The Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam’s 7 Districts and top neighborhoods

Francesca

Aug 29 • 10 minute read

Finding the right place to live in Amsterdam can be overwhelming. Firstly, Amsterdam’s 26 neighborhoods are spread across 7 districts, each with its own distinct vibe and history. Secondly, Amsterdam is notoriously known for the shortage and difficulty of finding affordable housing.

Did you know that the average rental price for a studio in Amsterdam in 2021 is €1057?

Selecting the best neighborhood in Amsterdam will depend on your preferences, priorities, and purpose of stay. This neighborhood guide will help you narrow down the best areas in Amsterdam by taking into account quality of life, public transport, internationality, and safety.

About Amsterdam’s neighborhoods

Decided to move to Amsterdam? Great choice! Amsterdam ranks 11th in the quality of life ranking worldwide and 6th in the world when it comes to safety!

But when it comes to rent prices, Amsterdam is not your friend. None of the centrally located neighborhoods is cheap and even the neighborhoods that were neglected in the past are becoming popular. To get an idea, check this map of the value of properties in the city of Amsterdam, which also reflects in the rental prices.

This meteoric rise in rental prices is largely due to Amsterdam’s popularity among expats. In fact, an Amsterdam research group (OIS) predicts that Amsterdam will have over a million residents by 2032.

More than ever, it is important to pick the right district or neighborhood to suit your budget and preferences. Find out your dream Amsterdam neighborhood below.

7 Districts of Amsterdam

There are 7 residential districts (stadsdelen) in Amsterdam.

  1. Centrum
  2. Oost
  3. West
  4. Nieuw-West
  5. Noord
  6. Zuid
  7. Zuidoost

Each district is divided into 26 neighborhoods (wijk or buurt in Dutch) and over 100 sub-neighborhoods.

Amsterdam District: Centrum

Quality of life

Location: Centrum is what you recognise the most from those stunning Instagram videos or movie scenes. Think the Red Lights District, the Canal Belt, Jordaan, or the Dam Square. It is the busiest part of the city and perfect for you if you love the liveliness of city life and want to frequently visit some of the city’s best nightclubs, theaters and museums.

​​You’ll also find a lot of beauty here, thanks to the picturesque cobbled streets, romantic bridges, high-end shopping areas, stunning grand architecture, world-class cultural attractions, and charming market squares packed with restaurants and bars.

Top Neighborhood: Jordaan. Everything about Jordaan is vibrant and trendy. Its narrow streets lead to eccentric outlets for shopping, including some of the city’s most premier markets, such as the one at Noordermarkt square. You will feel very alive in the hustle and bustle of Jordaan and its numerous bars, restaurants, or nightclubs. If you don’t mind the expensive rents or tourists at every corner, you’ll love being at the center of things and walking around surrounded by beauty.

Rental prices: Central living comes at a price. Expect to pay a fortune for even the most modest apartments, especially in Jordaan and on the Canal Belt. The median monthly price for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment is €1,575.

Public transport: You are better off with a cycle in the Centre as everything is closeby. But Centrum is also well-served by metro, tram, and bus supplied by GVB. Amsterdam Central Station is in this district and a train to Schiphol airport will only take 15 minutes.

Internationality

There are 19,876 expats living in Centrum in 2021. On top of that, Amsterdam is hands-down the most popular tourist destination in The Netherlands and you can often hear expats speaking a variety of languages on the streets or cafes.

Safety

Due to the high number of tourists, Centrum is the preferred playground for pickpocketers. But because the streets in Centrum are always busy, you will never feel alone or unsafe, even late at night.

Amsterdam District: Oost

Quality of life

Location: Oost (East) is a historic district which includes a mix of everything: from the up-scale and peaceful De Plantage, to more diverse areas in the Indische Buurt packed with hip bars, Surinamese delis, Turkish bakeries, and Middle Eastern lunchrooms. Along the river IJ, the historic warehouses of the Oostelijke Havengebied (Eastern Docklands) have been repurposed into cultural hotspots and the quiet residential area of IJburg has even a beach – a haven for relaxation and watersports.

Top Neighborhood: Indische Buurt. The multicultural Indische Buurt district is perfect for young expats. This area has a fantastic location as you're at the center of the action, whilst enjoying the river and the village-like feel of the area.

Rental prices: Generally Oost is more affordable than Centrum, although prices can vary significantly across this district. The median monthly price for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment in the Eastern Docklands is €1050.

Public transport: Set just east of the center, you can easily bike or even walk to many area attractions, the university campuses, and local businesses. Or you can hop on a bus or tram to reach Centrum in 22 minutes.

Internationality

There are 23,660 expats living in Oost in 2021. You can find a lot of international students since the University of Amsterdam has two campuses in the area. The Indische Buurt, together with the Eastern Docklands is a favorite of young professionals.

Safety

Oost is a safe neighbourhood. Just watch out for the usual pickpocketing of tourists and bicycle theft.

Amsterdam District: West

Quality of life

Location: The West is an up and coming multicultural district popular with students, young professionals, and artists. It’s a great place for those looking for a cheaper lifestyle while still being within an easy cycling distance of the city center.

For the nature lovers, you will find the Erasmuspark, Westerpark, Vondelpark and Rembrandtpark nearby. For the culture hungry ones, you’ll find a bohemian vibe that mixes well with the eclectic array of shops and local eateries, including the ever-popular food hall De Hallen. There are some vibrant local hotspots and outdoor markets in Bos en Lommer (BoLo), cozy terraces in Westerpark and more affluent buildings in Oud-West.

Top Neighborhood: BoLo. Bos en Lommer is an up-and-coming multicultural area whose streets are lined with delis alongside trendy cafes. The stalls at the bustling outdoor market sell everything from spices to textiles. The nearby Podium Mozaïek is a performing arts space that hosts eclectic concerts and plays. Here you’ll be inspired by artists and creatives alike that have decided to call BoLo their new home.

Rental prices: The district was originally built for the city’s diverse working-class population. Rents are relatively affordable and generally drop off as you move further west. The median monthly price for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment in BoLo is €1,150.

Public transport: You can easily bike or get to the Sloterdijk station which has connections to Centrum, Schiphol, The Hague, and Haarlem.

Internationality

There are 29.174 expats living in the West in 2021. The multicultural Bo-Lo and De Baarjes are especially popular with students, artists and families. West is particularly popular with the British, Italians, and Germans.

Safety

West was generally considered unsafe due to the large multicultural community and low-income projects. However, the situation has improved in the past years and now the district is receiving increasing interest.

Amsterdam District: Nieuw-West

Quality of life

Location: Nieuw-West is known for its green areas and lakes, such as the beautiful Sloterplas Lake and Rembrandt Park. Its peaceful green oasis also hosts some of the city’s leading sports events, vibrant nightlife, and music festivals.

Top Neighborhood: Slotervaart. Slootervart is a short distance from both the beautiful Westerpark and the Sloterplas, where you’ll be able to experience a calmer pace and relax in one of the many green areas. You will also be close to the train and metro station Lelylaan.

Rental prices: You’ll find a lot more bang for your buck in Nieuw-West, with larger homes available for relatively cheaper rates. You’ll easily get a 3-4- bedroom apartment for the price of a studio in more affluent areas.

Public transport: Metro, tram, and bus routes connect Nieuw-West to the rest of Amsterdam. Lelylaan station has trains to Schiphol, Rotterdam, and The Hague.

Internationality

Nieuw-West is an increasingly popular area for internationals with 30,517 expats living here in 2021. You can expect to find a lot of Turkish, Moroccan, Bulgarian, and Spanish people here.

Safety

Nowadays, the West is turning it into an attractive neighborhood as more and more people are choosing to live here.

Amsterdam District: Noord

Quality of life

Location: Noord lies in the north of the Ij river from where you can get a fantastic view of the skyline of Amsterdam. It’s been a booming area since this area’s been connected to the rest of Amsterdam with metro, bridge, and ferry.

It’s a perfect place for those wanting to stay away from the hustle-bustle of the city centre. Here, the industrial architecture blends into the countryside. NDSM Wharf has become a creative haven, where flea markets, pop-up restaurants, waterside hangouts, and buzzing nightlife venues are mushrooming. Many festivals and events are held in this area, especially at the busy Volewijkspark, with its swimming pool and other recreational attractions. You can also expect to find lots of opportunities to hear live music. Paradiso is a favorite venue amongst Amsterdam’s younger population. Apart from this, you can find quaint, quiet residential neighborhoods and lots of green parks.

Top Neighborhood: Ijplein en Vogelwijk. Living here you will have easy access to both the ferry to Central Station and the metro station Noorderpark. Constant new developments, loft conversions, and trendy restaurants show that this area is still up-and-coming.

Rental prices: In Noord the prices are generally lower and houses more spacious. The median monthly price for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment is €1050.

Public transport You can reach Noord using the frequent and free ferry ride from the Central Station or the metro line that links Noord with Centrum and Zuidas.

Internationality

Noord is a neighborhood fit for diverse people with diverse interests. Since it’s a comparatively new residential area, there are currently 12.837 expats living in Noord.

Safety

Noord is just as safe as some of the other neighborhoods in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam District: Zuid

Quality of life

Location: Zuid (South) is a huge district which includes everything from the Vondelpark, the Museum Quarter the up-market boutiques of Oud Zuid, De Pijp, and the university and business area of Zuidas. There is an air of luxury here, thanks to the historic museums or boutique scene. It borders Amstelveen to the south, which while officially being another municipality, is so well connected by public transport that it still feels like Amsterdam.

Top Neighborhood: Zuidas. Zuidas is the city's financial district and is home to the Vrije University of Amsterdam. The area is booming with restaurants and upscale cocktail bars and is very popular among students and expats alike.

Rental prices: Expect to pay a lot for a place anywhere near Vondelpark and Museumplein. Rental prices will decrease south of the A10 ring road and train line. The median monthly price for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment is €1,170.

Public transport: The Zuidas business district is super well connected by tram, metro, train, and bus. You can reach Amsterdam Centraal in 14 minutes with the metro.

Internationality

There are 31,391 expats living in Amsterdam Zuid. De Pijp has become extremely popular among expats because of its location, shops, and bars at every corner. The Zuidas area is also exceptionally popular with students and expats due to the proximity to The Vrije University of Amsterdam and many office buildings.

Safety

Due to the popularity of the district with tourists, you need to be aware of pickpocketers.

Amsterdam District: Zuid-Oost

Quality of life

Location: Zuid-Oost, also known as Bijlmer, is home to big entertainment venues, such as the Johan Cruijff Arena, AFAS Live, and the Ziggo Dome. It’s as far away as you can get from your typical image of Amsterdam, but it’s a vibrant melting pot and a side of Amsterdam that shouldn't be overlooked.

Zuid-Oost has been popular with immigrants since the 1960s. Situated just about 10 km from the City Center, you’re just close enough to be convenient and just far enough away to find housing at affordable rates. This is a popular area for renting two-bedroom houses and is perfect for young families or for living with roommates. This area is also perfect for young people who like to stay active. You’ll be close to green areas, where you can take advantage of the walking and jogging trails.

Top Neighborhood: Venserpolder. Because of student housing nearby, you’ll find a lot of international and young professionals. You will live close to World of Food, an indoor food market housed in an old parking garage, and the other big entertainment venues. Despite being a bit far from Centrum, you’ll not get bored easily!

Rental prices: Prices in Zuid-Oost tend to be comparatively more affordable due to the distance from the center and the lack of popularity of the district. The median monthly price for a studio or 1-bedroom apartment is €950.

Public transport: Cycling into Centrum takes over 30 minutes, but the metro and bus connections are good, as well as train links to Utrecht and further afield.

Internationality

There are 2,026 expats living in Zuid-Oost. You’ll find both the local community and expats and students who want to pay a bit less for their accommodation.

Safety

Although safe during the day, Zuid-Oost still suffers from crime at night more than the other Amsterdam areas. So if you’re wondering where not to live in Amsterdam, then this might be it. But crime rates have reduced substantially in recent years, thanks to recent renovation projects.

Amsterdam Districts at a Glance

DistrictAvg. cost for studioNo. of ExpatsSafetyAvg. public transport time to Schiphol
Centrum€1,57519,876515 mins
Oost€105023,660522 mins
West€1,15029.174420 mins
Nieuw-West€1,10030,517430 mins
Noord€105012.837517 mins
Zuid€1,17031,391416 mins
Zuidoost€9502,0263.526 mins

Now that you know where to live when moving to Amsterdam, you can go on and check other items off your relocation checklist!

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