Leidseplein – Amsterdam Neighborhood Spotlight

Leidseplein – Amsterdam’s best entertainment district

Amsterdam LeidsepleinLeidseplein isn’t quite as fancy as Rembrandtplein, but it’s much more up-market than most of the things near Centraal Station. The centerpiece of Leidseplein is the square itself (plein means square or plaza, in Dutch). It’s nothing but a big slab of concrete in this case, but it’s almost always crammed with tourists, locals, street entertainers and such. There are several famous cafes, bars, and coffeeshops facing the square, and in summer the wicker chairs spread to cover almost the entire plaza in true grand café style.

But things get even more interesting just off the main square. There are literally over 100 restaurants within a couple hundred meters of the center. Down these side streets is one of the densest collections of walled eateries in the entire world. And better still, there are cuisines represented from all over the globe. Are you in the mood for Tibetan, or Argentinean, or Greek, or Indonesian, or Ethiopian? They’ve got you covered. And the prices tend to be quite reasonable as well.

Many of these blocks have one restaurant next to another next to another all the way down the street, but there are also several bars, coffeeshops, clubs, and even a large casino mixed in, so it’s really one-stop shopping for evening entertainment. Every visitor to Amsterdam should spend some time exploring the Leidseplein district, even if they are staying elsewhere, but there are plenty of places to stay in this area if you want to make this your home base.

There are a couple of expensive hotels right on the square, but aside from those it’s not too obvious where to find the beds. Exiting the square just to the south you cross a large canal and face a couple more chain hotels, and in the streets immediately behind them are quite a few smaller family-run hotels where good deals can be found. This area just south of Leidseplein is also next to the Museum District and the northern entrance to the lovely Vondelpark. Moving through these two areas you’ll find additional clusters of hotels in all price ranges. There are a couple of better Amsterdam hostels near the Vondelpark area as well.

Again, it’s important that new visitors taste all of these major districts, but for many people the Leidseplein area is the perfect home base. Any hotel that boasts a location near Leidseplein, Museumplein, or Vondelpark will be in this large cluster. And you can walk from one part of this area to the furthest part in 10 minutes or less, so don’t be too concerned about being stranded on the outskirts of town. Often you can save quite a bit of money on your hotel by being willing to walk another block or two, and you’ll likely be doing so much walking here that you won’t notice the difference.

This is a great neighborhood in which to stay for many people, but certainly not for everyone. Here are some key advantages and disadvantages to help you decide if it’s right for you:

Reasons you should stay near Leidseplein:

  • Close to all the museums, Vondelpark, Heineken Brewery, Albert Cuyp Market
  • Endless eating, drinking, and nightlife opportunities
  • Almost all the streets where the hotels are located are very quiet
  • Upscale boutique shopping nearby
  • Cleaner and less rowdy than near Centraal Station
  • More family friendly than the other areas
  • And yet still, several of Amsterdam’s better coffeeshops are in this area

Reasons you should stay somewhere else:

  • More expensive than near Centraal Station
  • Rather far from Centraal Station (30-40 minute walk, but 10 minutes by tram)
  • Far from the wildest nightlife near the Red Light District
  • Relatively far from the main trendy shopping areas
  • Only a few coffeeshops nearby
  • Cleaner and less rowdy than near Centraal Station

This is one of the three-part series discussing the main hotel neighborhoods in Amsterdam: Centraal Station, Rembrandtplein, and Leidseplein.

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