Amsterdam can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. This big and vibrant city has something to offer just about everyone, whether you're looking to party or to enjoy artistic treasures from around the world, or simply looking to enjoy delicious food and the best brunch in Amsterdam. And in this diverse city, where you stay matters. The red light district has a completely different feel and atmosphere from the museum quarter, which is itself wildly different from Amsterdam Noord. That's why you need an Amsterdam neighborhood guide that will help you find unique Amsterdam accommodation perfectly located for how you want to spend your time.
Fortunately, Amsterdam is a relatively easy city to get around. The extensive public transport network means it's not too much of a challenge to get from one district to another, and for more information, check out our guide on how to get around Amsterdam. Still, it's good to know a little bit about the different districts of the city so you can narrow down where to stay in Amsterdam.
As always, you'll find your visit much easier if you drop off your bags at one of our Amsterdam luggage storage partners. Bounce provides safe and convenient luggage storage in Amsterdam and around the world by partnering with local businesses. Drop off your bags and get ready to explore the best neighborhoods in Amsterdam with this guide.
Where to stay in the Red Light District
Amsterdam's famous red light district is an icon of the city. And whether they admit it or not, many of the millions of visitors who come to the Dutch capital every year intend to spend a good amount of time in this notorious neighborhood. There are reasons for that beyond vice. Amsterdam's red light district, also known as De Wallen, is the oldest part of the city. Home to the beautiful Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city, the red light district is also full of smoky coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and is well within walking distance of Amsterdam Centraal Station and located within Amsterdam's Canal Belt. As a result, the red light district can be hard to avoid.
Plus, it's a fascinating place to visit, whether you are there to indulge in your own vices or not. Home to the city's marijuana museum, the Museum of Illusions, the cannabis college, and the city's Chinatown, it's a great place to explore. You can get more insight on the history of this district that has shaped Amsterdam possibly more than any other with a guided tour that will let you hear some of the fascinating stories of this notorious area. Plus, the coffee shops of Amsterdam are famous around the world, and this is one of the best places to visit them.
If you're the type that likes to party, or you're visiting Amsterdam on a budget, this can be a great location to stay in the city. It's home to some of the most unmissable things to do at night in Amsterdam. Budget hotels like the Flying Pig and Durty Nelly's are popular with backpackers and party animals, but you'll also find slightly more upscale hotels in De Wallen. St Christopher's Inn offers a boutique hotel experience in a central location, and the Hotel Luxer offers affordable accommodation in the red light district close to central Amsterdam, with modern rooms, a hotel bar, and a great location on a pedestrianized street full of restaurants.
Where to stay in the city center
Amsterdam city center, also known as Amsterdam Centrum, is where you'll find many of the city's major attractions along with some of the best Amsterdam hotels. If you want to stay close to the heart of the action, this is the place to do it. Encompassing Centraal Station, Amsterdam city center is also home to the Royal Palace, Dam Square, the Amsterdam Museum, the Amsterdam Dungeon, and the Anne Frank House.
Amsterdam city center is something of a mixed neighborhood. Located right next to the red light district, it also has its share of rowdy bars and coffee shops where you can enjoy the city's famous nightlife. But it's also home to the residence of Dutch royalty and some of the best places to stay in Amsterdam. Whether you're looking for a boutique hotel full of quirky charm, mid-range hotels to give you everything you need at a reasonable price, or you feel like splashing out on a grand hotel in a historic building, this neighborhood can answer the question of where to stay in Amsterdam.
The city center is home to some of the best hotels in Amsterdam, including the luxurious Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Located right on Dam Square facing the Royal Palace, staying in this five-star hotel within a 19th-century building will make you feel like royalty. The hotel restaurant is excellent, and as you'd expect, the service is top-notch. If your budget doesn't stretch that far, you could try the more affordable Die Port Van Cleve, which is only a couple of blocks away from Dam Square and is also located in a beautiful historic building.
Where to stay in Amsterdam Noord
Located north of Amsterdam Central Station, the northern shore of Amsterdam has undergone a lot of development and regeneration over the past few decades. Many people wondering where to stay in Amsterdam overlook this district, as it's a little further from most of the city's top attractions. That's a shame, because Amsterdam Noord is one of the most interesting up-and-coming neighborhoods in the city. Easily reached from the central station by a short ferry ride, this district is home to the EYE Film Institute and A'DAM, an impressive tower that offers incredible views of the city and includes an over-the-edge swing for those who want to get their adrenaline pumping. The area is also home to many of the city's most exciting new bars and restaurants, making it a wonderful place to hang out once the sun goes down. If you want to enjoy nightlife the way the locals do, this is the place to do it, away from the seediness and tourist traps of the red light district.
In Amsterdam Noord, you'll most likely stay in a modern hotel with all the conveniences such as free wifi and possibly even a swimming pool, but you might struggle to find the historic charm you'll get in other areas of the city. If that doesn't matter to you, this is a great place to stay in Amsterdam, especially because prices are often lower than you'll find in better-known districts. The NH Amsterdam Noord offers clean rooms along with a gym, a bar, a restaurant, and a shuttle service that makes it easy to reach the central station or Schiphol Airport. Alternatively, The Panorama Suite, as the name implies, offers sweeping views of the city and its port from a unique glass-walled boutique hotel.
Where to stay in De Pijp
What's the coolest neighborhood in Amsterdam? It's a question that will provoke different answers according to who you ask. For a long time, the Jordaan, just to the west of Amsterdam Centrum, took the title. But in recent years, the formally working-class district of de Pijp has made a bid for the crown. This neighborhood is known for having some of the best restaurants in the city, including many of the best places to have brunch in Amsterdam. Plus, this fascinating neighborhood centers around the Albert Cuypmarkt street market, making it a great place to shop. Foodies will love exploring both the market and the excellent restaurants this district has, and night owls will have their pick of unique bars and restaurants to explore. The Albert Cuyp Market is a big attraction all by itself, and you can easily spend a couple of hours wandering among the stalls and sampling some of the best food Amsterdam has to offer.
When it's time to get some sleep, you'll find elegant rooms at the Sir Albert Hotel, just a short walk from the market. This four-star hotel is located in a former diamond factory, which is about the most Dutch thing imaginable. Its library, complete with a fireplace, makes the perfect place to relax, and the Japanese onsite restaurant lives up to the area's reputation for good food.
Where to stay on Oud Zuid
This neighborhood is best known for the museum district, home to the van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and several other of Amsterdam's famous museums. If you're wondering where to stay in Amsterdam that's close to Museum Square and the top museums and art galleries in the city, this is your answer. The neighborhood is also full of trendy shops and great restaurants serving modern Dutch cuisine and dishes from around the world, making it an excellent place to stay long-term. Don't miss zuiderMRKT, a small but interesting outdoor market in this district that makes a fantastic place to shop for food and souvenirs.
You'll find the hotels in this area run the gamut. It may be tricky to find a truly cheap hotel in such a popular part of the city, but you will find lots of options for midrange and luxury stays. The NH Museum Quarter offers a fairly affordable option with all the amenities you need, while the two-star Hotel Washington is a good choice for budget travelers. At the other end of the spectrum, the five-star Conservatorium occupies a stunning historic building just across the street from the van Gogh Museum - and comes with a price tag to match.
Where to stay in Oost
You'll find a little bit of everything in this often neglected Amsterdam neighborhood. Located on the eastern side of the city, Oost is known for its wide 19th-century streets and canals that are very different from the more crowded versions closer to the heart of the city. Although Oost is some distance from the city center, it's very well-connected by public transport links, making it a strong option for where to stay in Amsterdam. The area is also home to Zeeburg, another up-and-coming area of the city full of trendy restaurants and bars. Plus, Oosterpark is one of the best green spaces in the city and a true hidden gem. Check out the Tropenmuseum to see artifacts from cultures from around the world displayed in a beautiful 19th-century building, and discover the stunning art at the Amsterdam Hermitage Museum.
Amsterdam Oost offers some great bargains when it comes to hotels. The Student Hotel City is an excellent midrange option, and if you'd prefer something more luxurious, the Mercure Amstel Super is close to Amstel Metro station, making it easy to reach from just about anywhere in the city.
The options for where to stay in Amsterdam can seem overwhelming. This is a city that receives millions of tourists each year, and so there are hotels to suit just about every budget and preference imaginable. However, knowing more about what neighborhood you want to spend your time in will help you narrow down your selections and make a better choice.
Don't forget that no matter where you stay, you'll have an easier time exploring the city if you're not carrying more than you need to. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Amsterdam so you can travel light and enjoy everything this celebrated city has to offer.