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Written by Rosina Majid   

Amsterdam Centrum

Once arriving at Amsterdam Central train station you will find yourself in the heart of city’s Centrum (Centre) district. The Centrum itself can be divided into many smaller neighbourhoods sprawled out in either direction from the foot of Central Station. The area around the Dam, De Wallen (Red Light District) and Nieuwmarkt form the oldest part of the city.

The Dam dates back to 1270 when it was built as a preventative measure for floods. Today it is a bustling square and major tourist attraction where the Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk and Madam Tussaud’s are located. This is also a great area for shopping, with the Kalverstraat and its high street shops and boutiques just left of the Royal Palace. There are also two big indoor shopping centres nearby. Just behind the palace is Magna Plaza, a super-deluxe department store, while opposite the Dam square is the renowned department store chain de Bijenkorf.

From this central point it is very easy to walk over to the Red Light District and past its bars, windows, sex shops and theatres and peep shows. Its neighboring streets include Zeedijk in Amsterdam’s Chinatown where many Asian restaurants can be found, as well as the Fo Kuang Shan temple. At the end of the Zeedijk lies the old Nieuwemarkt square, lined with cosy cafes and restaurants packed with locals and tourists alike.

Not too far down the road from the Dam is Rembrandtplein, which has for over a century been the nightlife centre of Amsterdam. This lively square is densely populated with restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and outdoor terraces, perfect to sit and watch the world go by on summer days.

Towards the west of Central Station is the popular Jordaan district, brimming with bohemian cafes, bars and trendy shops, some of which are found on the tightly packed Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets). Jordaan is also where the world famous grachtengordel (Canal Belt) starts. The canal belt consists of several crescent-shaped canal rings that were dug up around the old city centre during the 17th century Golden Age. Along the canals you can enjoy everything from organized to private cruises, a range of interesting museums, lunch or dinner on quaint canal-side terraces, to free concerts during the annual Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival).

Other areas that fall under Centrum include the Old Jewish Quarter and Waterlooplein heading towards the east of Amsterdam. Here you can explore the city’s rich Jewish history and also visit the city’s largest outdoor flea market to pick up a few antique bargains. Another area worth visiting is the Spiegelkwartier (Mirror District). Besides the hordes of artistic restaurants, almost every building houses a gallery making this area an art-lover’s paradise. Be sure to drop by restaurant RED on the Spiegelstraat where lobster or beef filet is all they have on their menu. Before leaving Amsterdam, spending a little time on the IJ waterfront is not to be missed. Attractions in this area range from the Maritime Museum to Nemo, a science museum for kids and their parents.

The Centrum, with all its neighborhoods, offers a wide selection of places to stay during your visit. There’s everything from budget right up to luxury accommodation, whether it’s a hotel or private apartment. Click here for a list of accommodation in Amsterdam Centrum. As widespread as the Centrum may be, it is very easy to get around on foot in this district, with a pair of good walking shoes of course! Although taxis, motor or pedal driven, are readily available for a pretty penny, public transport is the cheapest way to get around. Trams and Metro (subway) lines regularly depart from Amsterdam Central Station to most areas in the city.


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