This page is not so much about specific hotels or apartments, but about the city districts in general. Which districts are nice to stay in if you’re visiting for more than a day?
What is Amsterdam like?
By comparison, Amsterdam is tiny, so do some ‘Google Maps > Directions’ test walks to see how far out you would be. Walking from one end of the center to the other end takes about 45 minutes on foot. You can walk between most of the important sights.
It’s a very safe city as capital cities go. Within the A10 ring road and south of river IJ, violent crime is very rare even at night, but you should beware of sneaky pickpocketing (day and night), and mind the many cyclists. Even the notorious red light district is safe except for the pickpockets, and the illegal drug dealers you should just ignore.
My rough map of best areas to stay in, based on my personal opinion. Avoid staying in the little red part. Click for full page.
Staying anywhere in the center, or in ‘De Pijp’ north of Ceintuurbaan, is great. The dark green marking in my map above. Except I would avoid staying in the Red Light District (red part in map above) because it is so crowded and noisy with bachelor parties and such. Most other parts of the center are great to stay in and will enable you to walk to many sights.
Some parts of the center have a lot of traffic or party people making noise at night, always read the reviews about a hotel before booking it, if noise is an issue for you.
The ring of neighborhoods around the center (light green marking in map) is also very convenient and fun to stay in. And may in fact be ‘first choice’ for the more adventurous souls looking for the ‘local feel’, or the ones who want a quieter area away from the hordes of tourists. I will list some names of bigger and smaller neighborhoods, hence the names will not be mutually exclusive (for example Kinkerbuurt is in Oud-West). Staatsliedenbuurt, Frederik Hendrikbuurt, Da Costabuurt, Kinkerbuurt, Oud-West, Helmersbuurt, Vondelbuurt, De Pijp (preferably the northern half called Oude Pijp), Oud-Zuid, Oud-Oost, Oosterparkbuurt, Dapperbuurt, Indische Buurt, Oostelijk Havengebied, Zeeburg.
Most other areas within the A10 ring road are also fine, but will cost you more travel time. Do test runs in Google Maps > Directions to see how much travel time you’d need to sights you want to visit. You will still find plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops here.
North of IJ river and close to the water is also fine, especially if it’s walking distance from Buiksloterweg ferry which goes day and night.
These ‘ third choice’ parts are the parts I marked yellow in my map above.
In my opinion, staying outside the A10 ring road will not give you a nice Amsterdam experience. Instead I would recommend you stay in the historical center of another city instead, and try to find accommodation close to the main train station. Utrecht, Haarlem and Leiden are only a 20-30 minute train ride away (!), and are really nice towns in their own right. Well worth exploring their museums, and having your evening meals and after-dinner canal strolls there! http://www.ns.nl/en will tell you train times and cost.
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