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Westerkerk and Cafe de Reiger back streets in De Jordaan
Image from Koen Smilde

Things to do in the Jordaan

This former working-class neighbourhood is known for its radical politics and over-the-top sing-a-longs. Even though gentrification of decades past has attracted more galleries and boutiques to its elm-lined canal streets, there is still a distinct community feel to enjoy here. Spend an afternoon exploring the lively café terraces, bustling Noordermarkt, quirky museums and world-class attractions such as the Anne Frank House.

Cruise along the Prinsengracht

Bridge in Jordaan canal
Image from Koen Smilde

Canal tours in Amsterdam recently topped the list of the world’s best travel experiences, and no first-time visit to the Dutch capital could be complete without one. There are various companies you can book with, and most cruise routes pass through the flowery streets of De Jordaan along the Prinsengracht and Brouwersgract - two of the city's most picturesque and historic canals. 

Step into the diary pages of Anne Frank

Anne Frank Huis Museum diary
Image from Cris Toala Olivares

Opened in 1960, the Anne Frank House Museum preserves the annexe where a thoughtful teenager and her family hid for two years during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Diary quotes, film images, and original objects illustrate actual events – all brought together in a reflective exhibition about discrimination and the persecution of Jewish people. You can also see Anne’s original red-checked diary up close and the famous hinged bookcase leading to their concealed living quarters.

Shop for organic produce and trinkets

Noordermarkt market stalls
Image from Koen Smilde

A flea market and farmers’ market in one, Noordermarkt's Saturday stalls are a haven for delicious, organic produce, including honey, cheese and homemade cakes. To avoid the weekend crowds, head there on Monday morning for a second flea market selling antiques, books and vintage fashion. And it’s worth stopping for a comforting slice of apple pie at the famous Winkel 43 cafe nearby.

Discover what makes an ‘authentic’ brown bar

Brown bar Cafe Papeneiland in the Jordaan by night.
Image from Patrick Schneider

Warm hospitality, sticky floorboards and reasonably-priced beers? You’ll find many of the city’s most authentic and more notorious drinking establishments in the Jordaan, where a bruin café (brown bar)-hopping tour never disappoints any night of the week. Café ‘t Smalle is a lovely old pub with wood panelling and a beautiful waterside terrace. Or for even more history, the beautifully-restored Cafe 't Papeneiland, built-in 1642, still conceals a tunnel in the basement that Catholic priests were smuggled in and out from. Or, you won’t get away with not joining the merriment at Café de Twee Zwaantjes, which hosts regular karaoke evenings, Dutch sing-a-longs and Motown nights.

Catch a classical matinee concert

Street corner at Noordermarkt with Noorderkerk
Image from Koen Smilde

Situated on one of the oldest and most charming squares in Amsterdam, Noorderkerk is an active Protestant church and an idyllic setting for a matinee classical concert. Concerts typically run from September through May on Saturday afternoons, regularly attracting an audience of classical experts and curious newcomers. Other events on the agenda include regular church services, neighbourhood dinners, fashion shows, product launches and exhibitions.

Keep the laughs coming

Image from JD-Photography

If comedy is more your thing, head to Boom Chicago for exhilarating performances, sharp writing and quick wit - all catering to an English-speaking audience. The regular long-form improvisation session, Sunday Night Live, features one-off performances centred around a theme where scenes, stories and songs change from week to week. The laughs don’t stop there; they also fuse funny stuff with music and politics, with international comedians taking the stage throughout the year.

Marvel at curious self-playing pianos

Pianola Museum interior
Image from Herman van Heusden

This 100-year-old museum houses a fascinating collection of pipe organs, gramophones and pianos that play themselves - with just a little assistance from music recorded on perforated paper rolls. Back in the day, these curious machines were considered hi-tech. The music library encompasses some 30,000 reels precariously stacked up to the rafters, including recordings of some of the most renowned pianists in history. Keep your eye on the agenda for special showcases along with recitals by top pianists who drop in from the Conservatorium of Amsterdam.

Find out why the Dutch are obsessed with tulips

Amsterdam tulip museum, people inside souvenir shop
Image from Ines Maudire

The Netherlands has long been associated with tulips, but who knew that these colourful blooms actually originated from the Himalayas? Find out everything you didn’t know about these national treasures at The Amsterdam Tulip Museum - including the history of Tulip Mania, their cultivation in the Netherlands, and modern hybridisation. Of course, there’s a brilliant shop with various tulip-related items and bulbs so you can start growing your own.

Hop around galleries and art spaces

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose exhibition from Kathe Burkhart 2022
Image from Gert-Jan van Rooij

The Jordaan is also one of the city’s hotspots for contemporary art, with various smaller independent galleries dispersed amongst the leafy streets. Galerie Ron Mandos boasts an impressive line-up of Dutch and international artists on the books, with a welcoming public programme encompassing screenings, talks and openings. Likewise, Galerie Fons Welters and a rose is a rose is a rose are great spaces to poke your head into. Or if you’re a camera buff, you’ll find several great galleries dotted along Hazenstraat specialised in contemporary photography, including Galerie Caroline O’Breen, Bildhalle and Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen.