Advice from local expat Melissa Adams on the best neighborhoods and where to stay in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam wooed me like an irresistible Siren, reeling me in more than a decade ago with charms so potent I pulled up a half-century of sunny Southern California roots to put down new ones on Holland's soggy shores.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam: The Best Neighborhoods
Whatever brings you to this water-laced global village, you’re likely to be awed by Amsterdam's Golden Age mansions, enchanting canals (which outnumber those in Venice) and historic landmarks that recall the medieval fishing village on the Amstel River that would rule the world's spice trade and become an international capital.
For some 16 million annual visitors, other draws include tulips, cheese, windmills, and a notoriously open approach to sex, soft drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
Famously flat and compact, Amsterdam is a city with more bikes than people, that's easy to explore on foot, two wheels or via an excellent public transport system.
While you might be tempted to join the rolling throng on the city's extensive bike paths, consider 10 Reasons Not to Rent a Bike in Amsterdam before testing your cycling skills on medieval cobblestones and narrow alleyways.
Suggested Amsterdam Neighbourhoods
If you want to skip directly to any of the neighborhoods in Amsterdam, click on the links below.
Plan Your Amsterdam Trip
Amsterdam's currency is the euro. Find the most current conversion values at XE Currency Converter.
When to go
April–May are the most popular months, when tulips bloom, the world's largest flower garden opens at Keukenhof, and all of Holland celebrates the King's birthday.
Summer - brings long days and theater in Vondelpark and Amsterdam Bos.
In fall - Amsterdam ushers in the cultural season, then readies for year-end holidays with ice rinks, oliebollen stands and street decorations.
What to pack
Unless you're planning an opera visit, you'll need nothing more formal than jeans and casual tops.
Amsterdam's weather gods are highly erratic, so dress in layers (including a waterproof one) and come prepared for sun, clouds, rain and snow—sometimes all in one day.
Comfortable walking shoes and/or boots are imperative for navigating cobbled, often wet streets.
Getting Around in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is an imminently walkable city. It's easy to navigate on foot and walking is the best way to take in the sights.
While you may be tempted to rent a bike so you can see Amsterdam “like a local,” think twice about tooling around a foreign city on two wheels, alongside Dutchies who've been powering their own steeds since toddler-hood.
Most major Amsterdam attractions are within close proximity of one another, making it easy to visit several in one day. If you know your way around, you can hoof it from Vondelpark on the southern edge of town to Central Station, the most northerly place most tourists venture, in less than 30 minutes.
If you visualize Amsterdam as the inside of a sliced half-onion, with canals radiating around Dam Square, getting around gets easier
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City Passes + Public Transit
At Schiphol, you can purchase numerous city passes and transit cards.
From the airport, a train journey to Central Station takes 20 minutes. Alternatively, catch the Airport Express (Bus 197), which terminates on Marnixstraat, just west of Leidseplein
GVB, Amsterdam's outstanding public transport system, offers numerous options for visitors. All are available online and at Amsterdam Tourist Offices, the little white GVB office opposite Central Station, Schiphol Arrivals Hall 2, and many local shops and hotels. Use Google Maps or the GVB website to find the quickest route from A to B.
- One-hour ticket: The most expensive option if you're planning multiple tram rides. Good for a single journey, including unlimited transfers within one hour. Purchase for €2.90 on any local tram or bus.
- GVB Day Passes: Affordable options for unlimited travel on all GVB trams, buses + metros in Amsterdam for 1–7 days.
- Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket: Unlimited travel on all GVB trams, buses + metros in Amsterdam and environs for 1–3 days.
- Amsterdam Travel Ticket: Unlimited travel on all GVB trams, buses + metros in Amsterdam + environs for 1–3 days. Includes return train travel between Schiphol and any Amsterdam station.
Amsterdam Holland Pass: Includes free public transit + access to top attractions in Amsterdam + other major cities in Holland. Three packages with 3, 4 or 6 tickets.
I City Card: Includes free 24-, 48-, 72- or 96-hour public transit + access to Amsterdam's top attractions. Not valid on NS-Dutch Railways trains and local busses. Free entry to attractions in Haarlem, Zaanse Schans + the fishing villages of Enkhuizen, Volendam + Marken.
OV-chipkaart: Unlimited travel on all GVB trams, buses + metros in Amsterdam + environs.
Used like a debit card, this is how locals commute. Visitors can purchase one, valid for 5 years, and add money to it at Central Station; uploading stations are more widespread for Dutch bank account holders.
A good option if you expect to return to Amsterdam or if you'd like to gift a friend with a transit card.
#1 The Historic Center
The city's historic center radiates from Dam Square, where a dam kept the city from flooding in the 13th century.
Red light District - De Wallen, One of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city is punctuated with coffeeshops, peep shows, brothels and prostitutes in red-lit windows, interspersed with fine restaurants, historic churches and a craft brewery.
Nearby is Zeedijk, Amsterdam's Chinatown, rife with Asian restaurants, gay bars and eclectic shops.
The 400-year-old network of waterways has evolved into one of the world’s most unique urban landscapes—a historic backdrop for Amsterdam's gabled mansions and Golden Age monuments.
Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel canals formed concentrated loops
Grachtengordel is lined with historic landmarks, cultural venues, shopping streets, and entertainment squares.
Suggested Hotels Near The Historic Center
Things to see near Near the Historic Center
Dam Square: Amsterdam's beating heart marks the site where a dam built between two dikes in 1270 prevented the city from flooding.
Used for markets and gatherings for centuries, it's now a stage for celebrations, street entertainment and social activism.
Royal Palace: Atlas hoists the universe on his shoulders atop Amsterdam's former Town Hall, symbolizing the city's 17th-century world dominance.
Once occupied by Napoleon, it's now the only palace in the Netherlands that's both open to the public and still used for royal receptions.
De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church): King Willem-Alexander married Maxima and was crowned the Netherlands’ first king in a century in this soaring 15th-century church on Dam Square, now used for major exhibitions.
De Oude Kerk (The Old Church): In Amsterdam's oldest building, the 800-year-old Oude Kerk presides over a medieval center now surrounded by prostitute windows and rowdy bars.
Zeedijk: Once an enclave for the wealthy, Amsterdam’s Chinatown was a refuge for Chinese seafarers in the early 20th century.
Now home to Asian restaurants, shops and the Fo Kuang Shan Buddhist temple, it's distinguishable by street signs in both Dutch and Chinese.
One of two remaining wooden houses, dating back to 1550, is at Zeedijk 1.
Nieuwmarkt: De Waag presides over this lively square lined with cafés and coffeeshops.
Originally a gate in Amsterdam's medieval city walls, it was converted into a weigh-house after the walls were demolished in the 17th century.
De Wallen: Amsterdam's largest Red Light District is a popular haunt for roving bachelor- and bachelorette-parties on weekends.
Beyond tourists gawking at sex shops, peep shows and scantily-clad prostitutes, it's a stunning area that reflects Amsterdam's enduring tradition of tolerance.
Just be as watchful of your valuables as pickpockets are sure to be.
Condomerie: Founded by two progressive women in 1987, the world's first condom specialty shop on Warmoesstraat is a source for souvenirs for that special someone.
Cannabis College: Learn about the world's favorite herb at this nonprofit center covering the history of cannabis, marijuana cultivation, coffeeshop etiquette and hemp applications.
The center's showpiece is its basement garden, where five flowering cannabis plants thrive.
Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic Museum): Hidden in the attic of this 17th-century canal house is a secret Catholic church, transformed into a museum in 1888.
Red Light Secrets: Experience what it's like to be appraised by potential suitors in a red-lit window or inside a barred sado-masochism cell at this thoughtful exploration of prostitution in De Wallen.
Prostitute Information Center: Learn everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask about sex for hire at this center established by a former local prostitute, offering eye-opening walking tours.
Brouwerij de Prael: Nearly a dozen craft beers are produced in this microbrewery set in a yellow canal-house where Golden Age auctions were held.
The Begijnhof: Once a residential sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood dedicated to serving the poor and sick, this hidden courtyard is a hidden oasis of peace in the heart of Amsterdam.
Learn how Amsterdam evolved from a muddy fishing village on the Amstel into a Golden Age maritime power on these 2- to 3-hour adventures.
Amsterdam Central Station is the city’s main public transportation hub.
Virtually all GVB trams and buses start their route in front of the station, which faces the historic center.
Most also stop at Dam Square in the center of town.
Amsterdam Insider Tips
- Hard drugs are NOT tolerated.
- Never buy drugs from street dealers.
- Don’t overtip for inferior service at Dutch bars and restaurants.
- Establishments along Damrak and in Leidseplein tend to be touristy and mediocre.
- No photographs of ladies in red-lit windows unless you're up for an unwanted dunk in a canal.
#2 The Jordaan
Once renowned for radical politics and rowdy sing-a-longs, the Jordaan has evolved over decades of gentrification into an upscale neighborhood for arty professionals.
With its cobbled streets, gabled homes and tree-lined canals, the picturesque district is a living picture postcard with an eclectic mix of art galleries, sidewalk bistros and trendy boutiques.
Arguably Amsterdam's most renowned neighborhood, the Jordaan began as a working-class bastion populated by artists, immigrants and construction workers, many employed to dig the canals of the Grachtengordel.
An impoverished Rembrandt lived in the Jordaan toward the end of his life, as did the Holocaust’s most famous diarist and her family before they were hauled away by the Nazis.
Beginning at Brouwersgracht just west of Central Station, the Jordaan arches around the western Canal Ring between Prinsengracht and Lijnbaansgracht, ending at Leidsegracht.
Anywhere in the neighborhood, you'll be within earshot of the bells of the Westertoren—the mellifluous chimes that gave solace to Anne Frank as she marked time in her attic hideout.
For shopping aficionados, the adjacent Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) are lined with vintage shops, trendy boutiques, and sidewalk cafés.
Suggested Hotels in the Jordaan
Things to See in The Jordaan
The Anne Frank House: Amsterdam's top tourist attraction preserves the legacy of the teen diarist who chronicled life in the secret annex on the Prinsengracht from 1942–1944. An online reservation will save hours of standing in line.
Westerkerk: Amsterdam's tallest steeple crowns this 17th-century Protestant church considered a masterpiece of Dutch Renaissance style. Rembrandt was buried here, although his tomb has never been found.
The Homomonument: On the west side of the Westerkerk, three pink granite triangles recall the symbol the Nazis forced homosexuals to wear during World War II. The world's first memorial to persecuted gays commemorates all those who died in the Holocaust.
Electric Ladyland: Lighten your mood in a room filled with fluorescent art at this quirky museum.
Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje: Pick up a bag of drop, the Netherlands' national sweet, in this old-fashioned candy boutique that stocks dozens of flavors—some sweet, others salty, still others downright inedible for some.
Pianola Museum: An impressive collection of automated pianos stand ready to play any of 30,000 music rolls in this tiny museum filled with musical memorabilia.
Café Chris: Since 1624, Amsterdam's oldest brown café has been serving Dutch beer to Jordaan locals. In its heyday, builders working on the nearby Westertoren came here to collect their wages.
Papeneiland: Bill Clinton famously devoured a hunk of apple pie in this family-owned café that's been proffering draft ales and Dutch fare since 1642. It retains its 17th-century authenticity on one of the Jordaan's prettiest corners.
Lindengracht Market: Browse for specialty foods and organic produce at this Saturday street market first held in 1894.
Suggested Tours in the Jordaan
Sample more than a dozen Dutch delicacies at historic cafés, family-run shops and specialty food stores on the Jordaan Food Tour.
Exit Tram 13, 14 or 17 at Westermarkt or Marnixstraat. Serene residential streets stretch to the north, bordered by an eclectic assortment of shops and cafés along Rozengracht.
#3 Museum District/Oud-Zuid
Amsterdam's leafy, exclusive Museum District encompasses world-renowned cultural venues, popular green spaces and a lively entertainment square.
A plethora of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels surround always buzzing Leidseplein.
The popular square also is the setting for Amsterdam's main theatre, the Stadsschouwburg, as well as the DeLaMar Theater, where popular musicals are staged.
Two iconic music venues—Paradiso and Melkweg—are just off the square.
Three repositories of iconic art—The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum—as well as many smaller galleries and the world-renowned Concertgebouw, are set on Museumplein.
Antique lovers will enjoy browsing the galleries of the nearby Spiegelkwartier, while fashionistas can get their retail fix in the boutiques lining P.C. Hooftstraat, Amsterdam’s Rodeo Drive.
Suggested Hotels in the Museum District
Things to see near the Museum District
Leidseplein: Bars, restaurants and nightclubs surround this touristy square offering some of Amsterdam's best people-watching and street entertainment.
Stadsschouwburg: Amsterdam's neo-renaissance-style municipal theater anchors the west side of Leidseplein.
The horseshoe-shaped auditorium is designed like a court theater, with seating for different social ranks and a special box for the king.
Museumplein: Amsterdam's cultural square mile is the stage for the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum, and Concertgebouw.
Beyond high-brow culture, it's also a popular spot for picnics and lazing on the grass.
Rijksmuseum: Amsterdam's national museum showcases Rembrandt's Night Watch, among other Golden Age masterpieces.
Some 8,000 exhibits display everything from iconic portraits to Delft porcelain and 20th-century design. Come early for the best viewing.
Stedelijk Museum: Nicknamed “The Bathtub,” Amsterdam's museum of modern art exhibits major currents of Western art from the early 20thcentury to the present.
Van Gogh Museum: Van Gogh's progression from a painter of gloomy scenes into a renowned impressionist known for luminous colors and an evocative style is evident in this collection of works by one of the four fathers of 20th-century art.
Book online to skip the lines.
Concertgebouw: Exceptional acoustics and music programs make Amsterdam's concert building one of the world’s most visited music venues.
For more than 125 years, it's been home to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Vondelpark: Amsterdam's most famous park is a 120-acre oasis of green named after 17th-century Dutch playwright Joost van den Vondel. Since 1865, it's been a place where everything is possible and (almost) everything is allowed.
Beyond open space, the park offers bars, restaurants, a skate rental shop, playground and rose garden.
From June-August, the 19th-century Pavilion hosts concerts while an open-air theater stages music and dance programs.
De Balie: This hub for politics, culture and media screens independent films, many in English.
The Grand Café serves classic fare for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch.
Paradiso: A 19th-century church and '60s hippie squat, one of Amsterdam's most popular nightclubs has drawn headliners like The Rolling Stones, Adele and Lady Gaga to its main concert hall since 1968.
A smaller hall hosts indie bands and local artists.
Melkweg: Once an abandoned milk factory, one of Amsterdam's highest-profile nightclubs is still operated by the nonprofit artist group that discovered the cavernous building.
It's now a multimedia center with five rooms, including a cozy attic cinema.
Max Euweplein: Players move meter-high chess pieces on a giant board in the corner of a touristy square that was once a prison yard.
Now anchored by shops and cafés like the ever-buoyant Hard Rock, Max Euweplein is named for a world champion Dutch chess player of the 1930s.
P.C. Hooftstraat: Modest architecture belies the upscale collections in boutiques representing Chanel, Gucci, Hermés, Louis Vuitton and other top designers on Amsterdam's most exclusive shopping street.
Spiegelkwartier: You can take a canal bus to this antique lovers' paradise near the Rijksmuseum, where 70+ galleries proffer antiques, modern art, 17th-century furniture, jewelry and Delftware.
Leidsestraat: Running from Leidseplein to Koningsplein, this pedestrian shopping street bisected by tram tracks is studded with popular chains, shoe and fashion boutiques, specialty shops, cafés and fast food outlets.
Getting to the Museum District
Tram 2 travels along Amsterdam's central spine, from Central Station to Museumplein, passing some of the city's best-known landmarks, squares and shopping areas.
Tram 1 follows the same route until Leidseplein,
Tram 5 continues to the Rijksmuseum. Busses 170 and 172 also stop at Leidseplein.
#4 The Oud-West
Like the neighboring Jordaan, the Oud-West developed as a result of rapid urban expansion.
After a decade of gentrification that began in the late 19th century, it's now a multicultural blend of residential neighborhoods served by a plethora of Moroccan and Turkish shops and cafés, interspersed with Dutch pubs and other ethnic eateries.
In the Oud-West, architectural gems like the Zenvenlandenhuizen (Houses of Seven Countries) and Hollandsche Manege, the Netherlands' oldest equestrian center, punctuate lively shopping streets like Overtoom, Kinkerstraat and De Clercqstraat.
Newer additions include De Hallen, a turn-of-the-century tram depot-turned cultural hotspot.
Bordered by Singelgracht canal and Vondelpark, the Oud-West is now one of Amsterdam's most up-and-coming districts, with an evolving crop of restaurants, hip boutiques and concept stores.
Just far enough from Dam Square to be outside the major tourist zone but with easy access to all popular attractions, it's a good option if you're looking for a local taste of Amsterdam in a dynamic neighborhood many visitors neglect.
A 5-minute tram ride or 15-minute walk gets you to the center of town.
Suggested Hotels in the Oud-West
Things to See in The Oud-West
Zevenlandenhuizen (Houses of Seven Countries): A wealthy politician commissioned Dutch architect Tjeerd Kuipers to create this collection of homes, each representing a different country.
The architectural feast appealed to the 19th-century fascination with faraway places. The English cottage accepts guests as Quentin England, a two-star hotel.
Hollandsche Manege: Since 1882, the Netherlands' national riding school has been housed in a neoclassical structure inspired by Vienna's Spanish Riding School in Amsterdam's Oud-West.
Even non-equestrians can admire the ornate architecture and watch the regal trotting from the elegant café.
De Hallen: Since opening in 2014, this transformed turn-of-the-century tram depot has become one of Amsterdam’s most popular hotspots.
An arthouse cinema and Foodhallen, the indoor food court, become buzzing hives on weekends, when the Local Goods Market is held.
Ten Katemarkt: Smaller than the Albert Cuypmarkt but just as diverse in offerings, this street market off Kinkerstraat has a true local vibe.
Open daily except Sunday, it's a source for fresh produce, Dutch cheese, clothing, flowers, toiletries, and specialty items that reflect the neighborhood's multicultural demographics.
#5: De Pijp
Like most neighborhoods outside Amsterdam's main Canal Ring, De Pijp was a working class suburb before the city expanded in the 19th century.
As the Jordaan overflowed with laborers, the district evolved to accommodate the surplus, becoming a multicultural melting pot.
Students, artists, yuppies and immigrants from some 150 nationalities discovered De Pijp in the 1960s, establishing the area as Amsterdam's colorful Latin Quarter.
The neighborhood is renowned for its narrow townhouses, originally built to house low-income families.
While no one really knows what De Pijp stands for, some surmise it owes its name to the district's long narrow streets that resemble pipes or to the “Pipe,” the gas company that once supplied energy to the area.
Removed from central Amsterdam's tourist throngs, De Pijp is now a pastiche of cultures and nationalities.
Along Albert Cuypstraat and Ferdinand Bolstraat, the neighborhood's main streets, Syrian, Moroccan, Spanish, Indian and Surinamese eateries thrive alongside Dutch pubs, Islamic butchers and Turkish delicatessens, reflecting the area's ethnic diversity.
De Pijp's demographics are abundantly clear at the Albert Cuypmart, centerpiece of the neighborhood, where you can buy just about anything else you might need for daily life, including many specialty items from foreign lands.
Suggested Hotels De Pijp
Once a diamond factory, this 19th-century red-brick building is now a luxury hotel with accents of Japanese modernism and Scandinavian design.
Sunny rooms with high ceilings, Japanese-inspired restaurant, complimentary WiFi, historic details.
Check out Availability & Prices
Studio apartments in a renovated 19th-century townhouse across from Sarphatipark, around the corner from the Albert Cuypmarkt.
Complimentary WiFi, communal garden, no breakfast. The Van Woustraat tram stop is a 1-minute walk away.
Check out Availability & Prices
Things to see in De Pijp
Albert Cuypmarkt: The granddaddy of Amsterdam street markets boasts 260+ stands selling fresh produce, fish, flowers, fabrics, clothing, accessories, and an array of trinkets you never knew you needed.
An Amsterdam institution since 1905, the market is the centerpiece of De Pijp.
Taart van mijn Tante: Experience sensory overload in a fantasy tearoom replete with kitsch, cakes with sassy names like “Chocolate Bitch Pie,” and a mishmash of colorful crockery and furniture.
Scandinavian Embassy: Concept fashion meets food and specialty coffee at this rustic bistro popular for Sunday Brunch.
Open early for weekday Scandinavian-style breakfast and lunch.
Sarphatipark: Jewish philanthropist Samuel Sarphati took the initiative for construction of this manicured neighborhood park.
After a long battle over a railway station originally conceived for the site, the English landscape-style park opened in 1885, 19 years after Sarphati's death.
Heineken Experience: Even Amsterdam Marketing suggests you get drunk before visiting this homage to a beer now produced by a multinational firm, concluding it “must have been arranged by people who had too much beer themselves.”
While it once permeated De Pijp with the fragrance of fermenting hops, Heineken is now an overpriced brewery-turned-museum.
#6 The Old Jewish Quarter/Plantage
Amsterdam has been a sanctuary for Jews since the 16th century.
The first influx came after the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, a second from Jews pushed from Germany, Poland and Russia by antisemitic regimes.
Regardless of origin, most early Jewish immigrants settled around Waterlooplein, where Rembrandt lived at the height of his fame.
Today his house on Jodenbreestraat is a museum replete with 17th-century objects and etchings.
Rembrandt's neighbors included Jewish bankers and merchants whose talents helped transform Amsterdam into Europe's most important port during Holland's Golden Age. Called Mokum by its early inhabitants—the Yiddish word for “place” or “safe haven”—it was a city where Jews thrived through the 19th century.
When the Nazis invaded Holland, 60,000+ Jews lived in Amsterdam—about 10% of the population.
During World War II, the Jewish Quarter became a ghetto as German troops rationed food and arrested Jews in the streets.
Most were taken to the Hollandsche Schouwburg, Amsterdam's municipal theater building, which became an assembly point for mass deportation.
Despite massive efforts of the Dutch Resistance Movement, most of Amsterdam's 20th-century Jewish population was slaughtered in Nazi concentration camps.
Waterlooplein, once the central market for the Jewish community, is now better known as a source for old military gear, bike parts and trinkets.
Just east of Waterlooplein, De Plantage provides a stark contrast to the medieval cobblestones and canals of the Grachtengordel.
Home to Artis Royal Zoo and Hortus Botanical Gardens, it's greener and less touristy than Amsterdam's historic center, with leafy boulevards and elegant squares.
Suggested Hotels for Old Jewish Quarter/Plantage
5-star luxury in canal-side mansions on the prestigious Herengracht, with a grand staircase built by Louis XIV's architect.
Entertainment systems, Salvatore Ferragamo amenities, espresso machines, courtyard garden, spa, indoor swimming pool, fitness center.
Check out Availability & Prices
Things to See near Old Jewish Quarter/Plantage
Jewish Historical Museum: In four restored 17th- and 18th-century synagogues, this museum traces the history of the Jews in Holland, with a special wing for children.
A kosher café is accessible without a museum ticket. Tickets to all Jewish Cultural Quarter exhibits, valid for one month, can be purchased here, as well as at other participating institutions.
Portuguese Synagogue: One of Amsterdam's largest structures when built in 1675, the Portuguese Synagogue was modeled after Jerusalem's Temple of Solomon.
It remains a symbol of Dutch religious tolerance and is still used for candlelit services.
Stumble Stones in the rear, each imprinted with a victim’s name, birth and arrest dates, camp deported to and fate, are part of a worldwide Holocaust project.
Amsterdam Resistance Museum: Holocaust lore and exhibits about the Netherlands' role in World War II are the focus of this thoughtful perspective of Holland during Hitler’s tyrannical reign.
Rembrandthuis: See where the Netherlands’ greatest artist lived and worked for 20 years in this meticulously refurbished home with an extensive collection of Rembrandt's etchings.
Rembrandtplein: Home to some of Amsterdam's most hip nightclubs, as well as myriad bars, coffeeshops and restaurants, this lively entertainment square is also where you'll find Rembrandt’s statue and the protagonists of The Night Watch.
AIR: A multi-tier dance floor, state-of-the-art entertainment systems, and walls lined with lights and intimate niches make this Rembrandtplein venue one of Amsterdam's most popular nightclubs.
Waterlooplein Flea Market: Search for treasures where 19th-century Jewish merchants once hawked their wares.
Amsterdam's oldest outdoor bazaar is a source for new and second-hand clothes, antiques, '50s vinyls, and other curiosities, in 300+ stalls open daily except Sunday.
Kilo Shop: Rummage through vintage fashion and pay by weight in this funky shop adjacent to the Waterlooplein Flea Market.
Artis Royal Zoo: The Netherlands' oldest zoo houses 700 animal species and 200 tree varieties, plus an aquarium, planetarium and botanical gardens.
Within Artis, Micropia offers a look at Earth's smallest organisms.
Hortus Botanicus: Rare plants are displayed in one of the world's oldest botanic gardens.
Alongside 4000+ plant species, view a climate greenhouse, the aptly named Palm Greenhouse (an official monument), and a butterfly greenhouse.
Hermitage: This museum of Russian-Dutch history is modeled after its namesake in St. Petersburg, built by Peter the Great after his visit to Amsterdam. In the 17th century, the tsar enlisted the Dutch to save his capital from sinking into water-logged Russian soil.
Dignita Hoftuin: Former prostitutes get a second chance at this organic café tucked behind the Hermitage that grows many of the ingredients for dishes served in a serene city garden.
Dutch National Opera & Ballet: Renowned for both traditional and innovative productions, Holland's leading force for keeping opera and ballet alive presents nearly a dozen annual productions, most to sold-out audiences.
Come early for free Tuesday lunch concerts.
Holocaust Memorial at the Hollandsche Schouwburg: During the Holocaust, Amsterdam's municipal theater building became an assembly point for mass deportation to extermination camps in occupied Poland.
Royal Theatre Carré: Since 1887, this historic Neo-Renaissance theatre has hosted cabaret, opera, Broadway musicals, dance performances and pop concerts.
Tropenmuseum: Opened in 1926, this modern ethnology museum features multimedia exhibits about the former Dutch colonies and Dutch East India Company.
Magere Brug: According to legend, kissing on the Skinny Bridge will insure everlasting love.
Allegedly built by two sisters living on opposite sides of the Amstel who wanted easier access to each other, Amsterdam's most recognizable bridge was once so narrow two pedestrians could barely pass each other.
Dappermarkt: Fruits, vegetables and the diversity of Oost-Amsterdam are on display at 250 stalls along Dapperstraat, open daily except Sunday.
This local market is surrounded by cafés, a Turkish bakery, Islamic butcher, Suriname food store and African cosmetic outlet, among other retailers.
Unlike the postcard-perfect vistas of Amsterdam's 17th-century Grachtengordel, Noord is a blustery expanse of open spaces, angular structures and cutting-edge architecture.
A dilapidated shipyard in the 1980s, the newly hip neighborhood across the Ij River is now home to creative businesses like Discovery Channel and MTV, as well as waterside restaurants, the EYE Film Institute and A'dam Lookout.
With the addition of many socially conscious businesses, Noord has become a lab for progressive culture, where old warehouses have become artist studios, a clean-tech playground built around sustainable technologies has evolved at De Ceuvel, and old shipping containers have become waterfront cafes and student housing.
Throughout the year, festivals, exhibitions, and Ij Hallen, Europe's large flea market, take place on NDSM Wharf and the Ij Promenade.
In contrast to its industrial vibe, Noord also has bucolic farms to explore on foot, two wheels or by water.
Historic villages like Nieuwendam, Ransdorp and Zunderdorp are peppered with wooden houses and authentic stolpboerderijen—traditional Dutch farmhouses built in the shape of a cheese cover.
Cycling along the Ijsselmeer coast to Durgerdam offers pastoral views and the chance to refuel at Café 't Sluisje at the end of Niewendammerdijk, serving Dutch apple pie in a 500-year-old building.
Suggested Hotels Amsterdam Noord
Things to See in Amsterdam Noord
NDSM Wharf (NDSM ferry)
IJ Kantine: Casual fare is served in a former assembly warehouse that was once a cafeteria for NDSM shipbuilders.
Veer to your left as you disembark the ferry and you'll be there in a minute.
Pllek: Part organic restaurant, man-made beach and holistic hangout, Pllek reflects Noord's post-industrial vibe with metallic edges and expansive glass offset by a panoramic view of the Ij.
Nooderlicht: Distinguishable by its airplane hangar shape, Noorderlicht offers waterfront dining and dancing, plus campfires, poetry readings and DJ nights.
GeWoonboot: Adjacent to Noorderlicht, visit a self-sustaining houseboat with its own heating, electric and water purification systems.
De Pannenkoekenboot: Take a 75-minute cruise along the Ij fueled by as many Dutch pancakes as you can consume.
IJ-Hallen: Europe's largest flea market takes place on the second weekend of most months in two industrial warehouses filled with 750 stands selling second-hand clothes, shoes, antiques, books, furniture and other treasures.
Sunday afternoon is the best time to shop for bargains.
Ij Promenade (Buikersloterweg ferry)
EYE Film Institute: Perched like an ivory spaceship on the northern bank of the Ij, this homage to international cinema is replete with interactive displays, movie screening rooms, a museum shop, and an eye-popping bar and restaurant.
A'dam Lookout: Swing over the edge of a 100-meter-high building, taking in panoramic views from the sky-deck. Moon on the 19th floor offers seasonal menus and a revolving city view.
One floor up, Madam serves Mediterranean cuisine and transforms into Skybar after dark.
De Ceuvel: Amsterdam's clean-tech playground is comprised of houseboats on a formerly polluted harbor.
Guided tours are available by appointment. The experiment in sustainability recycles much of its own waste through treatment, composting and filtration systems.
An aquaponics greenhouse is among several showcases of clean technology. Like a throwback to the ’60s, Café de Ceuvel provides a mellow hangout for a bohemian crowd.
Pick up one of these Amsterdam City Guides
Reaching Noord: From the north side of Amsterdam Central Station, free GVB ferries transport people, bikes and scooters across the Ij River to Amsterdam-Noord.
The last ferry returns to Central Station at 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
A countdown clock displays the destination and remaining time until the next departure above each docking spot.
The most popular route is the 5-minute trip to Buiksloterweg to visit the EYE Film Museum and Tolhuistuin.
Numerous ferries operate on this short route, so you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes.
Slightly longer is the 15-minute journey to NDSM Wharf, home to numerous restaurants and cultural happenings.
In addition to ferries, several buses travel to Noord. Check the GVB schedule or Google Maps for more information.
From the rear or Ijzijde of Central Station, three ferry routes cross the Ij River to Buikersloterweg, NDSM Wharf and Ijplein.
All ferries run several times an hour, seven days a week. You can also find buses traveling to Noord on the Ijzijde of the station.
Melissa Adams is an American photojournalist who traded sunny Newport Beach, California for the soggy patch on the European continent that captured her heart in 2007.
Now based in Amsterdam, she explores the hidden gems, sexy secrets and colorful culture of her adopted city at UnClogged in Amsterdam: An American Expat Plumbs Holland.
Her photo essays have appeared in Perceptive Travel, GoNomad, Matador Travel Network, Sonderer's Travel Magazine, TravelWorld International, Here Comes the Guide, OC Metro, and The Daily Meal, among other outlets.
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