Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in Europe and for good reason. With 16 million people flocking to the dutch capital each year for its tulips, cheese, windmills, and a notoriously open approach to everything it is no wonder that it is also one of our favorites.
Yes, Amsterdam is probably most famous for its coffee shops and Red Light district but it is its Golden Age mansions, enchanting canals (which outnumber those in Venice), and historic landmarks that made us fall in love with this once medieval fishing village on the Amstel River. Once you have a firm grip on what you want to see in the city it is time to focus on choosing where to stay in Amsterdam which will be the most central location to check out what you are interested in.
We asked local Amsterdam expert Melissa Adams to create a guide on where to stay in the city center and share her tips on what to do in Amsterdam for first-time visitors.
Best Amsterdam Hotels – Straight To The Point
We’ve done the work for you with this Amsterdam neighborhood guide. Got no time to waste and want to know where to stay in Amsterdam? These are the best hotels to suit every budget.
The 7 Best Areas To Stay In Amsterdam
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. It’s easy to navigate on foot and walking is the best way to take in the sights.
The beauty of the way Amsterdam is laid out is that most major 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 in the city centre, getting around gets easier. We have based all of our recommendations on where to stay in Amsterdam with this in mind.
To help you choose the best place to stay in Amsterdam here is an accommodation budget range guide:
Cost of Hotels in Amsterdam
1. Centrum / Red Light District – Where to Stay in Amsterdam for First timers
The Historic Old Center of Amsterdam is one of the best places to stay in Amsterdam for first-time visitors. If you want to be in the city centre then this is where you want to base yourself. You are basically within walking distance of most main attractions in this central location. The historic city centre radiates from Dam Square, where a dam kept the city from flooding in the 13th century. It is of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city.
It is punctuated with coffee shops, peep shows, brothels, and prostitutes in red-lit windows (famous Red Light District), interspersed with fine restaurants, historic churches, and a craft brewery. Nearby is Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s Chinatown, which offers a great selection of Asian restaurants, gay bars, and eclectic shops.
This Red Light District Walking Tour is a good introduction to the oldest neighborhood in Amsterdam. Follow your guide as you learn of the women working in the district, the coffee shops, Amsterdam’s oldest building, the Prostitution Information Center and more.
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 like the royal palace. Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, and Singel canals form concentrated loops and Grachtengordel is lined with historic landmarks, cultural venues, shopping streets, and entertainment squares.
- Take this classic canal cruise through the UNESCO Heritage-listed canals that show all of the city’s highlights as you sip on a glass of wine while sampling Dutch cheese.
The selection of accommodation here can be overwhelming. From charming boutique hotels and mid-range hotels to the most luxurious, the city center has something for everyone.
Best Hotels in Centrum – Red Light District
Luxury: Sofitel Legend The Grand
Located in the Amsterdam City Center and just a 5-minute walk to Dam Square. Free Wi-Fi, Nespresso machines, Bose entertainment systems, butler service.
Mid-Range: The Exchange
Fashion meets architecture in this central boutique hotel on Damrak overlooking Amsterdam’s early 20th-century Stock Exchange. 1- to 5-star rooms fashioned by designers from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.
Budget: Meeting Point
Basic hostel on lively Warmoesstraat bordering the Red Light District. Surrounded by bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and ladies of the night.
VRBO: Cozy Amsterdam Apartment Dam Square
Situated within a 1 min walk of Dam Square, this 1 be apartment is close to everything and is recently renovated. Perfect for anyone looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam that is in the heart of the city.
Things to do in Centrum ( Amsterdam City Centre)
- Visit De Wallen, Amsterdams largest Red Light District
- Stroll through the Royal Palace which was once occupied by Napolean.
- Relax in the Dam Square and people watch with a coffee.
- Don’t miss De Oude Kerek (The Old Church) which is Amsterdams’s oldest building.
2. The Jordaan – Coolest Area in Amsterdam
Once renowned for radical politics and rowdy sing-a-longs, the Jordaan has evolved over decades of gentrification from a working-class area 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. This is also where you will find the famous Anne Frank House, a place we recommend you visit while you are in Amsterdam. This Anne Frank Tour takes you through the Jewish Quarter to learn of the fascinating story of Anne Frank.
Beginning at Brouwersgracht just west of Amsterdam Central Station, the Jordaan arches around the western Canal Ring between Prinsengracht and Lijnbaansgracht, ending at Leidsegracht.
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. This is by far one of the coolest areas to stay in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was mad for cycling and one of our favourite ways to explore a city is on a bike tour. This bike tour takes you on a 3-hour tour of the city’s top attractions. From the old warehouses on the Western Islands to the Jordaan, Museum Quarter and Vondelpark.
Best Hotels in The Jordaan
Beautiful 5-star waterfront hotel in 25 restored 17th– and 18th-century canal houses. Prime location near the Nine Streets and Anne Frank House. Modern art, original features, garden café, bar, restaurant.
Sophisticated B&B on the ground floor of a canal house in the heart of the Jordaan. Custom mosaics & woodwork by owners Greet and Niels, who live upstairs. Full kitchen, complimentary WiFi, rental bikes.
Budget: Hotel van Onna
Basic, family-run hotel in 3 adjacent waterfront canal houses dating from the 17th century. Easy walking distance from Anne Frank House & other major sights. WiFi and continental breakfast included.
VRBO: Luxury suite in the heart of The Jordaan
“Air-conditioned” Luxury suite in a mansion overlooking the Wolvenstraat. The room has a bathroom with two rain showers, a king-size bed, flat-screen television with internet, free wifi, coffee (Nespresso), and tea-making facilities. Perfect for a couple.
Things to See in The Jordaan
- The Anne Frank House: Amsterdam’s top tourist attraction.
- 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.
3. Museum District / Oud-Zuid – Where to Stay in Amsterdam on A Budget
Amsterdam’s leafy, exclusive Museum quarter 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.
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 Museum Square. Book this guided tour of the Van Gogh Museum for in depth history of the artist and his struggles.
This area is one of the best places to stay in Amsterdam if you are on a budget. You can get great hotels here at an affordable price. A welcome relief in a city that can be really expensive.
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.
Best Amsterdam Hotels in the Museum Quarter
Luxury: Conservatorium Hotel
This 5-star hotel is among The Leading Hotels of the World on the well-heeled Van Baerlestraat adjoining Museum Square. Modern design, indoor pool, sauna, fitness center, spa, hammam, hotel bar, Asian-inspired restaurant.
Mid-Range: Conscious Hotel Museum Square
Eco-conscious hotel conveniently located within walking distance to all Museum Quarter attractions. Organic breakfast, free Wi-Fi, HD flat-screen TVs, bike rental. The Airport Express (bus 197) stops in front of the hotel.
Budget: Stayok Amsterdam Vondelpark
Basic dorms with free Wi-Fi and a buffet breakfast in a former red-brick schoolhouse adjoining Vondelpark. One of the city’s best hostels also offers a bar, TV room, game room, bike rental, and coin-operated laundry.
VRBO: Romance in the Museum Quarter
Elegant apartment behind the Museumsquare and the Concertgebouw, just south of the Vondelpark. close to all of the museums and everything else. This 2BR 3 bath apartment is beautifully decorated and in the perfect location.
Things to Do in the Oud-Zuid
- Leidseplein: Bars, restaurants, and nightclubs surround this touristy square offering some of Amsterdam’s best people-watching and street entertainment.
- If you love museums do not miss the Van Gogh Museum or the Stedelijk Museum.
- If you love beer like we do don’t miss the Heineken Experience.
- Rijksmuseum: Amsterdam’s national museum showcases Rembrandt’s Night Watch, among other Golden Age masterpieces.
- Skip the line to explore the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum with this tour!
4. The Oud-West – Best Area to Stay in Amsterdan for Food Lovers
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.
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.
Best Amsterdam Hotels in Oud-West
Luxury: Hotel de Hallen
Post-industrial chic hotel in De Hallen. Espresso machines, smart TV, Free Wi Fi. Make sure to visit the Remise 47 French restaurant. Easy access to Foodhallen, a buzzing indoor food court offering an array of affordable eats.
Mid-Range: Hotel not Hotel
Beautiful boutique-style hotel with quirky designs. Small, themed rooms with WiFi, and an onsite café. The Kevin Bacon Bar is as unpretentious as its namesake. A bit removed from the action, but near a tram stop.
Budget: CityHub Amsterdam
This new concept minimalist hotel is adjacent to De Hallen. Small cabins offer WiFi, air-conditioning, and changeable ambient lighting. €10 for breakfast across the street.
VRBO: Rooftop Terrace in Oud-West
This cozy 1 bedroom 1 Bath unit is perfectly located on the canal and has a beautiful rooftop terrace to enjoy those summer days. The unit has 2 double beds and a separate living room with a small kitchen. You access this apartment by stairs only.
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.
- 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.
- De Hallen: Since opening in 2014, this transformed turn-of-the-century tram depot has become one of Amsterdam’s most popular hotspots.
- Ten Katemarkt: Smaller than the Albert Cuypmarkt but just as diverse in offerings, this street market off Kinkerstraat has a true local vibe.
5. De Pijp – Best Place to Stay in Amsterdam for Nightlife
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 Amsterdam De Pijp’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 is a great area to take in some cool nightlife and sample the incredible cuisine that is popping up every year.
Make sure you visit the Albert Cuypmart, the centerpiece of De Pijp, where you can buy just about anything else you might need for daily life, including many specialty items from foreign lands.
Where to Stay in De Pijp
Luxury: Sir Albert Hotel
Once a diamond factory, this 19th-century red-brick building is now a luxury hotel with accents of Japanese modernism and Scandinavian design in De Pijp. Sunny rooms with high ceilings, Japanese-inspired restaurant, complimentary Wi-Fi, historic details.
Mid-Range: Colours in de Pijp
Studio apartments in a renovated 19th-century townhouse across from Sarphatipark, around the corner from the Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam De Pijp. Complimentary Wi-Fi, communal garden, no breakfast. The Van Woustraat tram stop is a 1-minute walk away.
Budget: Bicycle Hotel Amsterdam
A no-frills, eco-friendly hotel near the heart of De Pijp. Basic rooms, inexpensive bike rentals, free Wi-Fi, breakfast included. Steep stairs, no elevator.
VRBO: Dutch Delight
Located close to the Albert Cuyp Market in the heart of De Pijp, this 1 bedroom, 1 bath luxury apartment is within walking distance to the Van Gogh Museum, the Heineken brewery, and many more attractions. IT has a full kitchen, an incredible bathroom, and its own balcony!
Things to do in De Pijp
- Albert Cuyp market: 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Don’t miss the booking this Heineken Experience. With this ticket you get a 1.5-hour self-guided tour to learn about the company’s heritage and brewing process with a cold brew at the end.
6. The Old Jewish Quarter / Plantage – Where to Stay in Amsterdam for Families
Amsterdam has been a sanctuary for Jews since the 16th century. The first influx came after the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, a second from being 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. Book this Anne Frank Walking Tour to learn of the history of WWII, the Jewish Quarter, Anne Frank and her family.
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. This is one of the best places to stay in Amsterdam if you are visiting with kids.
It is not that far from the old town, about a 20-minute walk, so you can enjoy the laid-back family feel of the neighborhood and still not be too far away from the action.
Best Amsterdam Hotels in The Old Jewish Quarter
Luxury: Waldorf Astoria
This is a 5-star luxury property 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. This is pure luxury
Mid-Range: Rembrandt Square Hotel
Set on lively Rembrandtplein, this boutique hotel features 24-hour reception, a tour desk, and a brightly-colored lounge with leather seating. Free Wi-Fi, flat-screen cable TV.
Budget: Ecomama Hotel
Sister hostel to Cocomama, the funky hostel in a former brothel near the Heineken Experience. Ecomama offers dorms and private rooms with Dutch themes, free WiFi, ticket service, a 24-hour front desk, and luggage storage.
VRBO: Wittenberg House
A lovely two-bedroom house with a beautiful interior. There are two baths and it can sleep up to 6 people. The beautiful, authentic design comes with uncompromising functionality, and the kitchen is equipped with everything you need to live the lifestyle you love in your very own Amsterdam home.
Things to do in the 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.
Portuguese Synagogue: One of Amsterdam’s largest structures when it was built in 1675, the Portuguese Synagogue was modeled after Jerusalem’s Temple of Solomon.
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.
7. Amsterdam-Noord – Great Neighborhood in Amsterdam for Nightlife
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.
Located away from the city centre this was a dilapidated shipyard in the 1980s, but now the newly hip neighborhood across the Ij River is home to creative businesses like Discovery Channel and MTV, as well as waterside restaurants, the EYE Film Institute, and A’dam Lookout. Don’t worry about feeling too far away from things as you can easily access the city center by the free ferry which takes only 5-10 minutes.
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.
What I love about this neighborhood is that accommodation is cheaper and it is a great place to stay in Amsterdam if you have visited the city before and are looking for something a little different.
Best Amsterdam Hotels in Amsterdam Noord
Luxury: Faralda Crane Hotel
The last remaining crane on NDSM was dismantled in 2013 and converted into a luxury hotel. Three design suites and a rooftop jacuzzi make this perfect place to stay in Amsterdam Noord.
Mid-Range: Amstel Botel
Simply-furnished rooms aboard a boat on the River IJ. This hotel included a cool bar, breakfast buffet, free WiFi, rental bikes.
This place has both mixed dorms and private ensuites. In the dorms, each bed is equipped with a plug, USB port, and light. There is also a library, free Wi-Fi, bar, café, kitchen, and luggage lockers.
VRBO: 2 Bedroom and Lounge On Houseboat With Water Views
If you have wanted to stay on a houseboat in Amsterdam this is your chance. This houseboat is a steel ship that is 36 meters long. It used to be a ferryboat. Over the years the ship was extensively renovated. Part of the houseboat is available for guests. The bedrooms and the living room are spacious and there is daylight in abundance.
It has central heating, hot and cold running water, a toilet and shower, electricity, tv, internet, and a full kitchen. Everything you need to feel “at home”.
Things to do in Amsterdam Noord
- IJ Kantine: Casual fare is served in a former assembly warehouse that was once a cafeteria for NDSM shipbuilders.
- 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.
When to go to Amsterdam
April–May These are the most popular months to visit Amsterdam. The tulips bloom, the world’s largest flower garden opens at Keukenhof, and all of Holland celebrates the King’s birthday. If you plan to stay in Amsterdam during the high season, especially in the city centre, book your hotel early.
Summer – The warmer months bring longer 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 for Amsterdam
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.
Money-Saving Tips for Amsterdam
At Schiphol, you can purchase numerous city passes and transit cards. From the airport, a train journey to the city centre 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 Amsterdam 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Amsterdam
Oud-Zuid (Museum District) would be the best for those on a budget. Close to almost everything but lots of choice for those that are budget conscious.
Plantage is the perfect place to stay if you have kids. Close to everything without the hustle and bustle.
If you want to be in the heart of it all then the Historic Center or Old Centrum around Dam Square is where you will want to base yourself.
We hope you have enjoyed this detailed guide on where to stay in Amsterdam. There are a lot of different neighborhoods that offer a lot of different choices which can make choosing your accommodation in Amsterdam a difficult one. But, with our personal recommendations and suggestions, we think this gives you a great starting point.
From the curiosity of the Red Light District to the historic Anne Frank House, whatever your reason for visiting the Dutch capital of Amsterdam you are sure not to be disappointed. It is a place you will want to visit again and again. If you have any questions or want more information just leave them in the comments below.