Amsterdam is one of Europe's most popular city trip destinations yet too often visitors get stuck staying in the city center. Yes, there are tons of sights there, but the neighborhoods around the center still allow you to wander around without being surrounded by a dozen other tourists. Amsterdam Noord with its popular A'dam lookout is one of those areas.
Some do find their way across the water behind the Central Station but then stick to the most famous sights, such as the Eye Film Institute. Such a shame, because you can easily spend a whole weekend in this neighborhood. And that's exactly what I recently did.
2 days in Amsterdam Noord
Visit the market at the Van der Pekstraat
The Van der Pekstraat is the hard of the Pek neighborhood. A market takes place several times a week on the wide walking lane in the middle of the street. On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays you can go to the regular goods market there. On Fridays, there's also a Farmers and Bio Market and on Saturdays, you can shop for second-hand goods and crafts.
Also fun is the weekly Street Stage on Saturday where anyone can demonstrate their skills – whatever they may be.
And even if markets aren't your thing, it's fun to wander around this neighborhood a bit. In typical Dutch fashion, the streets are lined with similar looking houses. It's also rather peaceful here and you'll rarely come across another traveler.
Sustainability at De Ceuvel
A few minutes north of the Van der Pekstraat lies De Ceuvel. This place defines itself as a city playground for innovation and creativity where the focus is on sustainability. This former shipyard is now home to social and creative businesses and entrepreneurs who do their thing in renovated houseboats.
These boats aren't in the water anymore but were pulled on the land that has been polluted by the shipyard for years, in between plants that now clean the soil again. The boats are connected to each other by a swirling pier that also allows visitors to have a look around.
De Ceuvel aims to be a circular office area, creating its own energy and recycling its own waste. You can also attend lectures and workshops around sustainability here, but De Ceuvel also offers a broader cultural program filled with movies, music, and exhibitions.
Lunch at Café De Ceuvel
I was there to have lunch at Café De Ceuvel. This cafe has its own greenhouse and gets the rest of its ingredients from local producers. They serve bio-beer, replace meat by locally grown mushrooms and create their own soft drinks using natural ingredients and a sparkling water machine.
The interior consists of recycled and upcycled objects, creating a cozy ambiance. I chose a table by the window where I enjoyed a delicious vegetable soup, some jasmine tea and my first vegan cake ever.
I honestly hadn't expected it to taste like much but it was so good. De Yogie Blues is made with blueberries, coconut, and cacao. Yum! Bonus: I didn't have that sticky feeling you normally get from a real sugar bomb.
Cost: vegetable soup, tea and cake: €12.70
Café De Ceuvel
Korte Papaverweg 4
A walk in the Noorderpark
After lunch, I felt like going for a walk and so I headed to the Noorderpark. Although much smaller, this is kind of like Amsterdam Noord's own Central Park. When you see it on the map, it's also a big green rectangular in the middle of an urban area.
The park isn't just a park either. Cafes, event areas, playground, sports areas, a swimming pool and a meeting place lie scattered alongside the walking lanes.
A view from the top at the A'dam Lookout swing
The big attraction at Amsterdam Noord is the Amsterdam Lookout, the viewing platform on top of the A'dam Tower. From there you get a 360° view of the city, but that's not all.
The experience starts when you show your entry ticket. That's when you get the chance to take a funny photo in front of a green screen which makes it look like you're sitting on a construction beam high above the city.
Of course, there's an option to buy the physical photo afterward, but the digital version you can just download from the Amsterdam Lookout Gophoto website.
Once you've had your photo taken, you step into the elevator. On your way up, there's a sound and light show which isn't all that spectacular but adds a nice extra to it all.
Once you get out, you take the stairs to the rooftop where you can walk around freely and take photos from the little windows in the fence that's there for safety reasons. There are also two little towers on top of the roof that allow you to look over the fence.
And then there's the Over the Edge Swing.
This big mechanical swing literally allows you to swing over the edge of the building, with a view of the city center. Not for me and that's a good thing because there was somewhat of a line waiting to get on. It's the only time I saw a line in Amsterdam Noord.
Lastly, there's also a seating area at the top where you can enjoy the sun or watch the sunset in the evening.
Once you're back inside, you can have a look at the restaurant floor. Panorama is the Amsterdam lookout restaurant where you can have a bite and a drink, and then there's also the rooftop bar that serves cocktails. Panorama has floor-to-ceiling windows, making it another worthy viewpoint. You can also see a model of the A'dam Tower here, and some photos that were taken during the construction works.
Once you're back downstairs, you're guided through the souvenir shop to get to the exit. They actually have quite a few cute things here.
Practical information A'dam Lookout
Amsterdam Lookout tickets:
- A'dam Lookout normal access: €12,5 for adults, €6,5 for kids up until 12 years old
- A'dam Lookout sunset access:, €20 for adults (including a gift and a cocktail, from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.) –
Get your sunset access here
- A'dam Lookout premium ticket: €15 for adults, €6,5 for kids (including a gift and both day and night access) – Get your ticket here.
- Over the Edge Swing: €5 – !ATTENTION: you need to be at least 130 cm tall for this one – Get your combi ticket for the Lookout and the Swing here
If you get the Amsterdam City Card, entry to the A'dam Lookout is included.
Daily from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Last entry at 9 p.m.
In the evening, I went to Café-restaurant Stork, a fish and seafood restaurant at the northern bank of the river IJ. In summer, you can take a seat at the large terrace here but as it was the end of October, I opted for the large hall inside which used to be part of a factory.
You still get that industrial vibe from the high ceilings and the spaciousness.
The servers here were super friendly and helped me out when I couldn't choose between two dishes. I was more than happy with my halibut from the oven with shrimp, beetroot pearl barley, and saffron sauce. I also happily accepted my full tummy after devouring a white chocolate pannacotta with red fruits and almonds.
If you're looking for a nice restaurant in Amsterdam Noord, this is it.
Cost: €30.5 for the food and I had a sparkling water and a tea of which I can't recall the price – sorry!
Gedempt Hamerkanaal 201
Sir Adam Hotel
Ready to call it a day, I headed to the Sir Adam Hotel. Also located inside the A'dam Tower, this hotel smoothly combines design, vintage and comfort.
At the reception you can enjoy a refreshing glass of water and some fruit while checking in. Afterward, you have a drink in the lounge while overlooking The Butchers burger restaurant and meeting place downstairs.
You then walk past the “store” which sells items that you can also find in the rooms, before picking a record from the music library to play in your room.
Getting the elevator up is always a bit exciting, as each lift puts on its own show. I'm sure the disco elevator is a favorite.
And then there are the rooms.
Especially the large windows with seats in front of them were amazing. When I returned from the restaurant, I spent quite some time just sitting there, looking outside.
And then there was a knock on the door.
At this time of night? It was someone from reception, bringing me some camomille tea and an IQ game to relax before bedtime. And if I needed turndown service?
The next morning I descended to The Butcher as that's where hotel guests can enjoy breakfast. You can either have breakfast included in the room or not, in which case it's simply added to your bill if you decide to order something.
There's both a breakfast buffet from which you can pick things as you like, and a breakfast menu from which you can choose one item if you have breakfast included.
I had some granola with yoghurt and fruit from the buffet and ordered a smoothie as well as a capuccino.
Want to stay at the Sir Adam Hotel as well? Click here for prices and availability.
EYE Film Museum
After breakfast, I just had to cross the street to reach the EYE Film Institute. Here you can attend multiple movie screenings a day in one of the several theaters, grab a bite or a multi-course meal at the bar-restaurant with a view of the river and visit changing exhibits on movies and movie makers.
The Panorama hall showcases pieces from the museum's permanent collection that illustrate the history of movie making. The exhibit itself is rather limited, but fun to walk through if you have a ticket anyway.
The complete collection of the EYE consists out of more than 40,000 movies from all possible genres as well as movie equipment and posters. The focus of the collection is on Dutch movie history.
Practical information EYE
Eye film museum opening hours:
- Exhibits and permanent collection: daily 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- EYE shop: daily 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- EYE bar-restaurant: Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – 1a.m. and Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2p.m.
- EYE is closed on King's Day (April 27), closes at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve 31 and opens at 12 p.m. on New Year's Day.
Amsterdam Eye tickets
Movie screening prices:
€10 online, €10.50 at the cash register. Various discounts are available.
€10. Various discounts are available.
A combination ticket for both the exhibitions and to see a movie is €16.
If you have an I amsterdam Card, that covers your entrance to the museum and gives you a discount on a movie screening.
!ATTENTION: the EYE only accepts card payments. Both credit and debit work.
EYE Film Museum
From the EYE Museum it's only a 10-minute bike ride to the famous NDSM Wharf. This was one of the world's biggest shipyards from the 1920s to the 1980s. Now it's a creative “art city” and home to artists, designers, architects, restaurants, hotels and other creative businesses.
Both entrepreneurs and well-established names focus on innovation here. Big companies like Red Bull and Hilton share this space with, for example, Klub X – a club without any online presence, Crane Hotel Faralda, and art project Sexyland that has a different owner every day.
Lunch at Pllek
Another cool spot at NDSM is Pllek (“sppace”) which is a cafe in a bunch of containers. it has a large terrace and one side consists solely out of massive windows looking outside. The interior is cool too, with old school wooden tables, big couches, and a long bar. At the indoor balcony, people were working away on their laptops.
I was there to have lunch and ordered the sandwich of the week with hummus and veggies. It was good, although the service was a little inefficient (I had to ask for the menu myself after having been there for a while already and they forgot the honey I ordered with my tea) and I wouldn't have minded a bit more hummus.
That being said, it was a fun place to relax for a bit and I think it's also a good spot to come and have a coffee with someone.
By the way, Pllek also organizes live performances and movie screenings.
Cost: hummus sandwich + green tea: €10
Tt. Neveritaweg 59
Cycling the Amsterdam countryside
As you have your bike handy now, why not go for a ride? North of Amsterdam Noord, there's a beautiful countryside with the cutest little houses, lots of waterways and open spaces.
I took the following route that you can simply enter into Google Maps. It's easy to follow.
First stop: Nieuwdammerdijk
Bike along the Meeuwenlane and make a quick stop at the WH Vliegenbos. Nieuwdammerdijk is a cute street with beautiful little houses. It's also where you can find traditional Café ‘t Sluisje and a little harbor.
Second stop: Durgerdammerdijk
Follow the Schellingwouderdijk – also a beautiful street – onto the Durgerdammerdijk and into the town of Durgerdam. Here you'll find more cute houses overlooking the water. It's also super peaceful here.
Third stop: Ransdorp
Follow the Durgerdammerdijk until you can go left onto the Durgerdammergouw which leads to Ransdorp. Make sure not to bike ahead onto the Liergouw, but turn right onto the Dorpsweg which will take you to the church. Take a walk around the church if you want, but keep left to cross the little bridge over the water afterward.
Stop in the middle of the bridge and look to behind you. It's a scene straight out of a painting. So pretty
From there on you can follow the water until you reach the Schellingwouderdijk again to head back into the center of Amsterdam Noord.
This route is about 21 km in distance. There are a few benches along the way for you to take a break at and you'll also pass some signs indicating official cycling routes you can follow if you like. To make this route a bit longer, head to Zunderdorp from Ransdorp before you go back to the center. This adds another 1.5 kms.
Prefer going on a guided bicycle tour? Check out this highly rated 3-hour tour.
Renting a bike for your weekend in Amsterdam Noord
I rented my bike from MacBike at the IJ-side of the Central Station. A city bike with hand breaks and three gears costs €22.75 for two days without insurance and €29.75 with insurance.
MacBike also has city bikes with foot breaks, tandems, bikes for kids, cargo bikes, electric bikes, tour bikes, bikes with chairs for wheelchair passengers and three-wheel tandems.
They have shops at various locations in the city, which are open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. except on King's Day (April 27) and Christmas day.
How to get to Amsterdam Noord
Get the train to Amsterdam Central Station and walk out at the IJ-side (the river side and thus not the center side) of the station. There you can take the free ferry to Buiksloterweg. It's the middle one and the one that will get you closest to the IJ Promenade, the EYE Museum and the A'dam Tower.
There are also ferries going to NDSM.
If you're planning on seeing more of Amsterdam or staying in the city longer, it might be interesting to get a public transportation ticket. You can get them for one up to seven days.
Buy your Amsterdam public transportation ticket here.
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Amsterdam Marketing invited me to spend two days in Amsterdam Noord to get to know the area and share my experiences with you. As always, you'll only find my own experiences and opinion here.