Things to do in NDSM
Transformed from an industrial shipyard into a vibrant social space, NDSM conceals a wealth of activities all packed into a tight area. Dispersed amongst the shipping containers and graffiti-emblazoned hangars, you’ll find trendy beach bars, eco-conscious restaurants and spectacular waterside cafes to chill at. The neighbourhood hosts some of the city’s best festivals, one of the largest flea markets in Europe and some impressive venues for culture, getting active, and an open-air cinema. For curious urban explorers looking for a different image of Amsterdam that couldn’t be further from canals and tulips, NDSM is a great place to start.
Bask in the sun on the beach
Take a break and lounge on the sand without ever leaving Amsterdam. Pllek is a fantastic bar-restaurant constructed from old shipping containers with an urban beach that extends along the IJ. It's a great spot to relax next to the water or have a bite on the terrace. On sultry summer evenings, Pllek’s agenda encompasses everything from live music to open-air movie screenings. Nearby, Noorderlicht, a greenhouse-turned-café offers a large riverside space with a sustainable, vegetarian-friendly menu and sweeping riverside views. Have a read of our food and drink guide for more tips on where to sip a beer waterside at NDSM.
Hunt for vintage treasures
The industrial history and artistic community of the NDSM neighbourhood has turned it into a treasure trove for vintage and antique goods. You can spend hours wandering the IJ-Hallen flea market, the largest in Europe, where hundreds of stalls hawk everything from clothes and jewellery to kitchen supplies and memorabilia. Nearby, Woodies aT BerLin is a brilliant place to browse for second-hand, handmade items, upcycled chairs and lighting. At the same time, Neef Louis fills its 2,000 metres of space with vintage industrial furniture lighting and design pieces.
Cycle through quintessentially Dutch countryside
Amsterdam Noord is the gateway to some exceptionally lush Dutch countryside, with all the windmills, quaint villages, cows and greenery that your heart could ask for. There are several spots to rent bikes at NDSM and a variety of scenic cycle routes that head out towards the Het Twiske and Waterland nature areas. The best thing of all - as with most of the Netherlands - is that the landscape is completely flat and perfect for peddling. Cruise along the polders admiring extensive meadows of grazing cattle and wetlands with waterbirds, before heading back to NDSM for a hard-earned beer in the sun.
Feel the good vibes at a festival
Watch the vast spaces of NDSM Wharf transform into a hub of activity during the many festivals that occur throughout the year, all catering to different music genres and celebrations. Families can visit the Over Het IJ theatre festival, which takes place over 10-days at pop-up venues across the docklands or head over on Ascension Day for kid-friendly circus festivities at Hemeltjelief. For those who like a little bit of funk in their festivals, stop by NDSM during Wicked Jazz Sounds Festival. Or in August, take in the sizzling aromas as the city’s food trucks descend upon the area for the NDSM Food Festival - a delicious long weekend of snacks, beers, music and children’s entertainment. There really is something for everyone.
Dance, dance, dance
NDSM Wharf is a major meeting point for electronic music fans in Amsterdam, with a wealth of pop-up clubs and outdoor festivals finding their home in the industrial surroundings throughout the year. DGTL is a three-day dance music extravaganza, presenting a rich range of first-rate house and techno acts with an emphasis on artistic features. During Amsterdam Dance Event, NDSM’s bountiful warehouses, hangars and outdoor spaces host various parties and special nights including the unmissable two-day Into the Woods event. And speaking of heading into the woods, Lente Kabinet (the little sister festival to Dekmantel) unfolds in the stunning surroundings of the Twiske nature area which is just a short jaunt into the wilderness from NDSM.
Stay in (or bungee jump from) an industrial crane.
If you’re interested in one-of-a-kind experiences, the Faralda Crane Hotel is one of Amsterdam’s most exceptional and exclusive hotels. There’s no mistaking what this hotel used to be: a massive industrial crane, looming tall over NDSM Wharf. The hotel now boasts three luxurious suites, each of which hang 30-plus metres in the air. Guests also get exclusive access to a sky-high hot tub, where they can soak in solitude under a starlit sky. But even if you’re not staying there, you can still glimpse the impressive view — but only briefly, as you’ll be too busy bungee jumping off the 50-metre platform.
Get your sweat on
After a long night of dancing by the water, there’s nothing better to wake the body up again than a bit of morning stretching. You’ll find some great yoga studios in the area including Yoga School Noord NDSM. The neighbourhood’s favourite beach bar, Pllek just keeps on giving with its Sunday morning yoga sessions on the sand (or indoors if the weather isn’t good). Also nearby, NDSM Padel is a great place to try out a new racket sport with indoor courts and equipment rental. If you’d rather get competitive with a funky cocktail in hand, Blast Galaxy is a retro arcade bar packed with classic games like Donkey Kong, Mario and Mortal Kombat - manoeuvring all those joysticks will undoubtedly work up a good sweat.
Learn about urban agriculture and eco-projects
Excellent coffee and a crash course in sustainability? Café de Ceuvel is an organic restaurant that uses kitchen waste to fertilise its garden and fruit trees. Along with great food and drinks by the water, you’ll find several showcases of cleantech including a hydroponics greenhouse and composters. Just west of NDSM, the NoordOogst Urban Agriculture Project (website in Dutch) is home to several fascinating initiatives that inspire more green thinking. Eat freshly plucked veggies, sip local beers and delicious wines at POF, a restaurant that only serves produce grown in its immediate surroundings (with the exception of coffee and cinnamon). Nearby, the Friekens Brewery beer garden is an idyllic spot to sample fresh beers made using traditional recipes and natural ingredients grown locally.
Watch a movie with a view
Cleverly dubbed Films With a View: Sunscreenings, these summertime events usually take place during the summer months (weather permitting), on the beach outside Pllek in front of a large screen – and the water. Snuggle up next to someone special and watch movies selected by Pllek and fellow organisers, but voted on by attendees. After taking a hiatus during the pandemic, we’re hopeful these unique screenings will return to the shores of NDSM soon, so keep an eye on the weather and the Films With a View Facebook page.
Take in some impressive murals and street art
NDSM abounds with artistic expression, and the transformed shipyard is one of the best spots for graffiti and street art in the city. New pieces emblazon sheds and shipping containers almost weekly, and the second you step off the ferry, the colossal Let me be Myself mural of Anne Frank by Eduardo Kobra smiles down on you. Dedicated entirely to this urban art form, STRAAT Museum is a great place to start if you’re interested in seeing more. You won’t be thinking ‘I could have painted that’ as you explore this cavernous space filled with over 150 site-specific works, some of which reach to the ceiling. And for more tips on cultural hotspots in the area, have a read of our dedicated guide.