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Centre - Where to stay in Amsterdam

The old town centre of Amsterdam or Centrum, can roughly be considered as the long U shape inside the canal belt (a series of concentric, semi-circular canals built during the 17th-century Golden Age). The Centrum consists of the neighborhoods of De Wallen (Red Light District), Dam, Spui and Nieuwmarkt.

This area is the most obviously touristic part of town, with Dam Square at its centre, and rafts of tourist shops flogging novelty T-shirts and all sorts of cornucopia. But, it’s also the most interesting area historically and architecturally. In this part of Amsterdam you have the opportunity to walk through picturesque medieval streets and find many historical buildings along your path, like the Oude Kerk (Amsterdam's oldest building dating from 1300).

Naturally, the Centrum is home to many of Amsterdam’s attractions, such as the Royal Palace (Dam square), the Nieuwe Kerk (Amsterdam’s second oldest church found next to the Palace), the Amsterdam Historical Museum (Spui), Madame Tussaud's (Dam square), and many canal-boat piers. It is also home to the main downtown shopping area. Two lively shopping streets, Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk, both come out on Dam Square.

As must a tourist attraction as the Rijksmuseum or the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District is Amsterdam’s Eiffel Tower – a must-see that can delight and underwhelm in equal measure. It’s an adult Disneyland of hookers, hemp and hullaballoo, with some of the city’s most gormless tourists and tackiest boozers, but can also be spectacular and life-affirming amounts of F.U.N.

Finally, as the old city center is the area where most of the tourists flock to, you will find numerous places to eat, drink and have fun, day and night. Although many of these places are particularly touristy, there are a few hidden gems, especially around Spui and Nieuwmarkt.

If you want to be within walking distance of Amsterdam’s main attractions and feel like being in the middle of things, the old Center is the place to stay. However, if you are looking for tranquility, it is wise to stay at another location. The Centrum can be very busy, filled with traffic, noise and social whirl.

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