Explore a colourful creative community
Enjoy the homely atmosphere and changing local art exhibitions in the colourful Heesterveld Creative Community. This former apartment block was once in a developing area but has since transformed into a cultural breeding ground, with ateliers in the former basement storage rooms and the artists' homes above. Painters, filmmakers, rappers and artists from all corners of the world regularly organise exhibitions and networking events here. We’d recommend checking out GLLRY ZOH, an art platform and project space with its own Bed & Breakfast. And, when you’re feeling peckish, head over to Oma Ietje for a coffee and a sarnie.
Looking for more cultural tips? Read this dedicated guide to culture in Zuidoost.
Eat your way around the world
Zuidoost has a lot of international food to offer, and the best place to start is easily World of Food. Low on pretence but bursting with flavours, this 3,000m2 food court housed in a parking garage offers you and your taste buds a trip around the world. The line-up of 25 kitchens provides all kinds of cuisines to try, ranging from Ghanaian to Thai.
Check out this round-up of restaurants and bars in Zuidoost for more foodie recommendations.
Be part of something big on ArenA Boulevard
If you want to go big, ArenA Boulevard is the place to be. There you’ll find some of the largest entertainment spaces in the city, including Ziggo Dome, Pathé ArenA and AFAS Live. This is where you’ll want to be if you’re looking for IMAX screenings, mega concerts or a Star Trek marathon; and schedules are always full. The surrounding area has a lot of cafes, eateries and a large shopping mall. It’s also a popular area for overnight stays, especially for event attendees, so if you haven’t got your sleeping arrangements sorted, be sure to check out the nearby hotels.
Sample local beers and spend a day at the farm
Quiet, green and smelling faintly of manure, Bijlmerweide is a beautiful, family-friendly farm and cafe. It has a playground and gorgeous animals you can pet, and a menu that’s straight from the land with fresh eggs and homemade honey. On the agenda, you’ll also find a handful of events every year, usually aimed at kids. A scenic walk away in the Diemerbos lies House of Bird Brewery, where you can sample speciality beers in the tasting room. The owners take pride in their sustainable, seasonal menu made of locally sourced products, and the nearby forest is perfect for a decompressing walk.
Watch a movie under the train tracks
Catch some free award-winning cinema during the summer in the great urban outdoors of Zuidoost. The Bijlmerbios Festival brings three nights of films to the Kraaiennest metro station, with films screened in the tunnel under the tracks. Guests are invited to bring their own seats or get there early to take a handy pew on one of the nearby restaurant terraces.
Peer at extraordinary medical collections
On weekdays, visitors have access to the Vrolik Museum at the University of Amsterdam (UVA), which can quite rightly be called one of the most unusual experiences in the city. The museum houses a collection of extraordinary medical items collected by the 19th-century medical professor Gerardus Vrolik and his son Willem. A visit here is certainly not for the faint of heart as the exhibition includes anatomical models, skeletons, skulls and examples of babies with congenital disabilities, such as conjoined twins.
Marvel at the supersized street art
Adorning the walls of colossal apartment blocks, alleyways and residential complexes, Zuidoost is teeming with beautiful street art. To see it all, we’d recommend hopping off the metro at Bullewijk to explore the H-neighbourhood. First, check out the vibrant mural at the intersection of Heesterveld and Hakvoort - you really can’t miss it. Continue to the Hakfort flat, where Egyptian artist Ammar Abo Bakr painted the side in splashing colours. You can then head through the abstract Haagse Huis passage in the direction of Nelson Mandela Park to spot a kaleidoscopic mural by Ramon Martins.
Swim, suntan and spot wildlife
Gaasperplas Park is a gem of a space surrounding a manmade lake that looks anything but artificial. The park is an intricate web of streams, bridges, and walking paths, perfect for biking and horse-riding. There’s a wealth of wildlife to be spotted amongst the greenery, including birds, toads, grass snakes and fish. It also has a tonne of little nooks to relax in and is home to a couple of beaches, including a family-friendly beach and a small nudist beach (from March to October) and some of the best outdoor swimming spots in town. And if you feel like seeing something typically Dutch, head to the other side of the Weespertrekvaart canal to check out the old Gaaspermolen windmill that dates back to 1707.
Get out on the water
Gaasperplas, the lake itself, is a great place for sailing, surfing, rowing, canoeing and plenty of other watery activities. There are a couple of sailing clubs on the western shores of the lake where you can rent boats or sign up for sailing courses. Free nearby parking and lots of facilities make this park an easy place to spend the day. The connected waterways in Zuidoost are some of Amsterdam’s most beautiful sailing routes, so it’s no surprise that painters such as Piet Mondriaan and Simon Maris found inspiration along the banks around here. And if you’re really up for an adventurous day out on the water, IJburg is a short cycle away and is the go-to spot for windsurfing.
Experience culture, nature and sport in Nelson Mandela Park
In 2014, Bijlmer Park was renamed Nelson Mandela Park and revamped with a range of new recreational areas. You can take a hike in the magnolia valley up to butterfly hill or through the arboretum comprising native trees from the various home countries of local residents. Alternatively, make use of the great skate park and sports facilities or catch a performance at the Bijlmer Parktheatre, which is parked slap bang in the middle of the park. Check the schedule for listings of community theatre performances, or inspire your kids and teens by enrolling them in an afternoon circus, dance or theatre class. And don’t miss the annual Kwaku Summer Festival. This multicultural gathering brings people and cultures together for a vibrant combination of food, drink, dance and sport in Nelson Mandela Park.
Catch an Ajax match
Sporting the name of the greatest Dutch football player of all time, the massive Johan Cruijff ArenA is now the home turf of Amsterdam’s beloved football team, Ajax. On match days the stadium roars with red and white-clad fans, and a game is well worth experiencing if you’re in town. Diehard sports buffs can also book a 75-minute behind-the-scenes tour to see parts of the arena that are normally reserved for officials and players. Step inside the team’s dressing room and check your hair in the mirror-like a real professional football star. Other highlights include the VR experience, Hall of Fame and an exclusive peek at the pitch up close.
Shop as the locals do
The best way to get a real flavour for a neighbourhood is to head down to the daily street market to see where the locals shop. Reigersbos Market outside the Bijlmer metro station has over 140 stalls stacked with colourful fruit and veg or sizzling street food. Elsewhere in Zuidoost, Markt Anton de Komplein (open Mondays and Thursdays) is ideal for groceries, fish, household items and music, whilst both Markt Kraaiennest (Tuesdays) and Markt Ganzenhoef Bijlmer (Saturdays) are general markets where the aromas of multicultural cuisine and fresh produce waft through the air.