Where to stay in Amsterdam for first time: 7 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Amsterdam as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Amsterdam for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Amsterdam for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Amsterdam and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, famous for its picturesque canals, vibrant cultural scene, historic architecture, and liberal atmosphere. It’s a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. 

Some of the city’s famous landmarks include the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the historic neighborhoods of Jordaan and De Pijp. 

Amsterdam is also renowned for its cycling culture, with bike paths crisscrossing the city and making it easy to navigate its streets on two wheels. Additionally, the city is known for its diverse culinary scene, encompassing everything from traditional Dutch dishes to international cuisine.

The city has an extensive canal network, which dates back to the 17th century. These canals, along with the narrow houses lining them, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and are a major attraction for tourists.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District is famous for its legalized prostitution, coffee shops selling marijuana, and vibrant nightlife. It’s a unique aspect of Amsterdam’s culture and draws many tourists, although it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Is Amsterdam safe to visit?

Yes, Amsterdam is generally a safe place to visit. Like any major city, it’s essential to remain aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid petty crimes such as pickpocketing, especially in crowded tourist areas and public transportation. 

If you rent a bike, familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules and bike lanes. Always lock your bike securely when leaving it unattended. Be mindful of bicycle traffic if you’re walking around the city. Always look both ways before crossing the street, even if you have the pedestrian signal.

Avoid walking alone late at night in poorly lit areas. Stick to well-lit, populated streets. Stay away from the edge of the canals, and avoid walking or cycling too close to them, especially at night. 

While marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, it’s best to avoid purchasing or using drugs, especially from street dealers. Aside from the legal risks, there can be safety concerns associated with drug use.

Where to stay in Amsterdam for the first time?

The best and safe neighborhoods to stay in Amsterdam for first-timers and tourists are Oude Centrum, Canal Belt, Jordaan, Museum Quarter, Oud-West, De Pijp, and Amsterdam-Oost. It’s always wise to take standard safety precautions and use common sense wherever you stay.

Oude Centrum is the most popular base for first-time visitors. It is the heart of Amsterdam and includes iconic areas like Dam Square, Rembrandt Square, and the Red Light District. Staying here puts you within walking distance to the Anne Frank House, Royal Palace, Central Station, and numerous museums.

Jordaan is a safe and charming area that is known for its picturesque canals, trendy boutiques, and cozy cafes. It’s slightly quieter than downtown but still close to major sights like the Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk.

De Pijp is a vibrant neighborhood famous for its diverse food scene, including the Albert Cuyp Market. It’s also home to the Heineken Experience and the beautiful Sarphatipark. De Pijp has a lively atmosphere and is popular with young locals and tourists alike.

Staying near Museumplein and Oud-West are a great choice, especially if you’re primarily interested in museums. This area is home to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum, making it perfect for art lovers.

While most of Amsterdam is generally safe to stay, there are still some areas you might want to exercise high caution or avoid, particularly at night. The Red Light District can be crowded and chaotic, with a high concentration of drug dealers and pickpockets, and the atmosphere might not be suitable for everyone.

Other areas with high safety concern to avoid include Bijlmermeer, Slotervaart, and Zeedijk. Also be cautious around the Central station, which is generally safe during the day, they can become a bit sketchy at night, particularly for solo travelers.

During my trip to Amsterdam, I stayed at the mid-range Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam. It was in a prime location, close to everything, including the main train station, and major attractions such as Dam Square and Royal Palace. The room size was nice and spacious. The bed was comfortable for a good night sleep.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Amsterdam for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Amsterdam first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Amsterdam first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Amsterdam, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Amsterdam have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Best/ Safe areas to stay in Amsterdam for first-timers and tourists:

1. Oude Centrum

The Oude Centrum, or Old Center, is an excellent area for first-timers and tourists to stay in Amsterdam. It is in the historic heart of Amsterdam, making it easy to explore the city’s top attractions on foot. These include the famous Dam Square, Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, and Red Light District.

The Oude Centrum is characterized by its narrow streets, centuries-old buildings, and picturesque canals. Wandering through this area feels like stepping back in time, offering a glimpse into Amsterdam’s rich history and heritage.

Aside from the major landmarks, Oude Centrum is also home to numerous museums, galleries, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Whether you’re interested in history, art, shopping, or dining, you’ll find plenty to explore in this neighborhood.

Oude Centrum is known for its lively atmosphere, particularly in areas like the Red Light District and Nieuwmarkt. You’ll encounter bustling street markets, vibrant nightlife, and a diverse mix of people from around the world.

Oude Centrum is well-connected by public transportation. Central Station, the main transportation hub, is located at the northern edge of the neighborhood, providing access to trains, trams, and buses.

 Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, budget hostels, or boutique guesthouses, Oude Centrum offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam Oude Centrum for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Anantara Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky Amsterdam, popular 5-star hotel, located in the heart of Amsterdam, close to everything including the Dam Square, Royal Palace, and Central Station. It has  a Michelin Star restaurant, a winter garden, wonderful Breakfast, and spacious rooms. Easy access to several tram lines nearby. It can be noisy due to its central location, so you can ask for quiet rooms.

Luxury ($$$): Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam, an IHG Hotel, 5-star hotel in a prime location close to the Central Station and easy access to major sights. You can walk with your luggages from the train station to the hotel. It has free use of bikes, 24-hour front desk, and a fitness center.

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Estheréa, 4-star beautiful hotel in a quiet area along the Singel canal in central Amsterdam.It is within walking distance from many museums, shopping districts, and nightlife. There are many cafés and restaurants in its surroundings.

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Mai Amsterdam, great 4-star hotel in the heart of Amsterdam yet not noisy. It is close to the main train station, a very practical base for easy access from the airport. It is also on the edge of the red light district, a great area for food and nightlife. Easy access to tram, metro, ferry for further exploration. 

Budget ($): Singel Hotel Amsterdam, 3-star lovely small hotel located right on the canal, central but quiet. Only 10 mins walk from the Central Station. Easy access to all major attractions on foot/ by trams. Close to Anne Frank’s House, Koepelkerk, Dam Square, and Martelaarsgracht Tram Stop.


2. Canal Belt

Choosing to stay in the Canal Belt of Amsterdam is an excellent option for first-timers and tourists. The Canal Belt, also known as Grachtengordel, is famous for its stunning canals, beautiful historic buildings. Staying here offers you picturesque views and a quintessential Amsterdam experience.

Similar to Oude Centrum, the Canal Belt is centrally located, offering easy access to many of Amsterdam’s top attractions. You’ll find yourself within walking distance of landmarks like the Anne Frank House, Westerkerk, Leidseplein, and the Nine Streets shopping district.

While still being central, the Canal Belt tends to be slightly quieter and more relaxed compared to the bustling streets of Oude Centrum. It offers a peaceful ambiance, perfect for leisurely strolls along the canals or enjoying a drink at a waterside cafe.

The Canal Belt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its well-preserved 17th-century architecture. Staying here allows you to admire the elegant canal houses, adorned with ornate gables and historic facades, that are characteristic of Amsterdam’s Golden Age.

The Canal Belt is home to several museums, art galleries, and theaters. You can explore the Museum Van Loon, the Museum of Bags and Purses, or catch a performance at the Royal Theater Carré.

The Canal Belt consists of several distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality and charm. Whether you’re staying in the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, or Prinsengracht area, you’ll find plenty of charming cafes, boutique shops, and hidden gems to discover.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam in Canal Belt for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Pulitzer Amsterdam, 5-star charming hotel, located on the Canal Belt along the famous Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals, near De 9 Straatjes. Rooms are compact with traditional and modern Dutch design. Some rooms are reached by curved tight stairs (common in Amsterdam). Easy access to Famous attractions on foot. Close to Westermarkt Tram stop Westermarkt. 

Mid-range ($$): Banks Mansion – All Inclusive Boutique Hotel, 4-star hotel, located at the edge of the famous Herengracht canal in Grachtengordel, perfect location for walking to all major attractions. Close to the old city and buzzing Leidseplein nightlife hub. 5 mins walk to local sights like the Hermitage Museum, Rembrandtplein, Flower market. The hotel has wooden rental bikes and a tour desk.  

Budget ($): ‘t Hotel, 3-star boutique  hotel on the picturesque Leliegracht 18, between the old center and the vibrant Jordaan neighborhood. It is only a short walking distance of Anne Frank’s house and the Royal Palace. You can enjoy fabulous views on the canal. Just be mindful of the steep staircase (part of the character of the building), but there is also a stair lift if required/ or ask for room on the 1st floor.


3. Jordaan

Jordaan is a great base for an unique and authentic Amsterdam experience. It is a picturesque area that is known for its narrow streets, historic buildings, and charming canals. Originally a working-class area, the Jordaan has undergone gentrification but still retains much of its original character. 

The neighborhood is now home to trendy boutiques, cozy cafes, art galleries, and bustling markets. It’s also known for its vibrant arts scene and lively atmosphere, particularly during events like the Jordaan Festival and the weekly markets at Noordermarkt. 

The Anne Frank House, one of Amsterdam’s most famous attractions, is located on the edge of the Jordaan. It is located in the house where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II. It provides a poignant insight into the life of Anne Frank and the horrors of the Holocaust.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam in Jordaan:

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Mercier, 4-star hotel in a quiet safe street in Jordaan, lovely area with lots of cafes and shops beside the canal. It  features air-conditioned rooms, a garden, fabulous breakfast, 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space. Close to Anne Frank House, Royal Palace and Leidseplein. 

Budget ($): Mr. Jordaan, 3-star hotel centrally located in a nice safe neighborhood, within walking distance from Anne Frank House, 9 streets, and the trendy Food Hallen market. It has very good breakfast, Baggage storage, and 24-hour front desk. It has a lift, which is a bonus, as many places in Amsterdam don’t have this facility. 

Budget ($): Linden Hotel, popular3-star  little hotel on Lindengracht in the quiet Jordaan district, a short walk from Anne Frank House, Westerkerk Church, and  Nieuwe Willemsstraat tram stop. Rooms despite being a bit small (a characteristic of Amsterdam ) but it has everything in it.


4. Museum Quarter

Opting to stay in the Museum Quarter of Amsterdam is an excellent choice for first-time visitors and tourists who have a particular interest in art, culture, and luxury experiences.

The Museum Quarter is home to some of Amsterdam’s most renowned museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum. These institutions house vast collections of art and artifacts, ranging from masterpieces by Dutch masters to contemporary works by international artists.

In addition to its museums, the Museum Quarter boasts the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s leading concert halls, offers classical music performances, while the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra delights audiences with its acclaimed repertoire.

The Museum Quarter is bordered by the expansive Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s most famous park. You can enjoy leisurely walks, picnics, and outdoor activities amidst lush greenery, ponds, and winding pathways. The park also hosts various events, concerts, and performances throughout the year.

The Museum Quarter is dotted with upscale shopping streets, including P.C. Hooftstraat and Van Baerlestraat. These avenues feature designer boutiques, high-end fashion brands, and luxury retailers, making it an ideal destination for indulging in retail therapy.

The Museum Quarter offers a diverse culinary scene, with a plethora of restaurants, cafes, and eateries to suit every taste and budget. Whether you’re craving Michelin-starred cuisine, international flavors, or traditional Dutch dishes, you’ll find plenty of dining options to satisfy your palate.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam in Museum Quarter:

Luxury ($$$): Conservatorium Hotel, 5-star lovely hotel in the heart of  the museum district,  within walking distance from the famous Royal Concert Hall, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Vondelpark. It has an indoor swimming pool and comfortable rooms with spacious bathrooms.

Mid-range ($$): Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam, 4-star hotel, near Vondelpark, in Amsterdam’s Uptown Oud-Zuid district. Easy access to Museum Square and the lively Little Paris where you can find high-end shops, restaurants and bars. Within walking distance from Cornelis Schuytstraat tram stop for links to Leidse Square, and The Central Station.

Budget ($): Hotel Aalders, 3-star hotel, conveniently located on a quiet, pretty street, close to the core museums (Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum), the lively Leidseplein, Vondelpark, and tram stop for links to central Amsterdam. Only a few mins walk to Mercadona supermarket and Albert Heijn.  Easily accessible from the airport via a bus station nearby.  They have an elevator, which is very convenient.


5. Oud-West

Oud-West is a great base for a more authentic, local atmosphere, and easy access to major sights.

This area is home to the famous De Hallen complex, which houses a food hall, boutique shops, a cinema, and a hotel. The Vondelpark is also within walking distance from Oud-West.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam in Oud-West:

Luxury ($$$): Amsterdam Marriott Hotel, 5-star stylish hotel, in Oud West, close to the vibrant Leidse Square. It has a fitness center, family rooms, good breakfast, and private parking. 

Mid-range ($$): Huygens Place Amsterdam, popular 4-star hotel located within 5 mins walk from Leidseplein and from the airport bus stop, featuring non-smoking rooms, 24-hour front desk, a sun terrace, and Elevator.

Budget ($): The ED Amsterdam, 3-star good boutique hotel located near the Museums Quarter and Leidseplein. Close to public transport, restaurants and some attractions.


6. De Pijp

De Pijp is known for its bohemian atmosphere, diverse population, and bustling street markets like the Albert Cuyp Market. This area is also home to the Heineken Experience, Sarphatipark, and numerous trendy bars and restaurants. De Pijp offers a lively vibe with a mix of cultures and cuisines.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam in De Pijp:

Luxury ($$$): Pestana Amsterdam Riverside, 5-star hotel near De Pijp and the Albert Cuyp Market street market. It has an onsite restaurant, fitness center, spa/massage services, and an indoor swimming pool. Within 15 mins walk from Heineken Experience and Carre Theater. Easy access to Amstel railway station  for train to the lovely town of Utrecht.

Budget ($): ibis Styles Amsterdam City, 3-star hotel near De Pijp and the Amstel River. Within walking distance to plenty of bars and restaurants. Easy access to Various trams, to explore the rest of the city.  You can get anywhere from this hotel.

Budget ($): Bicycle Hotel Amsterdam, 1-star eco-friendly hotel, a 5-minute walk from the Albert Cuyp Market, offering budget accommodations with shared/private bathrooms, and a bike rental service. There are many shops and eateries nearby.


7. Amsterdam-Oost

Amsterdam-Oost is an up-and-coming neighborhood with a diverse array of attractions, including the trendy Javastraat, Oosterpark, and the Tropenmuseum. This area offers a more local experience away from the tourist crowds, with a vibrant culinary scene and cultural diversity.

You can explore Plantage, a leafy neighborhood, home to the Artis Royal Zoo, the Hortus Botanicus, and the impressive Portuguese Synagogue. It’s a quieter area compared to the city center but still close to attractions and well-served by public transportation.

Best places to stay in Amsterdam-Oost for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): Hyatt Regency Amsterdam, 5-star hotel, 20-25 minutes walk to the Dam Square. It is a bit removed from the downtown, but only a few steps away from the underground metro for easy access to the city center. You can choose to stay in rooms with canal views. 

Mid-range ($$): Zoku Amsterdam, 4-star sustainable apartment hotel, in a lovely location in Amsterdam. The location is a little out of the city center and means a 15 minute walk to get to most of the tourist attractions, 5 minutes from a metro station.

Mid-range ($$): citizenM Amstel Amsterdam, 4-star accommodation located next to a metro station, short walk to Utrechtsestraat, home of many nice restaurants and pubs. Close to Artis Zoo, Rembrandt House, and Dutch National Opera and Ballet.


In conclusion, Oude Centrum, Canal Belt, Jordaan, Museum Quarter, Oud-West, and De Pijp are the best places to stay in Amsterdam for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas to book your accommodations, but it is important to use common sense regardless of the neighborhoods you are in.

You can continue reading about Amsterdam and the Netherlands in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Amsterdam. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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