The Old Center -- The oldest, most central district of Amsterdam centers on the rackety Dam Square, Oude Kerk , and the Nieuwmarkt and is probably best known for containing the infamous Red Light District, which lies between the two canals Oudezijds Voorburgwaal and Oudezijds Achterburgwaal. Despite its seedy reputation, it is safe and well policed. A recent gentrification policy has seen more restaurants and design stores moving into the area.

Canal Ring -- The concentric band of three canals that surround the Old Center was built in the 17th century as the cramped, disease-ridden old city drastically needed to expand. Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht today form an aristocratic enclave of grand town houses overlooking the three canals. Some of the city’s smartest hotels and many major attractions lie within this belt, including the Westerkerk , the Anne Frank Huis , the Canal House Museum, and the Willet-Holthuysen Museum  along with more niche attractions like the pipe  and biblical museums .

Jordaan -- This area of formerly artisanal housing lining narrow canals interspersed with hump-backed ridges is now the favored residential area of Amsterdam’s intelligentsia. There are lots of bars and traditional brown cafes to discover as well as innovative art galleries and design studios. Jordaan also has scores of canal-house hotels tucked into its pretty lanes, a world away from the Red Light District yet only a 10-minute walk.

Museum Quarter -- Housing Amsterdam’s triumvirate of heavyweight art museums, the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum, this quarter is also home to the Concertgebouw concert hall, embassies, and upmarket stores as well as one of the city’s most glorious public spaces, the Museumplein . The Heineken Brewery is close by .

Oud Zuid -- Adjoining the Museum Quarter and the Vondelpark , Amsterdam’s poshest residential area is also its most exclusive shopping district, with top international brands and jewelry stores packed along PC Hoofstraat . Luxury apartments abound along with exclusive hotels and a general air of wealth.

De Pijp -- Multi-ethnic and beguiling, De Pijp is choked with well-priced restaurants producing cooking from every nationality across the globe and features the city’s best street market along Albertcuypstraat. Although the area is smartening up with the arrival of a few smart hotels and restaurants, it is still a natural home of immigrants, students, and Amsterdam’s least-known red light district along Ruysdaelkade .

De Plantage -- Incorporating the Artis Royal Zoo , the Hortus Botanicus , and Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter , Plantage is an area of wide boulevards surrounded by residential streets. It’s the costly home to aspiring professional families with young families. The Jewish Museum  and Portuguese Synagogue  mark the district’s western limits, the housing developments around Oosterdok its northern edges.

Noord Amsterdam -- The opening of EYE Film Institute started the migration across the IJ waterway to this new bastion of cool, an alternative area of graffiti, street art, and low-key housing that has seen industrial dilapidation of the old docks repurposed into new cultural centers such as the Tolhuistuin, housed in an abandoned Shell factory. A free ferry leaves from Waterplein West at the back of Centraal Station.

Westerpark -- Westerpark is a funky corner of the city, home to formerly working-class housing that has largely been turned into apartments. Its focal point is the trendy entertainment complex that has seen the old Westergasfabriek  turned into one of the city’s biggest leisure destinations.

Oosterdok -- Amsterdam’s new residential areas consists of manmade islands redeveloped from the ruins of former dockyards. The housing stock is low-level and contemporary, with plenty of on-trend cafes, bars, and design boutiques along the IJ-front promenades. Residents are mainly a young bunch working in creative industries. The Scheepvartmuseum  and Science Centre NEMO  are close by.

Outlying Areas -- Amstelveen lies south of Amsterdam, a primarily middle-class suburban area that has little to distinguish itself other than for being the home of the exceptional Cobra Modern Art Museum .

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.