When you first think of Amsterdam, I bet you see the city center, coffeeshops and red light district. Or maybe you see in your head those places frequented by tourists which you’ve seen already, or you’re about to. But what would you say if I told you, that there is much more to Amsterdam than that? There are many places in Amsterdam that are not that popular, but definitely worth visiting. Among my favorite places in Amsterdam, there is the northern part of the city where you can spend hours, days even and you’ll still have lots to do and see.
Amsterdam Noord is a former industrial area of the city. You can find there old warehouses turned into art galleries and artistic workspaces. Walls are covered by graffiti. You can listen to music in Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ or visit eco-friendly café De Ceuvel and chill out in Noorderlicht.
List Of The Things To Do in Amsterdam Noord:
- Check out the Warehouses in NDSM Werf
- Spot the graffiti
- Admire the 3D Print Canal House
- Visit A’dam Tower and Try The Extreme Swing
- Fly over the Netherlands
- EYE Film Institute
- Muziekgebouw Aan ‘t IJ
- Bimhuis Jazz Venue
- Shopping – Pekamarkt, Ijhallen
- Eat out! – dining & coffeeshops
So now you have the general idea of what you may expect during your visit to Amsterdam Noord, but if you are hungry for details, read on as the juicy stuff is coming right up – full list of all the things you can do in Amsterdam Noord and few more tips about the accommodation.
Things To Do in Amsterdam Noord
1. Check out the Warehouses in NDSM Werf
If you are familiar with anything about Amsterdam Noord, I’m sure you’ve heard of NDSM. That is the best place to start exploring the area. You will immediately notice the huge difference between Amsterdam Noord and the city center. You won’t find any canal houses here, what you get is former shipyard with old warehouses. But don’t worry – it’s not all industrial, grey and concrete, it is the very opposite of that. A few years back, those warehouses became a shelter for all kinds of Amsterdam’s free spirits that have brought to this place (if you want to know more about the history of Amsterdam Noord, read the paragraph below) the air of underground creativity. There are art galleries and artists’ working spaces so there is much to do and see here.
If you need one particular spot, try MX3D visitor center. It’s free to visit, and you can see a few artist studios there. There are also interactive exhibits, and you can even meet some of the artists. If you decide to visit the place, be so kind as to donate even a small sum to the center.
2. Spot the graffiti
While you’re checking out the warehouses, pay attention to what you can see on the walls as well as inside. There are lots of lovely street art pieces for you to spot; you can even try to find them all. That will help you become familiar with the area too. And don’t forget your camera because many of them are worth taking a picture.
3. Admire the 3D Print Canal House
Well, the thing I’ve said about no canal houses in Amsterdam Noord turns out not to be 100% correct. There is a canal house that was built not so long ago, and it is worth seeing, actually. The main reason is that this particular house was… printed. The blocks all of them were made by the world’s biggest 3D printer. The house was a three-year research project, and now you can book a tour and see it with your own eyes.
Learn more about 3D Print Canal House – Link Here
4. Visit A’dam Tower and Try The Extreme Swing
I’m sure you know that Amsterdam is one of the best places in the world to get high. And I don’t mean in-the-coffeeshop high, but literally, there are places where you can do crazy or mundane things while standing on top of a hundred meters tall building. All you have to do is buy the ticket (you can get it here online) and you can enter the viewing deck, and you can even try the highest swing in Europe. If your stomach is not up to the challenge (mine definitely isn’t!), you can just enjoy the spectacular view and one of their delicious cocktails.
5. Fly over the Netherlands
Wait, what? Indeed, if you are not pregnant, your height is over 100 cm, and you’re older than four years old, here is a place where you can experience flight over the Netherlands. All you have to do is go to This is Holland 5D flight. Here you can buy a ticket. Adults go in for 17€, children under 13 years old – 10€. If you never went to a 5D cinema, now is your chance. You will be suspended in the air with chair tilting to give you the sense of flying. Add to that wind, mist, smells, and so on and this flight may be much more realistic than you expect!
6. EYE Film Institute
As I’ve said earlier, the NDSM area is full of art galleries and various exhibitions. There is also a museum dedicated solely to film, with four movie theatres and a vast, spacious exhibition area. You can check the schedule here https://www.eyefilm.nl/ and if you have some time to spare, see a film you most probably won’t have a chance to see elsewhere. If you’d rather not, there are always a few exhibitions to see, for example, one about the history of filmmaking.
7. Muziekgebouw Aan ‘t IJ
Now let’s enter the world of music which you can both listen to or learn about from the exhibition. Check the agenda here https://www.muziekgebouw.nl/ to find out what is on. You will find there very different artists, but the thing they all have in common is the innovative approach to music performances. No matter what you will pick you won’t be disappointed.
8. Bimhuis Jazz Venue
While you’re in Muziekgebouw, go and see Bimhuis Jazz Venue as well. Both places share a space, but in fact, Bimhuis is the older one as its origins take us back to the 1970s and jazz concerts played by locals. Nowadays the place is recognized internationally, and you can listen to the very best jazz artists. Bimhuis website.
Do not be thrown by the name. This place does not belong in The Red Light District, but it really fits to Amsterdam Noord’s crazy-art atmosphere. It is a… conceptual clubhouse. It seems that Amsterdam Noord is just such a place where even simple everyday stuff has some special meaning assigned to it. The concept of this clubhouse is as follows: it is owned by different entity every day. And the owner can organize there everything they want. So, you can participate in a food party, learn how to keep your laptop virus free, listen to dramatic stories on FuckUp Night. If I were in the area, I would pop up there every day just to check out what’s on! Here is Sexyland website.
Here’s something for those who like to not only listen to music but also dance to it. You can try to find Shelter, but it is not an easy task. The entrance to the place is not visible during the day – only after 11 PM in the sidewalk opens a hatch and you can take the stairs and go into the club. It is all black inside and the staff really try to keep the atmosphere dark – you will get a sticker to put at your phone light. This thing seems truly important, so don’t use your flashlight because you may be asked to leave the club. As for the music – you can expect house or techno music and prepare for the ultimate bass experience! Shelter website
11. Do Some Shopping
OK, let’s take a short break from all his art and sightseeing in order to do some plain old… shopping. You may think there’s nothing unusual in buying things but as you will hopefully soon find out, in Amsterdam Noord even simple pleasures have an edge. First of all, you can check out Pekmarkt.
In fact, you can check this market a few days in a row during your stay in Amsterdam as you will find there different things on each day of the week. From the organic market to vintage products – Pekmarkt is your destination point. Pekmarkt website.
And now something completely different. The biggest flea market in Europe, meaning IJhallen. Unfortunately, it is organized only once a month so make sure to check the website https://ijhallen.nl/en/index.php to find out whether it will be possible for you to attend it. If it is – prepare cash to avoid long queues to the closest ATM and go for it! I’m sure that among 750 stands you will find what you’re looking for even when you don’t know what it is yet.
If you can’t make it to IJhallen but you would very much like to do some vintage and antique shopping, don’t worry! Amsterdam Noord is the very best place for such an activity, and you can start on Papaverweg and places like Van Dijk & Ko or Neef Louis. You will find very interesting interior design items, both second hand, and brand new.
12. Eat out! – dining & coffeshops
In all this planning and thinking about what your next step should be, don’t forget about the pleasure of food. You will like to eat something delicious so save some time for this too. There are some really unique spots to visit in Amsterdam Noord. And when you do that, add some extra hours because the places you are about to see are that interesting. First of all, you can have a snack or drink in various previously mentioned places: so taste a cocktail on top of the A’dam Tower or when you’re hungry during shopping eat something from a food truck. But if you are not into that, here are some recommendations. Let’s start with a very famous – De Ceuvel Café.
De Ceuvel Café
It is located in a former shipyard, but when it comes to NDSM vibe it’s nothing unexpected. The most interesting is the idea behind this cafe. On very polluted silt they placed old houseboats and filled them with all the technologies available which clean this place up. So not only the Café is not polluting the soil further, but thanks to for example phyto-remediating plants the earth gets cleaner. The keyword here is sustainability, and you have to admit that it does not happen too often in a café to have such strong idea behind it (well other than serving best coffee and such). But to make this place even more worth visiting, you can actually have there a delicious vegan meal that you can eat outside and appreciate the view.
As I’ve said, the place is incredible, definitely worth visiting. Ideas such as this one should be supported by the community, so more and more eco-friendly cafes, bars, and businesses, in general, can be created.
Hunter’s Filiaal Coffeeshop
What is interesting, for many years it used to be a shop for locals which is now run by the Hunter’s. The menu might not be as long as in other spots, but the prices should compensate for that. Another place almost as eco-friendly as De Ceuvel is Pllek – this one is located in a former shipping container. There is also a little beach in front of it, so for a moment, I was wondering: shouldn’t I put this place in the next section (‘Where to relax’). If it’s warm and pleasant outside, don’t hesitate, go for it! Website
Maybe you would like something more substantial? For all the meat-eaters there is only one place to recommend – Cannibale Royale. What pops up in your mind as you’re reading this? Ribs? Steak? Burger? They have it all, and they have it fresh and well prepared. The place is cozy, so it’s best to book a table in advance. If you hadn’t done it and found the place is full, you can always try the second-best:
The Butcher Social Club
Which is more… social, just as the name gives – they even have games you can play. But if you are indeed heading that way I would recommend you have a burger. Here you can visit their website.
There is yet another café you can check:
It’s small and charming and more local so you can spend some quality time there and escape for a moment from the tourist’s paths (though being in Amsterdam Noord it seems you’ve already done that). Cafe ONS Website
But if you want to get to know Amsterdam Noord truly, you should go to Noorderlicht. There you can simply experience the atmosphere of the area or participate in music event. There are really different live shows you can attend there – from jazz and rhythm’n’blues to kumbia, reggae, and disco. This place is what NDSM is all about – there are creativity and festivity! Noorderlicht Website.
Craft beer, some of them truly experimental (just check out their website – Oedipus Brewery website. If you are heading there with a group of friends, you can even buy yourself a tasting – a short tour of the brewery and sampling of five to ten beers.
Where to relax
I’ve mentioned the fake beach already, haven’t I. It’s a great spot for the summer, and you can indeed relax there. But if you are looking for some more… animated leisure, try Noorderpark. You may think that ‘going to a park’ is not an activity one has to describe in an online blog, but you could not be more wrong here. First of all, there is a monthly program of events happening there (http://noorderpark.nl/), so you should check it out before your visit to Amsterdam Noord. Other than that there are a few things to see there as well. For example – two old gas stations (De Gele Pomp and the Roze Tanke) which were turned into community centers. So instead of rusting constructions, you will find there bustling cafes and artist’s workshops.
While you are in this area, you may want to go for a swim. In fact, there might be no better place in the whole Earth to do that, as Noorderparkbad was once given the title of the best swimming pool in the world. What I like about this place is that they collect rainwater, clean it and use it in the swimming pools.
Things to see by bike
And now let’s go for a bike ride! There is still much more for you to discover in Amsterdam Noord so if you want to fasten the pace a bit, it might be a good idea to hop on the bike. It won’t be a problem for you to rent one as numerous companies would be happy to be of service for you in this matter. And what is also important, the streets here are much calmer than in the city center, so trying the ultimate Amsterdam-y thing – cycling seems to be much safer in Noord.
There are three neighborhoods in Amsterdam Noord you might want to visit by bike: Pekbuurt, Vogelbuurt, and Nieuwendammerdijk. The first one is the example of a ‘garden city’ that was built at the beginning of the twentieth century as a solution for the housing problems of Amsterdam’s workers. The area was badly damaged during WWII, but it was restored nicely, and now it’s a good destination for a short bike ride. With Vogelbuurt, the context of emerging is similar, but there are not only the workers’ houses here but also companies directors’ villas.
I mention Nieuwendammerdijk the last as it is the cutest of all so I would leave it for the end just not to spoil the others too much. The area, with interesting houses on both sides of the streets, is very peaceful and quiet. It was once a late medieval settlement founded in the 16th century. There was a harbor and most of the people who lived in Nieuwendammerdijk were somehow connected to ships and sailing. With time the villagers specialized in shipbuilding, and the settlement becomes part of Amsterdam. The history of this neighborhood is beautifully reflected in its architecture. You will see there The Nieuwendammer Sluishuisje from 1565, captains’ houses from the 18th century and a neo-classic villa built at the beginning of the 20th century. When you are in the area find time for a coffee at Café ‘t sluisje.
Alternative housing and… a windmill!
While cycling around and through NDSM, look for all the alternative housing examples. The place I’m sure you won’t miss is a hostel set on top of a very high crane. It is Crane Hotel Faralda and as you can imagine, the prices for the night are… high, starting from 800€ for a two-person suite. Other than that you will find houses made of ship containers and even an old tram. When you are next to Noorderlicht, look for geWoonboot, a sustainable houseboat. In this case, sustainable means that the boat is completely self-sufficient – the installations onboard can make electricity, heating and even purify water.
In Amsterdam Noord, you get to see something 100% Dutch – a windmill, picturesquely set near the canal. It is called Windmill D’Admiraal, and you should really make an effort and visit this place. And if you would like to know the escaping route from the city, simply ride along the IJ. If you stick to the water, you will get to the Dutch countryside.
One last tip
As you can see there is so much to do in Amsterdam Noord on the ‘usual day’ that you can spend there a week and not feel bored for a minute. But before you decide to visit the area check whether there’s nothing even more special going on. For example, on King’s Day, the whole NDSM is turned into one big festival with different attractions on every corner. Of course, Amsterdam Noord is worth visiting on such a special event day but don’t forget to come back here to experience some quieter moments as well. Only then you will be able to feel the atmosphere of this place truly.
Where is Amsterdam Noord and how to get there?
As you may know or suppose, Amsterdam Noord is located in the northern part of Amsterdam. It is very easy to get there – all you need to do is take a free ferry from Amsterdam Centraal Station. There are two lines – you can either take the ferry straight to NDSM or go for the ferry to Buiksloterweg which will take you directly to Eye Film Museum, The A’dam tower and This is Holland 5D. From what I know, the second one runs very regularly so it may be the best option here. You can take your bike on the ferry but watch out for other bikers especially when you are getting off.
Why is it so attractive?
What makes Amsterdam Noord so special in my eyes is it’s full of contrasts history. First, you have a 100% industrial area what with the shipbuilding and repairing and all. And then the shipping business simply stops being profitable and bam! The warehouses are left empty to rust and rot. But then something happened, and the void was filled with… the artists and spirit of creativity in a very specific sense. It is like nothing is wasted there, every nook and cranny that may be adapted for something – is. And the industrial setting for all these art galleries and working spaces fits superbly! It looks like it was all just planned that way from the beginning. This whole thing – artists taking over the abandoned spaces – was possible because until recently you could legally squat in the Netherlands.
Where to stay in Amsterdam Noord?
As a matter of fact, staying in Amsterdam Noord is a very good idea. As you know, you only need to get to a free ferry to be in the center, and it takes only fifteen minutes. There is only one catch – you won’t find here very cheap hostels where you can sleep for 15 – 20€. But if you are interested in a place of slightly higher standards, you may find some suitable spots in Noord. I’ve picked some of them for you. Check them out!
First of all, if you are into hostels, I would recommend staying at ClinkNoord. You can spend the night there for around 40€. It is located in the former laboratory, nearby the river. What makes it so special is they own a kitchen, and really their food is excellent. You can get there pizzas and burgers but also Dutch specialties.
Other than that, you can go for a more expensive but also an unforgettable place. I’ve mentioned the Crane Hotel. You can also spend the night in A’Dam tower as well. Another option that is quite affordable is Botel where the prices start from 40€. In fact, my friend works there and he recommends this place.
As you can see, Amsterdam Noord is an amazing area to visit, where you will practically find everything you need – things to do and see, places to eat, relax and have fun. So, don’t forget to include it on your next visit to Amsterdam’s itinerary!