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 which is used as a space for artists/exhibitions/festivals and also includes offices and student housing. It has a different vibe compared to the bustle of the old city centre.
The shipyard started life in the 19th century. NDSM – Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij 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.
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. Completed in 2007, the office was built on top of a concrete craneway.
To reach the old shipyard area from the ferry terminal, you can walk straight up the Ms.van Riemsdijkweg road. You will find the large Anne Frank mural (Let Me Be Myself painted in 2016 by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra) on the Lasloods wharf building.
This houses the unique and spectacular STRAAT Museum opened in 2020 – an absolute must-visit for any street art and graffiti lovers. It exhibits some 180 artworks all made on site. Book your STRAAT tickets here
Continue walking and you will pass the MTV (Viacom) Benelux Headquarters. Red Bull Netherlands and Greenpeace Netherlands also have their head office in the NDSM area.
Have a wander around – the main NDSM hangar building (NDSM loods) is used an artistic space, part of the Kunststad (Art City) project. It also hosts the monthly IJ-Hallen flea market.
Head down the slipway (helling) past the large Faralda 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.
An interesting project at NDSM Plein 104 is the geWoonboot – an environmentally friendly houseboat that generates its own power and produces its own drinking water. It is used to be available for tours, however it has been converted into a meeting place for 2-25 people.
Eating/Drinking at NDSM wharf
There are a number of places to eat and drink in the area.
Next to the geWoonboot is the funky glass-domed Noorderlicht (“Northern light”) café-restaurant with grass terrace. It’s a great spot for a drink and snack. They often have live music in the evenings at weekends. Note, the menu has become more vegetarian/vegan these days. Open from 1200, kitchen closes at 2100.
Pllek is a café-restaurant on the wharf built using industrial materials. It has a large terrace and city beach with great views over the water. It also has regular live music and DJs. Like Noorderlicht, the menu is mainly veggie. Open 0930-0100 (Sun-Thu), 0930-0300 (Fri-Sat), kitchen closes at 2200.
The IJKantine brasserie just to the west of the ferry wharf also has a fine south-facing terrace. It is open daily from 0900, kitchen closes at 2200.
Cannibale Royale Du Nord at mt. Ondinaweg 32 offers a meat-themed menu. Open weekdays from 1700 and at weekends from 1200.
If you are seeking something a little bit different in Amsterdam then you should check out the post-industrial NDSM wharf.
NDSM Wharf Essential Info
|Take the free GVB Amsterdam ferry from behind Central Station (on the left-hand side) to NDSM-werf. These run approximately 2-4x per hour and the trip takes 15 mins. The last ferry back to Central is at 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
NDSM Wharf, Amsterdam North
Last updated 25 January 2024. This article was first published in 2010 and has been regularly updated.
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