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….
Loved the photos! I’m currently in Amsterdam, so I’m going to visit this neighbourhood today and this post got my excited!
Thanks Brenden! Amsterdam is such a great city. Definitely spend some time in the Jordaan area – it’s central to everything and there are some great cafés
Very nice point of view. Really interesting!
Amsterdam looks charming. I have heard a lot about its red light district, but I guess its original essence is still intact.
Hey Renuka – it’s actually kind of funny. The Red Light District is also very beautiful and historic, but the seedier side of things is really what draws the tourists there. Just on the other side of Amsterdam is the Jordaan and it’s not only beautiful but also has it’s own special character – different from the RLD!
You’ve really captured Jordaan perfectly Adam. It’s one of my favourite areas in Amsterdam. A food tour of Amsterdam sounds really tempting.I always eat so much when I’m there! I love the big chocolate balls you get in the little pastry shops; they’re almost tbe size of my uead and filled with sweet cream!
Oh that’s so nice to hear Christine! Sometimes as an outsider writing about a destination, I never know if my own emotions and perceptions are an accurate representation of a place. But glad to hear other people love the Jordaan neighborhood as much as myself! It’s such a wonderful area and totally not what I expected to find when I first visited Amsterdam
The Jordaan are of Amsterdam is by far the most picturesque and thought it’s incredibly popular already, it surprises me that every time Franca and I wander around there we hardly come across any other people who aren’t locals.
With the exception of the (always) busy street cafes, it’s a lovely quite place to explore.
Dale – you’re totally right! It’s a highly touristic area but thanks to its maze of canals and small streets, it’s pretty easy to get lost and discover more of the local side to Amsterdam. I think it’s one of the best places in the city for aimless wandering!
You’re right, it’s very picturesque with tons of character. The variety of cafes is phenomenal.
Probably the most scenic part of Amsterdam, too! I love that there’s a mix of hipstery cafes, ones for old-timers, brown cafes, vegan/vegetarian ones… it’s a huge variety! And all with so much different character
Lovely! Jordaan is indeed one of the best places in Amsterdam to simply wander at any given time. And it is always going to surprise you with something: a cute house, a colourful boat, locals having a moment of relaxation – with friends, drinks and food – right in front of their house, an interesting shop, a cosy cafe, a delicious ice-cream place and so on… The list is almost never ending. :) Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Thanks! I’ve now been to Amsterdam twice in 6 months and I keep discovering more and more to the city. There’s so much to see and do. And you’re right – it’s so easy and wonderful once you get lost in Amsterdam
I lived in Amsterdam on and off for quite a long time in-between travelling and the Jordaan was definitely one of my favourite neighbourhoods. In fact I am here now visiting friends and have been back there a few time, especially to get some ice cream from one of the best places in the city.
Hey Jonny – nice to hear you love the area as well! Can you give us a hint as to which is the Jordaan’s best ice cream???? ;-)
Jordaan is my favourite part of Amsterdam, so pretty and artsy, full of surprises. Also, a good place to sit and empty your mind after visiting the harrowing Anne Frank Huis.
Amsterdamn is a city with lots to offer and has a character of its own.
Well said De’Jav – Amsterdam has A LOT of character!