Boats on an Amsterdam canal on a winter evening
neighbourhood guide

Where to stay in Amsterdam

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Faraway Worlds

Staff writers

Amsterdam is a wonderful city to visit on a weekend break in Europe. With world class museums, fine dining and historical landmarks, Amsterdam is much more than just the Red Light District.

Of course, Amsterdam Centrum is a beautiful place to visit, with colourful houses, winding canals and sights like the Amsterdam Centraal Station. But it also draws big crowds including groups visiting for stag/hen dos and cannabis tourism.

Many still choose to base themselves in the historic Old Town, however this isn’t necessarily the best place to stay in the city. Big hotel brands like Ibis and Radisson Blu dominate the accommodation scene in the centre, leaving little room for unique stays. So why not try somewhere a little different (not to mention quieter and more affordable)?

There are several other districts in the city which could be perfect for what you’re looking for from your trip to Amsterdam. Here are our suggestions of the perfect place to stay in Amsterdam to suit your needs.

 Reflections of buildings in the Damrak canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

At a glance

  • Best for first-timers: Oud Zuid for an elegant neighbourhood near many things to do and places to eat.
  • Best for culture: Jordaan with leafy canal walks and typical Dutch architecture.
  • Best on a budget: Amsterdam Noord for affordable accommodation and easy access to the city centre.
  • Best for families: Plantage and the Jewish Quarter for a quieter stay near many child-friendly activities.
  • Best for foodies: Vondelpark and Oud West for markets, food trucks, parks and museums.
  • Best for nightlife: De Pijp with a great food scene, bustling markets and some of the best nightlife in the city.

Best area to stay in Amsterdam for first-time visitors

Oud Zuid

The Rijksmuseum reflected in a canal in Amsterdam

The whole district of Oud Zuid is a great place to stay if it’s your first time in Amsterdam. It’s one of the most elegant neighbourhoods in the city and is full of things to do, places to eat and affordable accommodation.

Easy access to Leidseplein and the museum quarter means it's a great place to experience Dutch culture, while P.C. Hoofstraat Street is good for shopping. This is the best place to stay if you want to avoid the crowds of the old centre, but still have so many things to see and do.

Stay at the De Ware Jacob Boutique Hotel for luxury accommodation in the heart of Oud Zuid. Or opt for the Amsterdam Jewel Canal apartments for a more affordable night or two in the area affectionately known as “Little Paris”.

Best area to stay in Amsterdam for culture

Jordaan

Bicyles and historic Gable Houses along the Bloemgracht in the historic Jordaan district, Amsterdam

Jordaan oozes charm, with leafy canal walks and typical Dutch architecture. It's close enough to the centre to be accessible but feels a lot quieter. Boutique hotels, local restaurants and quirky shops make this one of the trendiest areas in Amsterdam.

While you're here visit the Anne Frank House and Electric Ladyland for two very contrasting sides of the city. It's also a fantastic place to visit odd museums including the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, the Tulip Museum and the Houseboat Museum.

Don't miss a visit to the Pancake Bakery, a two-storey building overlooking the canal serving some of the biggest pancakes you will ever see!

Stay in one of the photogenic townhouses at Canal House, a four-star boutique hotel with private gardens and oodles of style. Or for a totally unique experience, opt to stay on one of Amsterdam's iconic houseboats.

Best area to stay in Amsterdam on a budget

Amsterdam Noord

Young people relaxing on the waterfront in Amsterdam Noord

Amsterdam Noord is one of the best kept secrets in Europe. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre but is so convenient for getting in and out of the city. You don’t even need to get a train or taxi - in fact it’s totally free!

Just a five-minute (free) ferry ride from behind the Amsterdam Centraal Station, brings you into the quiet suburb of Noord. The ferry service runs every couple of minutes, all day and well into the night. You don't need a ticket, just hop on and glide straight over the IJ River and in five minutes you'll arrive at Buiksloterweg. From here it's a short walk to one of the many unique accommodation options in Noord.

The once industrial shipping area has seen something of a transformation in recent years, with the authorities noticing the massive potential for the area. The result is modern well-designed hostels, great restaurants and cutting edge art galleries.

A popular attraction to visit here is the A'DAM Lookout and swing, a twenty-storey high rooftop bar and “over the edge” swing with views over the city. Another great spot to visit is the WONDR Experience and Pink Beach - an adult playground and summer bar, with surreal and super colourful experiences designed by artists.

There are loads of great places to eat in this trendy part of the city, from fresh seafood on the waterfront to cafes and bars that feel very local. Noord has plenty of quirky accommodation options too including a Botel or 50m in the air in a crane, however our recommendations are a bit more mundane.

Stay at ClinkNoord for a super convenient hostel right across from the ferry. Converted from a 1920s laboratory, this ultra clean and chic hostel provides everything you need for an easy stay. The in-house cafe and restaurant are perfect for grabbing a quick bite before heading back out into the city

Another great place to stay in Amsterdam Noord is the Bunk Hotel. Its eclectic history as a bombed-out WW2 church, a library and the offices for Universal Studios make it one of the most unique places to stay in Amsterdam. They also have a secret vault and brew their own beer, vodka, jenever, and gin.

Best area to stay in Amsterdam for families

Plantage and the Jewish Quarter

Hortus Botanicus garden across the river on a cloudy day

Also known as the Jewish Quarter, Plantage is a great place to bring the family – it’s just far enough away from the tourist crowds, but still close enough to visit all the sites. There are many great places to visit in Amsterdam with children, and Plantage has several of them.

A must-visit is ARTIS zoo, with big cats and primates as well as a butterfly pavilion. Micropia is also a fascinating experience for adults and kids alike, the museum explores the world of microbes and everything tiny. Explore the green areas like the Hortus Botanicus garden, with carnivorous and medicinal plants and the 1911 Palm Greenhouse.

Of course, you can’t ignore the history of a place like this, although it’s perhaps best for families with older children. The Dutch resistance to the 1940s Nazi occupation is the focus of the Verzetsmuseum, and you can also visit the Auschwitz Monument in Wertheimpark.

Stay at Wittenberg by Cove offering serviced “live away” apartments suitable for families or groups.

Best area to stay in Amsterdam for foodies

Vondelpark and Oud West

People eating at tables in Foodhallen in Amsterdam

Vondelpark is a huge open green space with forests, lakes and even a rosarium. It’s the perfect antidote to the busy streets of the city centre. Jam packed with culture, it attracts tourists, families and students as well as hosting live events in summer.

It's also part of the Museumkwartier, and some fantastic spots to visit include the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and the House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience. Vondelpark is also conveniently located close to Leidseplein, one of the most popular places for nightlife in Amsterdam.

Foodies won’t want to miss Foodhallen, a huge food court with everything your stomach could desire. Also worth a visit is Ten Katemarkt, a local outdoor market, as well as the many food trucks in the Oud West area.

Stay at Pillows Anna van den Vondel, a refined four-star hotel with beautiful views over the park. Or, for a more affordable option, Stayokay is a conveniently located hostel, with modern rooms and a friendly atmosphere.

Best area to stay in Amsterdam for nightlife

De Pijp

People at the Albert Cuyp market in De Pijp, Amsterdam

De Pijp was a once working class neighbourhood, but is now a hip and thriving community. With a great food scene, bustling markets and nightlife to rival Leidseplein, it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular areas to stay in Amsterdam.

Visit the Albert Cuyp Market to get a true taste of the area. With over 260 stalls, it’s the largest and best-known market in Amsterdam. You can buy almost anything here including food, clothing, housewares, antiques and souvenirs. Another famous spot to visit in De Pijp is the Heineken Experience.

Make sure to try some of the amazing food in the area, with eateries ranging from independent cafes to pop-up food stalls. Of course, a stroopwafel is a must - a delicious caramel wafer usually served on top of a hot drink.

Stay at the five-star Hotel Okura to recover from your night out in luxury. Or for a more basic option, try The Bicycle Hotel where you're sure to meet other nighttime revellers.

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Last Updated 3 September 2022

Multicolor red and yellow tulips flowers blooming in curve shape against Dutch windmills during spring the sunrise

Netherlands

With over 17 million people, the Netherlands is a densely populated country with its capital Amsterdam being just one of its many interesting cities. Once a great naval power, this small nation boasts a wealth of cultural heritage and is famous for its painters, windmills, clogs and notoriously flat lands.
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