Amsterdam: Which neighborhood is right for you?

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The Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam's Museumplein. Photo by Maxey.
The Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam's Museumplein. Photo by Maxey.

Those of us who drop by a city like Amsterdam for a short visit never really get to see each and every attraction. Nor do we want to in most occasions. Quite often, however, we try to stay in neighborhoods that offer our various interests and seem “right” for our trip.

Choosing the right ‘hood, therefore, is a good first step in ensuring that you’ll be well-positioned to get the most out of your trip. Keeping that in mind, here is my quick guide to Amsterdam’s neighborhoods, according to travelers’ varied tastes:

For art lovers

The Museumplein (Museum Quarter) is a charming neighborhood filled with museums and beautiful buildings dating back to the 19th Century. There are plenty of art-related activities here, from museums like Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum to everyday buildings boasting interesting architecture.

Classical music fans will benefit from the neighborhood’s famous Concertgebouw concert hall. Not only will its classical concerts dazzle visitors, but the building’s design will fascinate them. Keep an eye out for free lunch-hour performances.

For glimpses of local art and architecture, stroll down P.C. Hooftstraat and the neighboring lanes.

An outdoor market in De Pijp. Photo by amsfrank.

An outdoor market in De Pijp. Photo by amsfrank.

De Pijp
For students, eating out

Unlike the overtly European touch of the Museumplein, De Pijp offers flavors from all over the world. This is evident in the various architectural touches, the types of shops and activities, and of course, the fantastic eateries.

This neighborhood has a definite multicultural feel that will appeal to travelers looking for something off the beaten path. Given its bustling atmosphere and student community, this neighborhood will appeal to younger travelers and students. From exotic Moroccan food to dainty French cuisine, this is the perfect spot to eat out. Check out Bazar and Burgermeester for some yummy dishes at affordable prices.

A street in the Jordaan hood. Photo by Terretta.

A street in the Jordaan hood. Photo by Terretta.

For seniors


The Jordaan has an interesting history that includes an influx of immigrants, working class developments, and later, a redevelopment of the neighborhood. As a result, the area today boasts a unique and exotic vibe.

Because of its rich history and relaxed atmosphere, older travelers tend to fall in love with the neighborhood. For example, you can walk down meandering lanes lined with boutiques, studios, and galleries. You can visit historic spots like Rembrandt’s house on Rozengracht and his studio on Bloemgracht.

And there are quirkier spots, too. If you are curious about the way of life in a house boat, the Houseboat Museum is the place to go. The Pianola Museum, meanwhile, features a number of different pianos and other instruments.

Grachtengordel (Canal Belt)
For bar hopping

Canalside in Grachtengordel. Photo by stevecadman.

Canalside in Grachtengordel. Photo by stevecadman.

This area is easily recognizable because of its semicircular set of canal rings. (In our Amsterdam guide, the neighborhood is divided into Grachtengordel South and Grachtengordel West.) Formed mainly from three bigger canals called Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, this canal belt has a variety of attractions for everyone. However, since the canal belt surrounds the center, and hence the most popular tourist spots, this area offers a number of lively nightlife activities.

Catering to different types of travelers, this hood offers a variety of different bars and cafes. There’s the rustic De Pieper (Western Canal Belt Prinsengracht 424), the laidback Café `t Arendsnest (Herengracht 90), Bar Struik (Rozengracht 160) for the hip young ones, and for those who love sampling different liquors, try the De Admiral (Herengracht 319).

About the author

About the author: Amy K Goemans is a writer and web developer based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Her travel experiences include Europe and Southern Africa with occasional visits to Asia. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Durban are currently her top favorite cities.

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