What neighbourhoods to visit in Amsterdam?

A guide to the must-visit areas of Amsterdam.

Get to know the city, one neighbourhood at the time! In this city where you can walk from area to area, the different cultures are still present in every new hood. Explore the different flavours in the city.

Amsterdam is made up of 518 neighbourhoods, inside 110 districts, that are made up of 25 areas and 9 city districts. We are focusing on the ‘area’s’, but we will just call them neighbourhoods.

Grachtengordel

The canal belt that circles the city is comprised of two neighbourhoods: Grachtengordel- West en -Zuid. One of the most iconic areas of Amsterdam, crowned with being a UNESCO World Heritage site. This wonderful area has a network of canals, bridges and the charming 17th-century canal houses. It contains the three most famous canals; Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.

The Grachtengordel was built in the golden ages, when Amsterdam was a major trading center. The canals were used for transportation and commerce. The canal houses were built for the wealthy merchants and artisans. It has always been an affluent place of prestige and luxurious living.

We would recommend enjoying the canals and this area in general by taking a canal cruise. Learn about the area while enjoying the views from the water.

Boutique stores and cafes can be found at the nine streets. Walk around and see what catches your fancy. Every now and then a café finds its way through the TikTok algorithm which creates a big hype. Don’t be surprised to see long lines in these streets at for example Fabel Friet and Chun Café.

For a fun night out visit Rembrandtplein with many bars, coffeeshops and clubs. This is also where you can embark on a once in a lifetime adventure at the Amsterdam Icebar.

Although the Grachtengordel is very populair amongst tourists, there are still some hidden spots! Disscover local retailers and quaint cafes all along the wining streets.

Must visits:

  • Cruise the canals
    Sit back and admire the Canal Belt.
  • The Amsterdam Icebar
    Can you brave the cold? This unforgettable experience lifts your Amsterdam trip to a new level.
  • Escape Club
    The biggest club in the city on the vibrant Rembrantplein.
  • Willet Holthuysen
    See what those beautiful merchant houses looked like from the inside back in the Golden Ages.
  • Foam
    Renowed photgraphy museum.
  • Anne Frank House
    Visit the actual house where Anne Frank and her family were hiding from the Nazi occupations. Perhabs the most famous museum in the country, therefor; always busy. Timeslots are booked up months in advance.

De Pijp (Rivierenbuurt de Pijp, Zuid)

At the south city of the city centre, just outside of the canal ring, walk into the pipe – De Pijp. De Pijp is a diverse and lively neighbourhood with a multicultural atmosphere. Famous for the Albert Cuyp Market, where you can sample international cuisines and shop for unique trinkets. Enjoy this melting pot of cultures. The area is also home to the Heineken Experience, numerous parks, and a vibrant nightlife scene, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

What once was a working-class neighbourhood is now one of the most sought-after areas in the city. This trendy area has an abundance of hipsters. It is the perfect spot for your Sunday brunch. There are many local restaurants and cafés to choose from. Vegetarian people and vegans will have no trouble jumping into a random place, since the whole area is super veg-friendly. De Pijp is the hot spot for all foodies alike!

This is also one of the best places to admire the artistic movement of the Amsterdam School. An architectural style famous in the. characterized using bricks and decorative facades in brick or natural stone.

(image: AmsterdamSights)

Must visits:

  • Heineken Experience
    The tastiest way to learn about the Netherlands favourite beer brand.
  • Albert Cuyp Market
    Eat your way around the most well-known market in the city, open every day except Sundays.
  • Marie Heinekenplein
    Home of the Vegan Junk Food bar among others.
  • Sarphatipark
    People, dog and duck watching. This cute park is loved by the locals.
  • Rialto
    100-year-old cinema with arthouse movies.

De Wallen, red light district (Centrum-west)

Go on an exploration on the naughtiest area of Amsterdam. This is a place where most tourist will go at least once. But don’t look at de Wallen as just an attraction. Sure, it has the red-lit windows with sexworkers, coffeeshops and bars and lots of tourists, but there is much more to this area.

Visit the area during the day when it is a little less busy, to be able to take in the cute narrow cobblestone streets, the bridges and the canals. Walk through Chinatown and hop into some of the eccentric stores. Besides the naughty shops, there are some truly interesting stores to be discovered.

Must visits:

  • Red light Secrets Museum
    Discover what the industry is really like and how the city of Amsterdam regulates safe prostitution.
  • Hash and Marihuana Museum
    When in Amsterdam…
  • Oude Kerk (Old Church)
    Visit the oldest church of Amsterdam, dating back to the 13th century.
  • Onze lieve heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic)
    Secret catholic church built in the time when Catholicism was outlawed in the Netherlands.

NDSM-Terrain

Cross the IJ with the free ferry to the NDSM wharf. The NDSM Werf (Wharf) is a former shipyard turned into a creative and cultural hotspot in Amsterdam. Located in the northern part of the city, this industrial area has undergone a transformation into a vibrant community with a focus on arts, culture, and alternative lifestyles. The crossing is an experience, with your 15-minute ferry ride you get to see some interesting buildings.

One of the most notable features of the NDSM Werf is its extensive collection of street art and murals. The area has become an open-air gallery with colorful and large-scale artworks covering walls, buildings, and even some of the old shipyard structures.

Inside the NDSM building, find many studios of various artist. You can explore various art studios, galleries, and creative spaces. Keep an eye out for exhibitions, performances, and events that might be happening in the area. Monthly, this is where you also find part the biggest vintage market of Amsterdam; the IJhallen.

Must Visit:

  • STRAAT
    Visit the street art and graffiti museum, quickly becoming one of the most beloved attractions in the city.
  • Pannenkoeken cruise
    Departing from NDSM, cruise along the IJ river while endulging on as many pancakes as you can eat.
  • Blast Galaxy
    Pay for entrance only and play limitless arcade games.
  • Pllek
    Hip bar and restaurant made from ship containers. It is possible to dip into the river from here and lay on the fake beach!

Oud-West (West)

West is the best! This area is more of a residential area and therefore often overlooked by tourists. Take your advantage, as you can be the more locally aware tourist now! Mingle with the locals and live like an Amsterdammer.

The Oud-West neighbourhood emerged in the early 20th century as Amsterdam expanded westward. The neighbourhood’s architecture reflects this era, with a mix of ornate Art Deco buildings, traditional Dutch brick houses, and modern apartment complexes. Oud-West has retained its distinctive character, blending the old with the new, creating a dynamic and appealing urban environment.

Walk along the Bilderdijkstraat and find bars and restaurants catered to every taste preference. Like the (Italian!)-award winning pizzeria nNea, some vegan hotspots like Soil of Amsterdam or a Polish brunch at Kazik. Its is al possible here!

Must visits:

  • De Hallen
    This former tram-depot is transformed into a food hall, cinema, a market and art exhibitions.
  • Ten Kate market
    A small street market for fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the best falafels in town is found here!
  • Lab 111
    Former pathological-anatomical laboratory turned into theater for movie geeks.
  • Zevenlandenhuizen
    Seven houses built in the style of different countries.

(image: Gemeente Amsterdam)

Museum quarter (Oud-Zuid)

High end shopping, world-class dining and the most famous museums are found here. The affluent area of Oud-Zuid is famous for the ‘old money’ inhabitants.

As the name suggests, the Museumkwartier (museum quarter) is where we find some of the most renowned museums of Amsterdam. Located in the heart of the city’s cultural hub, it includes the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum, MOCO and the Diamond museum amongst others.

Find Vondelpark next to this neighbourhood. Amsterdams most famous park. Bustling with activities in summer, from picnics and student meet ups to free comedy on the Vondel theatre. There are a few places to have a drink, or drinks, in the park as well. Surrounded by greenery!

Must visits:

  • The museums, of course!
    Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, MOCO, Diamond and Stedelijk.
  • Bols Experience
    Discover the world of Dutch Genever brand Bols and create your own cocktails.
  • Vondelpark
    Stroll around this beautiful park, enjoy watching people, canaries (really), ducks and geese.
  • P.C. Hooftstraat
    For luxurious shopping, or just window shopping.
  • Concert Hall
    Famous for its exceptional acoustics, this is the place to visit for classical or jazz music enthusiasts. Also hosts free lunchtime concerts weekly.

Jordaan (Centrum-West)

Nestled in the western part of the city centre, the Jordaan is a picturesque neighbourhood known for its narrow streets, canals, and artistic vibe. Formerly a working-class area, Jordaan has transformed into a bohemian haven with trendy boutiques, vintages shopping, art galleries, and cozy cafes. A hipsters dream!

The area was built in the first half of the seventeenth century, when Amsterdam was expanding rapidly. The money was all put into the houses around the canal belt, so there was not much left for de Jordaan. The smaller, cheaper built houses attracted a working-class population. Learn more about this and other historic neighbourhoods in this blog.

Nowadays, it is one of the most expensive places to live in the city. The old school character has remained. Wander around this area, where every alley is more beautiful than the other.

Must visits:

  • Vincent meets Rembrandt
    Listen to the story of the two most famous Dutch painters and see their artworks come to live all around you.
  • Cafe Winkel 43
    The best Applepie in Amsterdam. It is quite a claim, but they live up to it!
  • Noorderkerk
    The most important church of de Jordaan.
  • Noordermarket
    Locally loved sunday market in front of the church with local sellers.

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