Amsterdam Sights

Amsterdam Neighborhoods Explained

Amsterdam is broken up into 8 districts or boroughs (stadsdelen), which are further divided into neighborhoods. These neighborhoods may seem confusing to the first-time visitor to Amsterdam, but they're really very helpful when it comes to getting around.

Below a more detailed explanation of these neighborhoods, as well as other neighborhoods of note.

The Old Centre   CENTRUM
This area around the Dam and Nieuwmarkt, and through the neighborhood known as De Wallen (Red Light District), is the oldest part of the city.

Dam Square   CENTRUM
The Dam was built around 1270 between two dikes in order to prevent floodings. Now it is the central square between Rokin and Damrak. The Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, National Monument, and Madame Tussaud's are its main attractions. From the Dam Square Amsterdam's most commercial street (Kalverstraat) begins.

The Nieuwmarkt is dominated by a building known as De Waag, originally a gate in the Medieval city walls but converted into a weighing house after the walls were demolished in the 17th century. The square is located in Amsterdam's Chinatown, next to the De Wallen (Red Light District). There are many cafés and coffeeshops facing the square.

Red Light District (De Wallen)   CENTRUM
De Wallen, or, as it is known locally, Rossebuurt, is one of the main tourist attractions of Amsterdam. You'll find the Nieuwmarkt with the former city gate De Waag, Old Town Hall (nowadays Hotel The Grand), De Oude Kerk, Museum Our Lord in the Attic, Chinatown with the Fo Kuang Shan temple, and many one-room apartments rented by prostitutes, sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, and coffeeshops.

Grachtengordel (The Canal Belt)   CENTRUM
a series of concentric, semi-circular canals ("grachten"), dug around the old city centre. Along the canals houses and warehouses were built.

Old Jewish quarter   CENTRUM
The Old Portuguese Synagogue, Jewish Historical Museum, Hollandsche Schouwburg, and the Waterlooplein Market are a few of the sights of note. Also Artis Zoo and the Hortus Botanicus are situated in the neighborhood.

Jordaan   CENTRUM
Tightly packed streets and canals lies west of the Center, beyond the major canals. Once a neighborhood for the working class and emigrants, nowadays almost completely renovated and very popular among artists, students, professionals, young entrepreneurs, and tourists. It has a growing number of upscale boutiques and restaurants. No other Dutch neighborhood is sung about as much as De Jordaan.

The Spui quarter is the heart of the old city and is known for its many book stores and open-air book market (on Fridays). Spui square is an excellent starting point to discover the rest of the city. Visit the Flower Market, Begijnhof or Amsterdam Museum.

Spiegelkwartier   CENTRUM
In and around this street with its many characteristic Amsterdam facades are more than 70 art and antique shops. A must-see quarter for art lovers.

De Pijp   ZUID
one of the most cosmopolitan and vibrant districts of Amsterdam with fantastic cafés, restaurants, shops and the daily Albert Cuyp street market.

More expensive than De Pijp and one of the most desirable residential neighborhood with the city's most fashionable shopping streets: PC Hooftstraat, Van Baerlestraat and Beethovenstraat. You can find here also the most famous museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum), Coster Diamonds, Concertgebouw, and the Vondelpark.

Museum Quarter (Museumplein)   ZUID
Gracious and residential, surrounded by the Concertgebouw (concert hall) and the 3 major and most important museums in Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art and Van Gogh Museum. There're many restaurants, Amsterdam's most elegant shopping streets (P.C. Hooftstraat, and Van Baerlestraat), and the city's best-known park, Vondelpark.

Plantage/Artis   CENTRUM
In the 17th century 'The Plantage' (plantation) was a green area outside the city walls where Amsterdammers spent their free time. From 1848 onwards it became one of the most prominent areas of Amsterdam. The Jewish Historical Museum and the Portuguese Synagogue tell about the rich and sad history of this area. Exotic plants can be seen in the Hortis Botanicus (botanical garden) and you can visit wildlife in Artis Zoo.

Leidseplein   CENTRUM
Amsterdam's most popular nightlife centre. In addition to performance venues, movie theaters, bars, and cafes, there are plenty of good hotels and restaurants at this frenetically busy square and its immediate surroundings.

Rembrandtplein   CENTRUM
Until Rembrandt's statue was unveiled in 1876 this square was called Botermarkt (Butter market). For over a century it has been the centre of Amsterdam's nightlife. Here you can find famous hotels, cafés, discos and the renowned Tuschinski theatre. In summer, sitting in one of the many outdoor cafés, you can see the world pass by till way past midnight.

The IJ Waterfront (Westelijke & Oostelijke Eilanden)   CENTRUM
Centered on Centraal Station and stretching east and west along both banks of the IJ, this fast-redeveloping area includes the artificial islands, warehouses, and other installations of Amsterdam's old harbour. Main attractions in this area are the Maritime Museum, The Amsterdam, NEMO Science Museum, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, EYE Film Museum, and A'DAM Toren.

Oud-West   WEST
Popular city quarter stretching west of the Singelgracht canal with quite a lot of hotels, restaurants and cafes. The recent opening of cultural and culinary centre De Hallen has given a huge boost to the whole neighborhood.

Spaarndammerbuurt   WEST
Built toward the end of the nineteenth century for those working at the new harbours nearby. Squares were laid out only once the new Housing Act required adjustment of the street plan. The Spaarndammerplantsoen became a green oasis amid the brick surroundings. Architect De Klerk presented a special design transforming the standard rows of small, bleak dwellings into broad, palatial proletarian brick residences in striking colours. The Amsterdam School style was born.

In this area you can see, taste and smell Amsterdam's and Holland's colonial past. Tropenmuseum (Museum of the Tropics) has exhibitions and performances from all parts of the world all through the year. The famous Amstel Hotel is situated along the Amstel river. At the Dappermarket all cultures of Amsterdam are represented. Want to cook Surinamese, Indian, Moroccan, Turkish, Thai or Chinese? Here you can find everything you need.

Rivierenbuurt   ZUID
Almost all streets are named after Dutch rivers or waterways. Many of its buildings had been built in the style of the Amsterdam School. Together with the district Buitenveldert the Rivierenbuurt forms the newly shaped borough ZuiderAmstel.

Across the water from Centraal Station is Amsterdam-Noord (Amsterdam North), a district that has been little more than a dull dormitory suburb up until now. This is changing, though, with dining and entertainment venues opening up.

One of the 8 boroughs (stadsdelen) of Amsterdam, which is rather an industrial area - with businesses, offices and industry - than a neighborhood. Westpoort, covers the harbour of Amsterdam, and has very few inhabitants. But with one hotel after another opening its doors in former office buildings the whole area is transforming fast to an urban district.

Amsterdam-Centrum zuid