Let’s be honest, a trip to the Netherlands usually revolves around visiting the city of red lights and green-friendly smoke. But we personally think the food, art, shopping and the quaint neighborhoods are what make Amsterdam THE place to be for even slow travelers. This big city attracts 6 of the 8.4 million annual tourists to the area and its popularity is not going down. We've travelled here a bunch too and agree: it’s clear that this city is worth the hype.
To avoid the crazy busy summertime tourist season, the best time to visit Amsterdam is between April and May, or September to November.
Buzzing International Hotspot
The capital of The Netherlands is a buzzing international hotspot. Best known for its picturesque canals, historical significance, and ground zero for thriving artistry. It’s home to well renowned museums like the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Best way to experience the city? Take in the beautiful Dutch architecture, cycle through the forests, take a canal boat tour, and experience the wild nightlife during the evenings!
So Many Canals!
Started as a small fishing village, now we’re here! Since the 17th century, Amsterdam has become one of the most important trading centres in the world through the rapid expansion of canal districts. Did you know - there are over 1,500 canals in Amsterdam? Now you can walk, cycle, or boat through the scenic canal neighborhoods that turned the city into a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Amsterdam is Forward Thinking
Unlike other large capital cities, Amsterdam has an informal approach to government. It’s known for having a laid back, non-conformist, and progressive atmosphere. With loose reins on taboo subjects such as sex work and marijuana, the people of Amsterdam seem to agree that the less control leads to a better life! And potentially more fun as well - as the main source of tourism income in the country, it seems like most people would agree!
Amsterdam is a super star of a city! The capital of the Netherlands is known across the entire globe. With its picturesque canals, friendly locals on bikes, and relaxed lifestyle, Amsterdam is an extremely popular destination for all types of travelers. Although the Red Light District is lively and exciting, it would be a shame for someone to only explore the city centre of Amsterdam.
Venturing outside of the centre in any direction is guaranteed to open up a whole new world of possibilities. Let’s face it - Amsterdam is HUGE. Each of the city’s neighbourhoods has its own charm and distinct personality. What’s the one thing these awesome districts have in common? They’re all thriving with life, plus interesting things to see and do! We recommend you take the time to explore the rest of Amsterdam’s districts. From outdoor markets, funky museums, trendy bars, and hip shopping areas, there is truly something for everyone. Who knows? You may even want to stick around for a while!
We’ve broken down each of Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods to provide you with the best possible guide to navigate through each district. Grab a bike, strap on a helmet, and prepare yourself for Holland’s incredible capital city.
Welcome to Amsterdam’s coolest neighbourhood - De Pijp! The stereotypes are as true as they come, but in the best possible way. You’ll pass the tall, attractive Dutch natives gracefully riding by on bikes, sitting outside cafes, or hanging out with friends by the infamous canals.
De Pijp is by far one of the most popular neighbourhoods, and it’s super multi-cultural with a lot of diversity. While you’re here you’ll feel the youthful energy radiating from the streets. The first thing to know about De Pijp is that it’s completely revolved around the daily Albert Cuyp Market. Whatever you need, any day of the week, this market is THE spot. If all the shopping makes you famished, there’s plenty of food options - like Australian inspired brunch spot Little Collins Brunch or Gs, where you can try the city’s best chicken and waffles! For the ultimate summer hot spot, grab some friends and head out to the well-loved Sarphati Park.
Jordaan gives you a sense of what Amsterdam is all about. We think this is one of the most charming neighbourhoods in the city, and after a visit we know you’ll agree! There’s a bunch of cute historical houses, incredible bars and restaurants, and obviously Insta-worthy canal spots. Even if you’ve never heard of Jordaan before, chances are you’re familiar with the Anne Frank Museum that’s located in the district.
Jordaan is actually named after the French word ‘Jardin’ which means garden. Don’t be surprised when most of the street names are after various plants and flowers. Get yourself familiar with the local galleries, terraces, and live music venues in the area to ensure yourself a good time. Take a break during your day and stop by Chun - the Dutch and Korean inspired Boba cafe with cute, minimalistic vibes. Want to combine food and a canal ride? San Marco Pizza is perfect for dining with a view. And let’s not forget about Waterkant - the tropical canal bar underneath a parking tower? It doesn’t get much cooler than this.
When people think of Amsterdam, the first three words that come to mind: “Red Light District.” The infamous area is also the oldest, which is why it’s got so much hype around it. That, plus the super relaxed atmosphere and open mindset. We guarantee that this is the most visited neighbourhood in all of Amsterdam, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth exploring deeper! Aside from the red light businesses, the area is filled with world-class museums, romantic bridges overlooking the canals, and traditional Dutch architecture. Ever see a hidden church in an attic? Our Lord in the Attic is an unusual sight you’ll have to see to believe. Weather you’re with a group of friends or searching for your next date night, Ton Ton Club has a central location filled with all of your favourite arcade games. If you’re a book nerd looking for your next story to escape in, finding the hidden Oudemanhuispoort Book Market will be a real treat.
On the Northern side of Amsterdam lies Nieuwmarkt en Lastage. The district revolves around the former industrial Oosterdok harbour, and is said to be an example of extreme innovation with modern architecture like the NEMO Science Museum. Did you know? NEMO has a free rooftop terrace, perfect to chill out and relax with a great view. The eco-conscious art centre Mediamatic is located here, where you can experience ongoing workshops, art events, or try their sustainable food at Mediamatic ETEN. If you’re curious about traditional Dutch art, you can’t miss the Rembrandt House Museum, where famous painter Rembrandt lived and worked for several years.
It’s got a weird name, but most people just refer to Buiksloterham as Amsterdam-Noord. Just a quick (and free!) ferry ride from Central Station takes you to the former industrial area that is now totally buzzing with life. The first things you notice in the North neighbourhood are the massive A’dam Lookout and the EYE Filmmuseum. Whether it’s cinema or 360-degree views you’re after, your eyes will truly be amazed at both locations. Our favourite spot in Amsterdam–Noord - and maybe all of the city - is NDSM Wharf - an old shipping wharf completely transformed into a hub of art, culture, and nightlife.
What do you get when you combine classic architecture, a lively nightlife scene, and tons of green spaces? Westerpark, one of the greener areas attached to Amsterdam West. One of the more obvious highlights is the actual park Westerpark, where you can get a breath of fresh air while still staying in the middle of all the action. Right along the park is the 19th-century industrial building turned hotspot - Westergasfabriek. All under the same roof you can find food markets, exhibitions, cultural events and festivals. Not ready for the night to end? We hear De Marktkantine is THE club to hit on weekends.
Venturing out of the city centre can open up a whole new world of possibilities for those curious about Amsterdam. Go west of the Red Light District and stumble upon Oud-West, a triangular neighbourhood surrounded with greenery. You’re close enough to the centre while still separating yourself from the crowds of tourists. We’d say this area is pretty laid back, with plenty of trendy bars and restaurants. If we’re talking about food, we can’t forget to mention De Hallen - a massive food hall, cultural complex, and a movie theater all in one. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Amsterdam loves its outdoor markets. Oud-West is no different! Check out Ten Katemarkt with over 100 stalls, stocked up on the best local foods, flowers, and crafted goods.
Welcome to the “Old South!” Oud-Zuid is elegant, posh, and overall just the fancy sister of the districts. Outside of the housing area, this district brings in plenty of visitors to its Museum Quarter. Here you’ll find some of Amsterdam’s most famous museums: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Moco. It’s guaranteed you’ll learn something new and interesting at any of these places. Outside of the museums is the the smaller scaled market zuiderMRKT, and if it’s open spaces you’re looking for there’s Vondelpark and the serene streets around Willemspark.
Amsterdam neighbourhood Oost (East) is everything you want in a district: up and coming, culturally diverse, and filled to the brim with exciting spots for dining, drinks, and trendy clubs. One of the less popular museums is located in Oost - the Tropenmuseum. A fascinating museum house with a collection of artefacts all over the world, be careful not to get lost inside! Two drink spots dominate in the East, partially due to their breathtaking views. Head up to the top of Sky Lounge for cocktails and a skyline view of Amsterdam, or bring the party to View Longue, complete with DJ sets and a rooftop pool! If you’d rather take it easy, Oosterpark is Amsterdam’s first public city park, the perfect place for a picnic with friends.
Welcome to Amsterdam’s cultural garden! De Plantage is a neighbourhood filled with all of your cozy necessities: green gardens, peace and quiet, and beautiful historic buildings. While it’s sometimes viewed as one of the more overlooked parts of the city, we promise there’s plenty of cool stuff to check out. The Waterlooplein Market is here, after all! Amsterdam’s biggest flea market has all of your shopping necessities covered. Catch up on your history while walking through the historic Jewish Quarter - you’ll find a wealth of landmarks, markets, and significant museums. For our animal lovers, you’ll definitely want to take the time to visit ARTIS Royal Zoo - they’ve got over 900 animals! Given the name Plantage, you can’t visit without checking out Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world!
The micro-district in Amsterdam that you may have heard of, but haven’t fully yet explored. Negen Straatjes district translates to the ‘nine little streets.’ While it may not be very large of a neighbourhood, it sure does pack a punch. This area is centrally located, and filled with chic boutiques, intimate art galleries, and stylish cafes and restaurants. The 9 Streets are just around the corner from the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, which may be why it has such an upscale feel to it.
The 9 Streets can’t be discussed without the mention of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the local canals that surround the area. Make sure to watch out for locals passing by on bikes - no seriously, they’re everywhere here! The Bloemenmarkt is the city’s weekly floating flower market, open Monday through Saturday. Once you’ve completed the 9 Streets, grab a drink at Bar Brasserie OCCO! If it’s too busy, have no fear - there are TONS of cool spots in this tiny area.
Curious to find out more about each of Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods? Check out our individual guides to help give you the best time while in the city.
All the practical info you need to know about traveling to Amsterdam!
North Holland is conveniently the home of Schiphol Airport - the 3rd largest international airport in all of Europe! This means flights in and out of the country are easy and non-stop.
There are many international train services directly into Amsterdam from cities in Belgium, Germany, and France for a reasonable price. Once you’ve landed in The Netherlands, train tickets from the airport to Amsterdam are quick and inexpensive. For example, a one-way ticket to Amsterdam costs about 4€.
Getting across Amsterdam is easy to navigate with the A10 ring road which loops around the city. The road is intersected with 18 S-routes to offer direct paths into the separate city districts. Navigating by car can be difficult within the inner parts of the city, due to narrow roads and the many canals. There are parking garages and park and rides that offer a good solution if you’re coming from behind the wheel.
Navigating by car can be difficult within the inner parts of the city, due to narrow roads and the many canals. There are parking garages and park and rides that offer a good solution if you’re coming from behind the wheel.
Buses, trams, and ferries are all commonly used throughout Amsterdam and are extremely reliable. Or you can do as the locals do, and stick to a bike!
The most popular way to get around the city! There are endless options for bike rentals for hourly and daily rates, and as long as you’ve got a lock and a good sense of balance you’ll be good to go!
The tourist offices are known as VVV, followed by the city’s name. For example, “VVV Amsterdam.” It stands for Vereniging voor Vreemdelingenverkeer (Association for Visitor Travel). The umbrella organization is the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions: Post Box 458, 2260 MG Leidschendam (tel. 070/370-5705; fax 070/320-1654; www.holland.com)
Tourist information can also be found in the Schiphol Airport at the Holland Tourist Information desk, open daily from 7:00 to 22:00; (tel. 0900/400-4040)