Half of the fun in traveling is not knowing what to expect when you arrive. Although you usually hope for pleasant surprises, like a farmers market across the street from your hotel or a delicious mom and pop restaurant next door. Finding your hotel in a back alley with some unwelcoming lurkers hanging around, can put a damper on things.
After a few days in a city, you can pretty quickly pick up where you should and should not stay – but nothing beats a locals perspective. Which is why we are digging into where to stay in Amsterdam! I lived in Amsterdam for a year while studying at the University of Amsterdam, specifically one street away from Westerpark.
During that year, I got a good idea of some of the best places to stay in Amsterdam. We will of course be going over some of our favorites like Westerpark, Canal Ring, and Oud West. But we are also going to dive into some areas you should avoid, or at least not book a hotel in, like the Red Light District. Continue reading to find a neighborhood that will fit your trip perfectly.
Where should I stay in Amsterdam for the first time?
Your first time in Amsterdam you are going to want to see and do all of the more popular attractions – even if they are “touristy”. So we suggest checking out Canal Ring, or Grachtengordel.
Here you are going to get those classic canals and architecture Amsterdam is known for. This area also has:
- Anne Frank House – Now a museum, walk through the home where Anne Frank hid during WW2. If you do hope to include this in your trip, try to do it first since lines can be long and there is a limited number of visitors allowed in the museum at one time.
- Floating Flower Market – Holland is known for its flowers, so the floating flower market is a must for those visiting. If you want to see tulips, be sure you are going during a time of the year when they are blooming. Check out our post about the best time to travel the Netherlands for more information.
- The Amstel – Lovely area to walk around or cruise down a canal.
- De Poezenboot – A cat rescue that has turned into a bit of a sightseeing location.
- Herengracht – Beautiful canal with plenty of shops to stroll down.
If this is your first visit to Amsterdam and you plan on staying in Canal Ring, we suggest staying:
Shelter Jordan Amsterdam Hostel
An inexpensive hostel that has the BEST location. The entire facility feels very clean and friendly. The only downside is their internet often goes in and out, which can be difficult if you do not have a European phone or internet plan.
The average price per night is €57
Click here to book the Shelter Jordan Amsterdam Hostel via booking.com
Jackie O Studio
A modest hotel in a good location, offers clean and functional living space. It is a 5-minute walk from the Anne Frank house which can be especially nice. Oftentimes the Anne Frank house has very long lines, so staying close to the museum can cut down on how early you need to wake up.
The average price per night is €165
Click here to book Jackie O Studio via booking.com
Where should I not go in Amsterdam?
There have been times we have traveled to certain cities and everything seems fine during the day but at night you feel on edge. Sometimes you think a location is ideal since it is close to a museum you want to see, but there are no restaurants around. Whatever the reason may be, as travel bloggers we hope to prevent this disappointing situation for you guys.
Binnenstad – Red Light District
Like many major cities, Amsterdam has a Red Light District. Unfortunately, there are a few things tourists need to look out for when visiting. It is not uncommon to see illegal hard drugs being sold or pickpockets preying on tourists. This sort of activity does happen during the day, but it can really pick up at night.
Tourists who do visit the area should be well aware of crowded trains, subways, and popular tourist attractions where pickpockets target. It also does not hurt to try and dress like the locals. Carrying around large cameras, wearing sports memorabilia of your home team, or traveling in large groups all can signal to pickpockets you may not be aware of their tricks.
So, this place is nice to visit, but you better not book a hotel in this district. Especially not when you plan on getting back to you hotel room late at night.
Which Part of Amsterdam is The Best Place to Stay?
Whenever we revisit cities we have already been, we prefer to go for a more local feel. So if this isn’t your first trip to Amsterdam, we suggest Oud West. Staying in this part of the city you will be able to go back to some of those popular spots that are always fun to see but getting a more local feel. For example, the Jordaan and 9 Straatjes.
One of the main attractions of Oud West is Da Foodhallen, it is like the Chelsea Market of Amsterdam. It is a large building with tons of food stalls so you can quickly taste test all the food! We recommend checking out Petit Gateau and the Wine, Gin, & Tonic bar. If that isn’t enough reason to stay in Oud West, then I don’t know what is.
Overall, the area has started to become more urban but not so much that it feels too touristy – something tourists have ironically been more drawn to. This has made it pretty easy to find some reasonably priced places to stay. We suggest checking out…
If you are minimalist on a budget, Hotel Abba has everything you need. The property is smoking friendly, super close to the city center, and has a tram stop right outside the hotel. While it is called “Hotel” Abba – there is certainly a hostel feel. Ask for a private bathroom if you don’t mind spending a few more Euros.
The average price for a night is €55
You can book Hotel Abba here on booking.com
Conscious Hotel Vondelpark
This hotel is both fashionable and eco-friendly. They have all these sorts of nifty little ways they save on energy like LED lamps and water-saving showerheads. Something that is more unique to the city of Amsterdam is bike rentals. You cannot help but notice how popular bikes are, so being able to rent a bike from your hotel is a total plus!
The average price for a night is €129
You can book this the Conscious Hotel Vondelpark on booking.com via this link
Some Neighborhoods We Love
We love the entire city of Amsterdam! Especially the two neighborhoods we already mentioned – Oud West and Canal Ring. But there are other great neighborhoods too you may enjoy! Here is a quick look at some other fun places to consider when planning your trip.
We of course have to talk about Westerpark. I loved living there and found lots to do in this neighborhood while studying in Amsterdam.
If you are visiting in the summer, check out the Westergas. It is an area where they host regular markets, culinary fairs, and music festivals. Even in some of the cooler months, they may have something going on. It is worth checking the calendar to see if there is an event that interests you.
For food and drink, there are a lot of breweries and restaurants in the area. Beer tours are popular, whether you want to do one with an agency or bar hop on your own. For food, be sure to check out some seafood. The area is known for it, so you will definitely find some good fish. Below you’ll find some incredible beer tours! Simply click on one to get an overview of all possibilities.
A fun restaurant to check out is the REM Eiland. It is located in an old sea rig, 22 meters over the water. The rig used to be a pirate radio and TV station – which only makes it even cooler! It is not going to be a cheap meal, but is fairly priced for a cool experience.
Real talk – We almost picked Jordaan as the best neighborhood to stay in when visiting Amsterdam.
Your first time staying in a big city, you should definitely stay near the popular tourist spots. The second time we like to shake things up and live a bit more like the locals. Which is exactly what you will find in Jordaan.
There is plenty of public transportation if you wish to travel to the other side of the city. There is also a lot you can simply walk to like Noordermarket, Westerstraat, and Haarlemmerstraat. These are popular areas where you can grab something to eat or do some of the best shopping.
Oud Zuid will certainly attract a specific group of people. If you like spending your time in museums and eating at high-end restaurants, this neighborhood is for you. The streets are quiet, so you can take nice long walks admiring the architecture of the buildings. If shopping is your thing, know the stores in the area are going to be expensive as well.
The majority of the hotels are in the higher price range. So if you would like to visit, walking, biking, and general public transportation is more doable.
De Pijp is known as being very blended with a lot of culture and diversity in the area. It used to have more of a working-class population but that is starting to go away. Now, you will find a ton of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, especially those with Syrian or Moroccan themes.
If you are looking for something to do in this neighborhood, a lot of people enjoy The Albert Cuyp Market. There are enough shops to keep you busy all day. But only from Monday to Saturday, from 09:00 – 17:00. Sunday you will have to find another market to explore!
Plantage & East
If you are looking for a bit of relaxation then Plantage & East is a relaxing spot where you can get plenty of fresh air. The majority of the area is residential. However, as you walk through the streets it is common to see parks, a zoo, or a botanical garden. There are a few coffee shops if you need a pick-me-up, but this is overall a neighborhood to take things easy.
Plantage & East can be a quick retreat, but if you are looking to escape the city we created a list with some incredible day trips outside of Amsterdam you should take advantage of.
This area used to be for Amsterdam’s warehouses and ports. Unfortunately, the economy in the area was pretty bad and struggled for a while. Luckily, things started to see a big improvement with artists using the space to get creative and display all sorts of pieces.
The art does draw in some tourists and the tram system makes this possible no matter where you are staying. Aside from the cultural centers and art galleries, nightclubs and bars also are scattered throughout the docklands.
Some Hotels We Love
Apart from the great neighborhoods that are all super unique, there are some hotels we thought are worth pointing out.
Neighbourhood: Amsterdam Noord
Average price of: €92/night for 2 people
Book the Bunk Hotel here with booking.com
Let’s see how adventurous you are! This hotel once used to be a church. It is pretty obvious since the new owners didn’t do much to renovate…I mean, there is a giant T-rex in the lobby. Who knows if that was there before or if they just painted him purple.
Located in Amsterdam Noord, this hotel is all fun. Their unique layout and spaces are totally for the traveler who wants something a little bit different. They have many lodging options, from renting a bed with a hostel like feel, to a private room and bathroom. In the area you will find plenty of cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs to keep you busy.
Twenty Five BnB
Neighborhood: City Center of Amsterdam
Average price of €92/ night
Book Twenty Five BNB here on booking.com
This hotel is located in the city center and has all the sort of amenities any traveler would love. If you are arriving in Amsterdam by plane, an airport shuttle is available. Being a BnB, it offers breakfast to those staying.
After you eat you can take a quick 9-minute walk to the Anne Frank House. Some other options are the Royal Palace, 0.7 miles away, or the Flower Market, 1.2 miles off the property. There is, of course, plenty more because of the BnB’s location in the city center. If you are interested in nightlife, architecture, and do not mind walking, the city center neighborhood is ideal for you.
Hotel JL No76
Neighborhood: Oud Zuid
Average price of €138 / night
Book Hotel JL No76 here on booking.com
This hotel is a 4-star hotel making it a bit pricier than some of the other ones we mentioned, but we would consider it mid-tier when you look at the other hotels in the area. It is located in Oud Zuid, where hotels and shopping are more expensive. The rooms are very pretty with a boutique feel. Each morning a buffet breakfast is available.
Because Hotel JL No76 is in Oud Zuid, you are going to be close to some great museums. The Museumplein and Van Gogh museum is only 5 minutes away. You can also combine the Van Gogh Museum with an open boat cruise on the canals as a half-day tour for only €34. While Leidse Square is only a few hundred feet away. If you wish to travel beyond that, the hotel has bicycles that are available for rent.
Neighborhood: City Center of Amsterdam
Average price: €106
Book the ITC Hotel here on booking.com
ITC Hotel is an awesome option for the budget-friendly traveler. Their modest rooms, decent price, and city center location, making it very practical. There are many different pricing options. Like you can save a bit more money by sharing a bathroom and having a single room. If you prefer a private bathroom, that option is available as well.
There are a few fun spots that are only a short walk away. There is the Rembrandt Square, Leidseplein, The Hermitage Museum, and Heineken Experience that are not too far. If you are a beer lover, then you have to do the Heineken Experience! It is so much more than just a beer tasting and a fun thing to do if the weather isn’t great.
For more information about how much it cost to travel around in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, check out our budget post for the Netherlands.
We Love to Hear From You
I hope after reading this post you have a good idea of where you would like to stay on your next trip to Amsterdam. There are a lot of places to choose from, but trust us when we tell you, you will probably find a place you love. Have a hotel or neighborhood in Amsterdam you just love and want to share? Let us know in the comments where you think we should stay next time!
If you want to have more information, check out our page with lots of more posts about the Netherlands. Or check out our travel tips!