Updated 6 months ago

Amsterdam has so much to offer: the amount of quality of the culture, arts, and nightlife there are unrivaled in the Netherlands. Life in Amsterdam is truly what you make of it.  Here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

Bike culture

Cyclists in Amsterdam have a bad reputation for being the worst creatures on two wheels, which is somewhat undeserved, as researchers have shown that more than 90% of cyclists follow the rules. Cycling is the favorite way of getting around the city for both expats and natives alike, and the infrastructure is such that it is easier to cycle than not.  

Nightlife in Amsterdam

In the Netherlands, the stores may close at six in the evening, but in Amsterdam, that’s when the party begins: there are numerous clubs, bars, and dance venues that are open pretty much all night long.  Cover fees, dress codes, opening and closing times can vary, so make sure to look up these things before you go. If the party scene isn’t your thing, there are also concerts, theaters, and operas, and groups such as Cirque du Soleil regularly come to the city as well.

Family activities

Amsterdam, despite its notoriety for drugs and prostitution, is actually a great place to take kids. Between the Vondelpark, with its crazy climbing playground, the Artis Royal Zoo, and the Speeltuin Amstelpark, there is enough to wear out even the most hyperactive child. The Dutch are a very family-oriented people, so there are plenty of neighborhood playgrounds and child-friendly museums (check out the Hermitage and the Nemo Science museums).  Renting a paddleboat is another fun thing to do with the family.  


Amsterdam was historically a trading center, and as such it has always been receptive to new cuisines and flavors from around the world.  Indonesian restaurants serve rijsttafel, but Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, and even Mexican food can be found.  Amsterdam is also a great place to sample Dutch food – and contrary to most expat blogs, Dutch food is more than just stamppot and boterhammetjes.  In addition to the better-known pannenkoeken and stroopwafels are such specialties as smoked eel, aged Gouda (three to ten years), and numerous things fried in oil, such as bitterballen and frikandel.  There are also numerous fine restaurants throughout Amsterdam as well.  Check out the Alliance Gastronomique (serves the Netherlands, not just Amsterdam) for the latest reviews and listings.  

Amsterdam's neighbourhoods

Amsterdam has several distinct neighborhoods around its commercial centre; while it is certainly possible to find rooms and apartments in the city centre, this section will explore the lesser-known neighborhoods just outside the well-known canals.  

  • Jordaan - This is the  area sandwiched between the last of the central canals on the west side and the last “ring canal” around Amsterdam, just north of the Stadsschouwberg.  Traditionally a rougher, working-class neighborhood, it has exploded in popularity in recent years as an enclave for expats and artistic types.
  • De Pijp - This little vibrant neighborhood to the south of the city’s center has got a certain beatnik charm to it. The famous Albert Cuyp street market gives the area its artistic character and charm. It, too, has recently become a highly desirable neighborhood for expats and students alike.  
  • Oud Zuid - This has traditionally been one of the wealthier neighborhoods of Amsterdam, home to the Vondelpark, chic stores, and international schools.  But then, the neighborhood does host some of the finest art museums in the city, and with its upscale cafes and stores, it remains a coveted neighborhood.
  • Oost - The eastern half of the city is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the Netherlands, home to many Dutch of Indonesian descent.  It used to be one of the cheaper neighborhoods, but gentrification and an influx of expats and Dutch alike, looking for a different experience, have resulted in an increase in rental prices. Nevertheless it remains one of the more distinctive neighborhoods.  
  • West - There are some differences of opinion as to whether this should include Amsterdam Nieuwe-West, but like the east, it is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Amsterdam; like the east, it is also somewhat cheaper but being rapidly gentrified. The Nieuwe West was only recently formed (2010) after the city decided to merge three smaller boroughs into one entity; there is a lot of high-density housing here and the city continues to make efforts to renew and revitalize the area
  • Noord - Just across the water from Central Station is the northern part of the city.  It is a mishmash of contrasts - some of the newest cutting-edge architecture next to traditional Dutch villages next to vast green expanses of parks.  This neighborhood is one of the better areas if you like getting away from it all without having to actually leave.
  • Bijlmer - This is one of the more infamous neighborhoods; for a long time it had the reputation of being unsafe, crime-ridden, it was not advised to live there.  Even today, the neighborhood’s buildings seem imposing and misguided (they are) - and the neighborhood has a noticeable dearth of drinking spots.  Whether this is still the case today is a matter of debate amongst Dutch natives and expats alike; most people seem to agree that the area has improved but as far as being a desirable a neighborhood goes, there remains much more to be done.  Consequently, living here is considerably cheaper than in the rest of Amsterdam.


Rent prices are similar throughout most of Amsterdam; as a general rule, the farther you are from the centre, the lower the price. Even so, your average furnished, 2-bedroom apartment will still cost you around €2200/month, and studios start at €1200/month. If your rental contract does not include any utilities, then you can expect to pay around €100/month per person.  Student rooms are significantly cheaper, starting from approximately €500/month. The exception is in the Bijlmer area. Rental prices are significantly cheaper there, but it is up to you to decide if the trade-off is worthwhile. 

 Useful links:

Easykamer – Room sharing
Pararius - Real estate agencies in Amsterdam

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.