As you exit Central station in Amsterdam, the chaos of the city grips you immediately. Bikes are rushing by while tourists with suitcases try to navigate the sidewalk/bike lane. The old section of the city becomes a labyrinth of beautiful canals and narrow passageways. Groups of people pass by, some looking up at the baroque leaning roofs while others are looking down at their feet trying to keep moving during a day of partying. Amsterdam is a busy, bustling city; relaxing is not the word often attributed to it. But if instead of walking toward the city when you exit that train station, you grab a bike of your own and head towards the river, hop on a ferry and cross the Amstel, where you can see a different side of Amsterdam. Far from the bustling tourist-filled Dam Square or the hazy coffeeshops or the neon-lit debauched red light district is Amsterdam Noord. Here there are parks and tiny village roads: art installations and neighbourhood associations. Amsterdam Noord is a large and diverse part of the city little known to tourists, but taking up about a third of the main cities landmass. To lump the entire section into one small blog post would be foolish, so instead this is just a peek at a small part of the north of this great city. With more to come!
See - Nieuwendammerdijk
After disembarking the short ferry trip (they run every five minutes and take less than that to cross the river) on the north side of the Amstel, you travel towards the east until you find a small, narrow, inconspicuous street called Nieuwendammerdijk. At first glance, it is easy to miss. The brick-paved street is narrow, only allowing a single lane of cars to pass and looks like a quiet residential street… which it is. The reason this street is so special, however, is the houses. They sit on a dyke (where the streets name comes from) and became fisherman and captains homes in the 1500s. Some of the wooden houses on the dyke date back that long. Now, this is a posh neighbourhood, but the quaintness of the street still remains. The few large homes near the end of the street are unique as well with goats curiously playing in the front yard of one. Take pictures too long, and one will decide he wants to be the centre of attention.
The dyke runs well beyond the populated parts of the city. As the small houses give way to fields, less ancient mounds of land prevent the sea from overtaking the Netherlands. But keep biking (a one or two hour trip on a beautiful day), and you'll reach the adorable fishing village of Market…but that is for another post.
Eat - Stork
Having wandered the street of Nieuwendammerdijk, taking pictures to your heart's content, you might find yourself a bit hungry; although there is a fantastic restaurant and bar on the road you need to see what the modern part of Amsterdam Noord has to offer! Following the road back towards the ferry, you will begin to pass by long and flat buildings, some showing the signs of the areas past in shipping and fish mongering, others resembling an office park. But do not let the boring beginning fool you, this is one of Amsterdam's new cool areas. Loads of new bars and restaurants seem to be constantly opening, and it is time to explore. If all this talk of fisherman and the sea is starting to make your stomach rumble, you would not be alone. I recommend the Club Sandwich Fisherman, a monstrous piling of the best the Dutch seas have to offer, in a sandwich form. Enjoy it with a beer on a warm summer day and watch the boat traffic pass by on the Amstel. It might be a bit out of the way to reach, but it's 'dam good! (I promise, the only time I'll make the pun).
Gedempt Hamerkanaal 201, 1021 KP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Open Everyday 11:00 - 24:00
Drink - Oedipus Brewing
While the Dutch have never been great winemakers, beer brewing has been one of the best reasons to visit the Netherlands years now. Amsterdam jumped into the craft brewing revolution with gusto and have been producing some of the best European microbrews for awhile. Of the more than 40 local breweries my favourite (or at least my favourite today) is Oedipus Brewing. The whimsical label designs partnered with a wide range of really fine beers (I wanted to use the pun again, but I promised I wouldn't!) makes this a beer to search out. Their taproom has 14 beers available from the tap as well as speciality collaborations and bottles depending on the season. As my beard my strongly suggest, I am an IPA man, and their Gaia beer is a not too hoppy, not too citrusy IPA that keeps calling me back for a second. But if you, like my dear colleague Alexander, haven't jumped on the craft brew train, fear not! Their whole range is 'dam good (couldn't help myself) and worth spending the rest of the afternoon sitting and enjoying.
Oedipus Brewing Taproom
Gedempt Hamerkanaal 85, 1021 KP, Amsterdam
Thursday - 17:00 – 22:00
Friday & Saturday - 14:00 – 23:00
Sunday - 14:00 – 22:00
Monday – Wednesday - closed
Amsterdam Noord is a unique location where different times where you can see the generational changes of Amsterdam's finishing and shipping industry hiding beneath the new wave of hip restaurants and good beer and coffee. As you explore the Eastern part of Amsterdam Noord it is easy to stumble upon something new or something ancient worth discovering. Use these three spots as your jumping-off point! And besides, exploring is always a bit more fun after a beer (or two).
Next time we are turning our bikes to the west and checking out NDSM-Werf and the future more desirable spot in Amsterdam.
If you enjoyed the images in this article and would like to get to know how to use your camera better during an outing to Amsterdam Noord, or any other part of Amsterdam, join Aperture Tours Amsterdam for a guided photo walk led by a professional photographer.
Author : William Lounsbury
William is a photographer in Amsterdam and Paris with Aperture Tours: professional photography guided tours, designed to help you get the best out of your camera whilst exploring wonderful cities with a local. A professional photographer specialising in photojournalism, William enjoys to get off the beaten track and shoot spontaneous moments as they are presented to him.