Amsterdam has a number of main squares around the city centre - from the ceremonial Dam, the entertainment hubs of Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein, the markets at Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein to the grassy fields of Museumplein.
Squares in Dutch are generally named either -plein (square) or -markt (market). This article overviews what each Amsterdam square has to offer...
Dam Square - The city's principal square near to Amsterdam central station. Busy with tourists, shoppers, street entertainers and pigeons. It features the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk, the Bijenkorf department store, Madame Tussaud's and the Krasnapolsky hotel.
For more see our Dam Square map and guide.
Leidseplein - At the end of the Leidsestraat shopping street can be found the Leidseplein, the bustling entertainment hub of Amsterdam. Its name derives from the city of Leiden. The square and surrounding area has scores of cafés and restaurants.
During the summer the entire western side is filled with outdoor terrace seating attracting a mix of locals and tourists. This side is dominated by the imposing neo-Renaissance Stadsschouwburg (Municipal Theatre) built in 1894 and home of the city's main theatre company, Toneelgroep Amsterdam. At the side of the building is the Last Minute Ticket Shop which sells half price on-the-day theatre tickets from 1200.
Just beyond the western side of Leidseplein is the Melkweg concert and theatre venue.
On the south side of the square is the art nouveau American Hotel which also has a chic outdoor terrace with fine water feature. Across the road is the old Hirschgebouw building which now hosts the flagship Apple store. A little further south on Stadhouderskade is the 5-star Amsterdam Marriott hotel, with Vondelpark just a few minutes walk away.
On the north-eastern flank can be found the 1930s City Theater cinema and the garden with 40 lizard sculptures. Close by along Weteringschans is the Paradiso, a renowned popular music venue.
Leidseplein has 2 tram stops with trams 1/2/5 running from central station and trams 7/10 running east-west.
Rembrandtplein - Named after famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, the Rembrandt Square is a former butter market found just to the east of Muntplein. A large cast-iron statue of Rembrandt lies in the centre of the square. It is currently surrounded by bronze-cast sculpures of the Night Watch, Rembrandt's most famous painting - which can be seen at the city's Rijksmuseum.
Rembrandtplein was renovated in 2009 and now has a more open feel with plenty of bench space to sit on - making it a good spot to take a break.
The square is another entertainment area particularly renowned for its nightlife. Well known megaclub Escape sits on the north side of the square behind a large LCD screen. There are many cafés with outdoor terraces which fill up on a sunny day. Next door to Escape sits the grand café De Kroon. There are many snack bars and restaurants around Rembrandtplein including the recently arrived chains Wagamama and Vapiano.
Rembrandt square also borders the Reguliersdwarsstraat, which has a predominantly gay scene.
Other highlights of note around the square include the spectacular 1920s Tuschinski cinema (along Reguliersbreestraat towards Muntplein) and the Ajax Experience football exhibition. The good value NH Schiller hotel is located on the square itself.
Trams 4/9/14 run through the square.
Museumplein - Museum square is a large grassy area located in the heart of the museum district. It is surrounded by some of Amsterdam's most important museums - Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum and Stedelijk. There is a large reflecting pond near the Rijksmuseum which turns into an ice rink during winter
Also popular with tourists is the IAmsterdam letter sculpture. At the southern end can be found the Concertgebouw music theatre building.
Trams 2/3/5/12/16/24 all stop in the area.
Nieuwmarkt - A market square just north-east of the centre of Amsterdam near Chinatown and the red-light district. There is a daily market here which includes an organic farmer's market on Saturdays and an antiques market on Sundays (May-Oct). In the centre of the square is De Waag (weighing house) which used to be a city gate and today is used as a café with outdoor terrace.
Nieuwmarkt is a popular spot with cafés, restaurants and coffeeshops around. Head up Zeedijk, the heart of Chinatown with many Asian shops and restaurants and the Chinese Buddhist temple.
Nieuwmarkt is a short walk from central station or Dam square. It is served by the Amsterdam metro.
Waterlooplein - This square in north-east Amsterdam is a short walk across the Amstel river from Rembrandtplein. It holds a popular flea market (Mon-Sat) where you can find all manner of bric-a-brac, from antiques and second-hand clothes to bikes and military uniforms. The square is in the Jewish district of Amsterdam (and used to be the site of a Jewish market in the early 20th century) - the Jewish Historical museum and Portuguese Synagogue are located close by.
Other buildings of note are the Mozes en Aäronkerk (Moses & Aaron Church), Stopera city hall and Muziektheater (music theatre, home of the Dutch National Ballet and Opera). The Hermitage museum is a short stroll down the Amstel.
Waterlooplein can be reached by trams 9/14 and the metro.
Westermarkt - Walking west from Dam along Radhuisstraat you will reach Westermarkt, a square between the Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals. It is dominated by the large Westerkerk (Church) with its 85m high Westerkerk tower, which has a great view of the city.
Around the corner on Prinsengracht is the world-famous Anne Frank House. A statue of Anne Frank can also be seen on Westermarkt. On the Keizersgracht side is the Homomonument, 3 pink granite triangles which stands as a memorial to gay men and women who died in World War 2.
Served by trams 13/14/17.
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