Tired of the hustle and bustle in the center of the city? Hop the ferry to Noord for a mini vacation and discover some of Amsterdam’s hottest hotspots.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE: AMSTERDAM NOORD
To be completely honest, we almost don’t want to share these tips. You see, Amsterdam Noord is our favorite place to escape the madness. A five minute ferry ride transports you from throngs of tourists to quiet parks, laidback cafes and serene views. Ah, I feel more relaxed already!
Luckily in Noord there is quite enough space for you and me both. Let’s explore!
Noord Neighborhood Facts and History
Separated from “Amsterdam proper” by the IJ, for many years Noord has been a combination of intense industry and housing suburbs.
In the 1600s sailors, craftsmen and merchants moved to the northern banks of the IJ to be close to the maritime industry. This is the time when the beautiful wooden houses of the Nieuwendammerdijk and Buiksloterdijk were built. When Amsterdam became overcrowded in the early 1900s, businessman Wibaut constructed the Vogelbuurt in Noord for those in need of affordable housing. Building continued apace, with shipbuilders, oil companies and other industries expanding in the area during World War II.
As shipbuilding declined in the 1980s and Shell abandoned their laboratories in 2005, the industrial part of Noord became a wasteland of decrepit buildings and empty lots. In stepped the squatters and artists, followed by creatives and hipsters. MTV Europe built their office in Noord followed by other businesses, and now companies like HEMA have headquarters there.
You’ll find a great mix of people living in Noord, lots of students and artists, as well as families with small children. There is also a lively variety of cultures and economic levels which makes the neighborhood vibrant.
Getting to Amsterdam Noord
The first part of your Noord adventure requires a ferry trip across the IJ (unless you happen to drive). There are currently three ferries to Noord from Amsterdam Central Station. Run by GVB, the ferries run every few minutes and the ride is free! Bring your bike too so that you can explore further or rent a vintage folding bike from Velox. Check the GVB website for detailed maps and timetables.
Things to do in Amsterdam Noord
Noord is full of fun and interesting things to do. Relaxing in one of the cafes with lovely views of Amsterdam across the IJ is always an excellent choice. The section below lists some of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat or something to drink. But before or after fueling up let’s see some of Noord’s best sights!
- Catch a movie or check out exhibits at the EYE Film Museum. The stunning building across from Amsterdam Central Station contains exhibit space, cinemas and a cafe with a view.
- Go shopping at IJ Hallen for antiques, vintage clothing and all kinds of cool junk! This huge fleamarket takes place in and around the NDSM buildings typically the first weekend of the month.
- Enjoy tilting at windmills? Go for a short bicycle ride or a run to De Krijtmolen d’ Admiraal. Bring a picnic and find a spot in Noorderpark to sit and relax.
- There’s always something going on at NDSM. Cultural festivals, art shows, music, theater…they have it all! Check their agenda for what’s on. And don’t miss a walk through the buildings to check out the amazing art and graffiti.
- The landmark Toren is soon to be open with a cafe and events happening 24 hours including a midnight market, DJs, parties and other events.
- Check out the student housing made of repurposed shipping containers near NDSM.
- The charming houses on Nieuwendammerdijk and Buiksloterdijk should not be missed. Take a bike ride or walk the sloping road to check out these historic wooden homes.
- Go cycling, running, walking or swimming in Het Twiske, a peaceful green oasis to the north. Het Twiske is also home to the hugely popular Welcome to the Future summer music festival.
- Speaking of cycling, you can rent the cutest vintage folding bikes at Velox, and even go for a tour.
- There’s nothing better on a sunny day than a bicycle ride through Waterland. take your time and check out the picturesque farms and villages along the way.
Eating and Drinking in Amsterdam Noord
There’s no shortage of awesome places to eat and drink in Amsterdam Noord. Here are a few of our faves, starting with coffee and breakfast and finishing with drinks and dinner.
- Enjoy a delicious Italian coffee and perhaps a sandwich at al Ponte Caffè Italiano at the ferry dock at IJplein.
- The abandoned Shell laboratories have been transformed into stylish offices. The Coffee Virus serves up tasty lunches, cakes and treats in addition to great coffee on the building’s ground floor.
- Funky and awesome Open Coop is a “collaborative cafe” with food from BiteMe. Check out the Cityplot gardens too.
- Cafe de Ceuvel is an amazing sustainable cafe built out of recycled materials. It is a part of the larger “De Ceuvel” project: eco-friendly offices for creative companies in old reclaimed houseboats on contaminated land. Don’t miss this fascinating spot!
- Hidden among the trees in Noorderpark (formerly Florapark) is the Noorderparkbar, the cutest little place built completely from donated and Marktplaats items. Awesome!
- Grab some bio fries at Pontstation!
- Laidback is the keyword at Noorderlicht where you can relax indoors or out with food and drinks. Summertime brings bonfires and music late into the night.
- Beer lover? Make your way to the new location of Oedipus Brewing. They are open for tastings and visitors on Friday and Saturday and often host terrific parties.
- Stressed out? Just 20 minutes on the ferry and you can have the feeling of getting away from it all. Sitting in a beach chair at Pllek with a beer in hand definitely takes the edge off. Pllek also serves yummy food for lunch and dinner.
- Our secret spot to spend a warm summer evening is the Tolhuistuin. Grab a drink and kick back in this super mellow garden with plenty of seating. Affordable food is also served in the evenings and sometimes there are films and other events. We love this place! Also check out the Tolhuis’ new international restaurant with a gorgeous view over the water – THT!
- For the best pizza in Noord, check out one of the il Pecorino locations. They also serve calzone, pasta and other yummy Italian goodies.
- Well-known among foodies, Hotel Goudfazant is a fine dining experience in an industrial warehouse setting. A great place for a special occasion or to take visitors.
Be sure to check out the handy map to find locations of our favorite places. Enjoy your visits to Amsterdam Noord and let us know your favorite spots!
You might also like these posts:
- Vintage clothing shopping in Amsterdam
- Sleep on a houseboat in Amsterdam
- 15 specialty beer bars in Amsterdam
- Things to do on a rainy day in Amsterdam
- Amsterdamse Bos
- Haarlem: day trip from Amsterdam
- 25 top coffee spots in Amsterdam
- Best garden cafes in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam street art
- 40+ breakfast and brunch spots in Amsterdam
- Vegetarian restaurants in Amsterdam
- Best parks in Amsterdam