Amsterdam Sights

Amsterdam Neighborhoods Explained

Amsterdam is broken up into districts or boroughs (stadsdelen), which are further divided into neighborhoods. These neighborhoods may seem confusing to the first-time visitor to Amsterdam, but they're really very helpful when it comes to getting around.

Below a more detailed explanation of these neighborhoods, as well as other neighborhoods of note.

The Old Centre   CENTRUM
This area around the Dam and Nieuwmarkt, and through the neighborhood known as De Wallen (Red Light District), is the oldest part of the city.

Dam Square   CENTRUM
The Dam was built around 1270 between two dikes in order to prevent floodings. Now it is the central square between Rokin and Damrak. The Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, National Monument, and Madam Tussaud's are its main attractions. From the Dam Square Amsterdam's most commercial street (Kalverstraat) begins.

Nieuwmarkt
The Nieuwmarkt is dominated by a building known as De Waag, originally a gate in the Medieval city walls but converted into a weighing house after the walls were demolished in the 17th century. The square is located in Amsterdam's Chinatown, next to the De Wallen (Red Light District). There are many cafés and coffeeshops facing the square.

Red Light District (De Wallen)   CENTRUM
De Wallen, or, as it is known locally, Rossebuurt, is one of the main tourist attractions of Amsterdam. You'll find the Nieuwmarkt with the former city gate De Waag, Old Town Hall (nowadays Hotel The Grand), De Oude Kerk, Museum Our Lord in the Attic, Chinatown with the Fo Kuang Shan temple, and many one-room apartments rented by prostitutes, sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, and coffeeshops.

Grachtengordel (The Canal Belt)   CENTRUM
a series of concentric, semi-circular canals ("grachten"), dug around the old city centre. Along the canals houses and warehouses were built.

Old Jewish quarter   CENTRUM
The Old Portuguese Synagogue, Jewish Cultural Museum , Hollandsche Schouwburg, and the Waterlooplein Market are a few of the sights of note. Also Artis Zoo and the Hortus Botanicus are situated in the neighborhood.

Jordaan   CENTRUM
Tightly packed streets and canals lies west of the Center, beyond the major canals. Once a neighborhood for the working class and emigrants, nowadays almost completely renovated and very popular among artists, students, professionals, young entrepreneurs, and tourists. It has a growing number of upscale boutiques and restaurants. No other Dutch neighborhood is sung about as much as De Jordaan.

Spui   CENTRUM
The Spui quarter is heart of the old city and is an excellent starting point from which to discover the rest of the city. Here you can find chic restaurants next to authentic old brown cafés and trendy fashion outlets next to second hand clothing shops. Visit the Flower Market, Begijnhof or Amsterdam Historical Museum.

Spiegelkwartier   CENTRUM
In and around this street with its many characteristic Amsterdam facades are more than 70 art and antique shops. A must-see quarter for those with an eye for the unique, rare and beautiful.

De Pijp   OUD-ZUID
one of the most cosmopolitan and vibrant districts of Amsterdam with fantastic cafés, restaurants, shops and the daily Albert Cuyp street market.

Oud-Zuid
More expensive than De Pijp and one of the most desirable residential neighborhood with the city's most fashionable shopping streets: PC Hooftstraat, Van Baerlestraat and Beethovenstraat. You can find here also the most famous museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum), Coster Diamonds, Concertgebouw, and the Vondelpark.

Museum Quarter (Museumplein)   OUD-ZUID
Gracious and residential, surrounded by the Concertgebouw (concert hall) and the three major and most important museums in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art and the Van Gogh Museum. There're many restaurants, Amsterdam's most elegant shopping streets (P.C. Hooftstraat, and Van Baerlestraat), and the city's best-known park, Vondelpark.

Plantage/Artis   CENTRUM
In the 17th century 'The Plantage' (plantation) was a green area outside the city walls where Amsterdammers spent their free time. From 1848 onwards it became one of the most prominent areas of Amsterdam. The Jewish Historical Museum and the Portuguese Synagogue tell about the rich and sad history of this area. Exotic plants can be seen in the Hortis Botanicus (botanical garden) and you can visit wildlife in Artis Zoo.

Leidseplein   CENTRUM
Amsterdam's most popular nightlife centre. In addition to performance venues, movie theaters, bars, and cafes, there are plenty of good hotels and restaurants at this frenetically busy square and its immediate surroundings.

Rembrandtplein   CENTRUM
Until Rembrandt's statue was unveiled in 1876 this square was called Botermarkt (Butter market). For over a century it has been the centre of Amsterdam's nightlife. Here you can find famous hotels, cafés, discos and the renowned Tuschinski theatre. In summer, sitting in one of the many outdoor cafés, you can see the world pass by till way past midnight.

The IJ Waterfront (Westelijke & Oostelijke Eilanden)   CENTRUM
Centered on Centraal Station and stretching east and west along both banks of the IJ, this fast-redeveloping area includes the artificial islands, warehouses, and other installations of Amsterdam's old harbor (the new harbor lies west of the city). A shiny new kind of Amsterdam is taking shape on parts of this waterfront where old facilities have been demolished and are being replaced by new apartments and modern offices. Main attractions in this area are the Maritime Museum, The Amsterdam, NEMO, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Cruise ships dock at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam . There are many mooring facilities for touring boats and inland cruise operations. Every year over 100 sea cruise ships and more than 700 river cruise ships are ariving in this part of the city and their number is growing.

Oud-West
Popular city quarter stretching west of the Singelgracht canal with quite a lot of hotels, restaurants and cafes.

Spaarndammerbuurt   WESTERPARK
Built toward the end of the nineteenth century for those working at the new harbours nearby. Squares were laid out only once the new Housing Act required adjustment of the street plan. The Spaarndammerplantsoen became a green oasis amid the brick surroundings. Architect De Klerk presented a special design transforming the standard rows of small, bleak dwellings into broad, palatial proletarian brick residences in striking colours. The Amsterdam School style was born.

Oosterpark area   OOST/WATERGRAAFSMEER
In this area you can see, taste and smell Amsterdam's and Holland's colonial past. The Museum of the Tropics has exhibitions and performances from all parts of the world all through the year. The famous Amstel Hotel is situated along the Amstel river. At the Dappermarket all cultures of Amsterdam are represented. Want to cook Surinamese, Indian, Moroccan, Turkish, Thai or Chinese? Here you can find everything you need.

Rivierenbuurt   ZUIDERAMSTEL
Almost all streets are named after Dutch rivers or waterways. Many of its buildings had been built in the style of the Amsterdam School. Together with the district Buitenveldert the Rivierenbuurt forms the newly shaped borough ZuiderAmstel.

Noord
Across the water from Centraal Station is Amsterdam-Noord (Amsterdam North), a district that has been little more than a dull dormitory suburb up until now. This is changing, though, with dining and entertainment venues opening up.

Westpoort
The only out of 15 boroughs (stadsdelen) that has no own council, chosen by a popular election. Westerpoort, covers the harbour of Amsterdam, and has very few inhabitants. It is governed by the central municipal council.

Amsterdam's main neighborhoods

Centrum
Dam Square
De Pijp
De Wallen Red Light District
Grachtengordel Canal Belt
Jewish Quarter
Jordaan
Leidseplein
Museumplein
Nieuwmarkt
Noord
Old Centre
Old Jewish Quarter
Oud-West
Oud-Zuid
Red Light District
Rembrandtplein
Rivierenbuurt
Spaarndammerbuurt
Spiegelkwartier
Spui
IJ Waterfront
Zuidoost


Photo Tour

» the Old City Centre of Amsterdam (10)


Amsterdam in numbers

a short list of interesting facts and figures


New Amsterdam Tours

Spend your time in Amsterdam wisely and discover the city and its history by making the 3 hour free walking tour.

Amsterdam-Centrum Amsterdam-Noord Amsterdam Oud Zuid De Baarsjes Bos en Lommer Geuzenveld / Slotermeer Oost / Watergraafsmeer Osdorp Oud-West Slotervaart Westerpark Westpoort Zeeburg Zuideramstel Amsterdam Zuidoost