You’re fresh off the boat, and not sure where to live in Amsterdam? Our handy guide to Amsterdam’s districts gives you a good rundown of each area’s vibe, transportation options, and of course price range.
The city has historically been a safe haven that welcomes all: citizens of 180 different nationalities are currently calling Amsterdam home. With its old-world charm and its compact layout, it is easy to explore and settle into. You can ride your bike pretty much anywhere. Too much rain or wind for your biking taste? The city also has top-notch public transport infrastructure. For timetables and prices, you can check the GVB‘s website.
Every neighborhood has its own appeal, and even within neighborhoods the atmosphere can change from street to street. This guide introduces the seven districts of Amsterdam, to help you start your search for a new home. If you want more in-depth information about specific neighborhoods, read our Amsterdam neighborhood guide.
Most Amsterdammers, whether local or imported, live in city apartments. Space comes at a premium: either you pay top-price, or you move further outside the dreamy half-moon shaped city centre. Luckily, there is an excellent network of trains and buses that makes commuting an easy task.
In short, if you are looking for:
- Nightlife and culture, stick to the city center and the cozy East
- Accommodation on a (student) budget, your best bets are West and North
- A green oasis, head further out to New West
- Peace, quiet and family life, then look around Amsterdam South
- The urban feel, it reigns supreme in Southeast Amsterdam
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Stadsdeel Centrum: Amsterdam center
If you are looking for the hustle and bustle of the city, then the city center is for you. In the area that fans out from Amsterdam Central train station, you’ll find everything: From fine dining, to fast-food joints, and from theaters to nightclubs. There are also plenty of smaller museums to discover along the canal houses. As an extra, you may just end up living in a monumental, albeit charmingly small (and probably crooked), Amsterdam canal house.
City center at a glance
- Costs: Location, location, location comes at a price. Depending on proximity to Dam square or Central Station, a two-bedroom apartment can be anywhere from €2,000-3,500 per month.
- Commuting: The public transport network covers the city center, and Central Station is the hub for trams, metro and (regional) buses.
- Parking: The small streets and proximity to the canals make it an endeavor to drive, and especially find parking. The high fees for parking (currently €7,50 per hour) make the bike a much better, and more sustainable option.
- Recreation: From the Opera House to museums and from movie theatres to comedy shows, the city center of Amsterdam has a diverse offering of cultural and entertainment activities. Many these activities are also available in English.
- Shopping and food: The busiest shopping area of Amsterdam, the Kalverstraat, has a wide assortment of international clothing chains. But there is also plenty to find for the boutique shopper, and for the antiques or art enthusiast (check out the Jordaan or Nine Streets). From fine dining to hamburger joints, you’ll find something for everyone here.
- General impression: This part of town is busy day and night, honestly quite marred by the throngs of tourists, but it is postcard-perfect.
- Fun fact: Amsterdam’s Opera House also doubles as the main offices for the municipality!
Amsterdam Oost: take a walk on the East side
As tourism has spread from the city center, Amsterdam East has become more popular both among locals and among tourists. The area is quite broad and includes both old developments and newly-minted buildings. The University of Amsterdam is here, so students continue to shape the area – although families and young professionals are also looking to the East.
East side at a glance
- Costs: While more affordable than the center, a two-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam Oost can range from €1,700 to €2,700.
- Commuting: The public transport network is also quite comprehensive here, and the city center is within biking distance. Train stations Amstel, Muiderpoort and Science Park link Amsterdam with the east of the Netherlands.
- Parking: There is more parking availability in Amsterdam East than in the center, but it is not much cheaper. This area is definitely recognizable because of the many students whizzing by on their bikes. Newer housing developments may however include parking facilities.
- Recreation: Several large city parks, including the Flevopark and the Oosterpark are located in Oost. The Jaap-Eden Baan is great for indoor ice-skating, and you can swim lanes at the Sportfondsenbad. Ijburg is known for its water sports.
- Shopping and food: There is an open-air mall, Oostpoort, and many smaller shopping spaces. With throngs of students and young professionals living and working in the area, many cafés and bars mix in with some higher-end options.
- General impression: Amsterdam East is very diverse. Suburban Ijburg meets innovative Science Park and older residential areas such as leafy Plantage, so you can find surprising living spaces on every corner.
- Fun fact: The oldest zoo in the Netherlands, Artis, with its planetarium, is located in this area.
The second most populous area of the city, it was first designed to house workers. As housing demands grow, it now welcomes everyone who is looking for an affordable place to live in Amsterdam. Both Oud West (the older part of West, near the center) and Nieuw West (a bit further out, where new developments are sprouting to accommodate immigrant influx) are going through massive city-planning restoration projects, all with lofty goals of sustainability and livability.
Oud West at a glance
- Costs: In up-and-coming areas like the Kolenkit neighborhood, rents are lower than in the center or east, between €1,500 and 2,200. There are some pockets where high rises and penthouses, not allowed in many other areas, can go for much, much more.
- Commuting: The public transport network is also quite comprehensive here, and the city center is within biking distance. Sloterdijk train station links Amsterdam to the west of the country, including Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam – and Schiphol airport.
- Parking: There is more parking availability in Amsterdam West, and it is cheaper than parking in the center. The newer buildings often have covered parking, but that is not the case for the older areas of west.
- Recreation: Westerpark is the breeding grounds for innovation, and the location of some of the most popular festivals in the city. Rembrandtpark is a green area, popular with runners and home to the oldest petting zoo in town.
- Shopping and food: The food scene in Amsterdam West is varied. You can find anything from shoarma joints to upscale coffee places. A good place for eating, shopping, or catching a movie is De Hallen, a re-purposed tram depot and the beating cultural heart of West.
- General impression: This is one of the most diverse areas where you can live in the Amsterdam ring. Close enough to the city center on a bike, and relatively affordable, West is a good mix of livability and city life.
- Fun fact: Westergas is a former gas factory that underwent a very thorough cleaning. Now, it offers a space for sustainable entrepreneurs to develop and test their ideas.
Stadsdeel Nieuw West
The name is slightly misleading, as the New West expansion of the city date from 1935. Construction began in the 1950s, and new neighborhoods were being created as recently as the 1990s. But by the 2000s, in light of the housing shortages, some of these green areas have given way to high rises.
Amsterdam New West at a glance
- Costs: You can find a small family house or a large apartment (compared to other areas), for €1,300 to 2,000.
- Commuting: Metro, tram, and bus connect New West to the rest of Amsterdam and cities east of the Netherlands, as does Lelylaan train station.
- Parking: Properties generally include parking options, or have reasonable street parking. Biking to the city center may take up to one hour, depending on how far West you live.
- Recreation: If you like water sports, then Sloterplas is the place to be! There are also a few theatres and entertainment options, but this is mostly a residential neighborhood.
- Shopping and food: While you will find some small shopping centers alongside neighborhood shops, odds are you will have to get closer to the center to get more specific stuff.
- General impression: New West offers green and spacious living quarters for those who don’t mind being further away from the action. Popular among families, as the city’s population grows, it has become an area of choice to live in Amsterdam.
- Fun fact: Sloten was first mentioned in 1063, which might make it older than Amsterdam!
Right across the water from Amsterdam Central Station, this collection of former fishing villages mixes rather well with new developments. The space mirrors the half-moon of Amsterdam, but has much more green than its counterpart across the water. A free ferry ride, or a quick metro ride in the brand new North-South line take you to the city center in less time than you say Buikslotermeer.
Amsterdam North at a glance
- Costs: If you are looking for a bit more space, then Noord may be up your alley. A two-bedroom tends to be more spacious in North than elsewhere in town, running from €1,200 to 1,800.
- Commuting: North is mainly connected through buses. In the summer of 2018, the area got a new connection to the city center, South and soon Schiphol airport, through the North-South metro line. Free ferries link the northern shores to the city center as well.
- Parking: Since the area covering Amsterdam North is quite large, parking is more widely available and inexpensive. Nevertheless, this doesn’t hold for all parts of North – especially the older ones.
- Recreation: Amsterdam North lives and breathes creativity. From the impressive EYE Film Museum, to the NDSM Werf skating park and the Ceuvel, there are plenty of options for creative city dwellers.
- Shopping and food: The abundance of butchers, bakers and grocers are a throwback to the quiet fishing villages original to Amsterdam North. The largest flea market in Europe, the IJ-Hallen, is a treasure trove for bargain hunters.
- General impression: Noord is slowly but surely changing as more creatives and families move across the water. Nevertheless, it retains the old charm of traditional neighborhoods, and mixes it up with the new for an unexpected mish-mash.
- Fun fact: If you don’t live in North, you can still take the ferry – which takes all of three minutes – and explore the trendy area.
South of the border: Amsterdam Zuid
This area began to be developed according to the 1917 Plan Zuid. The broad streets and distinctive staircases, have become a trademark of Amsterdam, making it a popular area for expats to live, because of the vicinity to international schools. While select Oud Zuid (old South) near the Museumplein boasts prices that have made it a residential staple of the Amsterdam bourgeoisie, the neighborhood becomes a lot more affordable as you move towards its borders with Amstelveen.
Stadsdeel Zuid at a glance
- Costs: The classy charm of this area comes at a price. A two-bedroom apartment can go for anywhere between €2,500 and 4,000, depending on the neighborhood.
- Commuting: Amsterdam Zuid is located in the area between the city center and Amstelveen. One of Amsterdam’s main train stations, Station Zuid, is located here, and there is a rapid tram connection to Amstelveen. Both the center and Amstelveen are within biking distance, and trams can also take you anywhere you wish pretty much directly.
- Parking: Driving is difficult in some neighborhoods and parking can be costly and difficult to find.
- Recreation: Zuid is home to Amsterdam’s most famous city park, the Vondelpark, as well as the Museum Square, where you can find Dutch and international art from Rembrandt, Van Gogh and more contemporary artists.
- Shopping and food: There are a few shopping malls in Zuid. And there are plenty of restaurants, from everyday eateries to Michelin restaurants in the area. For shopping, those looking for designer brands can head straight to the chic (and slightly garishly nouveau riche) P.C. Hoofstraat. For more pedestrian shopping, the Gelderlandplein mall is touted as the biggest in Europe.
- General impression: This is a quiet, residential neighborhood, with the architecture that characterizes Amsterdam, and the prices to match. The population here is a mix of expats and locals.
- Fun fact: Some of the best Japanese, Korean and Kosher restaurants in the city can be found in the further parts of Zuid, as these communities have made Amsterdam South their home.
Zuidoost: Amsterdam Southeast
The local football team, Ajax, plays at the Amsterdam Arena. The stadium is surrounded by concert venues, office buildings and urban developments with forward-looking architecture. There are about 150 nationalities living in the area, and especially in the summer, Caribbean vibes float in the air.
Amsterdam Southeast at a glance
- Costs: Since the area is further away from the center and not an easy bike ride away, prices tend to be lower. For around €1,000 you can get a two-bedroom relatively close to a metro station. The closer you are to Bijlmer train station, the more you should expect to pay, with units going for around €1,600 for a two-bedroom.
- Commuting: Southeast Amsterdam has good metro and regional bus connections, and station Bijlmer-Arena is a portal to the east of the Netherlands.
- Parking: The area has more parking options than elsewhere, and many who live here use a car. There is an abundance of car parks, to service the concert and sports venues in the area.
- Recreation: If you are a soccer fan, and your heart beats faster from Ajax, this is the place to be. And venues like AFAS and the Ziggo Dome cater to fans of world-famous artists. In summer, Kwaku festival enhances the multicultural feel of the place.
- Shopping and food: Around public holidays, you’ll see locals pay a visit to South East, in search of furniture, from Ikea to the most upscale brands. Restaurants are slowly making an appearance. For daily shopping, there are a few chain shops, and some open air markets on specific days of the week.
- General impression: If you like modern architecture, this is a good place to be. If you want to live in Amsterdam but work in the east of the Netherlands, this may be a good home base.
- Fun fact: This district is an exclave, as it does not border any other districts of Amsterdam! It is located between the municipalities of Diemen, Duivendrecht, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel and de Ronde Venen.