Edited by Holly Stark
While most areas of Amsterdam are effortlessly cool, social, and free-spirited, some parts of the city are even better than others. From neighborhoods with a culturally engaged hipster appeal to canal walks with a chilled vibe, the capital of the Netherlands is full of hotspots and hidden gems to delve into. Wondering where to stay in Amsterdam?
Check out my insider’s Amsterdam neighborhood guide with some of the best places to explore in the city; covering cool spots for nightlife, unique areas for families, the best streets for shopping, and districts for museum lovers.
Formerly a working-class area constructed to facilitate the overpopulated Jordaan during the 19th century, de Pjip is a diverse, artsy, and bohemian district that has managed to flourish without losing its roots.
Most of the streets are named after Dutch painters, like Jan Steen and Vincent van Gogh. The locals who have made de Pjip their home are a cool mix of young, old, students, artists, and families. From the serene landscaped gardens of Sarphatipark to the well-loved Albert Cuypmarkt street market, de Pjip exudes hippy energy from every angle and has been popular for bohemian spirits since the 60s.
Seeking a lively but relaxed district far removed from the hustle and bustle of central Amsterdam, where you can eat and drink like a local? Be sure to check out de Pjip; a homely alternative to Amsterdam’s busier central streets.
Home to independent boutiques, cozy pubs, and cool eateries, the hipster Jordaan district is great if you’re seeking where to stay in Amsterdam with your family. Narrow canals, quirky shops, and fun museums, such as the Amsterdam Cheese Museum and Houseboat Museum, line the streets. Wander past beautiful houses, top restaurants, and original stores.
Built in the early 17th century to house the working class and immigrants, the district became home to a stream of refugees seeking religious and political freedom. Once a poor, overpopulated area, Jordaan, named after the French word for garden (Jardin), is now a trendy area with plenty on offer.
Stalls at the Noordermarkt square market offer jewelry, fabrics, antiques, and organic food. Antiques Centre Amsterdam displays vintage ceramics and paintings, while smaller local galleries focus on innovative contemporary art. One of the best areas to stay in Amsterdam, the historic Jordaan is suitable for a variety of travelers; from families to couples, to solo adventurers.
Wondering where to stay in Amsterdam for nightlife? The nightlife in Amsterdam is mainly concentrated around two squares: Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Rembrandtplein is a historic square and natural hub of activity for both locals and visitors.
Home to some of the hippest clubs, coolest bars, and best live music spots, Rembrandtplein encompasses Amsterdam’s vibrant nightlife scene. With many restaurants and terraces to relax at for those who prefer a more relaxed evening, Rembrandtplein has something for everyone.
Named after famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn who owned a house nearby from 1639 to 1658, Rembrandtplein square is an entertainment hub not to be missed, with street performers, diverse attractions, and museums, such as the Willet-Holthuysen Museum (Herengracht 605) which offers visitors a glimpse at the lives of the 17th-century elite with posh period rooms inside an authentic canal house.
A free ferry from behind Centraal Amsterdam Station can transport you to the beautiful area of Amsterdam Noord in minutes. Across from the IJ; a body of water, formerly a bay in the north of the city, Amsterdam Noord boasts the best of contrasting worlds, with vast green spaces and charming little villages as well as some of the city's most modern and unique architecture, cool festivals, artist studios and exciting waterside areas with beautiful terraces.
Becoming a quaint and thriving hub of culture and activity, and often described as a village within a city, the must-see Noord is green, eco-driven and family-friendly, with a lot to do, from sustainable coffee houses to organic street markets. If you’re looking for things to do in Amsterdam that are off the typical Amsterdam neighborhood guide, be sure to add Amsterdam Noord to your off the beaten path itinerary.
Nieuwmarkt en Lastage
Trailing southwards from Centraal Amsterdam Station towards the river Amstel and home to several, diverse areas, Nieuwmarkt en Lastage is one of the oldest districts in Amsterdam.
The northern side of the neighborhood is a former industrial port that has developed into one of the most architecturally innovative areas of the city, with impressive, modern buildings, such as the ship-shaped NEMO science museum, the towering Amsterdam Central Library, and Mediamatic; an eco-conscious, creative initiative that host events and exhibitions related to sustainability.
Wander through the area and discover specialty shops, temples, and monasteries. From charming bookstores to vintage clothing stores, there is something to be found for everyone. On Saturdays, the Nieuwmarkt is brimming with stalls of the organic market. One of the biggest, oldest and best areas to stay in Amsterdam, Nieuwmarkt en Lastage is not to be missed when seeking the true spirit of the Dutch capital.
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