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Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Best Neighborhoods – By a Local

Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Best Neighborhoods – By a Local

While it’s easy to find a hostel, apartment, fancy hotel, or local guesthouse in Amsterdam isn’t hard, picking the best area to stay in Amsterdam can make or break your trip. Amsterdam is a very diverse city, 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. Here are my recommendations for the best places to stay in Amsterdam to ensure you’ll have a great time on your trip.

Best Areas to Stay in Amsterdam

Map of Amsterdam Neighborhoods

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

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.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

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 

★ First Time in Amsterdam? Stay anywhere in the Old Centrum

★ Layover in Amsterdam? Anywhere near Zuid, Centraal or Sloterdijk Stations, so you 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. 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!

public transport in Amsterdam

Public Transportation in Amsterdam

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

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To arrange things before arrive you can pre-purchase either a 24-hour pass for €7.50 or get an OV Chipkaart. You can purchase them online, or at the counter at selected stations upon arrival.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Old Centrum

Various spots include:

  • Jordaan
  • Dam
  • De Wallen
  • Nieuwmarkt & IJ Waterfront
  • Leidseplein
  • Rembrandtplein
  • Canal Belt / Grachtengordel
  • Old Jewish Quarter & Plantage

2. Noord

3. West

  • Bos en Lomer
  • Oud West
  • Westerpark
  • De Baarsjes

4. Zuid

  • Museum Quarter
  • Oud-Zuid
  • De Pijp
  • Zuidas

5. Oost

6. Other Areas

  • Zuidoost
  • Amstelveen
  • Diemen
  • Bijlmar

7. Areas to Avoid in Amsterdam

8. When to Go to Amsterdam

Old Centrum

Old Centrum, as the name indicated, is the oldest area of Amsterdam. This is where most tourists stay and never make it outside of the area. There are many spots to eat, shop and hop on a boat for a canal cruise.

Old Centrum is is divided into smaller neighborhoods, each with its own characteristics and history.


The Jordaan feels like its own village in the city. Once a neighborhood for the working class and emigrants, now it’s renovated and trendy for young professionals and tourists.

The area has many restaurants, small shops, and stunning bridges.


The Dam was built around the 1270s in order to prevent floodings, but now it’s the central square between Rokin and Damrak.

There you can find the National Monument, Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, National Monument, and Madam Tussaud’s. During the spring there is a fair with a giant carousel there and in the winter a Christmas market.

De Wallen

De Wallen is known as the Red Light District. Walking around you’ll see prostitutes in red windows, sex shops, and many coffeeshops.

Personally, not a place I’d recommend staying, but if it’s your first time in Amsterdam you can pass through.


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

IJ Waterfront

If you’re staying in Amsterdam for a layover, 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.


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 is another great area with bars and restaurants. The area feels more local than Leidseplein and it’s always full of locals and expats. I have good memories from 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!

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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 a kibbeling.


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 Lunch Spots in Old Centrum:

  • Bijbels Museum Cafe (Spui)
  • Greenwoods (Canalbelt)
  • Cocotte Creperie (De Wallen)
  • Back to Black (Canalbelt)

Recommended Restaurants in Old Centrum:

  • Moeders (Jordan) – Great stampot.
  • Café-Restaurant de Plantage (Plantage) – Located inside a 19th-century glass conservatory.

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

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

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Centrum:

Hotel De L’Europe
Beautifully located on the canal where you can enjoy your breakfast. The decor is also very stylish.Check Prices On:
NH Carlton
Overlooking the canal and the flower market, this hotel is exactly in the center of Amsterdam.Check Prices On:
Condo Hotel One
The location is just right and with the sun coming up in the morning it just makes you happy.Check Prices On:
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.Check Prices On:


Noord has undergone considerable regeneration and now it’s no longer associated with an unwanted place to be. In September 2016 Noord welcomed the newest attraction – A’DAM Toren with the tallest over the edge swing in Europe, observation deck and great restaurants inside. Many industrial buildings have been converted into rustic restaurants and ateliers.

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

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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 Lunch Spots in Amsterdam Noord:

  • Pannenkoekenboot

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Noord:

Faralda Crane
The best views of Amsterdam are from this design hotel located on a crane.Check Prices On:
This unique hotel has simply-furnished rooms aboard a boat in the center of Amsterdam.Check Prices On:
Hotel Cafe Modern
Quirky hotel for those who love the hip decor.Check Prices & Reviews On:
Great hostel with a common room featuring a library, ping pong tables and bike rental. Common kitchen is available for guests to use.Check Prices & Reviews On:


Amsterdam Jordaan

If you’re looking for photogenic townhouses and typical Dutch architecture, West is the answer. It’s a quite 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.

Bos en Lomer
Bos en Lomer 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.

A posh area with small local markets and outdoor cafes.


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 bar, much calmer than in the Old Centrum. Popular shopping streets where trendy concept stores, can be found standing opposite of Turkish shops, greengrocers and bakeries.

Recommended Restaurants in Amsterdam West:

  • De Foodhallen – Indoor food market you can choose from many different treats! From waffles to meatballs and burgers to oysters.
  •  De Pizzabakkers – Great pizza for good prices
  • Abyssinia – Fantastic Eritrean food.

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.

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.

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Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam West:

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.Check Prices On:
The Student Hotel Bos en Lomer
I actually used to live in this place when I first moved to Amsterdam, since only half of it is for hotel guests and another half for long-term residents. In front of a metro station, shared kitchen available in each segment, clean and modern place I enjoyed living at.Check Prices On:
Bigger capsule hotel with loads of room. The toilets are really clean and even being shared they are really private.Check Prices On:
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.Check Prices On:


Amsterdam’s nicest residential areas with fashionable shopping streets, business centers and plenty of museums.

Amsterdam Oud Zuid

Museum Quarter

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


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, park and local Albert Cuyp market.


Business district. Unless you work there, there’s not much to do and many cafes and restaurants close after business hours.

Recommended Lunch Spots in Amsterdam Zuid:

  • ’t Blauwe Theehuis (Vondelpark)
  • Yoghurt Barn (De Pijp)
  • Albert Cuyp Market (De Pijp) – Great street food from the market.

Recommended Restaurants for Dinner in Amsterdam Zuid:

  • Bazar (De Pijp) – Arabic restaurant is housed inside of an enormous renovated church.
  • Cannibale Royale – Great spot for burgers and other meats.

Family Friendliness: While there are many young people in the area since there is a nice park around, markets and cafes, I don’t see the are would be bad for families.

Personal experience: I used to work in De Pijp and recently covered Oud-Zuid for 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.

Recommended Accommodation in Amsterdam Zuid:

Okura Hotel
Don’t forget to try the sushi at their rooftop restaurant.Check Prices On:
The Muse
Quiet boutique hotel in Oud-Zuid, just half a mile from Rijksmuseum.Check Prices & Reviews On:
Paul’s BnB
If you’re coming with a family and want a whole apartment for yourself. Great location, easy to work with host.Check Prices On:
Bicycle Hotel
If you’re looking for a cheap hotel with original deco and next to a bicycle rental shop and tram stop, that’s the place.Check Prices On:


de Pijp 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 ethic neighborhoods.

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Recommended Lunch Spots in Amsterdam Oost:

  • KHL – Old spot with beautiful decor and a friendly atmosphere.
  • Bar Bukowski
  • Girassol – Fantastic terrace.

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:

Mercure Amstel
Super close to main metro & train station Amstel. Only 9 min to the city center and 6 min to the airport by the local metro stop.Check Prices On:
The Student Hotel City
Partner hotel of the one I used to live in. Conveniently located between Oost and Zuid, each segment has a shared kitchen.Check Prices On:
Cityden Museum Square Hotel Apartments
The apartment was lovely, with various Vermeer accents, and has everything you need.Close to grocery store and museums.Check Prices On:
StayOkay Oost
Good and easy to find location of this hostel. I’ll always recommend StayOkay chain in the Netherlands.Check Prices On:

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 the city center for at least 25 minutes.

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 coffeeshops 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 meet mostly 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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