like carrying on, and we suggest you do, you’ll find plenty of bars stocking the local favourite nearby. These are some of the best bars near the Heineken Experience.
- BARDAK – This small spot comes alive at night, serving expertly-made cocktails as well as some exciting gin and tonics.
- The Tavern – A cosy, casual pub. Just what you might fancy after a trip around the Heineken Experience.
- Bar Mokum – For great cocktails and spirits. And of course, Heineken on tap.
- Bar Mash – This quirky little spot serves excellent cocktails, beers, and award-winning wines, not to mention some great Thai food if you fancy a bite to eat.
- Café Gollem – This speciality beer café has hundreds of brews to choose from, making it a perfect place to visit after the Heineken Museum. Consider it additional research.
Shopping near the Heineken Experience
In the mood for a little shopping after your time at the Heineken Experience? As well as plenty of bars and restaurants, you can find lots of great retail close by.
For serious shopping, your best bet is to head into the inner canal belt of Amsterdam. Here you’ll find lots of the city’s best shops. From vintage and antiques to independent designer fashions and gift shops, there’s something for everyone. Just stroll around and see what you can find. This is also a great way to see some parts of central Amsterdam you might miss if you head from one attraction to the next directly.
Heineken Experience Opening Times and Ticket Prices
The Heineken Experience is open year-round, so you should be able to visit no matter when you’re in Amsterdam. Opening hours are 10:30 to 21:30 every day, with last entry at 19:15. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, opening times are between 10:30 and 16:00, with final admittance at 14:00.
How much does it cost to visit the Heineken Experience?
These are the most recent ticket prices for the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam. You can reserve your tickets online, and we recommend you do. You can check the final cost of your visit there.
The Heineken Experience VIP tour includes an expert guide to show you around the historical brewery, access to a hidden bar, and a personalised Heineken gift. This option takes around 2.5 hours.
Whenever you choose to visit the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, we’re sure you’ll have a memorable time. A tour of this museum means enjoying every glass of Heineken with a little context in your pocket, not to mention some fun facts to impress your drinking buddies. Cheers to that!
Taking the train to Amsterdam?
It's easy to take the train to Amsterdam from many major destinations across Europe. Travel direct from London to Amsterdam in just 4h 2m on a high-speed Eurostar service, or why not jump on an equally high-speed Thalys train, and whizz from Paris to Amsterdam in just 3h 12m. Brussels to Amsterdam is also another well-connected route, taking just 1h 45m.
You can find out more about travelling around the Netherlands by train in our trains in the Netherlands guide.