Like in many cities across Europe, Sundays are a great day for wandering. On my recent trips to Amsterdam, I spent my free time meandering through the city streets, walking along the canals and just generally taking in my surroundings. Amsterdam’s a great city to visit on foot and far and away, my favorite area to wander through was “the Jordaan.” Bordered by four of Amsterdam’s largest canals, this area of the city is arguably Amsterdam’s most famous. And almost definitely its’ prettiest. If there is one canal name you need to know in Amsterdam, it’s this one: Prinsengracht.
The Jordaan was once a working-class neighborhood formed at a time when the city of Amsterdam was quite wealthy. The Jordaan, however, was long a home for immigrants, refugees and struggling artists (such as Rembrandt himself).
With small houses and cramped courtyards, the Jordaan was eventually renovated in the 1970s. (Though it seems that the area is still full of small houses and cramped courtyards…just a bit more pretty!) These days, the Jordaan still retains its neighborhood feel. Some cafes, such as Café Papeneiland, have been in the neighborhood for nearly 400 years!
Of the many popular Dutch foods, apple tart (appeltaart) has to be one of the tastiest. The Jordaan is home to two of Amsterdam’s most famous apple pies. The one at Café Papeneiland has its claim to fame thanks to President Bill Clinton, while Winkel 43 has, well I honestly don’t know. But they seem to get a lot of the best foodie reviews! The style of each is a bit different, with Winkel offering up thicker apple slices and Papeneiland with thinner ones. Both have beautiful outdoor patios, great for watching life go by.
Over the years, the Jordaan has been increasingly gentrified and is now home to some of the city’s trendiest cafes, restaurants and galleries. I’m not sure it could be considered Amsterdam’s hipster neighborhood, but the area is definitely home to more than its fair share of trendy places to eat, sit, people-watch, whatever. The sassy restaurant G’s serves one of the Jordaan’s best brunches – so popular they serve it all weekend long, beginning Friday morning!
The whole of the Jordaan is actually great for foodies. Cheese shops, butchers, fishmongers and organic groceries all seem to be present throughout the neighborhood. On a food tour with Eating Amsterdam, we explored the Jordaan neighborhood for nearly four full hours tasting the best Dutch foods including apple pie, Dutch sweets, a Surinamese sandwich, bitterballen and, perhaps the most Dutch: herring. (For reference: the Surinamese sandwich was my absolute favorite food on the tour, but the herring was also delicious.)
From the food to the canals, the Jordaan is probably Amsterdam’s prettiest neighborhood. Many tourists turn left when exiting the Amsterdam Centraal Station heading toward the touristic areas around De Wallen (the Red Light District). But next time, turn right and visit the Jordaan. Below are a small sample of the many photos I took when exploring Amsterdam one sunny Sunday….