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Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Local’s Guide to the Best Neighborhoods

Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Local’s Guide to the Best Neighborhoods

While it’s easy to find a hostel, apartment, fancy hotel, or local guesthouse in Amsterdam, picking the best area where to stay in Amsterdam can make or break your trip. Amsterdam is a very diverse city and despite its size, each neighborhood in Amsterdam is different.

I’ve lived in Amsterdam, so this guide isn’t something that I created after a single short visit and is just one of many tips I have for visitors to the city. Here are my recommendations for the best places to stay in Amsterdam to ensure you’ll have a great time on your trip.

Best Hotels to Stay in Amsterdam:

Best Luxury Hotels in Amsterdam
Hotel De L’Europe • Okura Hotel • NH Grand Krasnopolsky

Best Boutique Hotels in Amsterdam
The Dylan • Canal House

Best Unique Hotels in Amsterdam
Hotel Not Hotel • Volkshotel

Best Cheap Accommodation in Amsterdam
Stay Okay Vondelpark  • The Flying Pig Hostel 

Best Areas to Stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is relatively small with only 850,000 inhabitants sharing 219.3 km2 / 84 mi2. This is why I highly recommend visiting other parts of the Netherlands as well, as this country is full of charming towns and villages.

Map of Amsterdam Neighborhoods

Amsterdam can be divided into “The Ring” area and areas outside of the ring, basically on the outer side of A10 Highway. Areas within are also divided into smaller areas. Most hotel booking websites classify Amsterdam City Centre as the area within The Ring.

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

Map of Amsterdam highlighting the central districts and neighborhoods, a useful guide for anyone considering where to stay in Amsterdam.

★ First Time in Amsterdam? Stay anywhere in the Old Centrum
★ Layover in Amsterdam? Anywhere near Zuid, Centraal or Sloterdijk Stations, so you can easily leave your bags.
★ Best Neighbourhood in Amsterdam for Mature Travelers: Oud-Zuid.
★ Best Neighbourhood in Amsterdam for Families: NOT near De Wallen! Oost, de Baarsjes, Plantage.
★ Best Neighborhood in Amsterdam for Nightlife: Near Leidseplein & Rembrandtplein
★ Amsterdam on a Budget? Consider staying in Haarlem.
★ Most Romantic Neighborhood in Amsterdam: Canal Belt & Oud-Zuid
★ Local Neighborhood in Amsterdam: De Pijp
★ Best Place to Stay for Visiting Keukenhof: Keukenhof isn’t located in Amsterdam, it’s actually quite far from Amsterdam and usually visited as a day trip. If seeing the tulips is your priority then you might want to stay in Leiden or Haarlem. Find out more on the best ways to see tulip fields!

Tram number 5 to Amstelveen Binnenhof making its way through a bustling street in Amsterdam, typical public transport for those staying in the city.

Public Transportation in Amsterdam

Transportation in Amsterdam (GVB) works well regardless of which neighborhood of Amsterdam you’re staying in, but not always excellent.

To arrange things before arrive you can pre-purchase either a 24-hour pass for €9 or get an OV Chipkaart. You can purchase them online, or at the counter at selected stations upon arrival.

I’ve written an entire guide to public transport in Amsterdam and beyond, so make sure to give that a read before you arrive.

1. Old Centrum – Most Popular Area to Stay in Amsterdam

Old Centrum (as the name indicates) is the oldest area of Amsterdam. This is where most tourists stay and usually never make it outside of the area. There are many spots to eat, shop, and hop on a boat for a canal cruise that it doesn’t seem necessary to some but I highly recommend you do as there are so many things to do in Amsterdam inside and outside of Old Centrum.

Old Centrum is divided into smaller neighborhoods, each with its own characteristics and history so I’ve given you a quick rundown of each below.

Family Friendliness: Close to most things, so recommendable, but remember that some areas like De Wallen or Nieuwmarkt might not be appropriate. Might be noisier than elsewhere at night, especially close to Nieuwmarkt.

Personal experience: I enjoy hanging out in the area, but there’s a reason why I never lived here. If you want to be conveniently located close to major attractions stay here, but you’ll see more tourists than locals enjoying themselves.

Close-up map view focusing on Amsterdam's Canal Belt, Jordaan, and Leidseplein, key areas for visitors deciding where to stay in Amsterdam.

Jordaan – The Jordaan feels like its own village in the city. Once a neighborhood for the working class and immigrants, now it’s renovated and trendy for young professionals and tourists. The area has many restaurants, small shops, and stunning bridges.

Dam – The Dam was built around the 1270s in order to prevent flooding, but now it’s the central square between Rokin and Damrak. There you can find the National Monument, Royal PalaceNieuwe Kerk, National Monument, and Madam Tussaud’s. During the spring there is a fair with a giant carousel and in the winter a Christmas market.

Nieuwmarkt – Nieuwmarkt is a square just a short walk from Amsterdam Central Station, located in Chinatown, next to the Red Light District.

De Wallen – De Wallen is known as the Red Light District. Walking around you’ll see prostitutes in red windows, sex shops, and many coffee shops. Personally, not a place I’d recommend staying, but if it’s your first time in Amsterdam you can pass through.

Woman posing in front of a picturesque Amsterdam canal with bikes and historical architecture, showcasing the charm of staying in the city's core.

Leidseplein – If you’re looking for an epicenter of a nightlight, look no further than Leidseplein. There are many bars and cafes in the area, plus the most well-known nightclub in Amsterdam – Melkweg. Stay there only if you enjoy loud nights out.

Rembrandtplein – Rembrandtplein is another great area with bars and restaurants. The area feels more local than Leidseplein and it’s always full of friendly locals and expats. I have good memories of Rembrandtplein because I used to have office parties there. I highly recommend going to Tuschinski Theatre, a working cinema that was built in 1921. It’s gorgeous!

IJ Waterfront – If you’re staying in Amsterdam for a layover or a quick weekend trip, you want to be as close to the Central Station as it gets. There are many beautiful hotels to stay in the area, often with rooftops offering impressive views.

Canalbelt – The canalbelt is the picturesque area you’ve seen in iconic photos, as it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Many houses are built on these semi-circular canals (“grachten”), dug around the old city center.

Old Jewish Quarter & Plantage – Plantage used to be the greenest area of Amsterdam. Waterlooplein Market in the area is one of the most local markets in Amsterdam. That’s the place where you’d buy a used bike, get some fresh vegetables and eat kibbeling.

Spui – Spui is a good starting point from which to discover the rest of the city. Close to many shops, restaurants, and the Flower Market. You can easily walk to bars and clubs from here.

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Centrum:

Luxury: Hotel De L’Europe – Beautifully located right on the canal, you can even enjoy your breakfast next to the water. The decor is also very stylish.

Mid-Range: NH Carlton – Overlooking the canal and the flower market, this hotel is exactly in the center of Amsterdam.

Apartment: Hotel Apartments – These beautiful apartments have a perfect location with plenty of sizes to choose from.

Budget: The Flying Pig – The most famous hostel in Amsterdam, known for parties and convenient location for backpackers. If you’re not into partying you might want to stay elsewhere though.

2. Noord – The New Trendy Coolest Area of Amsterdam

Noord has undergone considerable regeneration with many industrial buildings being converted into rustic restaurants and boutiques. Thankfully, it is no longer seen as a bad place to be.

In fact, Noord now even boasts the tallest over-the-edge swing in Europe, the A’DAM Toren, with an observation deck and great restaurants inside.

Family Friendliness: Definitely. It’s a safe local area, just a short and convenient free boat ride from Central Station.

Personal experience: Last time I visited the area I enjoyed it a lot. Even if you end up not staying there, pay a visit to A’DAM Toren for the view.

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Noord:

Luxury: Faralda Crane – The best views of Amsterdam are from this incredible design hotel located on a crane.

Boat: Botel – This unique hotel has simply furnished rooms aboard a boat in the center of Amsterdam.

Mid-Range: Hotel Cafe Modern – Quirky hotel for those who love hip decor.

Budget: ClickNoord – Great hostel with a common room featuring a library, ping pong tables, and bike rental. A common kitchen is also available for guests to use.

3. West – Amsterdam for Foodies

If you’re looking for photogenic townhouses and typical Dutch architecture, West is the answer. It’s quite a posh area, making it particularly attractive to residents and visitors alike. Some of the best places to eat in Amsterdam are located in the West.

Family Friendliness: Kids might be less interested in restaurants and nice architecture, so there might not be the best choice.

Personal experience: I used to live in Bos en Lomer, so I know the area pretty well and enjoyed it. It’s affordable with plenty of spots to eat to discover every week. Hotels tend to be cheaper in this area, so if you’re on a budget this could be a great choice.

Serene view of Amsterdam's canal houses and houseboats, reflecting a calm morning in a city area where one might choose to stay.

Bos en Lomer – Bos en Lomer is an affordable and diverse neighborhood. It’s a place for a young and multicultural crowd, but also families. There are many ethnic shops in the area with cheap delicious food.

Oud-West – A posh area with small local markets and outdoor cafes.

Westerpark – Named after a large park in its center, Westerpark is located on the western corner of Amsterdam’s canal belt and trails into the city’s docklands.

De Baarsjes – Hip area with many terrace bars, much calmer than in the Old Centrum. Popular shopping streets where trendy concept stores, can be found standing opposite Turkish shops, greengrocer, and bakeries.

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam West:

Luxury: Meininger Sloterdijk – I stayed there once during my layover for a night, since it was conveniently located just in front of the exit of Sloterdijk Train Station. Everything was perfect.

Apartment: The Social Hub – I actually used to live in this place when I first moved to Amsterdam as half of it is for hotel guests and another half for long-term residents. It’s located in front of a metro station, has a shared kitchen available in each segment, and overall a clean and modern place where I enjoyed living.

Mid-Range: CityHub – Bigger capsule hotel with loads of room. The toilets are really clean and even being shared they are really private.

Budget: StayOkay VondelPark – StayOkay is the most popular chain of hostels in the Netherlands. I stayed in a few of them on various occasions and they were always great.

4. Zuid – Best Residential Neighborhood in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s nicest residential areas with fashionable shopping streets, business centers, and plenty of museums. If you’re looking for some more unusual things to do in Amsterdam, you’ll find them here.

Family Friendliness: There are many young people in the area since there is a nice park around, markets, and cafes so it could be a nice quiet area for families.

Personal experience: I used to work in De Pijp and recently covered Oud-Zuid for the Amsterdam Tourism Board, so I spent a lot of time in the area. I really love it as it’s very local with some expats. The atmosphere of this area was unbeatable.

Calm waters of an Amsterdam canal with lined boats and traditional Dutch architecture in Amsterdam Oud Zuid, a great place where to stay in Amsterdam.

Museum Quarter – The Museum Quarter is technically in Amsterdam Zuid, but just a bridge walk from the Old Centrum.

Oud-Zuid – With chic boutiques, quaint markets, a lot of great art museums and the famous  Vondelpark, you can imagine that this is another great choice of where to stay in Zuid. You can read my guide to Oud-Zuid here.

De Pijp – My personal favorite area, but I might be biased since I used to work there. De Pijp has a very local vibe with a picturesque urban layout, many cafes, parks, and the local Albert Cuyp market.

Zuidas – This is the business district so unless you work there, there’s not much to do, and many cafes and restaurants close after business hours.

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Zuid:

Luxury: Okura Hotel – A beautiful 5-star hotel with all the facilities you could possibly need. Don’t forget to try the sushi at their rooftop restaurant.

Mid-Range: The Muse – Quiet boutique hotel in Oud-Zuid, just half a mile from Rijksmuseum.

Apartment: Bright Penthouse – For anyone who wants the privacy of a whole apartment for yourself. This beautiful choice has a great location.

Budget: Bicycle Hotel – If you’re looking for a cheap hotel with original deco right next to a bicycle rental shop and tram stop, that’s the place.

5. Oost – Where to Stay in Amsterdam for Peace and Quiet

Canal with traditional Dutch building in the de Pijp Amsterdam neighborhood, a great choice for where to stay in Amsterdam

Oost is probably the least explored part of Amsterdam, despite being closely located to the Old Centrum. It has many museums and is home to many ethnic neighborhoods.

Personal experience: Quite frankly I think I went to Amsterdam Oost twice in my life for a pole dancing class and once to take a bus from Amstel Station, so I can’t say much about the area.

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Oost:

Luxury: Mercure Amstel – Super close to the main metro & train station Amstel. Only 9 minutes to the city center and 6 minutes to the airport by the local metro stop.

Mid-Range: The Social Hub – This is the partner hotel of the one I used to live in. Conveniently located between Oost and Zuid, each segment has a shared kitchen.

Apartment: Frankendael Apartments – These modern 1 and 2-bedroom apartments are lovely and bright with lots of great reviews and a perfect location.

Budget: StayOkay Oost – Good and easy-to-find location of this hostel. I’ll always recommend StayOkay chain in the Netherlands.

6. Other Areas

If you’re visiting Amsterdam for a few days, I’d suggest avoiding places that might seem nearby, but in reality, they are neither pretty nor convenient. That said, do NOT stay in Diemen, Amstelveen, Bijlmar, or Zuid-Oost. Unless you want to bike to the city center for at least 25 minutes every day.

You would be better off staying in Haarlem if you want to save some money, as it’s only 10 minutes by train to Amsterdam Central Station.

Areas to Avoid in Amsterdam

I’d personally advise against staying in the Red Light District, known as De Wallen, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Google Maps is actually slightly misleading in terms of the area, as it highlights the whole district – this is NOT true.

In reality, the area full of red windows and coffee shops is much smaller: inside this district hugging Oudezijds Voorburgwal along the canal and in and around the De Oude Kerk church.

The majority of locals aren’t fond of prostitution and weed (which isn’t actually legal), so you’ll mostly meet young tourists. If you don’t want to stumble upon it, trust me, once you’re in Singel Canal area you’ll feel that you’re getting closer to the Red Light District.

Do you have any questions about Amsterdam neighborhoods? Let me know in the comments below!

Travel A-Broads

Friday 7th of April 2023

We're heading here this summer so really appreciate all the info! Xx Sara


Thursday 1st of December 2022

Hi Anna, We're a family of 3. Is alphen aan den rijn a good place to stay? We've found a cute air bnb there... looking at 5 to 6 days in the Netherlands and wanted to be central enough to visit Utrecht and Amsterdam city centre rhe hague Rotterdam etc. Pls advise so I can make the booking. Thank you

Anna Karsten

Thursday 1st of December 2022

If you want to see all these other cities then no, I wouldn't advise staying in Alphen aan den Rijn. It's a cute town with not much really happening there, but more importantly to get anywhere else - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, even Leiden it will take a long time. 30-60 minutes by train (and most of the time you need to switch trains) which by Dutch standards is a long time and trains might not work properly, so you'll waste a lot of time (and money). For your itinerary I'd rather advise staying in Leiden.


Saturday 24th of September 2022

Hi Anna,

Thank you for your article, it's very informative.

Could you please advise on staying in the Oost neighbourhood in December? I'll be visiting Amsterdam with my wife and our three kids, the youngest is 5 and the oldest is 13.

We want to stay in an aparthotel to be able to cook to ourselves. Will YAYS docklands is a good choice, and if not, then why?

Thank you in advance, Sincerely, Gary

Anna Karsten

Sunday 25th of September 2022

The place itself is great, it's just not very centrally located but you can take a tram and get places. Alternatively, rent bikes and drive around the city :)


Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

Hi Anna, Thanks for all the great info. What's your opinion of Hotel Casa and neighbourhood? It seems to be very good value for money. We're 2 couples - 60+ and 20-something travelling together. Any alternative suggestions?

Anna Karsten

Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

It's in the quieter part of town, slightly more industrial than the charming Amsterdam canals with iconic buildings. But, it's still close to everything so if that hotel fits into your budget then you can definitely go for it.


Monday 9th of May 2022

Thank you for the article, it was well written! I'll be in Amsterdam for a week and need to be relatively close to the Concertgebouw and airport. Other than that I would like to stay in a quieter area within walking distance to grocery store and cafes and a place to walk or jog everyday. Any ideas? Thanks!

Anna Karsten

Wednesday 11th of May 2022

In this case I'd recommend somewhere near RAI or Zuid station :)

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