amsterdam
Neighborhood Spotlight

Amsterdam’s City Center: you’ll be rewarded for getting lost

Photo by Kieran Meeke

Neighborhood Spotlight Amsterdam’s City Center: you’ll be rewarded for getting lost

Dam Square, the Nieuwe Kerk, the Red Light District – the center of Amsterdam is unsurprisingly the most crowded area of the city.

James Hiam
James Hiam Editor

But not everything in the center is big, bold and famous, and you only need to turn down one street or alleyway to stumble across a hidden gem or two.

Amsterdam City Center at a glance

After shopping on the Kalverstraat or in the Bijenkorf department store, enjoy peace and quiet of the Begijnhof: an enclosed square of quaint houses. Forgotten your book or are in need of more holiday reading? Pop into one of the bookstores on Spui – Fridays are an especially good day to visit, when the square fills up with book stalls selling second-hand books and special editions.

The Royal Palace is indeed big and bold but is curiously overlooked by many visitors to the city. Have a nose around what poet Constantijn Huygens called the 'Eighth Wonder' of the world when it was completed in 1655. You can then join other visitors to the city on a night out at the Rembrandtplein or Leidseplein, or use the center of Amsterdam as a springboard to drink 'biertjes' with the locals in the adjoining neighborhoods.

Best places to stay

When it comes to wonderful hotels, Amsterdam’s City Center is well sorted out. The area hosts a number of unique getaways – there’s the artsy, cleverly designed art’otel Amsterdam, boasting unique in-room art pieces; the acclaimed Pulitzer, oozing with Dutch elegance and Golden Age grandeur; or Hotel Notting Hill, inspired by the immortal flick starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

That’s just to name a few, actually – plenty more options if you’re looking for a not-so-average place to stay!

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Other stories about Amsterdam:

Amsterdam's Eighth Wonder of the World

The secret church hidden in plain sight

Royal Palace, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

The Dutch Royal family only use the Royal Palace for official visits. Whenever the royals do not use the palace, it's open to visitors. Photo by Julia Nolet / Alamy

Julia Nolet

Julia Nolet

Agency
Alamy

The Dutch Royal family only use the Royal Palace for official visits. Whenever the royals do not use the palace, it's open to visitors.

Other stories about Amsterdam

Wolvenstraat, part of the 9Streets with trendy shops and cafés in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam.

7 cliché activities in Amsterdam you will actually enjoy

Amsterdam is one of those cities that is drenched in clichés. I’ve overheard people saying that they thought Amsterdam was itself a country (Holland clearly isn’t interesting enough to benefit from word of mouth publicity), that the Dutch  all wear wooden shoes (imagine the pain!), that Amsterdam is  covered in tulips, and that literally everyone   smokes weed. All. Day. Long. I’m not here to smash your dreams into a thousand tiny pieces, but that’s plain bullcheese. On the other hand, some Amsterdam clichés are true and are definitely worth giving a try. They aren’t clichés for nothing, am I right?