West Canal Belt and the Jordaan
To the west of Central station Amsterdam’s four famous canals begin their journey in a curving fashion around Amsterdam’s old centre. This area is on the map as Grachtengordel-West (West Canal Belt) and with the Jordaan nearby there is an array things to do in this area.
There are many canal houses and other monuments worth trying to see as you wander the canals here with the most visited of them all being the Anne Frank House, where the Jewish Anne Frank famously wrote her diaries while hiding from the Nazi’s over a period of two years. Next to this is Amsterdam’s tallest and finest church the Westerkerk. You can actually climb the Westertoren (West Tower) between April and October for one of the most remarkable views of the city. Another, the Noorderkerk (North church) sits just above the Jordaan right next to the Noordermarkt (North Market) where they have an excellent organic market every Saturday.
Crossing the four main canals to the west you will reach the Jordaan. Here you have a maze of narrow, cosy streets and canals full of bizarre shops, friendly pubs and a very good selection of restaurants. The area is also famous for it's musicians so look out for live music here on most nights. You will feel the pace of life slow down here and the elegant Hofjes (small courtyards) and cute house boats will transport you back in time, especially along the Egelantiersgracht and Bloemgracht (flower canal). In the south part of the Jordaan on the Rosengracht art lovers can enjoy the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.
After this you can follow the Prisengracht south to both the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the House Boat Museum, where you can see how it feels to live on a real houseboat. On the Keizersgracht you can visit Felix Meritus one of the stand out buildings in the area and then on the Herengracht the Bijbels Museum (Bible Museum) is quite popular too. Whatever you do, do not miss one of Amsterdam's loveliest shopping areas the Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets) that cross east to west across the canals. These streets do not only have great shops but they also have a variety of small friendly lunch rooms and restaurants.