Amsterdam’s neighborhoods are incredibly distinctive and unique, each having different things to offer for your travels. Here is a quick guide to Amsterdam’s neighborhoods to make the most out of your personal Amsterdam itinerary.
De Pijp is an up and coming neighborhood just outside what’s conventionally thought of as Amsterdam’s center (the Binnenstad neighborhoods and the layers of canals that encircle it). Here you’ll find a vibrant array of restaurants enriched by a diverse immigrant community, as well as the massive Albert Cuyp market, a 300+ stall affair lining the eponymous street that offers clothing, food, and jewelry from around the world. Whether or not you’re in the neighborhood for the restaurants or shopping, the market is well worth a walk through. The neighborhood is also home to the beautiful Sarphatipark, which is mostly overlooked by tourists and a beautiful place to relax on a nice day with a picnic; you’ll find yourself surrounded by young locals doing the same thing. Explore de Pijp with a local guide through PlacePass.
Binnenstad is the beating heart of Amsterdam’s neighborhoods. It’s located right in the center of the city, near some of its most iconic landmarks. The Binnenstad includes the infamous Red Light District, as well as the Oude Kerk—the oldest building in the city—and the majestic Royal Palace. The Palace is where the king of the Netherlands conducts most of his official business, but when it isn’t closed for state affairs it’s often open to visitors and a perfect place to learn about the Dutch monarchy and see inside one of the city’s most impressive buildings. The palace sits on the famous Dam square, which is also home to a few of the city’s swankiest hotels, with many of the most luxurious restaurants and bars just a few steps away. In addition, Binnenstad also has a few of the more popular shopping streets in the city. The neighborhood can get crowded with tourists, especially during peak tourism season, but you can’t come to Amsterdam without exploring it just a little bit.
The Nine Streets
Amsterdam of course has no shortage of shopping districts, but those that are closest the city center can get overcrowded and overwhelming, particularly as tourists flood the city during peak summer months. For a more refined, more local, and much less chaotic shopping experience consider heading out to the Nine Streets neighborhood. Here you’ll find tons of smaller shops and local boutiques selling chic clothing, jewelry, art, and beyond. There are also some delicious and reasonably priced restaurants throughout. This is a more authentic example of Dutch boutiques and eateries than you might be able to find elsewhere in the city, although it’s consistently pretty upscale.
Spaarndammer en Zeeheldenbuurt
This neighborhood, to the northwest of the city center, has a few must-see spots. Your first stop to explore is Het Schip, an example of classic Amsterdam School architecture and a typical residential setup for 1900s Dutch city living. The building earned its name for its resemblance to a ship (schip), and is now partially a museum dedicated to the architecture style. If you appreciate intricate brickwork and modern architecture, this museum and the surrounding residential area is worth a look. Elsewhere in the neighborhood is the beautiful Westerpark, a popular park in Amsterdam—especially with locals—and a wonderful spot to relax on a beautiful day. Westerpark is right by the old Amsterdam gasworks, which like most centrally located industrial complexes in contemporary European cities is no longer functioning in its original role. Instead, the gasworks have been converted into a cutting-edge cultural venue and home to trendy restaurants, art galleries, ad cool (read: hip and hipster) shopping. The larger complex also hosts festivals, markets, and interesting exhibitions. It might not be on the conventional roster of things to check out in your Amsterdam itinerary, but it’s a great place to visit for a bit of the local experience.