The Amsterdam Jordaan is indisputably the most talked about town district in the Netherlands.
Although the town is pretty much postcard-pretty from every corner, Jordaan really stood out for me.
The Jordaan was built when there was a large expansion of Amsterdam in early 17th century. It was set up as a district for the working class and emigrants. Refugees from Spain, Portugal and France mainly settled in the Jordaan district, increasing the population significantly. The entire area was said to be a ghetto with open sewers and canals, which served for both transport and sewer. In 1900 about 80,000 people called Jordaan their home, nowadays only around 20,000.
Even though it commenced as a district for the poor, today its a bustling hub of students, artists and young professionals.
The long term inhabitants and new comers make this neighbourhood an eclectic mix of styles and culture.
There is a lot of debate over where the name Jordaan is derived. The most popular explanation is that the word comes from the French word for garden, jardin, whilst another theory is that the name was inspired by the river Jordaan, from the holy land.
Irrespective of where the name comes from, I found the Jordaan district to be a perfect mix of vibing hospitality, trendy thrift shops, cosy coffee shops (the ones that serve actual coffee) and culture.
The Jordaan is located to the west of the ‘grachtengordel’ (main canals). It is walking distance from Central Station, the Dam or the Leidseplein and is easy to access with public transport. Because parking is scarce, it is not recommended to go there by car.
When choosing where to stay in Amsterdam, I will admit that I had no idea. It was the cancellation of FIVE airbnb bookings which landed me smack bang in the middle of the Jordaan district.
Strike of luck if you ask me.
Things to do in Jordaan (or near):
There are so many things to do in the Jordaan area, here are some of my favourites.
Go thrift/vintage shopping
Jordaan is littered with vintage stores that would give San Francisco a run for it’s money.
And plenty of vintage homewares for travellers nearing the end of their trip.
I had some great finds at Bijons Vintage including this velvet jacket, scarf and not-so-vintage sunnies.
For more details on vintage shopping in Amsterdam, check out this post.
Visit the museums
Although most of the museums are small, there quite a few.
- Pianola Museum – displaying pianolas (automatic pianos invented in 1894). Open: Sunday 2-5pm, and every other day by appointment. Admission: €5 Adults, €3 Children, €4 65+.
- Theo Thijssen Museum – dedicated to the popular Dutch writer and educator Theo Thijssen (1879-1943) and his time in Amsterdam. Open: Thursday – Sunday 12-5pm. Admission: €2.
- Houseboat Museum – gives you the unique chance to experience the life on board of a real houseboat. Open: Tuesday through Sunday 11am-5 pm. Admission: €3.75 Adults, €3 < 153cm.
- Anne Frank House – dedicated to the life of Anne Frank. Open: Daily from 9am-9pm (10pm on Saturdays). Admission: €9 Adults, €4.50 Aged 10-17, Free for < 10. It almost ALWAYS has a massive line, so make sure you bring a book to read in line.
- Jordaan Museum – dedicated to the history of the district. Open: Every day 10am-7pm. Admission: Free.
- Tulip Museum – dedicated to the national flower. Open: Daily 10am-6pm. Admission: €6 Adults, €4 Students, €15 Family.
- Museum of Fluorescent Art – dedicated to showcasing fluorescent art. Open: Tuesday – Saturday 1-6pm. Admission: €5 Adults, Free for< 12.
As it was Easter weekend and most of the lines were 1,675,876 people long, I only managed to make it to the Houseboat Museum. I think it would have been rather cool to live on one of these.
Explore the district on bike
Of course the best way to explore Amsterdam is on bike and Jordaan is no exception. For more information on bike hire, see this post.
Shop at the markets
There are a few great markets in Jordaan operating both on Saturday and Mondays.
Lindenmarkt (Lime market): a general market where you can buy almost anything. Located on the Lindengracht (Lime canal). Open: Saturdays 9am-4pm.
Noordermarkt (North market): a biological (organic) farmers market. Open: Saturdays 9am-3pm.
Flea Market at the Noordermarkt (North market): a general flea market. Open: Mondays.
Westermarkt (West market): a market on Westerstraat (West street) offering fine fabrics, clothes and shoes and sometimes featuring design labels. Open: Mondays 9am-1pm.
Visit the Noorderkerk Church
The main church of the Jordaan is the Noorderkerk. Built in the northern part in 1620-1623 by Hendrick de Keyser and his son Pieter, the church is still in use as a Protestant church, and is open to everyone, especially during concerts.
Restaurants/Bars in Jordaan (or near):
You can’t walk past a corner in Jordaan without going past an eatery or bar. For a city of just 800,000 people, I was surprised by just how many quality hospitality venues there were in one little area.
I was lucky to cram quite a bit of culinary activity in my few days, so here are some of my favourites.
Piqnic: a cosy cafe serving healthy breakfast, brunch and lunch. For lunch, I loved how you could pick any 3 things off the menu and a drink for under €10. Open: Daily 9am-5:30pm. We ate here twice on our short stay.
Greenwoods: an open cafe serving all day breakfasts, traditional high teas with scones and Devonshire clotted cream, burgers, sandwiches, eggs Benedict and a great selection of cakes, teas and coffee as well as dinner and a full alcohol selection – including Pimms and some great local beers! It’s located right on the canal so is the perfect spot to soak up the sun. Open: Monday to Thursday from 9:30am- 5pm and Friday to Sunday from 9:30am- 6pm.
Vinnies Deli: a deli style cafe serving organic salads, sandwiches, great coffee and a few sweet treats. Open: Monday – Friday 7:30am-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm & Sunday 9:30am-6pm.
Vlaming Eten & Drinken: a semi-fine dining restaurant serving pretty traditional fine dining food. To be honest this was the most underwhelming restaurant I dined at. Which is surprising given it has near perfect Trip Advisor scores. Sorry no pics, as it was the misters birthday so gave him the night off from blogging. Open: Daily 6-10pm.
Duende: a casual tapas restaurant serving traditional tapas, sangria and Spanish wine. Open: Weekdays 5-11pm, weekends 4-11pm.
Winkel: a casual bar style cafe serving pub style food. I loved that they have heaps of tables outside where you can lap up the sun and watch the locals go by. They are famous for their perfect apple pie, which naturally, I had to test. It certainly was perfect and served with the most fluffy yet thick & decadent cream. Open: Monday – Thursday 8am-1am, Friday 8am-3am, Saturday 7am-3am & Sunday 10am-1am.
Restaurant Max: a semi fine-dining-esque Indonesian restaurant. They do an excellent Indonesian tasting menu where you get to sample a bit of almost everything on their menu.
Vesper Cocktail Bar: a cosy authentic cocktail bar with bartenders as good as any working in Manhattan. The cocktails were definitely the best I have had since New York City. Don’t forget to give their menu a read – it’s very cute. Open: Monday – Thursday 8pm-1am, Friday & Saturday 5pm-3am.
Although it’s fun to check out the Red Light District and I will admit, I did make a quick visit to The Grasshopper.
But if you’re looking for a slightly different experience in Amsterdam, you will love Jordaan. It’s the perfect mix of culture, food, style and history.
Anisa – The Macadames. xx