neighborhood in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Binnenstad is the medieval heart of Amsterdam. It is where most foreign visitors arrive and leave, and has a lot of the city's prime attractions.

Understand edit

Most visitors arrive in Amsterdam at the Centraal Station, and then walk south over the Damrak and Rokin. In medieval times, both roads actually were the final stretch of the Amstel River that used to cut Amsterdam in half. East of the Damrak-Rokin-axis was the Oudezijde ("Old Side") of Amsterdam, the oldest part of the city dating from the 13th century. West of the Damrak-Rokin-axis was the Nieuwezijde ("New Side"), which was constructed later, but still dates from the late Middle Ages. Damrak used to be a busy harbour where loads of ships docked, bringing valuable spices with them from the Dutch East Indies. Nowadays, together with Rokin, it's the glue that holds both sides of the city together, and the endless line of tacky souvenir shops won't give a hint about the street's history as a trading quarter.

The division between the Oudezijde and the Nieuwezijde never completely faded, and both have a lot to offer for visitors. The Oudezijde is led by the Warmoesstraat, the oldest street of Amsterdam. It started out as a residential street for the wealthy, but they moved to the Canal District in the 17th century and commerce has been its driving force since. The Red Light District is in the same area, at the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, and dates back to the 14th century. Lustful sailors have been replaced by hordes of curious tourists. The city authorities are not pleased with this and proposed new bye-laws are intended to encourage visitors to take a more cultured interest in the area’s other attractions.

Adjacent to it is the Nieuwmarkt, a large square with plenty of cafes which is also the hub of a Chinese neighborhood (though it's smaller than Chinatowns in other cities). The Zeedijk particularly offers some great Asian restaurants and snack joints. The Nieuwezijde is known for Dam Square, with the Nieuwe Kerk ("New Church") and the pompous Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis), that was once the city hall but turned into a palace by Napoleon's brother (and still a touchy subject among the city's residents). Around it are the city's prime shopping areas with the Kalverstraat, Nieuwendijk and the bars at the Spui.

The area east of the Nieuwmarkt, now known as the Nieuwmarktbuurt, was built outside of the city's medieval walls. Part of it is known as the Jodenbuurt ("Jewish neighborhood"). As the Netherlands had a relatively high level of religious freedom from the 16th century onwards, many Jewish communities had migrated to this area. In the 1920s this was one of the busiest areas of town with large open-air markets and smoky factories. This changed in World War II, when Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands and those of Jewish heritage were deported to concentration camps. The area went into decay and even today isn't quite as interesting as one might hope. It turned into a big traffic junction, but the Jewish Historical Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) keeps the history of the neighborhood alive.

Next to the more official cultural venues, the Binnenstad offers a lot of forgettable (and overpriced) tourist traps. Damrak has the Sex Museum and one of two torture museums, and in the Red Light District you can find the Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum.

Get in edit

By tram edit

Amsterdam tram & metro system

The tram is the best way to get around the area. Amsterdam Centraal railway station at the north of the Binnenstad is the centre of Amsterdam's public transport network and most tram lines start, finish or pass through it. These are the tram lines serving the Binnenstad district as of January 2020:

  • Tram line  2  runs from Nieuw Sloten in West district via Leidseplein and Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Tram line  4  runs from Station RAI in Zuid district via Rembrandtplein and Dam Square (Nieuwezijde) to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Tram line  12  runs from Amstelstation in Oost district via Museum Quarter (Museumplein), Leidseplein and Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Tram line  13  runs from Geuzenveld in the West district via Westermarkt and Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Tram line  14  runs from Flevopark in Oost district via Rembrandtplein, Waterlooplein (Jodenbuurt), and Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal. Get out at the stop Waterlooplein for the flea market or at Mr Visserplein for the Jodenbuurt, the Esnoga and the Rembrandt House.
  • Tram line  17  runs from Osdorp Dijkgraafplein in the West district via Westermarkt and Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Tram line  24  runs from VUMC in the Zuid district passing the Olympic Stadium, De Pijp (Albert Cuyp Market, Marie Heinekenplein), the southern Canal District, Muntplein and Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • Tram line  26  runs from IJburg in the Eastern Docklands (Oostelijk Havengebied), Oost district via Rietlandpark to Amsterdam Centraal.

By metro edit

The metro serves the central axis and the eastern end of the Binnenstad and connect it with the outer boroughs of Amsterdam. The metro lines serve only few notable tourist attractions, but can be used as a fast way to get to or from the outer railway stations. All lines serve Amsterdam Centraal Station, three of them also stop at railway station Amsterdam Amstel. Lines M51 and M52 cover the Zuid district and stop at railway station Amsterdam Zuid, while line M54 covers Zuidoost and stops at railway station Amsterdam Bijlmer-ArenA.

Four metro stops are located in the district: Centraal Station, Nieuwmarkt, Waterlooplein and Rokin. If you don't feel like walking, you can get on any train from the lines M51, M53 or M54 at Centraal Station and get out at the first stop for the Nieuwmarkt and the Oudezijde, including Chinatown and the Red Light District. Line M52 connects Centraal Station and Rokin with the Canal District, De Pijp and the Zuidas.

Three forms of transportation: The landmark Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station, a tram, and a boat in a canal

See edit

Amsterdam is a living museum with an architectural landscape that has changed little since the 17th century. Many vistas in Rembrandt's paintings, such as at the Geldersekade, are still largely similar as of this day. As such, Amsterdam is best experienced by getting lost in the city's old tiny corridors. Those rushing through busy shopping streets like Damrak and Kalverstraat don't do the city justice and miss the city's historic air.

Royal Palace at Dam Square

Landmarks edit

  • 1 Amsterdam Centraal railway station, Stationsplein (tram or metro Centraal Station). This beautiful building is an attraction in itself, so if you did not arrive in Amsterdam by train, it is well worth making a special trip to look at the station's facade. The station was built between 1881 and 1889 on three artificial islands. It was designed by Pierre Cuypers who also designed the Rijksmuseum in a similar neo-late-Gothic/Renaissance style. At the time, the project was highly controversial as the new station would effectively cut off the city from the IJ waterfront. Politicians in The Hague pushed it through anyway, and now it is widely regarded as the most beautiful station in the country.    
Beurs van Berlage seen from the Damrak
  • 2 Beurs van Berlage (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam). Take a guided tour and check out the view from the top of the old stock exchange tower. It was built in 1903 (by Hendrik Petrus Berlage) and is considered the beginning of modern Dutch architecture. Costs €3.50, located on Beursplein near Dam Square.    
  • 3 Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis), Dam (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Dam), +31 20 620-4060. Daily 12:00–17:00. The Royal Palace is one of the three official palaces of the Netherlands. It is at the disposal of King Willem-Alexander by the Act of Parliament. It was built in 1651 as the city hall of Amsterdam, in a period known as the Dutch Golden Age. Many school children learn that because of the swampy soil, it was built on no less than 13,569 wooden poles. In 1795, the French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the Netherlands, and his brother Louis Napoleon became the first King of Holland in 1806. He acquired the city hall in that year and turned it into a royal palace. It was restored to the original owners when Prince William VI returned to the Netherlands in 1812, but when he was crowned as King William I, he decided that Amsterdam should be the official capital and acquired the city hall once again as a royal palace. This is still a delicate subject among the locals, some of whom would like to see the palace returned to Amsterdam. It was completely renovated in 2009. It is mainly used for diplomatic receptions and to welcome visiting heads of state, not as a royal residence. €12.50.    
  • 4 Nationaal Monument, Dam Square (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 251-4900. A large spire that functions as a memorial for the victims of World War II. It was designed by architect J.J.P. Oud and revealed on 4 May 1956. Every 4 May, at the Remembrance of the Dead, a ceremony is held here to commemorate all civilians and members of the Dutch armed forces that died in World War II and later armed conflicts.    

Churches and synagogues edit

  • 5 Begijnhof (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Spui). The Begijnhof is a late medieval enclosed courtyard with the houses of beguines (Roman Catholic women living in a semi-religious community). It is a very picturesque group of historic buildings, mostly private dwellings. House number 34 is the oldest home in Amsterdam. The courtyard also has a Reformed Church and a hidden Catholic chapel. Surprisingly, it feels like a serene oasis as it is surrounded by the chaotic Kalverstraat and Spui. Entry to the courtyard and surrounding gardens is free, but be careful not to disturb the local community still living here.    
  • 6 Esnoga (The Portuguese Synagogue), Mr. Visserplein 3 (tram 9 or 14 to Mr Visserplein), +31 20 624-5351. The most prominent synagogue of the city centre, the Esnoga dates back from 1675 and is built in an austere Classicist style. In 1492, Spain expelled its Jewish population as part of the Inquisition, and many fled to Portugal. One hundred years later, their descendants migrated to Amsterdam for its religious freedom. This happened at a time when the Dutch provinces were fighting for independence against Spain. As to avoid being related to the enemy, these Jewish refugees originally from Spain began to refer to themselves as "Portuguese Jews". In the early 16th century, the three Jewish communities that existed at the time merged to form the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam, which still exists today. They were joined by Ashkenazi Jews that arrived from Central and Eastern Europe in the 17th century, together forming the largest Jewish community in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Shabbat services are held regularly.    
  • 7 Nieuwe Kerk, Dam (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Dam), +31 20 638-6909. Daily 10:00-17:00, last admission 16:00. Used for royal coronations, including the crowning of King Willem-Alexander in 2013, and royal weddings, including his wedding to princess Máxima in 2002. The church is no longer used for services but is now a popular exhibition space. Admissions are limited: by tickets online to reserve a space. By credit/debit card only: adult €19.50, student/youth €9.50, child under 12 free, free with Museumkaart.    
  • 8 Oude Kerk, Oudezijds Voorburgwal (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam, metro 51, 53 or 54 to Nieuwmarkt). The oldest of the five main churches in the historic centre, and probably the oldest building in Amsterdam. It is right in the heart of the Red Light District. You can climb the tower from April to September on Saturday and Sunday, every half-hour. Also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 10 people) cost €70 per hour. E-mail for more information.    
  • 9 Zuiderkerk, Zuiderkerkhof 72 (metro Nieuwmarkt, tram 9 or 14 to Mr Visserplein, walk along Jodenbreestraat), . Built in 1603-1611. Located on Zuiderkerkhof ("Southern Graveyard"). Now an information centre on housing and planning. You can visit the tower from April to September Monday to Saturday (with guide only) every half-hour, cost €6. Also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 15 people) cost €70 per hr. E-mail for more information.    
Amsterdam's coat of arms over the entrance to the Amsterdam Museum

Museums edit

Rembrandt House
  • 10 Allard Pierson Museum, Oude Turfmarkt 127 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Spui), +31 20 525-2556. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 13:00-17:00. The Allard Pierson Museum is the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam. The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Cyprus, the Greek world, Etruria and the Roman Empire are revived in this museum. Art objects and utensils, dating from 4000 B.C. till 500 A.D. give a good impression of everyday life, mythology and religion in Antiquity. €6.50.    
  • 11 Amsterdam Museum, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 357 or Kalverstraat 92 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Spui), +31 20 523-1822. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 11:00-17:00. A museum about the history of Amsterdam. €10.    
  • 12 Civic Guards Gallery (Schuttersgalerij), Kalverstraat 92 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Spui), +31 20 523-1822. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 11:00-17:00. Just inside the arched gateway to the Amsterdam Museum is a hidden passageway with fifteen enormous 17th-century paintings; entrance is free to the public during museum hours. The collection features massive and meticulously realistic portraits of wealthy citizens from the Dutch Golden Age, the same class of subjects Rembrandt depicted in the most famous of Civic Guard paintings, the "Night Watch". Free.
  • 13 Jewish Historical Museum (Joods Historisch Museum), Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1 (tram 9 or 14, metro 51, 53 or 54 to Waterlooplein), +31 20 531-0310. 11:00-17:00 daily (except some Jewish holidays). Jewish Historical Museum. History of the Jewish people, culture and religion. €9.    
Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder
  • 14 Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40 (tram or metro Centraal Station), +31 20 624-6604. M-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 13:00-18:00. One of the oldest museums in Amsterdam, this is a Catholic church stuffed into the upper stories of a house built in 1663, when Catholics were persecuted and had to disguise their churches. It's amazing to see how they fit worshippers, an organ, and an altar into such a narrow place. €16,50.    
  • 15 Oranje Voetbal Museum, Kalverstraat 236 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Muntplein), +31 20 589-8989. Sa Su 11:00-15:00. The legacy of Dutch football started in the 1970s, when Total Football, a revolutionary Dutch style of football, shook the world. The Netherlands is the best football nation that never won the World Cup: it lost the final three times, a national trauma. It did win the European Cup in 1988 lead by star player Marco van Basten. This museum has four floors dedicated to "Oranje", and a small cinema that shows a 20-minute film with historic football moments. Especially recommended for Germans. €5.  
  • 16 Rembrandt House, Jodenbreestraat 4 (tram 9 or 14 to Waterlooplein, metro 51, 53 or 54 to Nieuwmarkt exit Nieuwe Hoogstraat), +31 20 520-0400. 10:00-17:00 daily. This is where the artist Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn and his wife, Saskia, lived between 1639 and 1658. The house is a reconstruction of the painter’s life at that time and provides interesting insight. You will be able to see 260 of his 290 etchings, find out about how they were created, see where he worked and explore the nooks and crannies of this fascinating building. €12.50.    

Do edit

Canal tour boats follow one another

As most attractions are clearly aimed at tourists, one of the best things to do is to wander. Get lost in the little side-streets, have a chat with the locals and just appreciate the beautiful architecture all around you. The Oudezijde lends itself especially well for exploring on foot. Of course, you can also rent a bicycle and get around the Dutch way.

Many visitors take a canal tour through the city centre. On these tours, a narrator will overload you with fun-facts as you're cruising along the city's beautiful buildings. A canal cruise costs around €15 for one hour, and many operators can be found along Damrak. However, there's no reason to actually do this—walking is free, more fun and more authentic.

  • 1 Amsterdam Music Theatre (Het Muziektheater), Waterlooplein 22 (tram 9 or 14, metro 51, 53 or 54 to Waterlooplein), +31 20 551-8117. M-F 12:00-18:00, Sa Su 12:00-15:00. Opera, dance, ballet and other performances. Holds a free lunch concert on Tuesdays.  

Attractions edit

NEMO's distinctive building
  • 2 NEMO, Oosterdok 2 (bus 32, 33 or 34 to Prins Hendrikkade/IJ-tunnel), +31 20 531-3233. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Above a tunnel overseeing the IJ, NEMO is the largest science museum in the Netherlands. It's a showcase of how scientific phenomena influence daily life. Different sections of the museum deal with technology and engineering, ICT, and bio- and behavioral sciences. This is a place to take kids and is best for those ages 11 and below—teenagers will probably get bored. And it is usually definitely full of children on weekends. During summer it has a panorama roof terrace on its roof with deckchairs with free entry. €11.50.    
  • 3 Gassan Diamonds, Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173-175 (tram 9 or 14 to Mr Visserplein, metro 51, 53 or 54 to Nieuwmarkt), +31 20 622-5333, . 09:00-17:00 daily. A guided tour is given that's all about the diamond production process and the history of diamond trade in Amsterdam. Diamonds have been traded in Amsterdam for longer than 425 years, and the city used to be known as the "City of Diamonds". Tours are given in 27 languages. Of course you can also buy Gassan diamonds here, but you don't have to. Free (the tour, not the diamonds).
  • 4 Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam, walk along the Damstraat and turn left at the second canal before crossing the bridge), +31 20 624-8926. 10:00-23:00 daily. Opened for over twenty years, the Hash Museum is dedicated to debunking the lies and demonization about one of our most useful plants, the hemp plant. Although small, busy and seriously overpriced, it is a well-done museum where people go to get informed. €9.    
  • 5 Sexmuseum, Damrak 18 (tram or metro Centraal Station), +31 20 622-8376. 09:00-22:00 daily. The largest and most prestigious museum for sex art and sex history in the Netherlands. It shows a lot of sex oddities. Only ages 16 and up are allowed entry. €4.    
  • 6 Madame Tussauds, Dam 20 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 522-1010. 10:00-18:30 daily. The well-known franchise of wax museums also has a branch in Amsterdam. It's a major tourist attraction so expect a steep entry fee and long queues. Unique to this branch are waxworks of famous Dutch people including Willem-Alexander, Beatrix, Tiësto, Rafael van der Vaart, Doutzen Kroes, Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt. €22.    
  • 7 Amsterdam Dungeon, Rokin 78 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Spui), +31 20 530-8500. 11:00-17:00 daily, 24 Dec-8 Jan 10:30-17:30 daily, 2 Jul-4 Sep 11:00-18;00 daily. The Amsterdam Dungeon is a horror tour through several dark chambers with live actors. It ends with a roller coaster raging through a real 13th century church. €21.    
  • 8 Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments, Damrak 33 (tram or metro Centraal Station), +31 20 528-6035. 09:00-22:00 daily. The latest gimmicky tourist attraction near the Centraal Station, it's a small museum about medieval torture and torture devices. In the Middle Ages, torture was a widely known punishment for almost all crimes committed, ranging from rape to murder, and above all for heresy. The type of punishment depended on the victim's crime and social status. The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments displays over 100 devices used to torture people. Before its make-over, it used to be the Vodka Museum; the vodka shop is still open in the basement with free entry. €12.50.
  • 9 Torture Museum, Singel 449 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Koningsplein), +31 20 320-6642. 10:00-23:00. You'd think one museum about torture would be enough, but no, not in Amsterdam. However, this was the first torture museum in the city centre, and is at least somewhat more authentic than the copycat. The museum depicts the history of different torturous techniques used over the centuries. The lighting is bad, the corridors are small and the price an absolute rip-off. You can walk through it in 15-30 minutes. €7.    

Buy edit

The Spui

Markets edit

  • 1 Spui (tram 2 or 12 to Spui). Fr 10:00-18:00. Every Friday and Sunday a market is held on the Spui. Friday has books on sale, while Sundays are all about art and antiques.
  • 2 Waterloopleinmarkt (tram 14, metro 51, 53 or 54 to Waterlooplein). M-Sa until about 17:00. A well-known but fairly overrated market near the city hall. Partly flea market, partly alternative and second hand clothing and accessories. More oriented towards tourists than to locals.

Book stores edit

  • 3 The American Book Center, Spui 12 (tram 2 or 12 to Spui), +31 20 625-5537. M-Sa 11:00-19:00, Su 11:00-18:00. Excellent shop for literature and books in the English language, particularly on American culture.
  • 4 Athenaeum Boekhandel, Spui 14-16 (tram 2 or 12 to Spui), +31 20 514-1460. M 12:00-18:00, Tu-W 10:00-18:00, Th-Sa 10:00-19:00, Su 12:00-17:30. One of the most renowned book stores of Amsterdam because of its wide array of fiction and more academic titles. It is very popular among local students; however, their study books are also interesting reading material for non-graduates. They have a particular large selection of books in the humanities, including history, media, language, culture and international relations. Also has a Newscentre with a wide variety of newspapers and magazines.
  • 5 The Book Exchange, Kloveniersburgwal 58 (metro 51, 53 or 54 to Nieuwmarkt, tram 4, 14, or 14 to Dam, walk along the Damstraat and turn right at the third canal before crossing the bridge), +31 20 626-6266. M-Sa 10:00-16:00, Su 11:30-16:00. A second-hand bookstore specialising in English books, and has a large selection, with an especially good selection of travel writing, detectives, and SF/fantasy.
  • 6 Waterstones, Kalverstraat 152 (tram 4, 14 or 24 to Rokin or tram 2 or 12 to Spui), +31 20 6383821, . M-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 10:30-18:00. Another good tip for English literature. Prices on the high side, but there's a good selection of fiction and children's books. They also have magazines, newspapers and board games.

Eat edit

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Below €20
Mid-range €20-50
Splurge €50+

The Binnenstad has a wide variety of restaurants, most of them in the cheaper or mid-range category. Asian restaurants are congregated in the Zeedijk, where many cheaper-end Chinese, Indonesian and Thai restaurants line up. Middle Eastern fast-food can be found in the Damstraat, just like a plethora of Argentinian, Chinese and Italian joints. If you have a higher budget, or want quality, it's better to go next-door to the Canal District.

The Nieuwendijk is filled with inexpensive eating opportunities, from international fast-food chains to local bakeries

Ice cream and bakeries edit

In the Nieuwendijk you can find the best ice cream of Amsterdam, and a couple of bakeries.

  • 1 Gebr. Niemeijer, Nieuwendijk 35, +31 20 707-6752. Tu-F 08:15-18:30, Sa 08:30-17:00, Su 09:00-17:00. French-style bakery with pastries, croissants, breads, sandwiches all baked fresh on premises. Open for breakfast and lunch, eat-in or takeaway. Bring the kids and eat in the small playroom upstairs. €6-11.
  • 2 Van der Linde, Nieuwendijk 183 (tram Dam), +31 20 624-8213. M 13:00-17:00, Tu-Th 11:00-17:45, F 09:00-17:45, Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 12:00-17:00. Its officially a bakery, but they don't sell bread. They do sell Amsterdam's most famous whipped ice cream, lovely almond cookies and cakes. The texture is really creamy and soft, it melts easily and they put it in a cone with a soup spoon.
Further reasonably-priced eating opportunities are in and around Zeedijk

Street food edit

  • 3 Haring & Zo, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 200. Serving for example fish sandwiches

Budget edit

  • 4 Rob Wigboldus Fishmonger, Zoutsteeg 6. Hering sandwiches for €3.50.
  • 5 Manneken Pis Damrak, Damrak 41.
  • 6 Pasta Pasta, Warmoesstraat 49 (Metro Centraal Station), +31 20 331-1199. Su-Th 11:00-01:00 F Sa 11:00-03:00. Serves delicious pastas, made just as you want them. Choose a sauce, topping and pasta for a tasty, but well-priced meal. €14.90 (April 2019).
  • 7 Broodje Bert, Singel 321.
  • 8 Caldi e freddi, Spuistraat 102.
  • 9 Julia's, De Ruijterkade 38a (at Amsterdam Centraal Station, on the IJ/harbour side). M-F 07:00-22:00, Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-22:00. Italian cuisine, both eat-in and take-out; notable take-out item: Penne Bolognese with a tasty vegetarian sauce instead of a meat sauce. €10-20.
  • 10 OCHA, Binnen Bantammerstraat 1 (Metro Nieuwmarkt), +31 20 625-9958. Tu-Su 16:00-22:30. This used to be just the little "Thai snackbar around the corner", but since a raving review in the local newspaper Het Parool, big crowds are waiting in line to get seated during dinnertime. The scenery is simple and the restaurant is very small and cramped. However, the hype is all about the food, which is absolutely mouth-watering. They have the usual Thai fare, but the dish to go for is the massaman curry, their specialty. €10-20.
  • 11 Thaise Snackbar Bird, Zeedijk 77 (Metro Nieuwmarkt), +31 20 620-1442. 13:00-22:00 daily. Very crowded little snack bar with Thai food. Not to be confused with the restaurant of the same owner, on the other side of the street. Try the chicken in oyster sauce. €10-20.

Mid-range edit

De Waag, Nieuwmarkt, formerly part of the city's defenses, now a restaurant
  • 12 New King, Zeedijk 115 (Metro Nieuwmarkt), +31 20 625-2180. 11:00-22:30 daily. Slowly becoming an institution, this hugely popular Mandarin Chinese restaurant seems to have found a perfect balance between food, price and ambiance. The food is authentically Chinese, delicious, fresh and quickly served, and all of that for a bargain. Service is fast and rushed, but it doesn't feel like a snack bar. It has a stylish interior, and it's still one of those places you could bring a date to. The biggest problem is that everyone seems to know this place, so it's somewhat crowded and noisy, and you'll probably have to wait outside for a seat to become available. When you get in, order the oysters. They're a hit. €15-25.
  • 13 Greetje, Peperstraat 23-25, +31 20 779-7450. Traditional Dutch, alongside French classics. Located in an historic building on a quiet side street near Central Station; it's off the beaten track so most of the diners are local. Open 6 days a week (not Mondays); a reservation is usually necessary.
  • 14 Kantjil & de Tijger, Spuistraat 291. Great spices and meat dishes, Indian/Indonesian food. Try the Nasi Goreng Rames.
  • 15 Rembrandt Corner, Jodenbreestraat 2. Around the corner of the "Rembrandt Huis" is a very nice "Eetcafe" with fresh food, WiFi hot spots and internet workplaces. Try the dish of the day or the mussels.
  • 16 Tony's NY City Bagels, Jodenbreestraat 15. Oversized cups of coffee, muffins and bagels. Muffins, brownies, giant cookies, cheesecake and bagels spread with various toppings are served at reasonable prices to a clientèle that is a mix of locals and tourists. American themed. There are 3 locations in the city.

Splurge edit

Drink edit

Cafes edit

  • 1 Blue, 3F, Kalvertoren, Singel 457 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Muntplein), +31 20 427-3901. M 11:00-18:30, Tu W F Sa 10:00-18:30, Th 10:00-21:00, Su 12:00-18:30. The selling point of this cafe is its 360 degrees view over Amsterdam. Its interior is minimalist and stylish. A great place to have a Dutch cup of coffee while taking in the views. Unfortunately, it's only open at daytime as evenings are reserved for private events.
  • 2 De Jaren, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22 (tram 4, 9, 14, 16 or 24 to Muntplein), +31 20 625-5771. A minimal art-deco interior next to Hotel d'Europe and a great view of where all the main canals come together (climb the stairs to the upper floor - the view is better and the crowds surprisingly thinner). Food is middling and on the pricy side, but it's a nice place to sip a cup of coffee or tea and read a newspaper.
  • 3 Filter, Valkenburgerstraat 124 (tram 14, 9 or metro 51, 53, 54 to Waterlooplein), +31 20 261-1434, . 08:00-17:00. Small eco-friendly coffeebar situated in the lobby of hotel Ecomama. Serves great coffee, breakfast and a small selection of sweet and savoury treats. Also organic tea, juice and the best grilled-cheese sandwiches. Have a relaxed morning on the sunny terrace or enjoy art by starting Dutch artists.
  • 4 The Grasshopper, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 59 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam). Su-Th 08:00-01:00, F Sa 07:00-01:00. On the edge of the Red Light District, has an upper-floor bar.
  • 5 Hannekes Boom, Dijksgracht 4 (tram or metro to Centraal Station, then walk about 10 min eastwards along Oosterdokskade, pass the library and cross the bridge), +31 20 419-9820. Su-Th 11:00-01:00, F Sa 11:00-03:00. One of Amsterdam's hidden secrets, Hannekes Boom is a cosy, somewhat ramshackle, bar with a waterfront along the IJ. It's a great place to just hang out and have a beer. Not for clubbers, but for those looking for a relaxing underground atmosphere and live music. It is centrally located, but off the tourist path, so it has a local feel to it. Outdoor seating is available, but you have to order your drinks inside. If you want to eat, make a reservation in advance (though the food is nothing special).

Beer shops and tasting rooms edit

The Binnenstad has a lot of beer shops and tasting rooms, and even a brewery and a distillery.

  • 6 Brouwerij de Prael, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 26-30 (tram or metro Centraal Station), +31 20 408-4469, . Beer shop 12:00-19:00, tasting room Tu-Sa 12:00-24:00, Su 12:00-23:00. A brewery, tasting room and beer shop all in one. Brewery tour €7.50 or €16.50, beer tasting with four beers €10.
  • 7 Cracked Kettle, Raamsteeg 3 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Spui). 12:00-22:00 daily. This beer, wine, and spirits shop carries independent, unique, and rare bottles. The staff are friendly, but the space is quite confined and obtaining bottles from the very top shelves requires assistance and a dust rag.
  • 8 De Bierkoning, Paleisstraat 125 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Dam), +31 20 625-2336. Not a café, but a 'supermarket' specialized in beer. It has over a thousand beers, about half of it Dutch.
  • 9 In De Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk), +31 20 638-2348. A very well stocked beer café, or actually beer tasting room (bierproeflokaal) in the centre of the inner city. 17 beers (usually from various countries) and a cider on draught, and about 250 different bottled beers offered. There is no music played, which makes for a very friendly and talkative atmosphere, and it has a separate non-smoking room.
  • 10 Wynand Fockink, Pijlsteeg 31 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 639-2695, . Wynand Fockink is a distillery that started in 1679. They offer distillery tours, but you must reserve at least a week in advance as they fill up quickly. It is also a tasting room and a liquor store. They have numerous liquors, brandies, and jenevers and encourage you to try them all. It is traditional to stoop and sip the first drink and not spill. Great liquors, and a good time in the back alleys of Amsterdam.

Bars and pubs edit

Avoid all bars in and around the Dam Square area, they're among the most expensive in the country. A beer will easily set you back €5, and the atmosphere is usually not that good. Better pubbing areas are the Nieuwmarkt and the small streets (such as Handboogstraat) that border the Spui. Also, there are some excellent specialty bars and tasting rooms for beer fans out there.

  • 11 Belgique, Gravenstraat 2 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 625-1974. 14:00-01:00 daily. One of the smallest bars in Amsterdam, there is seating for at most 15 people. Specialising in Belgian beers, extensive menu that includes some hard to find beers on tap. This place is smoke friendly so don't be surprised to see people rolling joints as they drink.
  • 12 Cuba, Nieuwmarkt 3 (metro Nieuwmarkt). Great bar, really nice atmosphere, close to the Red Light District with a nice terrace in the summer. Selection of cheap cocktails and long island ice tea.
  • 13 Gollem, Raamsteeg 4 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Spui), +31 6 5378-0273. A special beer café, serving many beers, especially from Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and other countries.
  • 14 Katoen, Oude Turfmarkt 153 (tram 4, 9, 14, 16 or 24 to Muntplein), +31 20 626-2635. Close to the southern part of the Canal District. Alternative music and cosy atmosphere also in the evenings.
  • 15 Molly Malones Irish Pub, Oudezijds Kolk 9 (tram or metro Centraal Station), +31 20 624-1150. Authentic Irish pub with food. Mix of expatriates, locals and tourists, friendly staff. Situated on a canal off the Zeedijk, close to Centraal Station and Warmoesstraat. Open every night, live music in the week-ends and large-screen television.
  • 16 Schuim, Spuistraat 189 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Dam), +31 20 638-9357. The super comfy cafe is a great place to spend entire rainy days at a time. It heats up quite a bit at night. Pot smoking seems to be tolerated even though Schuim is definitely not a "coffeeshop".
  • 17 Speijk, Nieuwesijdsvoorburgwal 260 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Dam). Awesome bar with lost of fun, artsy crazy locals. Various DJ play different styles. Open till late in the morning. Best place to meet laid-back and awesome Amsterdammers!!

Nightclubs edit

  • 18 Bitterzoet, Spuistraat 2 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Martelaarsgracht). This placed used to be alternative, but changed ownership and is now more hip hop and R&B oriented. Check their agenda to see what they're doing.
  • 19 Winston Kingdom, Warmoesstraat 131 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam). Music venue and nightclub in the red light district.

Coffeeshops edit

The Binnenstad is the area with the highest concentration of, along with most other attractions in Amsterdam, marijuana coffeeshops.

  • 20 420CAFE, Oudebrugsteeg 27 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk), +31 653780683. 10am-01am. Known for their moderate prices.
  • 21 Abraxas, Jonge Roelensteeg 12-14 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Dam), +31 20 625-5763. 10:00-01:00 daily.
  • 22 Bluebird, Sint Antoniesbreestraat 71 (tram 9 or 14 to Waterlooplein, metro Nieuwmarkt), +31 20 622-5232. 09:30-01:00 daily. One of the best selections of pot in Amsterdam.
  • 23 De Dampkring, Handboogstraat 29 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Spui), +31 20 638-0705. 10:00-01:00 daily. The shop was featured in a scene in Ocean's Twelve. Very decent hashish ("Rifman" products), rather high prices. Has won the Cannabis Cup numerous times.
  • 24 Green House, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 191 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 627-1739. 09:00-01:00 daily. Usually pretty crowded but when warm or if you can get a seat definitely one of the nice coffeeshops near the Red Light District. Also has a bar next door.
  • 25 Hill Street Blues, Warmoesstraat 52a (tram or metro to Centraal Station). 09:00-01:00 daily. Lively atmosphere but buy cannabis elsewhere.
  • 26 Kadinsky, Rosmarijnsteeg 9 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Spui), +31 20 624-7023. 10:00-01:00 daily. It looks completely different from before, and now has three floors with a slick minimalist design.A great place to smoke your goods, and actually serves a good cup of coffee too.

Sleep edit

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €80
Mid-range €80 to €150
Splurge Over €150

Budget edit

  • 1 Bob's Youth Hostel, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 92 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk), +31 20 623-0063, . €70, dorm €22 per person.
  • 2 Bulldog, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 220 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam, follow the Damstraat and take a left before the first bridge), +31 20 620-3822. Friendly hostel in the heart of the Red Light District. A coffeeshop is conveniently located on the ground floor, this is also where you get your breakfast. Breakfast, sheets, shower and a locker starting at €22.
  • 3 De Oranje Tulp, Damrak 32 (tram or metro to Centraal Station), +31 20 428-1618. €50.
  • 4 Durty Nellys Inn, Warmoesstraat 117 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 638-0125. Dorms are clean and the beds comfortable. The Irish pub downstairs gives discounts to people staying in the hostel (€3.5 for a pint of Amstel, €6 for a burger and chips). Breakfast 09:00-11:00. No common area apart from the bar itself. dorm €17 per person.
  • 5 Flying Pig Downtown, Nieuwendijk 100 (tram or metro to Nieuwezijds Kolk), +31 20 420-6822, . The "Downtown" branch, as opposed to the "Uptown" in Zuid, has more of a party vibe. Both hostels are known for their laid-back atmosphere, bars and indoor smoking areas. Free extras, check out the facility page on their website. €70, dorm €14 per person.
  • 6 Hotel Beursstraat, Beursstraat 9 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 626-3701. Simple and clean hotel, mostly visited by (young) people who are looking for an inexpensive accommodation.
  • 7 Hotel Brian, Singel 69 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk), +31 20 624-4661. Very basic hotel, but breakfast and internet included.
  • 8 Hotel Tamara, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 144 (tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk), +31 20 624-2484. Cheap "hotel" in a great location with basic clean rooms. €49, dorm €23 per person.
  • 9 Intersail Hostel Avontuur, Stijger 2, Oosterdok (tram or metro to Centraal Station), +31 6 5478-5934. A floating hostel. Small cabins, bed-length is 1.90 m, but great staff and a nice spacious sun deck. Breakfast, sheets, towels are included in the price. Shared shower and toilet. Four person cabins are better to be used for only three adults. Don't take too much luggage in these cabins. 4-bed private from €22.50-27.50 per bed per night. 2- and 3-bed private from €25-30 per bed per night.
  • 10 Shelter City Christian Hostel, Barndesteeg 21 (metro 51, 53 or 54 to Nieuwmarkt), +31 20 624-4717. An alcohol and drug-free Christian youth hostel right at the Red Light District. Single-sex dormitories, including breakfast, bed linen. dorm €17-19 per person.
  • 11 St Christophers, Warmoesstraat 129 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 623-1380. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Part hostel, part hotel. Each room is designed by local Dutch artists. €44-63.
  • 12 Stayokay Stadsdoelen, Kloveniersburgwal 97 (tram 4, 9, 14, 16 or 24 to Muntplein), +31 20 624-6832, fax: +31 20 639-1035, . Check-in: 07:30, rooms available at 14:00, check-out: 10:30. Stayokay operates a network of 27 hostels in the Netherlands, and is the Dutch affiliate of Hostelling International. A little smaller than Stayokay Vondelpark, this location does not take groups. Free WiFi and pay internet terminals. Free security lockers are provided in the hallways outside the dorms. One of the few hostels in town who can accept under 18 year olds traveling alone (granted you have a written permission from your parents and copies of their passports). Call them for more info. dorms €17+, private rooms €40+.
  • 13 Travel Hotel Amsterdam (NH), Beurstraat 23, +31 20 626 65 32. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. The hotel is a comfortable 2-star hotel a 5-minute walk from Amsterdam’s Central Station.
  • 14 White Tulip Hostel, Warmoesstraat 87 (tram 4, 9, 16 or 24 to Dam), +31 20 625-5974, fax: +31 20 420-1299. Mostly dorms, but there are also a few private rooms available. Really a basic crash-pad, but quiet and relaxed due to their 'No large groups' policy. dorm €20 per person.
  • 15 Hostel Meeting Point, Warmoestraat 14 (Very close to Amsterdam Central Station), +31 20 627 7499. Laid-back hostel. Has his own, pretty cheap, hotel bar. Smoking room (weed allowed) inside. Guests of the hostel can use free internet computers. Only dorms. €14-22.

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

  • 25 Estheréa, Singel 303-309 (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Spui/Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal), +31 20 624-5146. A boutique hotel that consists of a row of 17th-century buildings along the Singel canal. It has 93 rooms and 2 suite. Free Wi-Fi. From €220.
Scheepvaarthuis, the first building in Amsterdam School style, now a hotel

Connect edit

  • 1 Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, Oosterdokskade 43, +31 20 523-0900. 10:00-22:00 daily. Read newspapers and magazines or relax at Amsterdam's main library. Internet terminals are available, but they are no longer free and going on-line now costs €1 per 30 minutes. It is limited to web-only access. It's possible to get Wi-Fi, but you need to show your passport.

Go next edit

The Binnenstad has an awful lot of museums, but quite frankly, most of them are not that good. The Anne Frank House in the Canal District is interesting, as are the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Zuid. An excellent addition to Amsterdam's already rich museum landscape is the Hermitage in Plantage, an annex of the famous museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

You can also take the ferry over the IJ from Amsterdam Centraal to Buiksloterweg in Noord. These are free of charge and provide nice views of the harbour and skyline. Then make a short walk to the EYE Film Institute for its architecture and visit the free exhibition in the basement (or see a film).

Routes through Binnenstad
END  N   S  Canal DistrictAmstelveen
END  N   S  RembrandtpleinWaterloopleinPlantageDiemen
END  N   S  Canal DistrictZuid
WestCanal District  W   E  END
END  W   E  Oost

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