Running from Dam Square in the south to Amsterdam Centraal in the north, Damrak is the name given to one of the city’s liveliest thoroughfares. For anyone arriving in Amsterdam by train, Damrak is the first point of call. With its cheap and cheerful tourist hotels, crowded souvenir shops and agglomeration of fast-food restaurants, it’s a tongue in cheek introduction to the city.
For those in search of something beyond the street itself, Damrak’s canal is lined with some of the prettiest gabled Dancing Houses in the city. Originally built for the wealthy bankers and merchants, they’re a fascinating example of how early Dutch architects used wooden stilts to overcome swampy terrain. Damrak is also a great place to jump aboard a canal boat cruise, which showcases some of Amsterdam’s 1281 bridges, and 165 canals.
Just seconds from Amsterdam Centraal, Damrak welcomes all visitors arriving by train. It’s also serviced by a GVB tram route that ferries passengers to the city centre. Centraal Station is also home to a major metro station on the North/South Line. By foot, bustling Dam Square is just 5 minutes away.
Technically speaking, the name ‘damrak’ is a portmanteau of ‘dam’ which means barricade, and ‘rak’ which means straight stretch of water. This describes Damrak’s location at the mouth of the Amstel River, where a 19th century canal was built to transport boats inland.