Five Alternative Amsterdam Neighbourhoods To Explore

Five Alternative Amsterdam Neighbourhoods To Explore

Escape Amsterdam’s crowded centre with our pick of five under-the-radar neighbourhoods in the city

De Wallen’s red lights and the busy streets around
Herengracht. We’ve peddled away from Amsterdam’s four main city
canals and hopped on one of the free ferries over the IJ to find
five alternative neighbourhoods worth visiting in the Dutch capital. Whether you’re wanting a taste of the
city’s hypnotic nightlife, a chance to explore some of the coolest urban developments
in Europe, or you’re just hoping for a quiet stroll away from the
angry dings of bike bells in the historic centre, get under the
skin of Europe’s most progressive city with our pick of five
lesser-known neighbourhoods around Amsterdam.

Five neighbourhoods beyond Amsterdam’s historic centre


Take a free ferry across the river from the city centre to
IJplein and head east along the riverfront to enter
Nieuwendammerham, a waterside stretch of former industrial
buildings that have been co-opted into a neighbourhood hangout by
Amsterdammers living north of the river. Spread out under the
cloudy belches of a still-functioning cement factory (don’t worry –
it’s water vapour), corrugated metal sheds and old brick builds
house the waterfront Monk bouldering gym, independent cinema
FC Hyena
and a duo of craft brewery taprooms, Oedipus and Walhalla,
where the brews are served in colourful, psychedelic-inspired cans.
Stop by Skatecafé to scoff elevated street food by candlelight
beside a sometimes-in-use skate ramp, then finish the night nodding
to synth beats at Garage Noord, a club sequestered into an old car
repair shop.

Where to stay: BUNK Hotel Amsterdam

Photo credit: Daniel Doorakkers /


More of a road than a neighbourhood, Nieuwendammerdijk is one of
the few areas of Amsterdam-Noord that gives the city centre’s
distinguished looks a run for their money. Squeezed between the
area’s utilitarian, post-war estates, this slice of historic
housing once belonged to fisherman and shipbuilders. Dinky homes,
some dating back to the 1500s, jostle the narrow street and spill
out into surrounding lanes. Take a gentle amble beneath the
precariously sloping and frivolously designed eaves to snoop into
effortlessly elegant interiors (not having curtains is common in
the Netherlands, stemming from a Calvinist ethos of “we have
nothing to hide”), then stop by the century-old, community-owned
Café ‘t Sluisje. Visitors can sit by the canal lock or
inside a belle époque dining room for a coffee, or beer, and some
favourite Dutch dishes. Our order? A fresh-baked apple tart,

Where to stay: SWEETS Hotel Buiksloterdraaibrug

Photo credit: Arne Elgersma / Café De Ceuval

De Ceuvel

Also in Amsterdam-Noord, this innovative post-industrial
development has seen a former shipyard on the Johan van Hasselt
canal transformed into a community for entrepreneurs and artists.
The self-sufficient complex houses a café, offices and hotel all
made from salvaged boats and reclaimed industrial materials,
lending the area a bohemian, Mad Max aesthetic. Drop by the
plant-based waterside restaurant Café De Ceuval for beers, coffees, burgers and
croquettes, then meander along the boardwalk jetty, between plants
specifically chosen to help cleanse polluted soils, to peer into
mural-painted old boats dragged ashore and turned into office
space. A fleet of still-bobbing vessels makes up the suites of
Hotel Asile Flottant, too. Don’t miss the
nearby pop-up pizza restaurant Klaproos, and
Semai, an
Eritrean restaurant in the neighbourhood.

Where to stay: Hotel Asile Flottant


NDSM Wharf

The best place for a drink in all of Amsterdam? We’re saying
Pllek, the
riverside restaurant, bar and man-made beach that promises
front-row seats to sunsets over the River IJ. This eco-conscious
initiative is a stalwart hangout in the street art-tattooed NDSM
Wharf, a former shipyard area that’s been transformed into a
creative quarter packed with artists’ studios, galleries and
nightlife venues. Start a Saturday’s explorations at circular
bakery BBROOD,
seek out experimental artworks in the 80 studios housed within the
vast Kunststad and in the neighbourhood’s other creative spaces
(the NDSM Wharf website has a full breakdown of what’s happening in
the area), then grab an on-the-go lunch of fresh herring from Ciska
Jonk’s fish stall, near the ferry port. Afternoons are best spent
strolling the huge, hanging exhibition of street art at STRAAT Museum, before taking a leisurely
evening meal at Pllek (think steamed mackerel with
horseradish-spiked crème fraîche and salt-baked celeriac)
accompanied by live music from local bands.

Where to stay: Faralda Crane Hotel

Testafel, Interiors


Made up of four smaller neighbourhoods, Amsterdam-West is the
city’s most densely populated borough. Spreading from the edges of
the city centre out to the Teleport district, its sprawl
encompasses the hip, canalside streets of Oud West, Bos En Lommer’s
Moroccan supermarkets and Turkish bakeries, the elegant
architecture of waterside Westerpark, and De Baarsjes’ indie
store-filled streets. It’s also Amsterdam’s greenest area. If
you’re wanting to soak up some sun, head to Westerpark, or hit
Vondelpark’s Blauwe Theehuis for a beer. Elsewhere, we’d recommend
grabbing coffee at Lot61 Coffee Roasters, and fuelling up for further
exploration on anything from dim sum to modern Mexican at De Hallen’s
food hall, Visiting on a Saturday? In the northern edges of the
district, towards Sloterdijk station, the experimental restaurant
TestTafel serves seven-course meals for a minimum donation of £22,
with any additional profits supporting it’s parent non-profit
De Sering
in providing a people’s kitchen, and food for refugee programmes
and protests.

Where to stay: BOAT & CO

Read about the city of Amsterdam’s innovative spirit in
Vol. 40: Visionary

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