Behind the water is another Amsterdam that will probably surprise and excite you. It’s easy to get to the former NDSM shipyards in Amsterdam-Noord by a free ferry, but you’ll get the impression that you’ve come to an alternate reality.
Huge, industrial barracks and cranes are currently being redefined and transformed into studios for artists, restaurants, hotels and interesting cultural initiatives. No wonder that all the cool companies – MTV, Red Bull, National Geographic – quickly moved to Noord and called it their new home. Despite all the changes, NDSM is not crowded and will rather remain so. The area is too harsh for that. Check out the cultural agenda – it may seem empty, but the afternoon will definitely be refreshing.
Where: NDSM Werf
Nearest station: Ferry NDSM Werf
The Jordaan area is charming, narrow streets, small canals – exactly 11 – and seventeenth-century buildings along the border with Grachtengordel West.
Once a densely populated and infamous working class district, it is now one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. You will be happy to get lost in this charming little jungle for the whole day. Start at the joyful and carefree Noordermarkt flea market, which also offers food, and stroll among the old craftsman’s quarters, along romantic quays, spacious, secret courtyards and traditional brown pubs. Be sure to visit the statue of the local hero and singer Johnny Jordaan at the Elandsgracht. It is easy to imagine that the atmosphere of these streets inspired many musicians.
Where: De Jordaan
Nearest station: Marnixplein
Amsterdam has its unofficial Chinatown, de Zeedijk, and unofficial Little Italy, Tweede Tuindwarsstraat. It’s tiny – it only takes one short street in the romantic Jordaan area – but mamma mia, on a few car-free yards it fit a lot of (also non-Italian) genius.
Try the best pizza in town in La Perla and go for ice cream to Monte Pelmo for dessert. Café de Tuin is another popular crowd favorite. From miniature art galleries to unique vintage stores – the whole area changes beyond recognition in the summer, when tiny, tablecloth-covered tables spill out into the street and everyone yells at everyone. In a nice and polite way.
Where: Tweede Tuindwarsstraat
Nearest station: Marnixplein
De Negen Straatjes
The legendary “9 streets” in Amsterdam are short streets right next to the canals between Raadhuisstraat and Leidsegracht.
This area is a mecca for fanatics of style and foodies – from Belgian chocolate, through funny toothbrushes, to vintage wedding dresses at Laura Dols and luxury lingerie at Marlies Dekkers. ‘ Vans? Karl Lagerfeld? It’s amazing how many great specialty stores, hairdressers, bars, lunch cafes and galleries can fit in such a small space. Listing the main attractions is almost impossible, but on the Negen Straatjes website – also in English! – you’ll find amazing categorized tips.
Where: Between Raadhuisstraat and Leidsegracht
Nearest station: Spui
De Haarlemmerdijk is like the perfect girl that all men want – all other women would like to hate her, but they secretly want to be her. This street, timeless and fashionable, is a sensational alternative to colorless, full of chain shopping streets.
Every store on ‘Dijk’ – its joyful older sister Haarlemmerstraat does not have ‘this thing’ in it – it is the essence of quality: a gift shop only for men Concrete Matter; butter croissants in the Mediterranee; roasted coffee in 2ForJoy’s; vintage pearls in Jutka & Riska’s; Kookboekenwinkel, which only offers cookbooks; great food at Pizzakamer; sensational ice cream at Jordino’s; Balray Indian family restaurant. It’s hard to believe that such a short street can imperceptibly eat you all day – and all your savings.
Nearest station: Haarlemmerplein
Blijburg aan Zee
Even total townspeople sometimes want to feel the sand between their toes when it is hot outside the window. It is on such days that the inhabitants of Amsterdam fully appreciate the Blijburg beach – a city beach located on Lake IJ.
The temporary beach bar Blijburg has moved from place to place several times. The last location, on the edge of the new residential area of IJburg, is perfect and brings in a crowd of hippies, hipsters, kids and dogs. Check their program and drop in to watch the sunset on Sunday.
Where: Pampuslaan 501
Nearest station: IJburg