Known all over the world as the old Dutch city laced with canals and rich in artistic history, Amsterdam is a great city to explore on foot as well as on two wheels. The main center is compact with most of the top sites within just a ten minute stroll away from each other. Laden with unique architecture, the center of the city around the canal belt is quaint and picturesque with interesting doorways and waterside cafes enticing visitors to sit and take in the life of the city. Further out interesting design combines with the practicality of everyday life, and there are some fantastic markets, eateries and parks to discover.
The places to stay in Amsterdam’s are exciting and always interesting. You could choose to stay in old converted canalside houses, on luxury river boats, sleek boutique hotels, or in world-class 5 star mansions. If you are a budget backpacker there are a whole load of hostels for you to lay your head, or even if you are a couple on your honeymoon looking for some romantic seclusion, Amsterdam hotels are often design-led and trendy. With something for everyone, it’s time to book your trip to the Venice of the North, Amsterdam.
Amsterdam’s top neighborhoods
2 Canal Ring
3 De Pijp
5 Plantage & East
6 Oud West
7 Oud Zuid
8 Eastern Docklands
The Binnenstad is the central neighborhood of Amsterdam in the Centrum district; here is where main sights can be found, such at the Basilica of St. Nicholas, the Portuguese Synagogue, and Dam Square. A great base for your Amsterdam adventures and with easy access to transport links, as the main transport hub in the city, the Amsterdam Centraal station, is located here. From the central station you can jump on a train and travel all over Holland as well as other European countries. The main tram hub is also located in the station, as well as the bus terminal, making traversing the city on public transport easy.
There are a whole range of hotels in the Centrum area – from lower-end, budget accommodation to luxury high-end hotels, all nestled among a mass of restaurants, bars and cafes serving up delicious food and drink to locals and tourists. Because it is in the center of the city there are more vehicles on the roads here compared to other parts of Amsterdam, but still a low amount when compared to other cities. So if you are looking to use public transport to get around the city and don’t mind putting up with a little traffic, you should think about choosing the Binnenstad Centrum area for you stay.
Canal Ring (Grachtengordel)
Grachtengordel in English means ‘The Canal District’ and it really lives up to its name. The famous old canals slowly make their way through the picturesque 17th century old center where waterside accommodation offers a peaceful retreat from the city. Parts of the canal ring are on the rise and trendy hotels such as the Waldorf Astoria have opened up their doors here in recent years. There are still budget options in the area: the cheapest places to stay are along the busy Raadhuisstraat. Stylish boutique hotels along the canal are also very attractive for tourists to stay in and at certain times of the year rooms can be booked for very reasonable rates.
This is a great location if you are into nightlife, as the area has a whole host of bars, clubs and delicious dining options around the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein areas. If you are in Amsterdam to hit up the shops then you won’t be disappointed – the area has a whole host of quirky shops and big stores for you to shop to you drop in. Public transport is easy to use around here, but most places in this compact city are easily walkable.
Just a quick tram ride away from the central station is the metropolitan and culture-laden De Pijp with its long, thin streets and melting pot of inhabitants. The district used to be the working class area, overflowing with people and life the area was home to some famous locals such as De Haan and novelist Bordewijk. In recent years house prices in the area have ballooned as it has become the desirable place to live; many boho families, couples, students, old and young have all chosen to reside among the vibrant canals of De Pijp and it’s not hard to see why.
The neighborhood is now overflowing with coffee shops and cafes, many of which serving food from places like Morocco and Syria. The Albert Cuyp Market, with over 100 shops is a must see, and pubs here are ubiquitous. If you want to stay somewhere in Amsterdam packed full of culture and cuisine De Pijp, as in may places in the city, has fantastic transport links and a range of affordable accommodation.
Many young professionals now live in Jordaan and staying here will mean you are living with the locals away from the main tourist sites. Jordaan is famous for its picturesque houses, delicious restaurants and quaint shopping. Take a walk along the canal, cross the little bridges and wander through the small streets: this is Amsterdam at its most picture perfect. There are many markets that take place in the quarter – a flea market selling Dutch delights takes place on Monday, and on the weekend fresh food can be found at Noordermarkt.
Hotels in the area are very cool; if you fancy staying in a converted art gallery or perhaps in an old train depot then Jordaan is the place for you. The most popular streets in the area are the Westerstraat, Haarlemmerstraat, Prinsengracht, and the 9 Straatjes area, and all are well connected by the city’s tram and bus network.
Plantage & East
If a quiet leafy streets and a local community is what you are after then this is the district for you. Plantage and the East area are mainly residential but are still well connected by tram stops, making getting to the big tourist attractions around Amsterdam easier. The area is laid back and offers nature and culture in the center of the city. There are many green open spaces to stroll through and relaxing canals with plenty of waterside coffee shops to sit and soak up the nature. Attractions in the district include the new public square which is a great spot for families to hang out in as it is right next to the zoo and the lush botanic gardens. Accommodation in the area is often well designed and ranges from large, well established waterside hotels, to modern design based guesthouses.
Still a local, family-friendly area, Oud West has started to become a little busier in recent years and a younger, more urban set of residents have started moving in. If you want to be in easy walking distance of the city center as well as wanting to soak up local life Oud West it the place to stay. Jordaan, 9 Straatjes, and the Anne Frank Museum are all in walking distance along with so many other top sites. The food on offer in the quarter’s converted old buildings is delicious; get yourself down to the De Foodhallen, where you can sample a whole range of cuisine from Vietnamese to Italian, and then wash it all down at the gin bar. The accommodation in the area is local and very affordable, guest houses and rental apartments are big but there also so mid-range hotels for you to choose from.
Quiet, upmarket Oud Zuid is the perfect area for exploring Amsterdam’s many museums which attract tourists from all over the world to stay here. The long, tree-lined boulevards offer shade to those walking by, gazing at the beautiful old grand mansions with colorful doors. The area is more upscale than many others in Amsterdam and the restaurants and more expensive, but this means the streets are quieter and the nightlife less lively, which makes it a great base for your trip to the city if you have children. Vondelpark is nearby and is usually busy with groups of families and friends enjoying picnics together in the summer weather. This is also the district for designer shopping where the big label brands sell their wares for big price tags.
Affordable accommodation can be found in the area, but many of the hotels are luxury and a good fit for those with bigger budgets. Transport links for the tram and bus are easy to find in Oud Zuid, but then again, you can always go by bike or walk the main sites.
The Eastern Docklands, an up-and-coming district in the city, was once where the city’s ports and warehouses could be found. The area attracted artists and squatters as the buildings along the ports fell into disrepair. Nowadays the area has developed to become a quirky mix of culture, eccentricity and local life and now stands as a fantastic example of urban design and creativity in Holland. The Eastern Docklands are connected by trams that run to major sights in the city, including the Central Station, so getting to other districts is simple.
There are many hotels to choose from in the district, which is interesting to explore in its own right. Traveling around on bicycle is the best way to see what is on offer; pedal through the district’s intriguing streets and explore converted 19th-century brick warehouses, now home to restaurants, nightclubs, creative spaces and cultural centers.