Centrally located, culturally rich and effortlessly trendy, why oh why are we only just hearing about Amsterdam Noord?!
Locals have been keeping the best district in the Dutch capital secret for a while, but thankfully for us international travellers, the cat is now out of the bag and I’m here to tell you that this diverse and delightful district really is the coolest kid on the block.
Wonderfully close to central Amsterdam – meaning you can see plenty of the big bucket list tickers during your time in this city as well – Amsterdam Noord is the place to get under the radar, away from the crowds and explore some of the best creative talent on offer in the Dutch capital too.
So if you’re keen to visit the city district that everyone isn’t talking about (… yet!), here’s my complete guide to visiting (and loving) your time in Amsterdam Noord – the trendiest spot in town.
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My trip to Amsterdam was sponsored by Amsterdam&Partners but, as always, all views are my own.
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Amsterdam Noord: Why So Cool?
Little did I know when I visited Amsterdam before, that one of the city’s coolest districts sits just a few minutes from Centraal Station.
Usually, as a visitor to this city, you wander straight out of this huge transport hub and make a beeline for Dam Square, from where it’s easy to reach loads of the city’s main attractions.
But, on this trip to Amsterdam, I actually came out the other side of the station – the canal (or is it a river?) side – and was soon hopping on a ferry packed with locals heading across the water.
With not another tourist in sight – most people had bikes or motorbikes and I was definitely the only one with a wheelie-suitcase! – it was fair to say from the off that Amsterdam Noord is still wonderfully under the tourist radar… and all the more enjoyable for it.
Absolutely one of the top reasons I loved this part of the city, the sense of being immersed in a very local area was a much-welcomed relief from the tourist-crowded nature of the city centre.
And, of course, less tourists and more locals generally means a better vibe in an area too – safe to say Amsterdam Noord certainly delivered on this front too.
A diverse area, with a significant student population, this part of the city is rich in authenticity and action, with a side of gritty industrial heritage thrown in for good measure.
Polished historic buildings there are not, but the swiftly-being-regenerated docklands of this district have made it a mecca for artists and creatives.
Trendy galleries now fill once-abandoned warehouses spaces and street art, pop-up bars and quirky cafes in disused spaces have begun to take hold.
Easy to get around on foot or by bike, travelling peacefully along the bridges, beside the waterways and past local shops and houses here in Amsterdam Noord only allows a deeper insight into this hidden gem.
And, although I didn’t experience it, I bet there’s a banging nightlife here too!
How to Get There?
So as I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, Amsterdam Noord is super easy to get to from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.
Simply come out of this main transport hub on the canal / river side and head immediately for the visible dock, which is just a 3 minute stroll away… max!
Here you can grab the F3 ferry, which is free.
Just wait with the locals for it to dock, stroll on, enjoy the crossing and then hop off the other side.
And you’ve arrived in Amsterdam Noord!
You can also grab a taxi from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord, if you don’t want to take the ferry, but it will probably take longer.
Lots of the riverside attractions – yes I’ve just done the research and it is a river, the River Ij to be precise – can be easily accessed on foot or by bike (yes you can bring your wheels on the ferry too) from where the ferry docks.
Otherwise, the #38 bus leaves a short distance from the ferry dock in Noord and can get you around to quite a few places in the district too.
If you don’t fancy the bus, then there are lots of paved cycleways and walking paths once you get over to Noord that will allow to get around – although just bear in the mind Amsterdam Noord covers quite a large area, so cycling may be preferable.
How Long to Spend in Amsterdam Noord?
I’d allow yourself at least one full day for this part of the city.
There’s so much to see, do and take in here, that anything less than that and you’ll be doing it a disservice.
If you do want to stay longer than a day, or even use Amsterdam Noord as your base to explore the city but stay away from the crowds (which is a totally brilliant idea by the way!), then check out my next section about where to sleep in this district.
Where to Stay?
When it comes to the best place to stay in Amsterdam Noord look no further than the excellent Yotel.
A wonderfully affordable option that nevertheless boasts tech-smart rooms, comfy beds, an onsite bar and restaurant, along with free bike hire (when you book direct) and a great location – there’s no question this is my top recommendation in the area.
I enjoyed a really lovely stay at this modern hotel, which was clean, efficient, comfortable and friendly – can’t think of anything else you could need!
Automated self-check-in made my arrival a doddle and I really loved how this hotel has optimised its smart room dimensions, with everything you could need in one functional and well-thought-out space.
Staff were incredible and the dinner and breakfast I enjoyed in the bar, including a cocktail or 2, were fabulous.
Just a short walk, bus or cycle from the F3 ferry terminal (and right opposite the NXT Museum), Yotel Amsterdam Noord is definitely my pick for a great spot to stay in this area and you can grab the best rates and your free bike hire when you book here.
Top Things to Do in Amsterdam Noord
And now we come to the exciting part – what to do in Amsterdam Noord… and where do I start?
Because there’s so much to do here, that it’s hard to know where to begin!
Ok, seeing as I mentioned it already, let’s start with the fab NXT Museum…
#1 NXT Museum
A quirky exhibition exploring the nexus between digital art, music, reality and their effects on our sense of identity and spatial perception, I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through this museum for a couple of hours.
Tickets cost me a discounted 18.50€ with my I Amsterdam card and can be booked in advance online here. You need to reserve a timeslot.
#2 Eye Film Museum
And sticking with the museum theme, another top thing you have to do in Amsterdam Noord is head to the Eye Film Museum.
Situated along the water, just a short walk from the F3 ferry dock, this fantastic museum is free to enter with your I Amsterdam City Card.
Housed in a really striking building, with a super ground floor café (just an FYI!), choose between touring the revolving film exhibitions here or grabbing a movie in the cinema… or both!
#3 This is Holland Experience
And just next door to the Eye Film Museum is the This is Holland Experience.
A 5D sensory experience that takes you through the history of The Netherlands in an exciting and visceral way, it’s probably best to allow 90 minutes to get the most from this attractions, as there’s really 3 sections to it.
Free to enter with your I Amsterdam City Card, you can also buy tickets online or at the entrance desk in person.
#4 A’DAM Lookout
And finally in this waterside area of Amsterdam Noord, there’s the fab A’DAM Lookout.
Towering 100m over the city, I recommend heading up here at night for beautiful cityscape views.
Again, free entrance to the lookout is available with the I Amsterdam City Card otherwise, tickets cost around 15€.
Head up in the pretty crazy lift ride to the 20-storey top floor where you can enjoy the beautiful views, grab a drink or, best of all, enjoy the highest swing in Europe.
Yes swinging over the city in style from the top of this building really is the ultimate Amsterdam thrill!
#5 Stroll or Cycle the Promenade
But now it’s something for a bit more sedate I feel, so it’s time to head back to earth and wander outside the A’DAM Lookout until you find the lovely Noord Promenade stretching out before you.
If you’re keen to get a bit of fresh air and move the legs, then this free riverside walkway and cycle track is just the answer.
The only thing to decide is how long you want to follow it for.
After all, the Amsterdam coast is less than 30km away, so you could be going for a while!
#6 NDSM & Straat Museum
And last but not least on this list of the best things to do in the Amsterdam Noord district, it’s time to head to the super quirky and vibey NDSM area, which is about a 10 minute walk from I where I stayed at Yotel.
This regenerated dockland area is full of great street art and exhibition spaces, as well as quirky alfresco bars and cafes that would be amazing to visit in the summer.
Don’t miss the graffiti Straat Museum if you come here either – tickets cost 20€ – or the free Museum space within the NDSM building itself that charts some of the history of the area.
Otherwise, wandering around this fun and vibrant space, exploring all the artistic corners, is a great way to soak it all in.
Where to Eat & Drink?
Given that it’s a student and hipster mecca, there’s no question Amsterdam Noord packs a mean punch when it comes to food and the drinks.
Here’s my pick of the best spots in the area to try out…
Only open in the afternoon and evenings, head to this funky eatery and bar for dinner or drinks and to check out the skate ramp, cool décor and outside space.
It turns into a sort of bar / club after dinner,w hich is worth hanging around for too I’ve been told!
Cafe De Ceuvel
Right on the edge of the canal, if you’re looking for waterside drinks in the summer, look no further than Cafe De Ceuvel!
With lovely views and a repurposed / reclaimed décor feel, this eclectic spot reminded me of Hackney Wick if you know London at all.
In the colder months, head inside for fireside winter warmers
There’s even a floating hotel next door if you can’t make it home!
A top-rated vegetarian restaurant that was recommended to me by a local, Northern Lights is a must for us plant-based people
Located in the NDSM area, you know you’re in safe hands when a restaurant is housed in an epic glasshouse and hosts DJs and festivals during the summer!
Trendy pescatarians, get ready to eat your heart out!
This fab seafood and fish eatery along the water in Amsterdam Noord is making a serious splash with critics.
Delightful casual, strongly influenced by the season and with a drinks menu to bowl you over, foodies need to make Stork part of their Amsterdam Noord itinerary asap.
Amsterdam Mini Travel Guide
How to Get to Amsterdam?
Schiphol international airport is the most common hub for access to Amsterdam and boasts flights from around the world.
Get the best ticket prices using Skyscanner – my go-to comparison tool.
If you’re travelling from elsewhere in Europe, then why not consider taking the train to Amsterdam instead of the plane and keeping your carbon footprint low?
And for the cheapest of all the options, you’ll want to hit up Flixbus – you just can’t beat their coach ticket prices!
Here’s my detailed posts about getting to the Dutch capital from 2 other European cities:
- How to Travel from Prague to Amsterdam
- How to Travel from Frankfurt to Amsterdam
- How to Travel from Amsterdam to Cologne
When to Visit Amsterdam?
I honestly think this city is great to visit at any time of the year.
Summer is hot and sunny, but crowds are thicker and prices even higher!
Winter is cute for festive feels, although you’ll need to bring a good coat.
Spring is the time for the tulips and the windmills – you can’t beat a classic!
While Autumn is probably one of the most peaceful seasons in this city offering a slice of it all in moderation.
And if you like Noord Amsterdam, don’t forget to check out the great area of Zaandam too.
Saving When You Spend in Amsterdam
When it comes to paying for things in Amsterdam, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups, no sneaky transaction fees and a free Euros account, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in the Netherlands… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Get yours here.
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
SAVE IT TO PINTEREST!
And that’s my guide to the coolest district in the Dutch capital.
Have you visited Amsterdam Noord?
What was your favourite thing to do there?
Have I missed any gems out of this article?
Do let me know your favs in the comments below and I’ll try to include them…