I have been fortunate enough to visit the Netherlands several times, and every time I love it more. Most of my trips start in Amsterdam, due to it being so accessible from anywhere in the world. From the winding canals, mouth-watering Stroopwafel’s and energetic vibe, this city has so much to offer. Normally I stick to the city, wander the streets and have a great time, but more recently I decided to step out of my ‘comfort zone’ so to speak, and go and see what Amsterdam-Noord had to offer.
Amsterdam-Noord is located the other side of the River IJ, the body of water visible from central station. It is a green, vibrant spacious place where the atmosphere changes from city to suburban instantly and eventually the countryside feel dominates. Traditional dutch houses, beautiful classic windmills and delicious local food, a trip over the river should be part of everyones Amsterdam itinerary.
How to get there?
From Amsterdam central station, take the west exit out of the back of the station next to the river, and take the FREE Buiksloterwegveer ferry, located on the waterfront behind the station.
The ferry ride takes around 5 minutes, is completely free and will take you across the River IJ to Amsterdam-Noord to the Eye film institute.
There are a number of other free ferry services available crossing the IJ to Amsterdam-Noord, all of which will take you to a different start point on your journey.
You can find the most up to date ferry timetable here: http://www.ilovenoord.com/ferry/
Where to stay?
On my visit I spent the day exploring and headed back over to the city for the evening, but there are some local stays available on https://www.airbnb.co.uk, which are not only great value for money, but also offer a base for heading deeper into the countryside.
If you are going to head back to the city, my favourite pick of hostels are the flying pig group, http://www.flyingpig.nl. I’ve stayed in the uptown hostel next to Vondelpark, and had a great experience with friendly staff, clean bedding and a great atmosphere so would highly recommend it.
What do to in Amsterdam-Noord?
So here’s the important question, now you are standing the other side of the river with Amsterdam city behind you, where should you go now?
First stop – the Eye Film Institute:
This large white building on the bank of the river is impossible to miss. When you exit the ferry walk towards your left, and you will be at the doors within moments.
The building hosts daily film showings for a fee, mostly in dutch, but there are some english showings. The times are shown on the wall as you arrive in the entrance of the building, but for me, the best part about this building comes from heading to the ground floor.
If you walk down the staircase to floor O, you will arrive in one of the exhibition rooms. Take a seat in the booths that look almost like simulators from the outside, and you can pick from a number of short documentaries, 5 minute films, and longer full length films for free. Simply put on the headphones and enjoy.
You can get details of showings and current exhibitions here: https://www.eyefilm.nl/en
Next stop – Hire a bike:
Cycling is probably the best way to explore Amsterdam-Noord, you can take a tram, but to truly experience the countryside and wander off the beaten track a bit, a bike is definitely the best option.
Located a 4 minute, 300m walk from the Eye film institute is Fietsenverhuur Amsterdam bike hire. For a small fee you can hire a bike for a day, 3 hours, 1 hour etc. however long you like. The company will give you a cycle map to help you orientate yourself, and most importantly find your way back! You can find more information about prices from the company’s website here: http://fietsreparatieamsterdam.nl/
Now you have a bike, my top 4 places to visit would be:
Located only a 5 minute cycle ride away, this refurbished market is a great place to grab a bite to eat, browse local produce, and be intrigued by local crafts and vintage goods. The market is different depending on which day you attend, Wednesday is a street market, Friday is a farmers market and Saturday is a mixed market, stocking more crafts and goods. The surrounding area has embraced the market though, so whichever day you attend you will be able to browse local shops selling unique goods. You can read more about the specific items sold and best times of day to visit on the markets website: http://www.pekmarkt.nl
Become a local for the day, and cycle round this fantastic green space. The rivers continue to flow this side of Amsterdam and the vast expanses of water in the park are decorated with quaint dutch houses. There are plenty of benches dotted about, perfect for taking a break and enjoying the scenery.
Located north of Noorderpark this stunning structure is well worth a visit. It is located next to Noordhollandsch Canal, and stands now as a memory of its former self. It is no longer a working windmill, but in the 1700’s when it was built, and for many years after, it was used as a chalk and trass mill. It is the last remaining chalk mill in the Netherlands!
If you consult you bike map at this point you will be able to continue your journey north to explore more of the countryside of
Amsterdam-Noord and spend a few hours getting lost and discovering unexplored areas.
This former shipyard come skatepark is a hip addition to the Amsterdam-Noord itinerary. There are a number of art galleries, restaurants and businesses in the area, and flea markets are held here on selected dates throughout the month. To find out more about whats on when your in town check out their website:http://www.ndsm.nl
So that’s it, my guide to Amsterdam-Noord. A step away from the bright lights and fast pace of the city and a chance to explore some stunning scenery, hip, arty culture and mesmerising architecture. I hope your next trip to Amsterdam involves a free ferry ride and day of exploration too!