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A visit to NDSM wharf, Amsterdam

 

Amsterdam North has been undergoing a surge of redevelopment over the last few years. NDSM is a former shipping wharf area in north-west Amsterdam now used as a space for artists/exhibitions/festivals and also includes offices and student housing. It has a unique atmosphere which is in stark contrast to the bustle of the old city centre.

The shipyard started life in the 19th century. NDSM - Nederlandse Droogdok en Scheepsbouw Mattschappij or Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company - was Amsterdam's largest shipbuilding facility for about a hundred years. In 1984 the facility went bankrupt and closed its doors - like many other European shipyards as the industry declined.

During the 1990s however, it became something of a haven for artists, squatters and skaters - and slowly, the area started to regenerate. Today, NDSM is one of Amsterdam's prime spaces for creativity and development.

NDSM wharf (NDSM werf) can be easily reached by hopping on the free GVB ferry service at the back of central station. The pleasant 15 minute journey will give you an insight into how Amsterdam's waterside is changing.

gvb ferry to ndsm wharf amsterdamamsterdam waterfront offices

On arrival at NDSM, to your left in the distance you will see the elevated 270m long Kranspoor office building, another striking example of modern Dutch architecture.

kranspoor amsterdam

To reach the old shipyard area from the ferry terminal, either walk straight up the road (Ms.van Riemsdijkweg) and then turn right or cut across the car park. You will pass the MTV (Viacom) Benelux Headquarters. Red Bull Netherlands also has its head office in the NDSM area.

Have a wander around - the main NDSM hangar building is a huge exhibition space which contains the large Kunststad (Art City) project and a skatepark. Head down the slipway (helling) past the large NDSM crane and you will find, amongst other things, some old trams and a replica Easter Island head statue. There are often various outdoor art installations on display.

NDSM wharf amsterdam

ndsm warehouseNDSM views

An interesting project to see is the geWoonboot (at NDSM Plein 104) - an environmentally friendly houseboat that generates its own power and produces its own drinking water. It is open for visitors though opening hours are limited, so check by calling +31(0)6 2548 5551.

gewoonboot ndsm wharf

Eating/Drinking at NDSM wharf

noorderlicht cafe amsterdam

There are a number of places to eat and drink in the area.

Next to the geWoonboot is the funky glass-domed Noorderlicht ("Northern lights") cafe-restaurant with grass terrace. It's a great spot for a drink and snack. They often have live music in the evenings at weekends. Open daily from 1100, kitchen closes at 2200.

Pllek is a new cafe-restaurant on the wharf built using industrial materials. It has a large terrace and city beach with great views over the water.

The IJKantine brasserie to the west of the ferry wharf also has a fine south-facing terrace. Finally, there is a HEMA store near the Kranspoor.

If you are seeking something a little bit different in Amsterdam then you should check out the NDSM wharf.

NDSM Wharf Essential Info

Getting There: Take the free GVB ferry from behind Amsterdam central station to NDSM-werf. These run approximately every half hour to midnight - last ferry back to central is 1am Fridays and Saturdays.

Festivals: Events held at NDSM-wharf include Over ‘t IJ Festival, Valtifest, Voltt and the Amsterdam Boat Show.

Hotels: If you wish to stay at NDSM wharf then the floating Amstel Botel is currently moored there. Boutique hotel De Smederij will open sometime in 2013.

NDSM Wharf, Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 493 1070

ndsm wharf easter island sculture