The essential guide to hip Amsterdam
The Netherlands’ capital has a cool and arty vibe
1 GET YOUR BEARINGS: On the north side of the River IJ (pronounced “eye”), reached by free ferries from behind Amsterdam Centraal train station, is the ultra-hip district of Amsterdam Noord (North). Off the regular tourist track, the mix of regenerated former shipyards, green spaces and traditional Dutch villages offers a refreshing contrast to the canals, brothels and coffee shops of the city centre. To find your way around, book a two-hour Explore Amsterdam Noord private walking tour with a local guide who will base the itinerary on your interests, such as the hottest art galleries, cutting-edge architecture or the best vintage shops. More: likealocalguide.com.
2 EYE SPY: Dominating the waterside is the unmistakable white, angular form of the EYE Filmmuseum. Designed by Vienna-based Delugan Meissl Associated Architects and opened in 2012, this temple of the moving image has four cinemas showing international independent films as well as retrospectives by influential directors, a permanent display on the development of film technology, and temporary exhibitions; this summer will see a major exhibition focusing on the work of Martin Scorsese. A few kilometres to the northwest, in the old NDSM shipyards, is Pllek, a supercool cafe made from old shipping containers where openair movies are screened Tuesday evenings from midMay to mid-September. More: eyefilm.nl; pllek.nl.
3 CLASS ACTS: Following the closure of the NDSM shipyards in the 1980s, the defunct industrial buildingsb became the perfect workspaces for artists and craftspeople. The Kunststad (Art City) is home to about 250 creatives, including theatre designers, filmmakers and architects, with regular events and openings. Next to the ferry stop at NDSM-Werf, Nieuw Dakota aims to stimulate and support the contemporary art scene in The Netherlands via a busy program of projects and occasionally displays works from private collections. One of the latest galleries on the block is Francis Boeske Projects, which specialises in showcasing artists from non-Western countries who are underexposed in The Netherlands. More: ndsm.nl/gebouw/kunststad; nieuwdakota.com; francisboeskeprojects.nl. 4 TABLE TREATS: One of the most desirable addresses in the area is Stork, a seafood restaurant i in an old industrial building next to the river. The focus here is on sustainable, seasonal fish and shellfish with specials including seafood platters and whole baked fish, although you can also just call in for a snack or a drink. Local, sustainable and organic ingredients are also on the menu at Stroop, a pancake restaurant housed in the former canteen of a football team; there’s an outdoor terrace and plenty of space for kids to run around. Try one of Stroop’s so-called world pancakes, such as the Chinese-flavoured Yau Chung Ban or the Chilean sopaipillas, accompanied by a locally brewed craft beer. More: restaurantstork.nl; restaurantstroop.nl.
5 CAFE SOCIETY: The Dutch love their coffee and one of the best places to get a caffeine fix is The Coffee Virus in the lobby of A Lab, next to the EYE Filmmuseum; this co-working space for creatives and young tech companies is in a former Shell laboratory. For atmosphere, you can’t beat Noorderlicht Cafe at the NDSM Wharf; located in a huge greenhouse, with a beer garden for warmer days, this quirky watering hole serves organic and vegan food and features live music on Sunday nights. The ramshackle Cafe de Ceuvel is part of a sustainable office park created by entrepreneurs and artists; there’s a packed events calendar featuring the likes of yoga classes and kombucha-making workshops. More: thecoffeevirus.nl; noorderlichtcafe.nl; deceuvel.nl.
6 FESTIVE FUN: From music and dance to street food and storytelling, Amsterdam Noord is the l location of some of the city’s hippest festivals, with most taking place at the NDSM Wharf. Top of the list is the Amsterdam Dance Event Sleepover in October, when a temporary campsite and “festival-within-a-festival” is set up during one of the world’s biggest annual dance music gatherings. Amsterdam Kookt, at the start of August, is a free weekend of street food, cookery demonstrations, vintage fashion and live music. In November, raconteurs from around the globe spellbind audiences during the week-long Storytelling Festival. More: amsterdamkookt.nl; storytellingfestival.nl; adesleepover.com;
7 GO GREEN: Amsterdam Noord offers a couple of good options to escape city life. Two kilometres northeast of the EYE Filmmuseum is Noorderpark, with 45ha that encompass cycle and walking paths, a stage for music concerts, outdoor barbecue area and a public swimming pool that was named the most beautiful in the world at the 2016 Piscine Global trade fair in Lyons, France. This being The Netherlands, the best way to get around is by bike so make a day of it and either head east to check out the traditional Dutch villages of Nieuwendam, Ransdorp and Zunderdorp or continue northwest to Het Twiske, a 650ha nature reserve featuring outdoor activities such as water sports. More: noorderpark.nl; hettwiske.nl.
8 JOIN THE CLUBBERS: According to a recent article in dance music magazine Mixmag, Amsterd dam is the clubbing capital of Europe thanks to several new openings, some of which have 24-hour licen- ces, such as Shelter, situated in the basement of the A’DAM Toren; the regenerated tower block is also home to several other hip bars and restaurants. Next door is Tolhuistuin, a cultural venue in former Shell offices with three performance spaces including Paradiso for live music, an exhibition hall and a cafe-restaurant. Fans of craft beer should head for Oedipus Brewing where the taproom has 12 rotating taps featuring this young company’s brews; often there’s also live music and food trucks. More: shelteramsterdam.nl; tolhuistuin.nl; oedipus.com.
9 BUY, BUY: If you like wandering around markets, you won’t be disappointed in Amsterdam Noord. Pekmarkt at Van der Pekstraat has a general market on Wednesdays, Fridays (also an organic food market) and Saturdays, while IJ-Hallen hosts an outdoor weekend flea market once a month (next dates are June 3-4; July 8-9; August 12-13), billed as the largest in Europe and including vendors of vintage clothes. Amsterdam Noord is generally a good place to shop for vintage furniture, which you’ll find at Neef Louis and Woodies at Berlin; the latter also makes home decorations. Pek & Kleren is a concept store that sells men’s and women’s clothing, accessories and other lifestyle items. At Fashion & Tea, enjoy drinks and snacks while browsing clothes, jewellery and bags by emerging brands. More: neeflouis.nl; woodiesatberlin.nl; pek-en-kleren.nl; ijhallen.com; fashionandtea.nl.
10 OUT OF THE BOX: The north side of the city offers some of the quirkiest accommodation. A favourite with visiting celebrities and VIPs, five-star Hotel Faralda consists of three suites in a shipyard crane, pictured; the steep nightly rate includes a champagne breakfast and use of the top-floor hot tub. The most popular address is the Sir Adam Hotel, on the first eight floors of the A’DAM Toren (former headquarters of Shell) next to the EYE Filmmuseum, where the 108 stylish guestrooms (from €128) have floor-to-ceiling windows, works by local artists and record players with a selection of vinyl. Nearby, the ClinkNOORD hostel in a disused 1920s laboratory has dorms and private guestrooms plus a cocktail bar. More: faralda.com; siradamhotel.com; clinkhostels.com.
From music and dance to street food and storytelling, Amsterdam Noord is the location of some of the city’s hippest festivals
Amsterdam along the river IJ with the new EYE Filmmuseum, top; NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, above; Pllek cafe, above right; Ransdorp village, below