Amsterdam Neighbourhoods and Districts at a Glance

Amsterdam has around 800 000 residents and is divided into seven districts. Each district combines several neighbourhoods. On this page you will find out everything about our favorite parts of the beautiful canal city.

The seven city districts of Amsterdam

The seven districts in Amsterdam are: The lively Centrum, West, the green Nieuw-West, the diverse North (Noord), the multicultural Oost, the hot area Zuidoost and Amsterdam Zuid with the scene quarter De Pijp and the Museum Quarter.

Amsterdam Centrum - The Heart of the Metropolis

Amsterdam Centrum is the pulsating heart of this enchanting city. As soon as you exit the train station, which forms the Northern edge of the center, you will be captured by the hustle and bustle of the lively metropolis.

The beautiful center of Amsterdam

Amsterdam Centrum could well be considered a large unique open-air museum, shaped by tilted timbered houses, small bridges and enchanting canals. Numerous modern cafés, stylish shops and the relaxed lifestyle of the Amsterdammers, attract millions of curious visitors each year.

Tipp

Download our free Amsterdam City Map in PDF format. On the clearly arranged map you will find all important neighbourhoods, sights and streets in the city centre of Amsterdam.

The famous ring of canals spreads star-shaped from the train station in the north, with the three main canals Herengracht, Keizersgracht und Prinsengracht. Endless smaller and larger canals in between are eagerly waiting for you to come and explore them.

Many beautiful attractions in the city center

The large number of attractions in the Centrum leaves you spoilt for choice - where to go first? Our tip: Have a look at our recommendations, do not plan for too much and better visit Amsterdam a second or third time.

Amongst the most popular attractions in the center, you will find the Anne Frank Haus, the Red Light District or the Oude Kerk. And of course, there are many, many more - also outside of the center.

Welcome to shopping paradise

As you would expect from a metropolis, Amsterdam also has a busy main shopping street - no, wait, there are actually two in the center! The Nieuwendijkstraat starts directly at the train station and merges into the Kalverstraat. Its here where you will find large shopping malls and stores of world-renowned brands.

If alternative shops, second-hand stores and small boutiques are more your cup of tea, you will find what you are looking for in the small streets between the canals (e.g. in Negen Straatjes or Jordaan). We have compiled an overview over the best places to shop for you.

The best neighbourhoods in the Centrum

You will find many beautiful neighbourhoods in the center, each with their own charm. The popular neighbourhood Jordaan with its countless historic buildings and the numerous small cafés and stores offers something for you to discover on each corner.

Even though Jordaan is located in the Centrum, you may end up finding yourself all alone in a small alley during your walk - no tourists and metropolitan whirl in sight.

Centrally located, directly at the main station, there is the district around the Nieuwmarkt - Amsterdam´s Chinatown - that is usually a bit more hectic, but just as worth visiting.

You will recognize you made it to "Little China" when you see all the colourful signs with Chinese letters and street names in two languages. Check out the delicious Chinese restaurants, delicacy stores and exotic specialities along with cosy street cafés.

West - Social Hotspot and Upper Class Area

Amsterdam West borders on the Centrum and consists of many residential areas of different sizes. Some of them are considered social hotspots (e.g. Bos en Lommer), while others are home to the upper class.

Bos en Lommer - Amsterdam West - Photo by Jan - CC

The district Spaarndammerbuurt has many buildings in the style of the Amsterdam School, amongst others the most famous one - Het Ship. Another attraction in Amsterdam West is the popular Vondelpark.

Nieuw-West - Parks and a Huge Lake

In 2010, the neighbourhoods Geuzenveld-Slotermeer, Osdorp and Slotervaart were merged, forming what is known as Amsterdam Nieuw-West today.

Amsterdamer Gartenstädte

The original districts of today´s neighbourhood Nieuw-West were created as "Amsterdamer Gartenstädte" (Amsterdam garden cities) after the Second World War.

Slotervaart, Amsterdam Nieuw-West - Photo by Ovidiu Curcan - CC

The concept of the garden cities had been developed at the end of the 18th century in England. The purpose was to build new residential areas to improve the quality of life outside of the center of exploding metropolitan areas of the Industrial Revolution.

Beautiful Lakes and Parks

Today, the residents of the broad residential areas of Nieuw-West use the numerous green areas with their cycle tracks to go for a walk or have a picnic.

Rempbrandt Park in Nieuw-West - Photo by Florian van Hunnik - CC

Enthusiasts of water sports and fishing will also find what they are looking for. The Sloterzee is located right at the center of Nieuw-West - a large, artificially created lake that even has a small harbour for sailing boats.

Noord - Shipyards and Picturesque Villages

This neighbourhood spreads over a large area north of the city center. Take the back exit of the train station, and you will directly look towards Amsterdam Noord.

View over the IJ, Direction Noord - Photo by FaceMePLS - CC

To reach Noord, you will first have to cross the river IJ, which separates the North form the rest of the city.

The best way to do this is with the free GVB ferry. Until 1957, most of the northern neighborhoods were only accessible by ferry. Today, there are also several tunnels and bridges.

NDSM-Shipyard

One of the ferry terminals directly lies at the former shipyard of the NDSM (Netherlands Dok and Shipyard). Until the 60s, one could hear the shipyard workers hammering in the huge assembly halls of the ship building industry. Some of the largest titans of the oceans were manufactured here.

Street Art at NDSM - Photo by Henrik Mayor - CC

Today, numerous young, creative companies, cafés and restaurants populate the hangars. There are many of concerts, festivals and exhibitions organised throughout the year.

Picturesque villages as part of the city

Even further to the north, the city merges into rural areas with suburbs for families and many small villages.

Nieuwendam, Ransdorp and Zunderdorp are historic villages than can easily be explored walking, with a boat or with the bike. This area is shaped by "Stolpboerderij" (large farm houses with a high thatched roof), wooden houses, water canals, and lush green farmland.

Natural paradise Waterland - Photo by Cycletours - CC

The coast towards the sea is home to Waterland - a nature reserve with many kinds of birds and plants. Explore this area with a bike for an incredible view on the green landscape of dikes.

Oost Neighbourhoods - The Real Amsterdam

The neighbourhoods of Amsterdam Oost could not be more diverse. On one side, there is the new district Ijburg Island with stylish cafés, modern architecture and direct connection to the city. On the other side, it is shaped by multicultural residential and student areas, like the Indische Buurt and Dapperbuurt.

Indische Buurt - Lively, colourful and multicultural

The Indian quarter is certainly one of the most interesting in whole Amsterdam and originally was a working-class district for people working on the harbour. If you turn into Javastraat, the main shopping street, you will immediately recognize the delicious smell of freshly baked goods of the bakeries around.

Javastraat - The heart of Indische Buurt - Photo by Alper Cugun - CC

Interesting:

Many streets and neighbourhoods are named after former Dutch colonies. Besides the Javastraat, there are also Sumatrastraat and Balistraat.

The Indische Buurt is the city´s multicultural heart. Not so many tourists make there way here, and the selection of stores and groceries from all over the world is huge. 100 different languages are said to be spoken in this district.

Here are some photos that capture the beautiful atmosphere of the Indische Buurt: A Summer Day in the Indische Buurt.

Dapperbuurt - Amsterdam´s most delicious district

The district Dapperbuurt is especially well known for its colourful Dappermarkt. The large, lively market offers everything the heart of a foodie may desire - fresh, local products and stalls with delicious specialities from all over the world.

Stall at the Dappermarkt - Photo by Passion Leica - CC

You should definitely take a stroll over the market if you are in Amsterdam Oost. The best is to start in the Mauritskade (in the north) or in the Wijtenbachstraat (in the south) and simply walk towards the other end of the street.

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Dapperbuurt is the perfect place to go out for a meal - you will get to enjoy real Turkish kebab and fruity Indian curries. That is also a well-known secret to Amsterdam´s residents in the center, who often come here for lunch or dinner.

Zuidoost – A Troubled District?

Sad prefabricated buildings and grey concrete, rain and police sirens in the background - you are feeling as if you had landed right in a gangster movie.

Really, it is not that bad - and the situation is constantly improving. Zuidoost has been seen as a problem neighbourhood for a long time and is located a little bit outside and south-east of the center, not directly bordering the rest of the city area - a so-called exclave.

High-rise in Bijlmermeer - Photo by: Arden - CC

The rural areas and lakes around the central district Bijlmermeer were only developed and connected to Amsterdam in the 60s.

Bijlmermeer - Functional city

The urban development back then followed the ideas of the functional city of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier - high-rise districts and separation of the city into areas for living, working, recreation and transport.

Unfortunately, this concept had some major drawbacks. The strict separation of the different areas of life made some parts of the city turn into abandoned ghost areas. Only after a few years, Zuidoost was infamous for violence, crime and drugs. Bijlmermeer earned its reputation as the worst quarter of the whole Netherlands.

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Zuidoost hosts a yearly Kwaku Festival. Originally started as a football match by immigrants from Surinam, today the festival is a large multicultural funfair with music, dance, stalls and food.

With up to 500 000 visitors, the Kwaku Summer Festival is regarded the largest multicultural festival in Europe.

Since the 90s, the situation has improved little by little. Many high-rises were demolished and replaced by modern residential areas. Today, Bijlmer is a prime example for various cultures living together. There are people from more than 150 nation in the district.

Districts of Zuidoost: Bijlmermeer, Gaasperdam, Bullewijk (industrial area)

Zuid - Trendy Neighbourhood, Diamonds and Museums

Precious brick houses, museums, lively trendy neighbourhoods and spacious parks like the famous Vondelpark - Zuid is one of the most popular neighbourhoods of Amsterdam.

In 2010, the venerable neighbourhoods Oud-Zuid and Zuideramstel were merged to today´s Amsterdam Zuid. It is the quarter with the highest population density in Amsterdam and has the highest per-capita income.

De Pijp – Colourful trendy district

There is no better place than De Pijp if you want to have a stroll through the streets on a lovely summer day, stop in one of the cosy cafés and watch people passing by while having a delicious drink.

De Pijp - There is always something going on here at night - Photo by Franklin Heijnen - CC

De Pijp originally was a working-class district. Today, you will mainly find students, artists, and many young people living here. No wonder - you have to love De Pijp. The quarter sometimes seems to explode with the large number of people it attracts - and fancy shops, nice cafés, original Amsterdam pubs, and the Sarphatipark right in its middle that invites you for a moment of relaxation.

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The main streets Albert Cuypstraat or Ferdinand Bolstraat have great restaurants, especially for authentic Moroccan, Indian, Syrian or Libanese cuisine (to name only a few).

The Albert Cuypstraat in De Pijp is also home to the largest street market in Amsterdam, the Albert Cuypmarkt. There is nothing you cannot find here - cheese, vegetables, fruit, cheap clothes and a lot more. Unfortunately, it is getting a bit more dominated by trashy goods recently.

Just as with Jordaan, De Pijp also faces the problem of gentrification: Well-situated couples and rich fathers who buy their student kids stylish apartments let real estate prices blow up. Many original residents cannot afford the astronomic rents anymore.

Museumsquartier (museum quarter)

The Museumsquartier is another well-known district of Zuid. As the name suggests, you will find a plenty of museums here. The most popular ones are located around the Museumplein (museum square): The Civic Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. However, it is also worth having a look at the less famous ones that invite you to marvel, like the diamond museum or the movie museum.

Diamantbuurt

Some of the most precious jewels in the world got their finishing in the district of the diamond cutters during the 19th century. The impressive building of the diamond polishing company Asscher towers above the end of the Diamantstraat. The world´s largest diamond, the Cullinan Diamond, was polished here.

Interesting:

Many street in the Diamantbuurt are named after precious gems: Robinstraat, Saffierstraat, Smaragdstraat, Topasstraat and Diamantstraat.

Amsterdam has a long history as city of diamonds. Learn all about the glamorous stones and have a look at the high-carat collection in the Diamond Museum.

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