Amsterdam as we all know is known for its beautiful canals, world famous museums, grand parks, the unique Red Light District as well as Heineken Beer & the party /Coffee Shop culture! Its a beautiful city that has so many sides to it – one can spend days just lazing in Vondelpark, sitting by the canals,discovering neighbourhood by neighbourhood of this historic yet extremely cosmopolitan city. One such neighbourhood is Amsterdam Noord (North) which is still off the tourist radar. How did we find out about it? Our AirBnb host asked us “What would you like to do in Amsterdam?” Our immediate answer was – “See a few places which are away from the tourist crowds”. Thanks to him we landed up visiting this lovely undiscovered part of Amsterdam.
Noord is a 20 min free ferry ride (yes FREE!) across the IJ river – one can catch the ferry right behind the Amsterdam Centraal Station. The ride itself is fun as you start experiencing the “other” side of Amsterdam as well as get great views of the harbour. We were surrounded by local people on their bicycles on the ferry and as expected really no “tourists”.
As we reached the Noord side, we were at first a little shocked and disappointed as it doesn’t look like beautiful Amsterdam at all! Instead its completely bare, with some old structures of factories, lots of graffiti and some container houses – looked like the poor backyard of the modern city!
It required a little exploration to realize where we had landed. Its an industrial town and dockyard converted into the most artistic and cultural district of Amsterdam. The combination of the rugged and the hip feel of the place is unique and captures your attention.
A sneak peek into what it has in store:
Old factories and warehouses from outside are art galleries and workshops from inside.
Container structures are the hippest homes & offices for creatives and even Red Bull has their headquarters here.
A former Shipyard is a Skate Park, hosts flea markets, concerts and festivals.
An old crane has been converted to a luxury chic hotel with the most beautiful views of the city (its on my list to stay here the next time for one night atleast!)
Its also home to the coolest and hippest restaurants in the city some in container buildings and some on boats!
We landed up going to “Noorderlicht” – a superb place to chill in the afternoon. Its on the river side, “beach” as they call it and has a beautiful vibe with the same industrial feel maintained in every way, and at the same time so chic and modern.
We could spend only half a day here, but as they say it was better than not discovering it at all. Here are some things I’ll keep in mind when I come here the next time:
- Get a bicycle to move around the place – its quite huge and doing it on foot is restrictive.
- Look up the concert/ flea market schedule and try and attend at least one while there
- Stay this side to soak the place completely
- Explore the night life in Noord – it promises to be fun
The essence of Amsterdam Noord and my endeavour of exploring known cities with a different lens captured beautifully! – “Every city has a town outside with a lake. I pull out my fishing pole and fish. I’ve been doing that for a long time” – Brandi Carlile