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Europe > Benelux > Netherlands > Western Netherlands > North Holland > Amstelland > Amsterdam > Amsterdam/Canal District

Canal District

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The Canal District (Dutch: Grachtengordel) is the famous 17th-century district surrounding the Binnenstad of Amsterdam. The whole district is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique cultural and historical value, and its property values are among the highest of the country.

This article also deals with the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein, the two prime nightlife spots of the city. The Weteringschans is also included.

Understand[edit]

Map of Amsterdam/Canal District

Get in[edit]

By tram[edit]

The most convenient way to get into the Canal District is by tram. From Central Station, the most important tram lines are 1, 2 and 5 which go right through the middle of the Canal District, cutting the western and the southern side of it in half. Notable stops include Koningsplein, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Leidseplein). The Rembrandtplein can be reached with tram lines 4, 9 and 14.

The other lines only cross either the western side or the southern side of the district. Tram lines 13 and 17 head for the western side, with the stop Westerkerk as the most notable one as the Anne Frank House is nearby. Trams 16, 24 and 25 go through the southern side of the Canal District with the stops Keizersgracht and Weteringscircuit. East of it is tram line 4 that continues to Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Frederikplein after having served the Rembrandtplein.

See[edit]

Canals of Amsterdam

Architecture[edit]

As the name implies, the main attraction of the Canal District are the canals and the rich architectural heritage of this area. Built in the 17th century, the merchant-based oligarchy that ruled the trading city of Amsterdam built canal houses and mansions in the most prestigious locations, especially along the main canals. The city office for architectural heritage BMA has a chronological list of the most important ones:

  • Singel 140-142, De Dolphijn (circa 1600).
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 14, Wapen van Riga (1605).
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 57, De Gecroonde Raep (1615), in Baroque Amsterdam Renaissance style.
  • Herengracht 170-172, Bartolotti House (circa 1617).
  • Keizersgracht 123, House with the Heads (1622).
  • Herengracht 168 (1638).
  • Rokin 145 (1643).
  • Kloveniersburgwal 29, Trip House (1662).
  • Oudezijds Voorburgwal 187 (1663).
  • Singel 104-106 (1743).
  • Singel 36, Zeevrugt (1763).
  • 1 Magere Brug (tram 4 to Prinsengracht). The Magere Brug, literally "Skinny Bridge", is a bridge that spans the Amstel River and connects the Kerkstraat with the Nieuwe Kerkstraat. It an iconic bridge that consists of nine arches and a drawbridge that is still operated by hand. The current bridge is made of white-painted wood, but it has been rebuilt several times and historically it has also been in concrete. The first bridge here was built in 1691, but the current one dates from 1934. It is one of the most photographed bridges of Amsterdam, especially at night because of the 1200 tiny lights that make it look like a picture-perfect postcard. Magere Brug on Wikipedia Magere Brug (Q1344400) on Wikidata

Museums[edit]

  • 2 Anne Frank House (Anne Frankhuis), Prinsengracht 267 (Tram Westermarkt), +31 20 556 71 00. The house where the Jewish girl Anne Frank wrote her diary while hiding with her family from the Nazis. One must buy tickets online, only 20% are issued on the same day so buy them in advance. The Anne Frank House is open later during the summer. Museumkaart is valid, I Amsterdam Card is not valid. €9. Anne Frank House on Wikipedia Anne Frank House (Q165366) on Wikidata
  • 3 Museum Het Grachtenhuis (The Museum of the Canals), Herengracht 386. Het Grachtenhuis is the gateway to the world famous Canal District. Het Grachtenhuis tells the fascinating story about how Amsterdam's Canal District was created by a multi-media exhibition. €12. nl:Het Grachtenhuis on Wikipedia (Q2574390) on Wikidata
  • 4 Cat Cabinet (KattenKabinet), Herengracht 497, +31 20 626 53 78. A cat museum. Housed in a beautiful restored palatial home in an upscale area street - very Masterpiece Theater. It was opened by the homeowner after his favourite cat died... and he still lives in the home. Lots of cat-related art, and two real felines. The exhibition is spread across the first floor of the house. €5. KattenKabinet on Wikipedia KattenKabinet (Q2916386) on Wikidata
  • 5 Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Herengracht 605, +31 20 523 18 22. Mo-Fr 10am-5pm, Sa-Su 11am-5pm. It is the only fully furnished canalside patrician house in Amsterdam that is open to the public. The museum has a large collection of silverware, plates, and books from the Dutch Golden Age. It also has a substantial collection of art. €9. Museum Willet-Holthuysen on Wikipedia Museum Willet-Holthuysen (Q1886176) on Wikidata
  • 6 Amsterdam Pipe Museum (Pijpenkabinet), Prinsengracht 488 (tram 1, 2, 5 stop Prinsengracht), +31 20 4211779, e-mail: . 12.00-18.00. Unique collection of smoking pipes in an authentic canal house from 1670. In the historic ambiance of the collector's house his collection of pipes covering 2,500 years is displayed. Visitors get a personal tour by enthusiast volunteers of the foundation that also runs the speciality shop in the basement: a huge selection of nearly 3,000 modern briar pipes are for sale, next to collectibles and books on pipes and tobacco. 8 €. Amsterdam Pipe Museum on Wikipedia Pijpenkabinet & Smokiana (Q2218690) on Wikidata
  • 7 Museum Van Loon, Keizersgracht 672. 17th century house with interior restored with furnishings to how it looked in the 18th century. Also interesting to see a garden you would not normally see form the streets. Museum Van Loon on Wikipedia Museum Van Loon (Q2191110) on Wikidata

Churches[edit]

  • 8 Westerkerk, +31 20 624 77 66, fax: +31 20 627 64 93. Apr-Sep M-F 11:00-15:00. Built in 1620-1631, located on Westermarkt near the Anne Frank House. You can climb the tower (with guide only) every half hour, M-Sa €6. The tower is also open in the winter by group appointment (maximum 10 people) for €70/hr. In good weather you can see all of Amsterdam, and as far as the coast. Free organ concert held every Friday at 13:00. Free. Westerkerk on Wikipedia Westerkerk (Q1130722) on Wikidata

Monuments[edit]

  • 9 Homomonument, Westermarkt (Tram Westermarkt), +31 20 551 2512. The Homomonument is a memorial to gays and lesbians murdered in World War II, a call for vigilance against homophobia, and an inspiration for gays and lesbians the world over. It consists of three equilateral triangles made of pink granite that are connected by an inlaid band of pink bricks. These three triangles represent the past, present and future. Homomonument on Wikipedia Homomonument (Q51411) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

  • 1 De Poezenboot, Singel 38 G. You really like cats? The poezenboot (cat boat) is a refuge for cats awaiting adoption. nl:De Poezenboot (Amsterdam) on Wikipedia Catboat (Q15976264) on Wikidata
  • 2 Ignatiushuis, Beulingstraat 11. A Jesuit society that organizes classes and activities. Membership required, but every Tuesday (Sep-Jul) a free concert is given at 12:30-13:00. Everyone can attend.
  • 3 Pathé Tuschinski, Reguliersbreestraat 26-34 (tram 4, 9, 16, 24 or 25 to Muntplein), +31 0900-1458. 11:30-00:30 daily. Since its opening in 1921, Tuschinski has been the country's most breathtaking film theatre. It's worth a visit if only for its interior, a spectacular mix of Art Nouveau, Amsterdam School and Art Deco styles. If possible, get a tour of the building, taking in the sumptuous private rooms upstairs. If you're going to watch a film, pick the one that's in the big auditorium. With the exception of some animated films, all English films are subtitled and not dubbed, so you should be able to enjoy the standard Hollywood fare the way it's meant to be seen. €11.50. Tuschinski on Wikipedia Theater Tuschinski (Q599272) on Wikidata
  • 4 Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Vijzelstraat 32 (tram 16 or 24 to Keizersgracht), +31 20 251-1511. Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 12:00-17:00. This institute maintains the archives of the municipality and other organizations that are closely related to Amsterdam. The archives are open for everyone. Most interesting for travelers are the exhibitions and events, see the website. Amsterdam City Archives on Wikipedia Amsterdam Municipal Archives (Q2170763) on Wikidata

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Bloemenmarkt (tram 1, 2 or 5 to Koningsplein). The world's only floating flower market, open daily on the Singel between Koningsplein and Muntplein. It is very touristy, but you could do worse than buying your tulips here. Make sure you buy pre-approved bulbs if taking them to the U.S. or Canada. They will have the holographic licence and export tag on the bag. Bloemenmarkt on Wikipedia Bloemenmarkt (Q643079) on Wikidata
  • 2 The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes). Nine narrow streets enclosed between the main canals from the Prinsengracht to the Singel, south-west of Dam Square. The northernmost street is Reestraat and to the south is the Runstraat. The streetnames are marked with a sign of the Nine Streets, and some shops have a flyer of this area. You can find a lot of boutiques, specialist shops, galleries and restaurants here. Negen Straatjes on Wikipedia Negen Straatjes (Q1980981) on Wikidata
  • 3 De Beeldenwinkel Sculpture Gallery, Berenstraat 29. This is a gallery for sculpture lovers, with bronze statues, pottery, abstract sculpture, raku-fired statues and marble figures sculpture to suit every budget and taste.

Eat[edit]

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Below €20
Mid-range €20-50
Splurge €50+

Most foreigners grab a restaurant in the area around the Leidsestraat. While there are some good restaurants in that area, be wary as there are a lot of overpriced tourist traps as well.

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Pancakes! Amsterdam, Berenstraat 38, +31 20 528 9797. Amazing variety of both sweet and savory pancakes. Quaint atmosphere and the street side tables are great to watch people. The only downfall is that street side tables attract too many tourists asking for directions.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 3 De Blauwe Hollander, Leidsekruisstraat 28, +31-20-6270251. Noon-10 PM. Dutch restaurant with an extensive menu of hearty home cooked dishes like herrings, pea soup and hutspot. Unlike most restaurants in this area, this one gets local diners too, and if it gets crowded enough you may have to share tables. Pancakes served only until 5 PM. €20.
  • 4 Damsteeg, Reestraat 28-32. They specialise in fish dishes, but they also have a wide variety of meat and vegetarian meals to choose from. With bar.
  • 5 Letting, Prinsenstraat 3. Indian-owned breakfast, brunch and lunch spot. Letting offers a range of soups, sandwiches and scones, and it's on a street which is packed with an ever-changing line-up of fun boutiques.
  • 6 Holtkamp, Vijzelgracht 15, +31 6248757. M-F 8-18:00, Sa 8-17:00. Best pastry cafe in Amsterdam. Much better than the Zeitan, which as many recommend. Do try the "holdkampf" with fillings! The Sachertorte is famous as a favorite of the former Queen Beatrix.

Splurge[edit]

  • 7 Akbar, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 15 (near Leidseplein). Indian restaurant, Muslim (halal) / Hindu (no beef). Good quality dishes from different regions of India. Main courses €15-20.
  • 8 La Margarita, Reguliersdwarsstraat 49 (near Rembrandtplein and the flower market), +31 20 623 07 07. Daily 5PM-11PM. This Caribbean restaurant offers a huge range of plates, including three different vegetarian options. Every dish comes with ample sides of white rice, black beans, plantains, and vegetables. In addition to having great food, the restaurant is decked out with a range of fantastic and magic-realist art. If you like your food hot, be sure to ask for the special home-made hot sauce. Reservations accepted. €20-30 per person, with drinks.

Drink[edit]

Nightclubs in Amsterdam are centered around two squares, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Close to the latter is the Reguliersdwarsstraat, the gay street of Amsterdam. In between these squares are plenty of smaller bars and pubs that are also fun at daytime.

Bars and pubs[edit]

  • 1 't Arendsnest, Herengracht 90 (Intersection of Herenstraat and Herengracht), +31 20 421 20 57. Su-Th 4PM-midnight, F-Sa: 4PM-2AM. Excellent biercafe serving only Dutch beers and liqueurs, including jenever. Around 30 beers on tap, 17 or so which change regularly, and over 100 bottled. Very friendly bartenders who know beer well and give great recommendations. Try the €8 sampler, which gives you 12cl samples of 3 beers with a glass of water and some crackers.
  • 2 Dan Murphy's, Leidseplein 24, +31 20 422 32 85. One of the many Irish pubs in the city. People from all over the world meet here and watch football, rugby and typical Irish sports like hurling and Gaelic football while drinking a pint of Guinness.
  • 3 Feijoa, Vijzelstraat 39 (Tram Rembrandtplein), +31 6 53 726 137. Cocktail bar with a lovely atmosphere, pleasant music and friendly staff, including one of the Netherlands leading cocktail barmen. Will make any cocktail you ask for.
  • 4 Hard Rock Cafe, Max Euweplein 61 (Tram Leidseplein, at Max Euweplein), +31 20 523 76 25. This is close to, or right next to the Holland Casino also close to the Leidseplein. Great service, great food, and plenty of drinks.
  • 5 Mulligans Irish Music Bar, Amstel 100. The oldest Irish bar in Amsterdam, Mulligans has live music most nights. This is where the traditional music crowd gathers.
  • 6 l'Opera, Rembrandtplein 27-29 (Tram Rembrandtplein), +31 20 620 47 54. A friendly spot for coffee, a beer, or something stronger. You may at first only notice the outside seating and the enclosed terrace, but there is also an elegant, (usually) quieter indoor area. Food, too, but you don't see many eaters.
  • 7 Whisky Cafe L&B, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 82-84 (Tram: Leidseplein), +31 6 245 541 62. If you like whisky, this small, laid-back and friendly cafe is the ideal place to visit. Many unusual whiskies from independent bottlers and closed distilleries are available. The menu stretches along one wall and is about 2 meters in height, the cafe having had 1001 whiskies available since they opened. Just be warned the stairs to the toilets are pretty steep!

Nightclubs[edit]

  • AIR, Amstelstraat 16 (Tram: Rembrandtplein).
  • Chicago Social Club, Leidseplein 12 (Tram Leidseplein). Amsterdam's nightlife king Casper Reinders joined with the founders of Bitterzoet and the owners of Boom Chicago to bring quality clubbing to the Leidspelein.
  • Club HOME, Wagenstraat 7 (Tram Rembrandtplein).
  • Escape, Rembrandtplein 11 (Tram Rembrandtplein). A large, fairly uninspiring nightclub that mostly plays mainstream house music. The first hall is large and attracts the more or less wannabe hip people of the city, although the crowd is diverse. The second hall upstairs has a completely different audience, mostly hip-hop and R&B enthusiasts. At some events Escape is split in two, which means you can use the backside entry at Amstel for a different party.
  • Jimmy Woo, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18 (Tram Leidseplein). The most glamorous club in Amsterdam offers a selection of house and r&b, with a spectacularly lit dance floor downstairs. It is relatively small and there is table service, so it feels a bit like a VIP-room. Entry policy is strict so dress sharp to get in. And boys, don't come alone.
  • Melkweg, Lijnbaansgracht 234 (Tram Leidseplein). A former milk factory, now it's one of the best live venues of Amsterdam. Its interior is not as good as Paradiso, but it feels more like a nightclub as the music is dance/trance oriented. Popular among university students and younger tourists, it's a great place to go out till the sun gets up. Rates can vary widely, and go very steep during special events.
  • Paradiso, Weteringschans 6 (Tram Leidseplein). Sometimes referred to as a nightclub, it feels more like a nightly music venue and is the safest bet in town. Its interior is phenomenal as it is housed in a former church, but the main room has relatively bad acoustics. It gets a mixed crowd as there are plenty of rooms with different bands performing and it isn't too crazy expensive. Its music straddles the line between pop and alternative. Much of the performances are rock, but it can really be anything: don't be surprised to be dancing the Russian troika with thousands of people on a Wednesday night. It gets fairly packed, as is obvious by the huge line on the weekends, especially after 01:00.
  • Studio 80, Rembrandtplein 17 (Tram Rembrandtplein). This is a somewhat more underground, intimate club that's easy to miss because of its flashy neighbours. It prides itself by trying to stay on the forefront of electronic music in the city.
  • Sugar Factory, Lijnbaansgracht 238 (Tram Leidseplein), +31 20 626 50 06. Bit of a remarkable place that integrates art, music, culture, theatre and nightclub into one. It has a relaxed atmosphere with an eccentric artistry audience. Around €10.
  • The Cave Rockclub, Prinsengracht 472 (Tram: Prinsengracht), +31 20 626 89 39. Cozy metal bar with friendly barstaff and interesting regulars, with live performances by touring metal bands on weekends.
  • Waterhole, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 49 (Tram Leidseplein), +31 20 620 89 04. Su-Th: 3 AM, Fri-Sat: 4 AM. Light rock/funk jam sessions in a dingy but atmospheric bar with pooltables. Live bands play every night of the week. €1, entrance fee includes wardrobe.

Coffeeshops[edit]

  • Betty Too, Reguliersdwarsstraat 29. Absolute gem, cozy and friendly place with moderate prizes and interesting, international crowd.
  • Bulldog, Leidseplein 13-17. This is the original shop that used to be a police department. Now it turned into a chain of touristy coffeeshops, bars, hotels and even an energy drink.
  • Global Chillage, Kerkstraat 51. Good produce and nice tunes but uncomfortable seating.
  • Grey Area, Oude Leliestraat 2. Tiny, but famous for their outstanding weed, especially "American" strains.
  • The Otherside, Reguliersdwarsstraat 6. Gay coffeeshop.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €80
Mid-range €80 to €150
Splurge Over €150

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Hans Brinker Hostel, Kerkstraat 136-138 (tram 1 to Keizersgracht), +31 20 622-0687. Very light atmosphere and doesn't take itself seriously. Bar and downstairs club. dorm €24+ per person.
  • 4 Hotel Asterisk, Den Texstraat 16 (From the station - Tram 16, 24, 25: Weteringscircuit), +31 20 626 2396, fax: +31 20 638 2790, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Smallish, but clean and quiet rooms in two buildings across a residential street. Generous check-in/checkout, good breakfast (included). Close to tram stop, walk to Rijks/van Gogh museums. €70, knock off a couple of euros by booking directly on their site.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 6 Cocomama, Westeinde 18, +31 6272 454. Check-in: 4 pm, check-out: 12 pm. Amsterdam's first boutique hostel. Free wifi, garden, fully equipped kitchen for guest use, livingroom. Very social atmosphere. All rooms en suite. Private room €76 to €126, dorm €26 - €48.

Splurge[edit]

  • 9 Eden Amsterdam American Hotel (A member of Summit Hotels and Resorts), Leidsekade 97, +31 20 5563000. Listed as an Art Nouveau monument, the hotel is right in the heart of Leidseplein Square. Both Café Americain and Bar Americain are in the hotel, famous for celebrity and VIP spotting. €100-200.
  • 10 Hotel Ambassade, Herengracht 341, +31 20 555 02 22. Four star hotel on one of the main canals. Writers that stayed here left signed copies of their books in the hotel's library. €195.
  • 11 Hotel Pulitzer, Prinsengracht 315-331, +31 20 523 52 35. 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses overlooking two of the city's most picturesque canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, and made famous in Ocean's 12. €259.

Connect[edit]

CoffeeCompany offers free Wi-Fi at Leidsegracht, the walking street from the Binnenstad to Leidseplein.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Canal District
Binnenstad  N Amsterdam unofficial tram icon line 5.svg S  ZuidAmstelveen
Binnenstad  N Amsterdam unofficial tram icon line 9.svg S  WaterloopleinPlantageDiemen
Binnenstad  N Amsterdam unofficial tram icon lines 16 and 24.svg S  Zuid
WestJordaan  W Amsterdam unofficial tram icon line 17.svg E  Binnenstad


This district travel guide to Canal District is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.