Moving to Amsterdam? Discover which part of the city you could soon call home with our guide to the best neighborhoods in Amsterdam.
With its endlessly charming canals, luscious parks, and cozy cafes at every turn, Amsterdam is definitely a city that has something for everyone. For many, the true wonder of Amsterdam is in the distinct neighborhoods that fill the city with an ever-changing kaleidoscope of possibilities.
Amsterdam has a whole host of unique neighborhoods spread out across the city’s seven districts. Getting to grips with what each neighborhood offers can be challenging for expats. To help you out, our guide looks at some of the most popular neighborhoods in Amsterdam, including:
- De Wallen
- De Pijp
- Eastern Docklands
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At the historic core of Amsterdam sits the ever-bustling neighborhood of De Wallen. The area is a captivating maze of canals and narrow streets that criss-cross the wider Amsterdam Centrum district. De Wallen is also home to Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. This means the area gets very busy with tourists. Indeed, the bars, coffee shops, and eateries in the area are often busy day and night. If you’re looking for a quiet place to live you may want to look elsewhere.
However, it’s hard to deny the underlying medieval charm of the area, with its twisting alleyways and lively streets. Homes in De Wallen tend to be compact, although top floor apartments can offer magical views over the rooftops. City officials are also constantly assessing ways to make the De Wallen neighborhood more liveable for residents. However, for now, it remains best-suited for those who like living in the heart of the action.
Fancy living in a UNESCO World Heritage site? Well, you can in Amsterdam’s Grachtengordel, also known as the Canal Belt. Constructed as part of the city’s grandiose expansion during the Dutch Golden Age, the neighborhood stretches along four canals: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. These are also located in the Amsterdam Centrum district, to the immediate west of the historic core.
Houses in the Grachtengordel are a bit more spacious than those in the center, but you can expect to pay more for all that space and those sumptuous canal views. The neighborhood remains popular with expats looking to dive straight into this ‘typically Dutch’ slice of Amsterdam. You’ll find some of the city’s most famous sights within walking distance, along with plenty of chic cafes and eateries.
To the west of the Gractengordel sits the Jordaan neighborhood. This is one of the city’s most desirable areas for locals and new arrivals alike. Historically a working-class neighborhood, these days the Jordaan is a bohemian mix of yuppies, expats, and young families. Its narrow streets are filled with independent boutiques and cafe-bars with lively terraces that spill onto the street.
Homes in the Jordaan don’t come cheap. Considering the average size of apartments in the area, you can definitely get more bang for your buck elsewhere. That said, nowhere else in Amsterdam is quite like the Jordaan, and there’s a reason why the neighborhood remains so popular. Slightly cheaper areas can be found outside the Amsterdam Centrum district, on the other side of the Singelgracht. If you want to live near the Jordaan for slightly less money, you should start looking here.
Stretching west from the Singelgracht to the Kostverlorenkade, Amsterdam’s Oud-West is actually a cluster of popular neighborhoods. In the Amsterdam West district but just a short cycle of the center, these neighborhoods include Kinkerbuurt, Da Costabuurt, and Cremerbuurt. Oud-West is defined by the long avenues that traverse the area – Kinkerstraat and Overtoom. It’s also home to the De Hallen cultural center and Ten Kate market.
The area closest to nearby Vondelpark can be pricey, however, house prices start to slowly fall off as you move further north through the neighborhood. The area is also a little edgier than the nearby Jordaan or Museumkwartier, which attracts a younger demographic. This has also made it a popular area for young expat professionals looking for a livelier place to live in Amsterdam.
One of the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods is Museumkwartier, located near the center in the Amsterdam Zuid district. The area centers on Museumplein, a large public space surrounded by some of the world’s best museums. This includes the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Other attractions of note include Het Concertgebouw concert hall and central Amsterdam’s green lung, the Vondelpark.
Museumkwartier is one of the wealthiest parts of the city and that soon becomes obvious when you take a walk around the area’s upmarket streets. Chic streets of spacious houses give way to hidden, leafy squares where locals dine in cozy bars while children play nearby. Homes in the area don’t come cheap, but you’ll soon fall in love with the area if you choose to make the move to Museumkwartier.
Head south from the city center and you’ll eventually come across De Pijp. Until fairly recently, the neighborhood was a predominantly working-class area. However, regeneration efforts and the arrival of the metro to the Amsterdam Zuid neighborhood have given the area a slightly different feel. It now sits as one of the most popular parts of the city for new arrivals, drawn by the buzzing atmosphere and eclectic streets.
De Pijp’s growing popularity amongst locals and expat alike is reflected in rising house prices, particularly in the northern part of the neighborhood near the old Heineken brewery. However, many are happy to pay a little more to be in De Pijp, attracted by the balance of the area. Whether you’re looking for bars, shopping, or simply somewhere you can easily access the rest of Amsterdam, you’ll find it in De Pijp.
Looking for a leafy neighborhood in the heart of Amsterdam where you can hear the sounds of the African savanna on your balcony? OK, so it’s not quite Kenya, but Amsterdam’s Plantage neighborhood – along with the adjacent Kadijkenbuurt – offer a surprisingly peaceful and laidback version of central Amsterdam living. Leafy canals slide past waterfront apartments and busy terraces of local bars and restaurants.
The neighborhood centers on the ARTIS zoo, the Hortus botanical gardens, and the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Roeterseiland campus. This gives Plantage a unique atmosphere and plenty to see and do. Homes aren’t cheap, but generally more spacious than those in other parts of the Amsterdam Centrum district. It’s the ideal place if you’re looking for a quiet neighborhood just a short walk from the buzz of central Amsterdam.
Head across the IJ from Centraal Station on a ferry and you’ll arrive in the Amsterdam Noord district. Historically somewhat separated from the rest of the city (and not just by the river), the area has experienced a cultural rebirth in recent years. At the heart of this is the leafy neighborhood of Volewijck. Located across the water from Centraal Station, the area stretches north, taking in parkland, shops, residential areas, and more.
Despite being a short ferry ride from Centraal, Volewijck retains a very different feel. The area is a mix of older, low-rise homes and innovative new-builds on former industrial docklands. It’s also significantly more affordable than areas south of the IJ. Prices are now nudging northwards following the arrival of the metro to the area, but with family-friendly living and a hipster vibe, Volewijck is an intriguing area to settle.
Another unique part of Amsterdam can also be found on the banks of the IJ. Located in the Amsterdam Oost district, the Eastern Docklands area is a collection of different waterfront neighborhoods. KNSM-Eiland and Java-Eiland offer trendy waterside living, complete with hip cafes and boutique shopping. Nearby Cruquiuseiland and Borneo Isle are more family-friendly areas with spacious apartments and easy access to nearby Flevopark.
These former working docks offer a modern twist on traditional Dutch streetscape. Because of this, homes are generally more spacious than other parts of Amsterdam, which makes the Eastern Docklands popular with families. Its also a good option if you like being out on the water. Moorings and marinas are close by for boat owners, while there are plenty of watersport activities taking place in the canals and out on the IJ.
Like Oud-West, Amsterdam’s Oud-Oost is a collection of neighborhoods that have grown increasingly popular with expat arrivals. At the center of Oud-Oost sits the recently refurbished Oosterpark. East of the park, you’ll find Dapperbuurt. This multicultural neighborhood is home to the popular daily market, Dappermarkt, and a growing number of trendy bars infused with household shops and clothing stores.
Sandwiched between two of UvA’s campuses, Oud-Oost is perenially popular with students and young professionals alike. While house prices aren’t as cheap as they were a few years ago, Oost is still a good place to settle. A good local retail scene around Oostpoort and easy access to the Amstel River and other green spaces make Oud-Oost an appealing place to move in the Amsterdam Oost district.