Amsterdam Region: Center

Amsterdam Terrace

Where it all Begins—The Amsterdam Centrum

Amsterdam Centrum. How can one describe it? It’s like a gigantic magnet that draws one and all: Amsterdammers (or Mokummers), tourists, newcomers, students, and the expats who number approximately half the population of Amsterdam. Are you looking for culture and museums? Are the shops calling out your name? How about the culinary delights and the canals? Or are you looking for accommodation and helpful services to help you get settled? Then take a look at a few suggestions below.

What to see, do, eat, and drink

The canals are what characterise Amsterdam Centre. The Canal Ring (Grachtengordel), now on the World Heritage list, was built in the 17th century. The Ring consists of the four main canals that form an almost mathematical design of four concentric semicircles. The Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht, turn the focus of all eyes towards the beauty at the heart of Amsterdam, and its tall, gabled homes. One such example of the Golden Age of Amsterdam will have you calling your real estate agent. The Willet-Holthuysen Museum on Herengracht 605, its authentic period furnishings, and its symmetrical garden, will keep you occupied for hours, wishing it was yours.

Use the canals for transportation! Many historical sites, museums, and cafés overlook the canals. Visit the poignant Anne Frank House at Prinsengracht 263, the famous Rijksmuseum at Museumstraat 1, and if you’re looking for “cheesy” souvenirs, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum at Prinsengracht 112. Their “souvenirs” are indeed, expertly packed for travelling.

Now that the cheese has built up your appetite (well, perhaps), there is no reason why you shouldn’t take a canal tour simply for the pleasure of it. Relax at the end of a busy day of work, play, or study. Enjoy dinner with your cruise, or if dinner on the water is not your thing, simply view the water from Rembrandts Bar, while imbibing the sounds of folksy Dutch music. Or, mingle with long-time Mokummers at the oldest bar in Amsterdam, Café Karpershoek. Located at Martelaarsgracht 2, this bar started out as a guesthouse in 1602. History tells us that hardened criminals were executed nearby, but don’t worry too much about that. Just order your Heineken, enjoy some great conversation, and you’ll soon forget about that little morsel from the past.

Shop till you drop

It’s not easy to come up with an adjective that can accurately label De 9 Straatjes (The Nine Little Streets). The official website describes it as “picturesque”, “quirky” and “wonderful”. Others call it trendy, perfect, or special. You’ll need to decide this for yourself because whatever your taste in shopping or dining, you’ll find just your thing in these nine little streets that are formed by the crisscrossing of three canals. Take a walk around, and absorb the ambiance. And don’t leave your camera behind!

Moving past the Nine Little Streets into the rest of the Jordaan neighbourhood, brings you more delights from the world of shopping. The Jordaan has become an upscale neighbourhood, defying the decay that reached its height at the beginning of the 20th century. For some interesting shopping, try the Kitsch Kitchen, where you may be surprised to find that many of the attractive items are not “kitschy”. Then, it’s worth a visit to the Almost Summer T-shirt shop, if only because the name of the shop is so inviting!

Accommodation

Whether you are planning an extended stay in the Amsterdam Centre, or are just donning your tourist hat for a week or two, you do need a roof over your head. There is no shortage of online information on accommodation in Amsterdam Centrum, so we will restrict our list to a couple of more unusual options.

The Exchange Hotel

If you have an eye for fashion, The Exchange Hotel on Damrak 50 is for you. Each room has been designed by a student from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Yes, the students are studying fashion, not architecture or interior design. Each room is so different that the hotel’s star ratings are allocated separately to each room! Bonus treat: Sample the pancakes at the popular Café STOCK inside the hotel.

SWEETS center Hotel

There’s nothing like it! Really, it should be labelled in the plural as SWEETS Hotels. The “rooms” are 15 cosy little houses that are rich in the history of Amsterdam. Some have been converted from old bridge houses that are directly over the river. One example is the Amstelschutsluis, which was originally built in 1673, and can only be reached by boat. Each little hotel accommodates no more than two adults, so reserve your room now! But don’t worry, 13 more SWEETS are on their way!

Short-term rentals center (minimum one week)

If you are a newcomer, student, business traveller, or expat, you may be interested in what is known as a Short-Stay apartment. They are typically serviced, furnished, and equipped with whatever you need for a stay from one week to a few months. Accommodation in Amsterdam Centrum is more costly than other areas of Amsterdam, so a short-stay may be just what you need before you make a more permanent move.

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