Amsterdam is a city steeped in history as much as it is seen as a modern, progressive place to visit. People come for the intoxicating cocktails of cannabis and canals, Rijksmuseum and red-light district, hip hangouts and heritage buildings.
Globally renowned residents of the city like Van Gogh, the great painter Rembrandt, and Anne Frank have made Amsterdam the destination for art history and reflection, while the bohemian and multicultural sides of town make for an exciting and diverse place to explore.
The unique symbiosis of canal and street makes for picturesque wanderings in the narrow lanes and quaint bridges of the city.
What’s more, getting around Amsterdam is made simple thanks to its metro, tram system (one of the largest in Europe) and – most visible of all – a comprehensive infrastructure for cycling. Even so, it’s important to make sure you choose the best area to stay in Amsterdam for you.
You might want to be near a park, or have endless options for food, or be near to main sights. So what’ll it be? Here are a few options to help you decide.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Amsterdam (Travel Guide)
Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Best Districts & Hotels
This is maybe Amsterdam’s most famous area, or maybe infamous since this is where you’ll find the city’s main red-light district.
There’s a sex museum here, as well as a cannabis museum, and Amsterdam’s well known ‘window prostitution’. However, this is also the oldest district, and in fact, de Wallen contains both the oldest building – and oldest church – in the whole city: the 800-year-old Oude Kerk or ‘Old Church’.
Elsewhere, on its north and eastern boundaries, you’ll find the city’s Chinatown; on Zeedijk, in particular, you can eat at Nam Kee, a famous Chinese eatery popular with local celebrities.
Needless to say, De Wallen is the best area to stay in Amsterdam for a glimpse into a typically Dutch mix of medieval history and modern liberality. It’s also here where you should stay to be close to the city’s main attractions.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in De Wallen:
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Comprising nine side streets of the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel canals, Negen Straatjes literally means ‘Nine Streets’ – it’s here where the famous canals of Amsterdam are maybe at their most quaint and pretty.
Part of a larger neighborhood, Grachtengordel (known in English as ‘The Canal District’), is in the narrow lanes of Negen Straatjes – located just to the west of the central De Wallen district – where you’ll find a lot of small and diverse shops and restaurants.
It’s this quirky shopping experience that has turned Negen Straatjes into a must-visit destination when it comes to cool chain stores as well as independent boutiques.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Negen Straatjes:
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Known for its shopping, Jordaan used to be a very working-class area of Amsterdam but has now become one of the most upscale areas in the city, with many art galleries, specialty stores, and restaurants.
Just west of Negen Straatjes, the area is also known for its many hofjes – inner courtyards that act as small oases of calm in the city; in summer some of these are opened to the public for small concerts, making for a decidedly chilled, communal atmosphere.
Renowned painter Rembrandt spent his last years at Jordaan and is buried in the stunning Westerkerk just outside the district. To the southeast is Anne Frank’s house.
To the north, the Lindengracht Market opens up on Saturdays with 232 stands lining 900 meters of the lime-tree-lined street. Jordaan definitely has a lot going on.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Jordaan:
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This area is a bohemian neighborhood located south of the city center, a roughly square shape bound by the Amstel river to the west, and by canals to the south, east and north.
Expect narrow streets, Middle Eastern eateries, cafes with sidewalk seating and old-school pubs. If lively diversity is what you want, then multicultural De Pijp is the best area to stay in Amsterdam.
This area features the busiest and largest street market in the city. The Albert Cuyp Market and the compact Sarphatipark are among the top areas to visit.
Sarphatipark is an English style park and garden named after Samuel Sarphati who helped plan the new, late 19th-century district then known as ‘Neighborhood YY’ – today’s De Pijp – but died before its full completion.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in De Pijp:
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Top hostel we recommend in De Pijp: Amsterdam Guesthouse Sarphati
Northwest of central Amsterdam is Westerpark. It’s named after the biggest park in the neighborhood, a green urban space where, on sunny days, you’ll find locals chilling out and enjoying their time in nature.
If you like the idea of recreational green spaces as much as cool creative spaces, while being based just outside the center of the city, this is the best area to stay in Amsterdam. The park began life in 1890.
The historic late 19th-century industrial buildings of Westergasfabriek now house cool spaces for creative and cultural entrepreneurs.
Elsewhere in the Westerpark area are great examples of 20th-century Dutch buildings, characterized by red bricks and flowing curves, dubbed Amsterdamse School architecture.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Westerpark:
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Top hostel we recommend in Westerpark: B&B Westerpark
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