Amsterdam is a stunning city in the Netherlands that attracts millions of tourists each year. Visitors from around the world flock to Amsterdam to view the 164 canals, iconic Amsterdam houses, and various attractions. It is a city with a ton to do, see and experience, and there truly is something for every type of traveler.
However, finding accommodation in Amsterdam can be a difficult task. And although Amsterdam is a relatively small city, there are quite a few different areas and neighborhoods within it to navigate. Therefore, making an educated decision and choosing the right one to stay in for an Amsterdam getaway is imperative.
It is essential to look at each district first and then at the smaller neighborhoods inside them. Following this, one can see and consider each section diverse and unique offerings before choosing to stay there.
Before beginning, a quick explanation of Amsterdam and how it is divided is required. As illustrated on the map below, it is evident that Amsterdam is separated into eight distinct districts. However, the main areas are West, Zuid, Centrum, Noord, and Oost. The ones outside these are too far from the city limits and should not be considered for accommodation.
Within the central five districts, some have additional smaller neighborhoods within them. This may sound confusing to someone who doesn’t know the city of Amsterdam. However, each region and neighborhood will be explained, and through the explanations, you will be able to find the perfect area for your visit.
Amsterdam West is the most photogenic areas of Amsterdam that is full of iconic Dutch houses and various canals. Two main neighborhoods in the West that are great for finding accommodation in Amsterdam. They are called Oud-West and Weesterpark.
1 – Oud-West
Oud-West is a trendy and posh area of Amsterdam. It is located near the city center, and the area is very accessible by both tram and metro.
Oud-West is full of cute cafes, lovely shopping streets, and beautiful canals.
This is one of the best areas to stay in Amsterdam because it offers a beautiful Amsterdam environment without the crowds of other more central areas.
More so, in this area, you will see a different and more local side of the city.
It is not as crazy as downtown, and you can enjoy a calm walk and see what life would be like as a local in Amsterdam.
2 – Westerpark
Westerpark is an area of Amsterdam that is situated in the northwest corner of the city. It is another beautiful area that is named after the vast park that lies within it. This area is well known for its trendy architecture, booming creative scene, and lively nightlife. Westerpark is the perfect area to stay in if you would like to stay somewhere near the city center, but in an area with a unique flare. Here you can also find various indie shops, unique restaurants, and numerous other exciting attractions.
The centrum is where most people find accommodation, and as a result, they do not leave this area of Amsterdam. They end up spending their whole visit in this small area and don’t experiencing everything else the city has to offer. However, this area is stunning, and you are very close to all the major attractions in the city. Amsterdam centrum has quite a few different neighborhoods within it, and an explanation of each is presented below.
1 – Dam
Dam is one of the most popular and frequented areas in Amsterdam. It sits directly in the center of the city and is near many famous monuments and attractions. Some of which are the Royal Palace, the National Monument, Madam Tussaud, a long shopping street, and more.
More so, this is an excellent place to stay for convenience and ease of transportation. It is located very close to the central station; therefore, getting to the airport or traveling to different destinations is very easy. Also, it is a central spot in the city with all major attractions nearby. However, due to its location accommodation here can be pricier.
2 – Joordan
It is well known for its picture-perfect canals, iconic Amsterdam houses, nine shopping streets, and unique boutiques.
This is one of the trendiest areas in the city, and regardless if you stay here or not, you will, without a doubt, be heading to this neighborhood to explore.
This is a pricier neighborhood in the city but leaving your accommodation and being right on the most beautiful canals in the city is a treat.
This neighborhood is also home to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, Anne Frank House, and a ton of iconic shops.
3 – Leidseplein
Leidseplein is one of two main party areas in Amsterdam. It is very well known for its streets lined with clubs and bars that are always full of people. More so, the famous Melkweg is located in Leidseplein, which often hosts famous DJ’s and artists. If you are heading to Amsterdam for its nightlife scene, this is the area for you.
However, Leidseplein is also home to various cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums. Most notably, the world-famous Rijksmuseum is located here, and staying in this neighborhood allows for easy access and viewability. Regardless of Liedseplein’s very active nightlife, if you don’t mind some loud nights, this is a lovely and central area to stay in Amsterdam.
4 – Rembrandtplein
Rembrandtplein is the other party area of Amsterdam that is packed with cafes, bars, clubs, and shops. This area is more touristy than Leidseplein but is still a lovely area of the city. Rembrandt square is also home to a very famous movie theater called Theatre Tuschiniski, which is excellent for a rainy night indoors.
5 – Canal Belt
The Canal Belt is another picturesque neighborhood within the city, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The houses here are built on semi-circle canals which are super exciting and unique to view. This location is by far the most famous and therefore the most touristy area in the city. If you’ve looked at some postcards about Amsterdam it’s very like of this iconic spot.
6 – Plantage
Plantage is a more practical area of Amsterdam that is well known for the Waterlooplein market and the botanical gardens. At Waterlooplein market you can shop for a used bike, used trinkets or fresh food while the botanical gardens are the oldest botanical gardens in the world and well worth a visit.
This is a central yet quieter area of the city and is an excellent place to stay if you want to save on accommodation but still have the luxury of being close to some major attractions.
7 – Nieuwmarkt
Nieuwmarkt is a square in Amsterdam that is close to Amsterdam central and The Red-Light District. This area can be a bit more touristy and dodgier than the others due to its location near the red light. However, Amsterdam is a relatively safe city, and this area is not unsafe, it just attracts a wilder crowd than the other regions of Centrum.
This is a borough in Amsterdam that doesn’t have any defined neighborhoods inside of it, but overall the area is terrific. It is one of the least touristy areas of the city and is characterized by its spacious streets, diverse architecture, and unique restaurants. This area has a more local and lived-in feel than the others and will provide you with an authentic Amsterdam experience.
One downside, Amsterdam Oost is not super close to the city center, and bikes or public transportation are essential to get around to places. But, if you want to see a side of Amsterdam, not many tourists do and have lower accommodation costs, this is a great area. Just be sure to not wander too far out in Oost, this district reaches pretty far back and may have limited access to public transport. Just stay closer to centrum than further.
Zuid is an affluent area in Amsterdam and is a popular place with tourists. It has some of the best museums, shopping, and fine dining. The area has a lot of affordable accommodations and very close to the city center.
1 – De Pijp
De Pijp is another idyllic area in Amsterdam that has a similar vibe to the Joordan. This area doesn’t have any canals, but it is beautiful and picturesque, nonetheless. De Pijp is known for its plethora of cafes, extensive street market, unique shops, and park. This area is home to some of the best restaurants in the city! Staying here is most suitable for people who want to see a more local and urban side of Amsterdam, while still being close to the rest of the city.
2 – Museum Quartier
Museum Quartier is by definition in Zuid; however, it is located very close to Centrum.
This neighborhood is where Museumplein is located.
This is the area of the city that is home to Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and more.
If you are an art and culture lover and you are heading to Amsterdam to enjoy this aspect of the city, this is a great area to stay.
Here you will be close to all the major museums in the city and can arrive first thing without traveling a far distance.
3 – Zuidas
Zuidas is Amsterdam’s business district. This area has buildings as close to ‘skyscrapers’ as you will see in Amsterdam. The only time you should stay in this area is if you are staying here to be close to the train station so you can make a quick departure to the airport. Otherwise, most cafes and restaurants close early here, and it is pretty uneventful.
This is another borough without any smaller neighborhoods within it. This district has undergone a significant amount of reconstruction and updates to make it a more appealing area of the city. However, the Noord district covers quite a large area of land, and if you go too far North, you may have difficulties getting into the city. I would suggest staying as close to the IJ River as possible.
What’s excellent about Noord is that it is much more cost-effective than the city center and it is a very safe area of the city. It’s not as loud and crazy as the center so it’s ideal for a family or for introverts. Also, the town offers ferry boats that bring you across the river for free!
Where to stay in Amsterdam if your first visit
For your first visit to Amsterdam, you will most likely want to see the main attractions and sites within the city. Therefore you should stay in a more central location. Any area in centrum would be perfect. Just be aware that it’s going to be a busy place full of tourists.
Where to stay in Amsterdam if you are with the family
Visiting with family means you should avoid any of the areas that boast a lively nightlife such as Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein, or Nieuwmarkt. The Oud-West neighborhood or De Pijp would be two good options, as well as Amsterdam Noord.
Where to stay in Amsterdam if you have a layover
Where to stay in Amsterdam if you are on a budget
The further away from the center of the city, the less expensive accommodation becomes. The most cost-effective area, while still being beautiful, is Amsterdam Oost. However, since its recent renovations, Noord is also a cost-effective, yet appealing place to stay as well.
Where to stay in Amsterdam for good nightlife
The best neighborhoods to stay in to soak relish in the lively nightlife are either Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein. Just note that most accommodations have strict rules against partying inside them; therefore, you must be careful not to be too loud after a night out.
Where to stay in Amsterdam for seeing tulips
Seeing Tulips in Amsterdam is one of the many reasons people come to visit the city and the Netherlands.
However, the tulips are located in different areas around Amsterdam, and sometimes in nearby towns.
If you don’t have the time or the means to visit the surrounding countryside, the best neighborhood to stay in for viewing tulips is the Joordan or Dam areas, because they are near the central station and getting around the city is accessible from these places.
Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city full of exciting things to do year-round, and tourists come to the city every month of the year. However, here is some information on times to visit.
- November-January – Fewer tourists, cheaper accommodation costs, but rainy, cold weather
- March-May – Tulip Season in the Netherlands, warmer temperatures
- June-August – Lots of tourists in the city, very high accommodation costs, but warm weather
- Sept-November – Fall temperatures, fewer tourists
I’ve covered the best neighborhoods for any type of traveler in Amsterdam. Hopefully, you will have found the ideal place and the ideal accommodation. Whichever area and hotel you choose I’m sure you will find Amsterdam to be a fun and vibrant place!
Visiting Amsterdam Soon?
Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a millennial traveler on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to provide valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and getting some good Instagram photos along the way.