The Canal Ring (Dutch: Grachtengordel) is the famous 17th-century district surrounding the Old Centre of Amsterdam. The whole district is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique cultural and historical value, and its property values are among the highest of the country.
This article also deals with the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein, the two prime nightlife spots of the city. The Weteringschans is also included.
The most convienient way to get into the Grachtengordel is by tram. From Central Station, the most important tram lines are 1, 2 and 5 which go right through the middle of the Grachtengordel, cutting the western and the southern side of it in half. Notable stops include Koningsplein, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Leiden Square (Leidseplein). The Rembrandt Square (Rembrandtplein) can be reached with tram lines 4, 9 and 14.
The other lines only cross either the western side or the southern side of the canal ring. Tram lines 13 and 17 head for the western side, with the stop Westerkerk as the most notable one as the Anne Frank House is nearby. Trams 16, 24 and 25 go through the southern side of the canal ring with the stops Keizersgracht and Weteringscircuit. East of it is tram line 4 that continues to Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Frederikplein after having served the Rembrandt Square.
Bicycle rentals are readily available throughout the city. Central Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square are all major rental hubs. Day rates average 8€ with some multi-day rates as low as €4. Bikes are sturdy and locks are included. Equipment for children and other add-ons are also available. Most companies offer guided tours as well as recommended route maps for trips in and outside of Amsterdam.
- A-Bike Rental is a company with 2 locations nearby Vondelprak and Dam square. They provide City bikes with handbrakes and 3 gears, tandems, cargo bikes and children bikes all in new condition.
- Bike City Friendly and approachable bike rental and repair with a green approach to business and no advertising on the bikes. You will blend in with the locals on a traditional black city bike or rent a multi-speed for longer trips. Just around the corner from the Anne Frank House and open 7 days a week.
- StarBikes Rentals Traditional black bikes, a funky café and signature picnic baskets make StarBikes stand out from the crowd. Located right in the centre of town, just behind Amsterdam Central Station.
- Mac Bike One of the largest and best rental agencies in the city with locations at Leidseplein, Central Station and Visserplein. Friendly service and reliable wheels are a guarantee and MacBike offers a wide assortment of day trips and guided tours designed to meet any interest.
Grachtengordel literally means 'canal belt', it's main attraction is the rich architectural heritage of this neighborhood. Built in the 17th Century, the merchant-based oligarchy that ruled the trading city of Amsterdam built canal houses and mansions in the most prestigious locations, especially along the main canals. The city office for architectural heritage BMA has a chronological list of the most important ones:
- Singel 140-142, De Dolphijn (circa 1600).
- Oudezijds Voorburgwal 14, Wapen van Riga (1605).
- Oudezijds Voorburgwal 57, De Gecroonde Raep (1615), in Baroque Amsterdam Renaissance style.
- Herengracht 170-172, Bartolotti House (circa 1617).
- Keizersgracht 123, House with the Heads (1622).
- Herengracht 168 (1638).
- Rokin 145 (1643).
- Kloveniersburgwal 29, Trip House (1662).
- Oudezijds Voorburgwal 187 (1663).
- Singel 104-106 (1743).
- Singel 36, Zeevrugt (1763).
- Anne Frank House (Anne Frankhuis), Prinsengracht 267 (Tram Westermarkt), ☎ +31 20 556 71 00, . Hours: 9am-8pm every day from Nov - Mar; 9am-10pm every day from Apr - Oct. Last entry to the museum is 30 minutes before closing time but the queue line closes earlier depending on the length. Admission: adults €9; ages 10 – 17 €4,50; ages 0 – 9, free. European youth card is €4,50. I love the history and how much you felt like you were living her life while walking through. They've done a great job with all the writings on the walls and the videos throughout the rooms. I could actually envision Anne looking out the window through the small space between the wall and the curtain. I would highly recommend watching the movie before you go. It sticks to the facts very well and it really made the house come alive. If you don't get your tickets ahead of time you should come around 8:30am and get in line. You won't regret it and you won't take up your entire day. You will get in pretty quickly and they always keep plenty of tickets for people who are waiting in line to get in. €9. edit
- Museum Het Grachtenhuis (The Museum of the Canals), Herengracht 386, ☎ , . Het Grachtenhuis is the gateway to the world famous Amsterdam canal ring. Het Grachtenhuis tells the fascinating story about how Amsterdam’s canal ring was created by a multi-media exhibition. €12. edit
- Cat Cabinet (Kattenkabinet), Herengracht 497, ☎ +31 20 626 53 78, . A cat museum. Housed in a beautiful restored palatial home in an upscale area street - very Masterpiece Theater. It was opened by the homeowner after his favourite cat died... and he still lives in the home. Lots of cat-related art, and two real felines. The exhibition is spread across the first floor of the house. €6. edit
- Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Herengracht 605, ☎ +31 20 523 18 22, . €6. edit
- Rijksmuseum Museumstraat 1 1071 XX Amsterdam, +31 20 6747 000. Hours: Mon - Sun 9am-5pm; Admission: Adult € 17.50; Student (0-18) enter for free. This museum is unique because it chronologically examines Dutch history through art and other artifacts. The stunning stained-glass windows in the Great Hall and the detailed hand-painted designs in the Gallery of Honor are things that can be easily overlooked but you should take the time to appreciate these master pieces as well. If you want to avoid long lines, arrive first thing in the morning at 9:00. You can also buy a ticket ahead of time, which enables you skip the ticket line inside. It is best to arrive earlier rather than later, because you can easily spend hours admiring the works of art.
- The Van Gogh Museum Paulus Potterstraat 7, +31 20 570 52 00, Admission: adult €17, children are free, audio guide €5. Hours: 9am-6pm Sun-Thu, 9am-10pm Fri-Sat from Jul-Oct; 9am-5pm Sat-Thu, 9am-10pm on Fri from Nov-Jun. Trace the artist's life from his tentative start through his giddy-coloured sunflower phase, and on to the black cloud that descended over him and his work later in life. There are also paintings by contemporaries Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Bernard. Queues can be huge, pre-booked e-tickets and discount cards expedite the process with fast-track entry.
- Homomonument, Westermarkt (Tram Westermarkt), ☎ +31 20 551 2512, . The Homomonument is a memorial to gays and lesbians murdered in World War II, a call for vigilance against homophobia, and an inspiration for gays and lesbians the world over. It consists of three equilateral triangles made of pink granite that are connected by an inlaid band of pink bricks. These three triangles represent the past, present and future. edit
- I am Amsterdam slogan sign Located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein. It is the city icon and slogan and also a huge tourist photo opportunity. You can stand next to, in front of or on top of the words to get the photo you would like! There are no rules as long as you are not vandalizing it. It is more than two meters tall and measures over 23.5 meters wide.
- Pathe Tuschinski , Reguliersbreestraat 26, film theater worth a visit if only for its Jugendstil interior. With the exception of some animated movies (and even those are usually available in the original language as well), all movies are subtitled and not dubbed, so you should be able to enjoy all the standard Hollywood fare in the original English.
- Boom Chicago, Leidseplein 12, ☎ +31 20 530 7300, . The Amsterdam comedy institution since 1993. English language sketch and improv comedy show with extensive use of video, music and the internet. The troupe is sharp and skewers current events, trends and life and local events in Amsterdam. Perhaps the best comedy show in any city. Good food is served before the show and drink service continues all night. edit
- De Poezenboot  Singel 38 G. You really like cats? The poezenboot (cat boat) is an refuge for cats awaiting adoption.
- Holland Casino Max Euweplein 62, 1017 MB, +31 20 521 1111. Hours: 12pm – 3am, every day. For many people, the 5€ entrance fee will be a big downturn but once you're inside, it's actually quite nice. The location is close to Vondelpark. It is worth it if you are going to stay a while, if you are a keen gambler but not otherwise. Do not expect anything special but I found the casino to be quite big in fact and offer a wide range of games. The minimum on roulette was €5 while the cheapest blackjack was €10. The staff was fairly nonchalant, not super friendly.
- The Red Light District is certainly one of the major tourist attractions because it honors one of the oldest professions in the world. Everyone, from men, young and old, to couples holding hands and pointing in shock of it all, and giggling groups of women who are curious about the rumors surrounding this area, will have fun and will not be disappointed. You have got to check it out for yourself.
- De Dam square is where the royal palace is located. All roads lead to Dam Square, the real heart of Amsterdam, where The Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk and the War Memorial overlook this vast and bustling open space. It is a great center point if you get separated from your group during this trip, or any other trip you may take in Amsterdam!
- Vondelpark Right next to their Vondelpark Hotel. It is free. In the summer this is the place to meet up and picnic, read a book in the sun or play a game of football with your friends. A friendly buzzing atmosphere which is close to the Museums so after an intense visit a great place to relax and recuperate for the next adventure! It has the loveliest gardens to wonder through in Amsterdam. In the winter still a great place to go for a run in the chill weather.
- The Nine Streets, (De Negen Straatjes), . Nine narrow streets enclosed between the main canals from the Prinsengracht to the Singel, south-west of Dam Square. The northernmost street is Reestraat and to the south is the Runstraat. The streetnames are marked with a sign of the Nine Streets, and some shops have a flyer of this area. You can find a lot of boutiques, specialist shops, galleries and restaurants here.
- Santa Jet, Prinsenstraat 7, ☎ +31 20 427 2070. This little boutique specializes in hand-made imports from Latin America. You can find everything from mini shrines made of tin, to lamps, to kitschy postcards.
- De Beeldenwinkel Sculpture Gallery, Berenstraat 29. This is a gallery for sculpture lovers, with bronze statues, pottery, abstract sculpture, raku-fired statues and marble figures sculpture to suit every budget and taste.
- Utrechtsestraat. Shopping street with a nice variety of shops and restaurants, still quite some independent ones. Voted one of the top five shopping streets in The Netherlands. edit
- Haarlemmerstraat, Haarlemmerstraat. Voted one of the top five shopping streets in The Netherlands. edit
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
|| Below €20
- Pancakes! Amsterdam, Berenstraat 38, ☎ +31 20 528 9797, . Amazing variety of both sweet and savory pancakes. Quaint atmosphere and the street side tables are great to watch people. The only downfall is that street side tables attract too many tourists asking for directions. edit
- The Pancake Bakery, Prinsengracht 191, ☎ +31 20 625-1333, . 12:00-21:30 daily. Large selection of sweet or savory pancakes. edit
- De Blauwe Hollander, Leidsekruisstraat 28, ☎ +31-20-6270251, . Noon-10 PM. Dutch restaurant with an extensive menu of hearty home cooked dishes like herrings, pea soup and hutspot. Unlike most restaurants in this area, this one gets local diners too, and if it gets crowded enough you may have to share tables. Pancakes served only until 5 PM. €20. edit
- Damsteeg, Reestraat 28-32, . They specialise in fish dishes, but they also have a wide variety of meat and vegetarian meals to choose from. With bar. edit
- Dimitrij, Prinsenstraat 3. Offering dozens of interesting sandwiches and salads. Dimitrij is a must for at least one lunch, and it's on a street which is packed with an ever-changing line-up of fun boutiques. edit
- Akbar, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 15 (Near Leiden Square), . Indian restaurant, Muslim (halal) / Hindu (no beef). Good quality dishes from different regions of India. Main courses €15-20. edit
- La Margarita, Reguliersdwarsstraat 49 (Near Rembrandt Square and the flower market), ☎ +31 20 623 07 07. Daily 5PM-11PM. This Caribbean restaurant offers a huge range of plates, including three different vegetarian options. Every dish comes with ample sides of white rice, black beans, plantains, and vegetables. In addition to having great food, the restaurant is decked out with a range of fantastic and magic-realist art. If you like your food hot, be sure to ask for the special home-made hot sauce. Reservations accepted. €20-30 per person, with drinks. edit
- Proeverij 274, Prinsengracht 274, ☎ +31 20 421 18 48. Daily 6PM-10PM. Small, cosy restaurant at one of the main canals. Business but also romantic dinner. Small menu, new Dutch cuisine with classic french influences. The menu features mainly organic regional produce. Personal service, nice wineadvises and fresh seasonal food in a relaxed environment. edit
- Amsterdam Jewel Cruises, Singel 235 (Near Dam Square), ☎ +31 20 422 13 85 ([email protected]), . Exclusive dinner cruise / sailing restaurant. A la carte dining while cruising the canals. Schedule varies by week, but generally times are Thurs – Sat at 7:30pm. It is the best way to see all the canals and get a quick history of the city. Perhaps the most romantic cruise in Amsterdam, Amsterdam Jewel Cruises takes you out on a gorgeous wooden boat built in 1898 for a scenic 2 hour and 45 minute cruise, while you enjoy a three-course dinner by candlelight. Unlike most Amsterdam boat cruises, you don't have to deal with often-annoying recorded narration of the sights, though the affable captain is happy to point out highlights along the way. And with a limited number of tables (each boat takes 20 passengers, max), you are guaranteed a good view. Boats are not overcrowded; you get to sample traditional Dutch dishes. A little pricey, and wine costs extra. Recorded tour narration can be loud; you may have to share a table with other passengers, which can ruin a romantic evening. Cruise and 3 courses dinner €115-125. edit
Nightclubs in Amsterdam are centered around two squares, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Close to the latter is the Reguliersdwarsstraat, the gay street of Amsterdam. In between these squares are plenty of smaller bars and pubs that are also fun at daytime.
Bars and pubs
- 't Arendsnest, Herengracht 90 (Intersection of Herenstraat and Herengracht), ☎ +31 20 421 20 57, . Su-Th 2PM-midnight, F-Sa: 2PM-2AM. Excellent biercafe serving only Dutch beers and liqueurs, including jenever. Around 30 beers on tap, 17 or so which change regularly, and over 100 bottled. Very friendly bartenders who know beer well and give great recommendations. Try the €8 sampler, which gives you 12cl samples of 3 beers with a glass of water and some crackers. edit
- Dan Murphy's, Leidseplein 7, ☎ +31 20 422 32 85, . One of the many Irish pubs in the city. People from all over the world meet here and watch football, rugby and typical Irish sports like hurling and Gaelic football while drinking a pint of Guinness. edit
- Feijoa, Vijzelstraat 39 (Tram Rembrandtplein), ☎ +31 6 53 726 137. Cocktail bar with a lovely atmosphere, pleasant music and friendly staff, including one of the Netherlands leading cocktail barmen. Will make any cocktail you ask for. edit
- Hard Rock Cafe, Max Euweplein 61 (Tram Leidseplein, at Max Euweplein), ☎ +31 20 523 76 25. This is close to, or right next to the Holland Casino also close to the Leidseplein. Great service, great food, and plenty of drinks. edit
- Maloe Melo, Lijnbaansgracht 163, . Sun-Thu: 3 AM, Fri-Sat: 4 AM. Small blues bar which is seperated in two parts: a free part in the front, €5 entrance fee in the back where blues or rock 'n' roll bands play live every night of the week. edit
- Mulligans Irish Music Bar, Amstel 100, . The oldest Irish bar in Amsterdam, Mulligans has live music most nights. This is where the traditional music crowd gathers. edit
- l'Opera, Rembrandtplein 27-29 (Tram Rembrandtplein), ☎ +31 20 620 47 54, . A friendly spot for coffee, a beer, or something stronger. You may at first only notice the outside seating and the enclosed terrace, but there is also an elegant, (usually) quieter indoor area. Food, too, but you don't see many eaters. edit
- Whisky Cafe L&B, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 82-84 (Tram: Leidseplein), ☎ +31 6 245 541 62, . If you like whisky, this small, laid-back and friendly cafe is the ideal place to visit. Many unusual whiskies from independent bottlers and closed distilleries are available. The menu stretches along one wall and is about 2 meters in height, the cafe having had 1001 whiskies available since they opened. Just be warned the stairs to the toilets are pretty steep! edit
- AIR, Amstelstraat 16 (Tram: Rembrandtplein), . edit Opens at various hours during regular clubnights, from Thursday until Sunday, check the program here for exact opening hours. The office is open Tuesday to Friday, during 10am-6pm. Admission: approximately €15. You have to buy an Air Card to pay your drinks. You can put credit on this card at the counter. With this card you also pay your locker for your jacket or purse. The overall atmosphere is trendy and a little dark. The club is brand new and has a nice modern design. Club Air has two areas where the DJ’s play house music. The crowd can be called casual. At the bar you can get a beer for € 2,50 and a wine for € 3,10. Because you pay with your Air Card you do not have to wait too long for your drinks. There is enough space to walk even though there are a lot of people there and the music is not too loud and you can hear it all over the club.
- Chicago Social Club, Leidseplein 12 (Tram Leidseplein), . Amsterdam's nightlife king Casper Reinders joined with the founders of Bitterzoet and the owners of Boom Chicago to bring quality clubbing to the Leidspelein. edit
- Club HOME, Wagenstraat 7 (Tram Rembrandtplein), . edit
- Escape, Rembrandtplein 11 (Tram Rembrandtplein), . A large, fairly uninspiring nightclub that mostly plays mainstream house music. The first hall is large and attracts the more or less wannabe hip people of the city, although the crowd is diverse. The second hall upstairs has a completely different audience, mostly hip-hop and R&B enthusiasts. At some events Escape is split in two, which means you can use the backside entry at Amstel for a different party. edit
- Jimmy Woo, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18 (Tram Leidseplein), . The most glamorous club in Amsterdam offers a selection of house and r&b, with a spectacularly lit dance floor downstairs. It is relatively small and there is table service, so it feels a bit like a VIP-room. Entry policy is strict so dress sharp to get in. And boys, don't come alone. edit
- Paradiso, Weteringschans 6 (Tram Leidseplein), . Sometimes referred to as a nightclub, it feels more like a nightly music venue and is the safest bet in town. Its interior is phenomenal as it is housed in a former church, but the main room has relatively bad acoustics. It gets a mixed crowd as there are plenty of rooms with different bands performing and it isn't too crazy expensive. Its music straddles the line between pop and alternative. Much of the performances are rock, but it can really be anything: don't be surprised to be dancing the Russian troika with thousands of people on a Wednesday night. It gets fairly packed, as is obvious by the huge line on the weekends, especially after 01:00. edit
- Studio 80, Rembrandtplein 17 (Tram Rembrandtplein), . This is a somewhat more underground, intimate club that's easy to miss because of its flashy neighbours. It prides itself by trying to stay on the forefront of electronic music in the city. edit
- Sugar Factory, Lijnbaansgracht 238 (Tram Leidseplein), ☎ +31 20 626 50 06, . Bit of a remarkable place that integrates art, music, culture, theatre and nightclub into one. It has a relaxed atmosphere with an eccentric artisty audience. Around €10. edit
- The Cave Rockclub, Prinsengracht 472 (Tram: Prinsengracht), ☎ +31 20 626 89 39, . Cozy metal bar with friendly barstaff and interesting regulars, with live performances by touring metal bands on weekends. edit
- Waterhole, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 49 (Tram Leidseplein), ☎ +31 20 620 89 04, . Su-Th: 3 AM, Fri-Sat: 4 AM. Light rock/funk jam sessions in a dingy but atmospheric bar with pooltables. Live bands play every night of the week. €1, entrance fee includes wardrobe. edit
- The Greenhouse Centrum, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 191, 1012 EW, ☎ +31 20 627 1739. 9am – 1am, every day. It is the most famous coffee and smoke shop in Amsterdam, a must see! It is canal side, right in the mix of the Red Light District and other tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Great staff, lovely views just outside looking over the canal, with the imposing National Opera & Ballet building over-hanging this beautiful coffee shop. Also great music to chill out to and savior the atmosphere while smoking or drinking, or both! Their coffee is something to die for but this goes for the rest of Amsterdam to be fair. edit
- Café Hoppe, Spui 18-20, ☎ +31 20 420 44 20. As one of the oldest remaining bars of Amsterdam this is still as popular as ever. The famous Freddy Heineken used to visit the place and some say this was his favorite watering hole. The waiters still show some proper class, know their way around and never too shy for a quick chat. The sand on the floor was used for keeping the floor workable in the old days when chewing tobacco was still in swing. Enjoy a nice fresh glass of Amstel in combination with a proper old jenever from Van Wees. They also serve some of the best “bitterballen” in town! It has great traditional Dutch food, get the croquettes! edit
- Café Luxembourg, Spui 24, ☎ +31 20 620 6264. 9am – 1am, Sun – Thurs; 9am – 2am, Fri – Sat. It is located right next door to Hoppe, more expensive but better service and high end food. This café is more upmarket and could lay claim to being a Grand-Café with its exquisite interior with Art-Deco ceiling lights. The front of the café has a large conservatory and is perfect to watch all the activity happening around this area of Amsterdam. At the back a crystal chandelier hangs above a raised area overlooking the Singel canal. The staff is pristine in appearance with white aproned attire and are very friendly. Great place to stop on the way to Amsterdam train station to get the train to the airport. edit
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
|| Under €80
|| €80 to €150
|| Over €150
- Mozart Hotel, Prinsengracht 518-520, ☎ +31 20 620 95 46, . 47 en-suite rooms. Singles €50, doubles €110. edit
- Hotel Nicolaas Witsen, Nicolaas Witsenstraat 4-8 (Tram 4: Frederiksplein), ☎ +31 20 620 51 13 ([email protected]), . €75. edit
- Blue Moon Bed & Breakfast, Weteringschans 123A, ☎ +31 20 428 88 00, . Bed & Breakfast in the centre of Amsterdam opposite the Rijksmuseum. From €105 to €165. edit
- Cocomama, Westeinde 18, ☎ +31 6272 454, . checkin: 4 pm; checkout: 12 pm. Amsterdam's first boutique hostel. Free wifi, garden, fully equipped kitchen for guest use, livingroom. Very social atmosphere. All rooms en suite. Private room €76 to €126, dorm €26 - €48. edit
- Hotel de Paris', Marnixstraat 372, ☎ +31 20 623 75 24, . Three star hotel. From €99. edit
- Hotel La Boheme, Marnixstraat 415, ☎ +31 (0)20 624 2828, . Two star hotel with very friendly staff. Clean rooms and free wi fi. €80-130. edit
- Jewel Canal Apartments, Singel 235, ☎ +31 6 244 575 93, . Two canal side apartments in the center of Amsterdam, close to the Dam Square. Suitable for holiday and business stays. Free high speed internet. From €109 to €179. edit
- Marnix Hotel, Marnixstraat 382, ☎ +31 20 664 6111. 2 star hotel with dorm beds. €79-95, dorm €30 per person. edit
- Hotel Nicolaas Witsen, Nicolaas Witsenstraat 4, ☎ +31 20 626 65 46 ([email protected], fax: +31 20 620 51 13), . 3-star hotel in the city center of Amsterdam nearby Heineken factory. €132. edit
- Eden Amsterdam American Hotel (A member of Summit Hotels and Resorts), Leidsekade 97, ☎ +31 (0) 20 5563000, . Listed as an Art Nouveau monument, the hotel is right in the heart of Leidseplein Square. Both Café Americain and Bar Americain are in the hotel, famous for celebrity and VIP spotting. €100-200. edit
- Hotel Ambassade, Herengracht 341, ☎ +31 20 555 02 22, . Four star hotel on one of the main canals. Writers that stayed here left signed copies of their books in the hotel's library. €195. edit
- Hotel Pulitzer, Prinsengracht 315-331, ☎ +31 20 523 52 35, . 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses overlooking two of the city's most picturesque canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, and made famous in Ocean's 12. €259. edit
CoffeeCompany offers free Wi-Fi at Leidsegracht, the walking street from the Old Center to Leiden Square.