Free-living and downright fun, but also brimming with Golden Age art and fantabulous Flemish architecture, Amsterdam is a corker of an urban break destination. Strolling the UNESCO-tagged canals, you just get the feeling that the Dutch really know how to live. They’re either munching on caramel-glazed stroopwafel or glugging a cold beer by the tram tracks, whizzing around on bikes or smiling in the local coffee houses. You can join them in this great city, or choose to case out Van Gogh’s priceless works, see the haunting hideaway of Anne Frank, explore the onetime home of Rembrandt, tread the hazy streets of the Red Light District – the list goes on and on and on.
Hotels are in abundance in Amsterdam, but why not give yourself a little extra living space by choosing an Airbnb rental instead? You can pick private rooms or entire properties, and even cruise into some seriously stylish penthouses and pads that ooze hipster charm and channel The Dam’s creative, arty side. This guide is the perfect intro to navigating the world of Airbnb in Amsterdam. Read on for neighbourhood tips and some curated highlights of the short-term rental scene…
It is. There’s been lots of talk about restricting the use of the service within certain sectors of the city after fears of over-gentrification and rising rents for locals. However, changes have so far taken the form of limits to the number of days hosts are allowed to make their properties available to travelers, which now sits at only 30 in a single year. As a visitor, you can still book and browse between Dam Square and Centraal Station to your heart’s content. Just be aware that you might need to pay extra city tourist taxes and present your ID card or passport on arrival.
Where should I stay in Amsterdam Airbnb?
Amsterdam’s downtown is outlined by the famous waters of the Canal Ring. Within that sits Dam Square(1) – the best-known plaza in the Netherlands – and the debaucherous Red Light District(2). Leave behind the Canal Ring and you’ll discover quarters like green and industrial-chic Noord(3) (to the north), or the alternative and ethnically diverse department of De Pijp(4) (to the south). Other options worth a mention are the handsome redbrick walks of Jordaan(5) and the more soothing parklands of Westerpark(6).
Dam Square & around
Good for families
Close to the train station
The busiest part of town
Expensive place to stay
The beating heart of the old centre of Amsterdam that lies between the UNESCO World Heritage Canal Ring of the city, Dam Square is the anchor of the entire capital. More than that – it’s the anchor of the whole Dutch state, what with its proud Royal Palace and the 15th-century rises of the Nieuwe Kerk. The area, combined with the atmospheric streets of the Grachtengordel to the north, is well-linked to pretty much everywhere in town and comes replete with cafés, museums, and family-friendly attractions.
The Red Light District might just be the most famous neighborhood in the whole of the Netherlands. Otherwise known as De Wallen, it’s been the home of the town’s brothels and prostitution booths (which are legal in these parts) since as far back as the 1300s! The tradition carries on today, so expect see adverts for peep shows and cabaret on every corner. On top of its riskay rep, the Red Light area also hosts countless “coffeeshops” (ahem – not really for coffee!) and some of the best nightlife venues in the capital.
Not many visitors manage an escape to Noord, which is precisely where the charm lies. Unbusy but interesting, this onetime industrial hub of the city sits across the docks from Centraal Station. Recent decades have transformed its colossal steel depots and shipping wharfs into a hodgepodge of creative workshops and museums, of which the NDSM cultural space is surely one of the best. Beyond that are green parks with open-air bars and beatnik beer spots with a dystopian feel. Just be warned that you’ll be far away (at least a ferry ride) from the most popular Amsterdam attractions.
Alternatives and free thinkers have been drawn to De Pijp for decades by the subculture and the café scene. Over the years, the area – which unfolds directly south-west of the Rijksmuseum – has also turned into one of the most multicultural corners of town. Hit the frantic Albert Cuyp Market to see what we’re on about. Everything from Rajasthani curries to Middle Eastern mezze to Argentine empanadas is on offer there, along with the usual rigmarole of Dutch herring and coffee. Extra space in De Pijp means you can often find larger Airbnbs that are well suited to groups.
The former blue-collar corner of the Canal Ring is postcard Amsterdam. Redbrick Flemish townhouses with big windows and stepped façades line up in tight phalanxes along the watersides in these parts, while arched bridges zigzag between the channels to link beer bars with cafés and pancake kitchens. The Airbnbs within are often among the most stylish you can get, invariably with historic rooms and original features that date back centuries.
The Vondelpark might be Amsterdam’s most popular, but it’s also a tourist hotspot. For a true breath of fresh air, try out the Westerpark for size. It’s a whole neighbourhood on the north-west edge of town, extremely well connected by rail and bus to the city, but also imbued with big green spaces that act as a gathering point for picnickers and swimmers in the hottest months. One section of the district is also now a rejuvenated industrial centre that hosts boutique arts emporiums and galleries.
Live both indoors and out in this gorgeous two-bedroom pad. Set over two levels, it encompasses whitewashed and timber-clad interiors that spill onto a whopping 30 square metres of exterior space. That brings fantastic views of the Amsterdam skyline, not to mention an intriguing set of nooks and crannies where you can settle in with a book and a stroopwafel when it’s time to chill. The location is great for culture vultures, being near the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum alike.
If you can peel yourself away from gawping at the chocolate-box exterior of this vintage Amsterdam townhouse, a beautiful interior awaits. From the crooked-walled living space with its retro hearth to the narrow dining area and the creaking timber staircase, it’s enchantment through and through. Set over four stories, the pad is more than 120 years old, and gets you vacationing in the midst of the uber-cool Jordaan area.
Help the little ones channel their inner swashbuckler by opting for a family visit to this quirky boat down on the Amsterdam docks. Surrounded by flower markets and museums, you’ll be in a prime spot to explore all the city has to offer. When you return, you get to enjoy a floating piece of home, including a spacious living room, a dining area with views of the Amstel River, and fitted bathrooms.
Big groups on their way to The Dam need not look any further than The Mansion for their sprawling stay in the Dutch capital. There’s enough space within to host up to 16 guests, all spread over five bedrooms of both doubles, groups and twins. The property has two floors and comes with a large lounge that has its own flat-screen TV. The location, meanwhile, is a doozy for sightseers and café hoppers, down on the south side of bustling and cool Jordaan.
This private-room rental can whisk you and your other half to the cosy subterrane that lurks below the 16th-century Canal Ring of Amsterdam. Spread through several separate nooks and crannies, the basement is all exposed-brick and real-wood grains, with elegant glass doors partitioning and plush sofas dotted all around. There’s also a small kitchenette and a retro ensuite bathroom.
Generally speaking, a short-term rental will cost less than a classic hotel. That’s not only because prices on the platform tend to be good bargains, but also because you can share the price of whole apartments between your entire travel crew and cut outgoings by picking a place with self-catering facilities and a dining room. Airbnb hosts also offer pretty generous discounts on weekly or monthly rentals, which can knock 25-50% off the total cost of a stay.
The downside of an Airbnb is that you won’t get the same level of hands-on and personalised service that’s the hallmark of hotels in Amsterdam. Just take somewhere like the grand Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam Hotel as an example. It’s not only got a central location, but also an on-site swimming pool and spa, daily housekeeping, a gym, a dedicated restaurant, and a 24-hour front desk. If you’re the sort of traveler who likes to be pampered, those are the sort of frills you might want to consider paying more for.
Ringed by canals and brimming with art by Van Gogh and Rembrandt, scented with Dutch tulips and salty herring, the buzzing metropolis of Amsterdam is just calling out to be your next city break stop. Check out Airbnb if you’re looking for affordable, stylish, and fantastically located stays in the most enthralling districts of the city.