Planning a trip to Amsterdam (Netherlands) and wondering where to stay on your first visit? In this guide, we share our experience-based tips and recommendations for the very best places to stay in Amsterdam. For each area, we also include hotel recommendations for all budgets.
Whether you are interested in sightseeing, the best museums and cultural attractions, shopping and dining, nightlife and entertainment, or excursions outside the city, this guide will help you choose the best places to stay in Amsterdam.
Good to know: The center of Amsterdam is not that big (definitely if you compare it to cities like London or Paris) and you can cross the entire city center on foot in about 30-40 minutes. In addition, there are good public transport connections that make it easy to get around if you have to cover bigger distances in a hurry. So finding a good place to stay in Amsterdam close to everything is not that difficult.
Still, picking the right area to stay in Amsterdam is quite important as it can save you a lot of time and stress. After all, you probably don’t want to end up in the noisiest street in the heart of the Red Light District or find out that you have to walk half an hour every morning just to get to the starting point of your sightseeing itinerary…
TIP: If you don’t have the time to read the entire article and are wondering about our personal recommendations on where to stay in Amsterdam, here are our recommended mid-budget hotels for your first visit to Amsterdam:
- Very central, close to everything: Hotel Estheréa.
- Close to the best museums: Park Centraal Amsterdam.
- Close to Central Station: Park Plaza Victoria.
If you are looking for a nice lower-budget option, check out ClinkNOORD Hostel. It’s very close to the station but on the other side of the river from the city center. It can easily be reached by a free passenger ferry that runs every couple of minutes.
Below, you can read our guide to the very best areas to stay in Amsterdam for tourists. For each area, you can learn what to expect, what makes it a good place to stay for your first visit to Amsterdam, and find our hand-picked hotel recommendations for various budgets.
Please note that price indications are only meant for your reference, in order to be able to compare the hotels. However, actual prices depend so much on when you travel and how long in advance you book. Also, some ‘lower-budget’ hotels can be very affordable in the quiet winter months but cost twice as much in the summer…
We also created a map where you can see the approximate location of all the areas mentioned in our article. With this map, you have a better idea of where everything is.
As you can see on the map below, we recommend staying in the city center, aka Amsterdam Centrum. It’s the area more or less between the Central Station and the Museum Quarter, situated around the famous Amsterdam Canal Belt (Grachtengordel). Pretty much anywhere within or just near the Canal Belt is great for sightseeing and exploring Amsterdam.
Good to know: Keep in mind that accommodation in Amsterdam is scarce and expensive. Privately rented short-stay lodging options are extremely limited due to strict laws that only allow renting out private properties for a maximum of 30 days per year. In fact, we see lots of bookings for private rentals and Airbnb-style accommodations in Amsterdam getting canceled by the property. So if you want to stay in the city center and are looking for a reliable option without last-minute cancelations, you’ll have to mostly rely on hotels and hostels.
TIP: Book your hotel in Amsterdam as soon as you know your travel dates. Yes, it’s not a cheap destination, but the prices go even higher as you get closer to your travel dates.
PRO TIP: We personally use and recommend Booking.com to research and book your stay in Amsterdam (after all, Amsterdam is the birthplace of Booking.com). All kidding aside, they have the best deals and also show exactly what you will pay including all taxes.
Most hotels in Amsterdam advertise lower prices if you book directly through them, but ‘forget’ to tell you that an additional 7% tax + 3 euros per night per person tourist tax will be charged at check out. Booking.com shows you the total price, plus a breakdown of how much you have to pay upfront and how much at the hotel.
Here are the best places to stay in Amsterdam:
1. Historic Center near Central Station
Best for a short visit, sightseeing, and day trips outside the city. You will find hotels for all budgets here, from 4-5* affordable luxury to simple hostels with shared facilities.
Whether you are arriving by train from Belgium, France, or the UK, or flying to Schiphol airport (from where you’ll have to take a train to the center), Amsterdam’s Central Station will be your first introduction to the city.
Located right at the edge of the historic old center within a short walking distance from most of the main sights and attractions in Amsterdam, this area is ideal for a first short stay in Amsterdam. The location is perfect for sightseeing in the city but also for day trips near Amsterdam. Most guided tours to the Amsterdam countryside also start near the Central Station.
If you are visiting Amsterdam for just a day or two and don’t want the hassle of having to look for any kind of transportation in the city, then simply look for a hotel within short walking distance from the Central Station.
Good to know: The nicest area to stay here is the historic center around Damrak, the main boulevard right across the street from the station. There are plenty of choices for various budgets and all types of accommodations in this part of town – from the most luxurious hotels to simple budget hostels.
If you go a bit more to the east, you’ll find Amsterdam’s ChinaTown and the Red Light District. While staying in the main streets of the Red Light District is definitely not for everyone, China Town just a few streets further is a good place for somewhat better-value accommodations in this part of town.
Here are some of the best hotels within 5 minutes walking distance from the Central Station:
€€€€€ NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace.
€€€€ Park Plaza Victoria (the most popular hotel in this area right in front of the station).
€€€ Hotel Mai.
€€ A-Train Hotel.
€ THIS HO(S)TEL or The Flying Pig Downtown.
2. Dam Square
The most central location to stay in Amsterdam, close to everything. Perfect for sightseeing, shopping, and museums, but also good for day trips outside the city. If you want to be in the middle of all the action, this is it.
Home to Amsterdam’s Royal Palace, the area around Dam Square is the historic heart of the city of Amsterdam. It’s located just 10 minutes walk from the Central Station and 20 minutes walk from the Museum District. The Red Light District is just a few blocks to the east, and the famous 9 Streets area around the nicest canals is just a few blocks further to the west.
If you are looking for the best area to stay in Amsterdam close to everything, this is pretty much as central as it gets. All the main tourist attractions are within easy walk from here. This area is also home to the biggest department stores and the main shopping streets of Amsterdam.
Good to know: Some of the most luxurious hotels in Amsterdam are located right on Dam Square. This is definitely not the most budget-friendly area to stay in Amsterdam. However, also in this part of the city, you can find accommodations for various budgets.
Here are some of the best-rated hotels around Dam Square:
3. The Nine Streets
Perfect for a romantic stay in Amsterdam, but also for sightseeing, shopping, and dining. This is one of the nicest areas to stay in Amsterdam in the upper-mid price range.
The 9 Streets (De Negen Straatjes) is one of the most charming canal neighborhoods of Amsterdam. With independent boutiques and small local businesses, the atmosphere here is great and the area is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike.
If you are looking for a perfect location for a romantic stay in Amsterdam or a hotel room with a view overlooking one of the nicest canals in the city, you’ll find some wonderful choices here. There are also lots of very good restaurants nearby.
Good to know: The location of the Nine Streets is very central and comparable to that of the above-mentioned Dam Square (but much quieter and more laid-back). The 9 Streets are about 15-20 minutes walk from Central Station to the north and the Museum District to the south.
Here are some of the best-rated hotels in/near the 9 Streets district:
€€€€€€+ The Dylan Amsterdam – The Leading Hotels of the World.
€€€€€ Pulitzer Amsterdam.
€€€€ The Hoxton.
€€€+ Hotel Estheréa (one of the most popular choices in this part of Amsterdam).
€€ Hotel Clemens.
4. Canals Around Rembrandt Square
Prestigious location and close to everything. Perfect for sightseeing and dining.
The southern part of Amsterdam’s Canal Belt (Grachtengordel) close to where the Amstel River meets the oldest canals is one of the most prestigious areas to stay in central Amsterdam. This is roughly the area around Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square).
The location is close to everything and you are in the heart of the most sought-after canal district.
However, also here, a lot depends on the exact location and the hotel that you choose. Some of the oldest and most exclusive hotels in Amsterdam are located in this part of the city but there are plenty of mid-range options as well. There are tons of restaurants in this area too.
Amsterdam is really unique in that way – you can find accommodations and restaurants for all price ranges in pretty much any neighborhood… One street can be very low-key with simple accommodations and cheap eateries, and the other one just behind the corner is lined with luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants. And sometimes they are just next to each other too…
Good to know: Rembrandt Square is less than 20 minutes walk from pretty much anywhere in the city center, so it’s really central and close to everything for sightseeing. If you visit Amsterdam during the Christmas holiday season, you will find an ice skating rink on Rembrandt Square as well.
Here are some of the best-rated hotels in this part of the city for various budgets:
€€€€€€€€€ Waldorf Astoria (this is the most expensive hotel in Amsterdam).
€€€€€ Tivoli Doelen (the oldest hotel in Amsterdam).
€€€€ NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market.
€€€ Eden Hotel Amsterdam (one of the best-value hotels in this part of the city).
€€ Hotel Amstelzicht.
5. Leiden Square
Lively area, perfect for entertainment, nightlife, museums, and dining.
The famous Leiden Square (Leidseplein) is one of the liveliest parts of central Amsterdam. There are tons of cafes and restaurants for all budgets here, and this neighborhood is also known for its many entertainment venues.
The City Theater is located right on Leidseplein and DeLaMar Theater is just nearby. Popular live music venues such as Paradiso and Melkweg are located in this part of the city as well. The largest casino in Amsterdam can also be found here.
Also here, you will find hotels and restaurants for all budgets.
Interesting to know: This part of Amsterdam has been historically popular among Americans. The iconic American (now Hard Rock Hotel Amsterdam American) and Hard Rock Café are both located on/near Leiden Square. The American Hotel was also used as the filming location of ‘Hotel Filosoof’ in the movie Fault in Our Stars.
Good to know: Leidseplein is about 30 minutes walk from the station (or just 10 minutes by tram). It’s just across the canal from the Museum District and Vondelpark and about 15 minutes walk from either Rembrandt Square or the Nine Streets.
Here are some of the best-rated and most popular hotels near Leiden Square:
6. Museum District
One of the quietest and greenest areas in Amsterdam’s city center. Perfect for museums, but also good for sightseeing, and dining.
Amsterdam’s Museum Square (Museumplein) is home to some of the most visited museums in Amsterdam – Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. But also Moco Museum, Diamond Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam’s Concert Hall, and a few other attractions are located in this neighborhood.
One of the biggest parks in Amsterdam – Vondelpark – is also in this area and the earlier mentioned Leidseplein is just across the canal. The historic Heineken Brewery is a short walk away and if you are looking to explore more residential areas, you can easily walk to the De Pijn neighborhood which is known for its lively outdoor market (Albert Cuyp Market).
Good to know: The Museum District is a bit further from the hustle and bustle of the city center and about 30-40 minutes walk or a 10-15 minutes ride by tram from the Central Station.
How close to everything or how quiet it is, really depends on the hotel that you choose. The area closer to Leidseplein is very busy, whereas the other side of the Singel Canal, closer to the museums and Vondelpark is incomparably quieter. Also, a hotel room facing the main street is not the same as one facing the gardens…
Here are some of the best hotels close to the Museum District of Amsterdam:
7. Jordaan Neighborhood
Residential area, close to everything but far away from the main tourist routes. Perfect for those looking to experience the more authentic side of Amsterdam.
Located southwest of the central station and a stone’s throw from the busiest areas in Amsterdam’s old city center, Jordaan is a very quiet residential neighborhood.
The name ‘Jordaan’ comes from the French ‘jardin’ which means ‘garden’. There are not that many gardens here anymore, but if you are looking for a more local area to stay in Amsterdam, you’ll love it here!
This is a rather big area with very few hotels, several B&Bs, and a few privately-rented places. Depending on where exactly you are staying, it’s just a 10-20 minutes walk from the station or Dam Square.
Here are the best hotels in the Jordaan neighborhood:
8. Eastern Docklands & North Riverside
Great price-quality location in the modern and upcoming part of the city. Within easy reach of the historic center and perfect for day trips outside the city.
North Riverside is a rapidly developing residential area just across the IJ River north of the historic old town best known for A’DAM Tower (with unparalleled 360° views of Amsterdam). Eastern Docklands is located closer to the center and is close to NEMO Science Museum (the best museum for families with kids).
Eastern Docklands is connected to the center by pedestrian bridges, whereas the Northern Riverside can be reached by passenger ferries. These ferries go every couple of minutes and are free of charge. They run from several locations right behind the Central Station. The trip to the other side takes just a minute or two.
This is one of the best price-quality locations to stay in Amsterdam on a lower budget. If you like bright modern hotels and a certain level of comfort, you’ll get much better value for your money here than in the historic old town.
The main disadvantage of staying here is that you are a bit outside of all the action, so it will take you longer to get to the main sights in the city. There are also fewer restaurants. Depending on the exact location of your hotel, you also have to be prepared for quite some extra walking.
On the other hand, it’s a really nice area and since the station is within easy reach, it’s also great for day trips outside the city (by train or with tours).
Here are some of the most popular hotels in the Northern part of Amsterdam:
€€€€+ DoubleTree by Hilton (very close to the station).
€€€€ Mövenpick (close to the cruise ship terminal).
€€€ Holiday Inn Express (North Riverside – about 15 minutes walk from one of the ferries).
€€+ YOTEL Amsterdam (North Riverside, about 20 minutes walk from the ferry).
€€ ClinkNOORD Hostel (North Riverside, very close to A’DAM Tower and just 4 minutes from the ferry).
TIP: A bit to the other side from the station and all the other hotels in this selection, Room Mate Aitana deserves a mention in this part of the city as well. It’s a big modern design hotel, about 10-15 minutes walk northwest of the station. It’s very popular, mainly because of a good price/quality ratio for the location.
TIP: Once you decide on the approximate area where to stay in Amsterdam, you can also use this accommodation map to compare the best hotel options.
Simply insert your travel dates, place, and group size, and you’ll see the best deals for your stay.
Once again, the earlier you book, the more availability and better price/quality!
For our recent visit to Amsterdam, we booked the accommodation 7 months before the trip and stayed at a really nice hotel close to Leidseplein and all the museums (Park Centraal Amsterdam) at a very reasonable rate. I checked the hotel prices a few weeks before the trip and they were almost twice as high. A week before our trip, they had no availability at all.
The best place to stay in Amsterdam for first-time visitors is the city center, the wide area located south of Central Station and north of Museum Square. It’s here that you will find the main sights and attractions, shopping streets, and tons of restaurants and hotels for all budgets. However, there is a big difference between various areas within the center. Our personal favorite is the area around the Nine Streets and the southern part of Amsterdam’s Canal Belt, Grachtengordel.
The most central area to stay in Amsterdam for sightseeing is located between Dam Square, 9 Streets, and Rembrandt Square. From here, you can walk to pretty much all the top attractions in Amsterdam in 5-20 minutes.
While it is available, the number of Airbnbs and other privately-rented accommodations is very limited in Amsterdam. Since the law changed allowing people to rent out their homes for a maximum of 30 nights a year, privately rented accommodation options in Amsterdam went down drastically.
While you can see some of the top sights in Amsterdam in just one or two days, we highly recommend planning at least 3-4 days in the city (4-5 nights). With 3 days, you can visit the most important museums and attractions and explore some local neighborhoods. With a day or two extra, you can also visit the countryside, see the windmills, and – in spring – the famous Dutch tulip fields.
Amsterdam’s city center is so compact that you can walk everywhere on foot (just watch out for locals on bikes!). That being said, public transport is also great, with regular trams, metros, and even free ferries if you have lots of luggage or need to cover bigger distances quickly.
Schiphol International Airport is located just 14 km (9 miles) from Amsterdam city center. That’s if you would walk or take a bike. By car, depending on where you have to be, it’s closer to 20 km (12 miles). Since traffic can be really bad, the most convenient way to get from the airport to the city center is by train.
So, this is our guide to the very best places to stay in Amsterdam. I hope that this gives you a better idea of what to expect and helps you find the perfect place for your stay.
Once again, if you find a place that you like and the price is reasonable, book asap!
For more tips for your visit, take a look at our Amsterdam travel tips & tricks article. It contains lots of important information for first-time visitors that you really should know.
Our travel guides for Amsterdam & the Netherlands:
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