City Adventures
Cultural and culinary surprises in Amsterdam North
Visiting Amsterdam this autumn? Don't forget to head for 'Noord', as Amsterdammers call the district across the water. Because on both a cultural and culinary level, there is a lot going on that makes it worth to hop on one of the three boats that leave behind the train station.
Written by Stephanie Pander
Photographs by Eric van den Elsen


Over the past decade, the northern area of Amsterdam has developed from a residential area for the lower social class into the capital’s new hotspot for cultural events and nightlife. To get there take the one of the ferries that leave behind the railway station. The leftmost ferry sails to the former NDSM shipyard. Here the rusty hangars and wharf have been transformed into workspaces for creatives, free to visit for the public. The site regularly hosts festivals and the immense IJhallen are the setting for Europe’s largest flea market every month. From the city beach of the sustainable Restaurant Pllek, you have a stunning view of the Amsterdam skyline during sunset. For the very best view of the harbour and the city, book the Faralda Crane hotel’s only hotel room, at the very top of the crane standing on the quay. For excellent Basque cuisine overlooking the harbour, book a table at Restaurant Contrast.

The best way to explore Amsterdam-North is by bike. Bikes can be rented behind the train station and they can be taken on the ferry.

A second ferry runs 24 hours a day from behind the railway station up to the Buiksloterweg, from where you can walk easily to the Eye, the museum for film and the art of moving images. Designed by Austrian architects Roman Delugan and Elke Delugan-Meissl, the iconic building has been a landmark since it opened in 2012. The museum has an extended terrace on the waterside. This is definitely the place to try a Dutch lunch of ‘kroketten met brood’, deep fried, breaded rolls of meat ragout on soft white bread with mustard.

Boats in the harbour of the former shipyard NDSM

Looking for the ultimate high? Take the exciting experience elevator to the top floor of the A’DAM Tower and enjoy the unrivaled panoramic view of Amsterdam – from the city center and its canals to the countryside and the cows. And for the daredevils among us, there is this famous swing that dangles at 100 meters above the ground. Another great spot for evening drinks and a touch of culture is Café Restaurant THT in the pavilion of The Tolhuistuin. Check the website for the program of concerts, performances and workshops.

(L) Mural depicting Anne Frank on the wall of an old hangar at the NDSM wharf. (R) Bar and restaurant of city beach Pllek.

A third ferry heads towards the IJ square (IJ-plein). Should you want to go this way, it is wise to hire a bike. From the ferry landing you can cycle in 10 minutes to the ‘Kromhouthal’, a former ship shed that hosts numerous art fairs and food truck festivals every year. On the same site you will find craft beer brewery Oedipus, famous for their lemongrass beer Thai Thai. They also serve pretty good burgers. Around the corner there is Europizza that serve the best sourdough pizza in town. For drinks and music in the weekends try Skate Cafe a bit further on. Next door they serve tacos and mezcal at Coba and for urban wine tasting book a place at the bar of Chateau Amsterdam. More tacos and cocktails at Bacalar but be aware that this place is only open in the weekends and you always need a reservation. Especially for the Sunday brunch. An all times favorite in this part of Amsterdam North is Hotel De Goudfazant (not a hotel but a neo-bistro style brasserie in an old shipping depot). The owners also happen to collect vintage cars, which they park at the back of the large warehouse. Quit an interesting place to dine!

(L) The Botel a a hostel aboard a former cruise ship. It is located right by the jetty where the ferry docks. (R) The new restaurant Contrast is located on a converted boat and serves Basque cuisine.

The best places to sleep North of Amsterdam

Hilton hotels opened a Double Tree Hotel on the NDSM Wharf. The rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows for great views over the water towards the city on the other side. Another good option is a ship’s cabin aboard The Botel, right next to the ferry jetty on the NDSM Wharf. The stylish De Durgerdam is the best option for those who want to combine the liveliness of Amsterdam with the tranquility of the countryside. The new hotel houses the intimate restaurant De Mark where they have soul food on the menu. Try the fantastic sundried tomato tartare or Dutch Haring with kohlrabi from the bbq. You can also go there for a cup of coffee with traditional Dutch butter cake.

Here the rusty hangars and wharf have been transformed into workspaces for creatives, free to visit for the public.

(L) Even the creative studios in the big shed on the NDSM terrain can be reached by bike. (R) Tables for lunch are set in Pllek's container-built restaurant

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