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Amsterdam Neighborhood Profile: Museum Quarter & Oud Zuid (Old South)


Museum Quarter Overview:

First-time travelers to Amsterdam may not think to venture beyond the Museumplein's boundaries when visiting the nearby Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. But if they did, they'd find the many other highlights of the posh neighborhood these sites occupy: the Museum Quarter.

Largely a marshy meadow until the 1800s, the Museum Quarter today is one of the city's most prestigious (and safest) central neighborhoods, home to high-end shopping, the city's biggest park and some of its best restaurants.

Museum Quarter Location & Boundaries:

The Museum Quarter is also referred to (and is a concentrated part of) Amsterdam's Oud Zuid ("Old South") district. The area is bordered by Stadhouderskade to the north, Hobbemakade to the east and Overtoom to the west.

The southern border is more elusive, due to the area's orientation; most would agree that the broad Noorder Amstelkanaal marks the line between Old South and New South. Amstelveenseweg lies at the southwestern border of the Vondelpark, and is also an Oud Zuid boundary.

Museum Quarter Attractions:

This area is a cultural hub, featuring two of Amsterdam's "big three" museums and its main concert hall. Its parks also offer an urban oasis.

  • Museums, Music Hall & More

  • Rijksmuseum:
  • The country's "national museum" is a must-see in Amsterdam.

  • Van Gogh Museum:
  • Houses the largest collection of the artist's work.

  • Nederlands Filmmuseum:
  • Showcases 1,000 screenings a year in a gorgeous 19th-century building.

  • Concertgebouw:
  • The 1888 building has near-perfect acoustics for orchestral concerts.

  • Stedelijk Museum:
  • This modern art museum is under renovation until late 2011, but is periodically re-opened for new temporary exhibits; check the museum's online calendar for exhibition dates.

  • Coster Diamonds: The 160-plus-year-old factory gives free tours.
  • Parks

  • Museumplein:
  • This expanse of green is popular for picnics, pick-up football and just lounging.

  • Vondelpark: Runners, dog-walkers, rollerbladers and bikers all enjoy the city's largest park, which features cafés, ponds and English gardens.
  • Museum Quarter Transportation:

    • By tram: Tram lines 2, 3, 5, 12, 16 and 24 serve the Museum Quarter neighborhood (see tram maps and timetables on the GVB Transport Web site).
    • By water: The Canal Bus, a hop-on/hop-off canal boat line, stops on the Singelgracht, just across the Stadhouderskade from the northern entrance to the Vondelpark.

    Museum Quarter Accommodations:

    The Museum Quarter is ideal for visitors who want to stay close to it all, but not in the middle of it all. Tucked away on the residential streets of this area, you'll find a range of accommodations to meet your needs and budget. Here are only a few:

    Museum Quarter Restaurants:

    Look around in these in Museum Quarter restaurants and you'll see more locals than visitors:

  • Cafe Loetje: The best steak in the city (for only € 13) makes up for the aging décor.

  • Sama Sebo: Book ahead to try a traditional Indonesian ricetable.

  • Renzo's: Grab fresh take-away Italian sandwiches and pasta salads.

  • Brasserie de Joffers: Fabulous Sunday brunch and heated outdoor patio with blankets!

  • Le Garage: Dutch celebrities dine in this posh French bistro.
  • Museum Quarter Nightlife:

    • The Mansion: Museum Quarter's hottest club (and one of the top chic night spots in the city) has three different cocktail bars in a monumental building.

    • Café Lusthof and Wildschut: Classic "eetcafés" (eat cafés) like these on Van Baerlestraat stay open late and have a casual bar scene of cheery regulars.

    • En Pluche: The more casual sister of Le Garage serves fancy "streetfood" until 1:00 a.m., and its red-cushioned interior creates a hip, Euro-lounge feel.

    Museum Quarter Shopping:

    What the area lacks in canals, it makes up for in shopping! Here, a few highlights:

    • Peter Cornelisz (P.C.) Hooftstraat: The "Fifth Avenue of Amsterdam" is home to Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger and Salvatore Ferragamo.

    • Van Baerlestraat: Find stylish fashions in Pauw and Vanila; designer kids' clothes in Oilily and Petit Bateau; and too many shoe stores to count!

    • Jacob Obrechtstraat & Cornelis Schuytstraat: Browse ecclectic gift stores and small boutiques on these high-end streets.
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