Most Amsterdam visitors tend to gravitate towards its Red Light District (known as De Wallen) and old city centre of rickety townhouses and concentric canals. But the neighbourhoods beyond this are filled with lesser-known delights that are worth exploring.
We looked at data detailing the places travellers frequent outside of the typical tourist zones and mapped out a walking route highlighting the west of Amsterdam – here are the essential sights, bites and stops to make time for.*
Start your walking tour in the Haarlemmerbuurt neighbourhood
Make your base this stylish B&B and begin your walk in the Haarlemmerbuurt neighbourhood just west of Central Station. Here you’ll find a choice of shops and eateries but head straight to Toki, a quiet café just off the main thoroughfare – Haarlemmerdijk – for an expertly poured coffee to go.
Head to 17th-century landmark, Noorderkerk, and Noordermarkt, where you'll find weekly markets
Noorderkerk is a six-minute walk away and one of the Jordaan neighbourhood’s major landmarks. It’s a 17th-century church that was initially built to serve the northern part of the neighbourhood and while it still conducts its holy duties, it’s now also a multipurpose venue used for exhibitions and events. The square in front of it is a hive of activity where weekly farmers markets and clothing sales take place (usually on Saturdays and Mondays). Have a wander around the stalls and the square, which is surrounded by pretty, ivy-covered buildings.
Stroll through the Jordaan neighbourhood's leafy streets towards Winkel 43, a café just below the spires of Noorderkerk
After working up an appetite on foot, head west from Elandsgracht to Winkel 43 – a café and Jordaan institution found just below the spires of Noorderkerk. Here, you can sit outside and people-watch under pinstriped awnings with a slice of the café’s legendary apple pie; it’s a generous mound of crumbly, golden pastry filled to the brim with tart apple and topped with a tower of whipped cream. Enjoy out on the terrace for a spot of people-watching, too.
Westerkerk and Homomonument
Visit Westerkerk (the Netherlands largest church) and the Homomonument, an LGBT memorial aside the canal
Wander down the Prinsengracht until you reach the Westerkerk, the Netherlands largest church, the highest church tower in Amsterdam and the one-time burial place of celebrated Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (until his remains were removed). Its crowned spire has long been a symbol of the city and you’ll catch sight of it from afar. It’s currently undergoing renovation which, when complete, will allow visitors to clamber up for unblemished views of Amsterdam. Lesser-known but just as important is the Homomonument that is just off to the side of the church adjoining the canal. This triangular monument is made up of three pink, granite triangles to commemorate the LGBT victims of the Nazi regime. Best seen from above or across the water, it’s often ornamented with colourful wreaths and is the focal point for Pride celebrations in Amsterdam.
Expect gabled houses, petite bridges, cobbled streets and convivial cafés in the Jordaan
Next, the now-upscale but once working-class Jordaan, an area traditionally known for its canals and convivial cafés. In the late 20th century, folk music flourished in this impoverished neighbourhood, where local bruin bars were frequently filled with live renditions of romantic songs about hardship and love. Standing at the top of one of its main streets, Elandsgracht, you’ll see a collection of bronze, accordion-wielding statues of the area’s most famous musical exports, including Dutch singer Johnny Jordaan. Head towards the Tweede Egelantiersdwarsstraat, where you’ll find a selection of intimate cafés and eateries.
Waterkant is a bar that's popular with people pulling up their boats for an alfresco aperitif
Keep wandering through the Jordaan’s labyrinthine cobbled streets and canals, past gabled houses and over petite bridges towards Waterkant, a bar beside the water that’s a popular spot where people often pull up their boats for an alfresco aperitif. Stop here for a revitalising juice or spritz with Dutch or Surinamese snacks (try the cod croquettes with spicy piccalilli).
Have lunch in De Hallen (a renovated tram depot that’s now a buzzing food hall plus cinema)
Head to De Hallen (a renovated tram depot that’s now a buzzing food hall plus cinema) in the Oud-West area for lunch. Perch yourself at the bar of the gin or beer bar and round up a few plates of dim sum, pintxos and tacos. And stop by The Maker Store just opposite, where you can pick up a range of handcrafted goods from a local craftsperson.
Revitalise with a coffee or a cocktail at beloved Amsterdam brunch spot, Little Collins
If you’re in need of a boost and are hitting a post-lunch slump, you’re in luck – coffee powerhouse Little Collins is just around the corner. Retrace your steps along the Kinkerstraat for one block and veer left on Bilderdijkstraat to get here. When you do the order’s simple – opt for one of Amsterdam’s best cappuccinos.
Pop into the leafy enclave that is Wildernis, a plant shop across the street from Little Collins
Now, you’re in the Costabuurt neighbourhood of Oud-West, which is brimming with photogenic boutiques like plant shop, Wildernis (across the street from Little Collins). Pick up a little cactus or a photo of yourself amid this beautiful shop’s leafy enclaves for a picturesque pitstop.
Try the 'Beer of the Moment' at Checkpoint Charlie, a music café with a pretty patio
Make your way north along the Bilderdijkstraat through Amsterdam's Frederik Hendrikbuurt neighbourhood and its eponymous main street, known to locals as simply ‘Fred’. While predominantly a residential area, this jumble of townhouses and green squares makes for a pleasant and quiet walk after the buzz of the day’s previous areas. You’ll eventually reach Checkpoint Charlie, a music café with a patio primed for an afternoon drink. Choose from a range of draught beers (their ‘Beer of the Moment’ is always a fun surprise) and sit out on the terrace or have a go on the pinball machine in the low-lit alcove games room at the back.
Westerpark is ideal for late afternoon strolls and early evening jaunts
Westerpark is a 10-minute walk away and the penultimate stop on your walk. Ideal for late afternoon strolls and early evening jaunts combined with a stop at one of the park’s bars or cafés. The Conscious Café is a drinks spot for a coffee or aperitif, decorated in rich racing greens and baby pinks, with statement additions including a wall-to-wall aquarium. If you’ve got a sweet craving, get your fill of free samples from popular Dutch chocolate brand’s Tony’s Chocolonely store. There’s every flavour imaginable here including limited editions. Snap a picture of the kaleidoscopic chocolate wall, too. One of Amsterdam’s most popular microbreweries, Brouwerij Troost, is right next door; a cavernous drinking hall that specialises in local brews. Order a beer, gin or genever and a round of bitterballen (deep fried croquettes).
Round your trip off with a short meander towards art deco cinema, The Movies
Round your trip off with a short meander towards The Movies, an art deco cinema with a retro red and light bulb-lit sign that’s been drawing in punters since 1912. This nostalgic venue screens mainly art house cinema and small cult movies, alongside the odd blockbuster. The thick, soft red carpet, matching velvet upholstery and wooden bar and restaurant create an olde worlde feel; make an evening of it by having a meal or drink after the film, while reminiscing on your Amsterdam adventure.
**Using internal data, our data scientists found the most photographed sights around Amsterdam, focusing on those outside of the city centre tourist zone. They then connected these popular spots to draw up a walking tour slightly off-the-beaten-track.