One of Amsterdam’s most distinctive neighbourhoods, the Jordaan is the blueprint for charm, seemingly purpose-built for strolling about within its picture-perfect backstreets. The wedge-shaped area is divided into several portions by a handful of peaceful canals and a few busy main roads. While the main roads break the Amsterdam idyll, don’t overlook them; some interesting interiors shops are to be found here, such as Raw Materials, Nordic New and Anno.
Within each portion of the Jordaan you’ll encounter narrow camera-friendly roads and a mishmash of wonky buildings home to a combination of private houses, independent shops, trendy restaurants and traditional pubs. The joy – as with most of central Amsterdam – is in deciphering which is which as you meander past curtain-less windows and people dining in the street.
A predominantly workers area until late 20th Century, the Jordaan has seen an influx of new affluent Amsterdammers bringing with them some new traditions to join the old. For instance this is where the beautiful Noordermarkt (vintage wares and organic food) rubs metaphoric shoulders with the Jordaan Festival (celebrating traditional Dutch crooners).
The contrast is vital to the area but if it’s the tradition that floats your canal boat most, then there’s plenty of old pubs – or bruin cafes (literally translated as ‘brown cafes’ due to their once nicotine-stained interiors) – which are some of the oldest in the city, peppering the neighbourhood.