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One Day in City Center Amsterdam

Are you coming to Amsterdam looking for that fairy-tale vibe you have seen in thousands of pictures? Then, go to the City Center Amsterdam neighborhood. Located just in the middle of the city, surrounded by water, City Center Amsterdam will deliver what Amsterdam has promised you: cute little streets lined with narrow penchant buildings overseeing the famous canals, people carrying flowers while biking across tiny bridges, and many Instagram-perfect spots. Whether you are considering living there or visiting the city for the weekend, come with us to discover City Center Amsterdam.

With its origins dating back to the 13th century, City Center Amsterdam is the city’s oldest neighborhood. It expanded significantly during the Dutch Golden Age, and its iconic canal ring became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. Amsterdam City Center is still home to many Amsterdammers, although the neighborhood focuses more on tourism and attractions. Each area within the neighborhood is different: from the trendy Jordaan to the literary hub of De Spui to the edgy Red Light District. Read this guide to find out our top picks on how to spend a great day in the City Center.

Best Coffee in City Center Amsterdam

Saint-Jean Amsterdam

Some of the best vegan baked goods you’ve ever tasted. Try the almond cream croissant, pistachio cruffin, and caramel-stuffed cruffin. The cruffins are crispy and flaky on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They are stuffed with thick caramel cream or pistachio and are heaven.


Located in the famous Haarlemmerdijk street, Lova is an excellent place to stop for a coffee after your walk through Jordaan. They also offer a small but perfectly curated brunch menu, in case you get hungry!

Best Brunch places in City Center Amsterdam


Greenwoods is a great choice in the center with a vegan menu. The food is excellent, and the service is great, especially in the city’s center. Even if it is busy, the service remains excellent and fast. Note: this restaurant serves meat. Their Singel location is next to Anne Frank if that is on your Amsterdam Itinerary.

Bakers & Roasters

Restaurant Table showing a bloody mary and someone pouring a beer out of a yellow can

This place has been on the top list for some time and for a good reason! Expect delicious pancakes, many egg dishes, and lots of vegetarian options. It’s the perfect place to cure the hangover after a night out in the Red Light District!

Best Dinner spots in City Center Amsterdam


Bowl of Ramen soup shown with dumplings

The best ramen in town! Hinata has just a few tables, and the vibe is very low-key. It’s the perfect place for an easy mid-week dinner catch-up with friends.

La Maschera

La Maschera is our favorite Italian place in Jordaan. Great Italian in the same neighborhood as Anne Frank if you are already there.

Best Drinks in City Center Amsterdam

Bar Oldenhof

Women smiling with a glass of wine and a cocktail

The most well-known speak-easy of Amsterdam, and for a reason! Bar Oldenhof has a wide and great selection of cocktails. Take a seat and relax in their super cozy chairs!


Troost is everything you want in a brewery: fantastic beer, a full meatless menu, and an amazing relaxed vibe. There are locations across Amsterdam, but the one in Westerpark is my favorite. Try the excellent New England IPA beer, which has won many European awards. All the burgers are fantastic. All have outdoor seating to enjoy beers in the sun with delicious bites. If you are in the Westerpark location in Bos en Lommer, check out the exhibit at Fabrique des Lumeries afterward for a breathtaking visual experience and a great date night idea!

Top Activities in City Center Amsterdam

I am not even sure where to start! There are so many activities and attractions in this neighborhood that it is hard to pick. If you are visiting, the Amsterdam City Card is a fantastic way to see the main sites of Amsterdam with a much lower cost since it is included in the card. Remember that most museums and attractions are sold out, so buying tickets in advance is highly recommended.

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Attractions and Activities

  • Anne Frank House Museum: a must-visit when in Amsterdam. Visitors can explore the secret annex where Anne wrote her famous diary, offering a powerful and touching glimpse into her life and the horrors of the Holocaust.
  • Dam Square: Right in the middle of the city, Dam Square is Amsterdam’s main point of reference. You can use it as a starting point to visit De Jordaan’s canals, the Red Light District, and the famous de Bijenkorf or De 9 Straatjes, as well as to do some shopping.
  • Red Light District: despite its controversial nature, the Red Light District is still one of Amsterdam’s most visited areas. Apart from its iconic red-lit windows, the area offers beautiful views of canals and a lively nightlife scene.
  • Canal tour and bike tour: Cruise alongside the canals, sitting comfortably on a nice boat and sipping a drink, or engage in a little physical activity and explore the city on two wheels. These are the best ways to see the city!


  • King’s Day: celebrated on April 27th, this national holiday honors King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. Grab something orange to wear (anything, really!) and go around Amsterdam’s City Center to immerse yourself in Dutch culture! You’ll be up for a very fun party with street markets, live music corners, and boat parties!
Boats on a Canal in City Center Amsterdam on Kings day with everyone in orange
  • Pride: celebrated the first week of August; this is a key event for the city, with the main highlight being the Canal Parade on Saturday. Just grab a spot alongside the canal and enjoy the parade.

Where to stay in City Center Amsterdam

If this is your first time visiting Amsterdam, City Center is definitely the place to stay. There are plenty of choices for all budgets and needs.

  • Hotel Nes: offers an excellent location right in front of the Amstel River. All the attractions are within 15 minutes’ walking distance, and it’s super quiet at night.
  • The Flying Pig Downtown: this hostel has flying reviews and offers dormitory and private accommodation, perfect if you are on a budget
  • Amsterdam Wiechmann Hotel: a lovely hotel in one of Amsterdam’s most picturesque corners, just 10 minutes from Anne Frank’s house.
  • Pulitzer Amsterdam: this charming 5-star hotel, just a couple of minutes away from De 9 Straatjes, has everything you need, including Jansz restaurant (one of Amsterdam’s most loved fine-dining restaurants).

For who is City Center Amsterdam

  • Expats coming to the city for the first time and wanting to get to know the city from its very heart
  • Visitors wishing to immerse themselves in Dutch culture
  • People looking for the perfect picture spot

Amsterdam City Center will deliver your expectations and even more. It might get crowded sometimes, but it’s totally worth it.

Canal houses over a bridge in Amsterdam