Things to do in the Oostelijke Eilanden
There’s a lot to see and do in Oostelijke Eilanden, especially if you’re a fan of modern architecture and maritime history. But beautiful bridges aside, the eastern docklands area is also home to some of the city’s best craft beer, swimming spots, top cultural hubs and a thriving music scene.
Explore one of the leading maritime collections in the world
If you’re even remotely interested in ships or maritime history, then Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) is an absolute must-see. It houses one of the world’s leading maritime collections and is the definitive collection on Dutch seafaring history. There’s a lot to do here, for both adults and kids; the recently renovated museum’s three wings house stunning displays of ship decorations and navigational instruments, as well as maps, books, models, games and plenty of interactive, audio-visual presentations.
Tour a brewery and sample great beers
Nestled beneath one of the city’s largest wooden windmills, the immensely popular Brouwerij ’t IJ produces various house beers along with seasonal specials and the occasional experimental brew. They have very affordable, English-language tours for individuals and small groups that include a run of the brewery and a free beer. The tour is best followed up with sampling some (or all) their house beers at the attached pub.
Get your recommended daily dose of comedy and culture
Oostelijke Eilanden is also home to some of the most interesting cultural hubs in the city. Pakhuis de Zwijger is a buzzing building with an extensive schedule of design sessions, presentations, movie screenings, think tanks and talk shows, all actively contributing to societal issues in the city. Similarly, at Mezrab, you can expect a programme full of music, comedy, literature, storytelling and various stage performances – not to mention short courses in acting and storytelling.
Drink cocktails at a sky bar
Anyone looking for a place to stay in the Oostelijke Eilanden has several excellent options. The Lloyd Hotel - opened in 1921 as a boarding house for emigrants heading to South America - offers 1-to-5-star comfort to suit all budgets. There’s also an ongoing schedule of exhibitions, talks and events, and some good food to boot. Alternatively, the stunning Hotel Jakarta is a fully energy-neutral hotel complete with a swimming pool and wellness spa, a seafood restaurant surrounded by a tropical garden and a spectacular sky bar for Asian bites and spicy cocktails.
Dine along an ever-changing waterfront
The Marineterrein is a complex of 17th-century buildings that all played a part in Dutch naval history. Today, the area is teeming with cool waterside hangouts, designated swimming spots and cultural spaces. Swing over to Brewery Homeland for delicious beers with fantastic views over the water or tuck into some bang-up grub at Kanteen25 and Scheepskameel. And don't forget to check out the exhibition schedule and events programme at Mediamatic before dining in one of their private greenhouses. Read all about this and more in our full round-up of restaurants and bars in the area.
Make a splash
With its network of islands and interesting repurposed harbours, the Oostelijke Eilanden boasts a variety of great outdoor swimming spots with unique cityscape views. Bogortuin is a shaded park and urban beach area on Java Eiland that is becoming increasingly popular for sunbathing or making a splash. Likewise, the Marineterrein has a superb designated swimming area with stunning views over the Maritime Museum and the docked VOC ship replica. Its also traditionally the starting point for Amsterdam City Swim - a charity sports event which takes place each August.
Take an architecture stroll
While Amsterdam might be famous for its colourful canal houses, the modern architecture and housing complexes around the Oostelijk Eilanden also receive significant acclaim. Python Bridge for instance is a beautiful twisted pedestrian bridge, situated in the equally quirky Zeeburg neighbourhood. When you get off the bridge you'll find yourself in the Scheepstimmerstraat, where the residents have been allowed to design their houses themselves. You can also discover the set of nine beautiful wrought-iron, artist-designed bridges scattered across Java-Eiland that make for great photo-ops. Any budding architecture enthusiast should swing by ARCAM, the city’s centre for architecture. Their iconic building on the Oosterdok hosts various exhibitions and talks, or you can take guided tours along the waterfront.
Engage in some competitive socialising
You don’t need to go all the way to the South of France to take on your pals at the petanque alley. Mooie Boules on the Zeeburgerpad is one of the city’s best new competitive socialising hangouts with plenty of opportunities to challenge your friends, play board games, drink, laugh, eat and chat. There’s a great food hall attached which dishes out top-quality street food including everything from light bites like grilled chicken to extensive sharing dinners such as an Indonesian rice table.
Listen to contemporary music on the banks of an ancient waterway
River views and live music join in harmony on the banks of the IJ at the Muziekgebouw and Bimhuis, where hundreds of concerts are held each year. Though the Bimhuis is famous for hosting Dutch jazz, these days it is also home to modern, electronic and world music and a wide variety of performances by some of the world´s best musicians. The Muziekgebouw concert hall has grown into one of the most prominent stages in the Netherlands. The space was built to accommodate an eclectic mix of music, with movable ceilings, walls, chairs and floors, so it can be redesigned to bring out the best acoustics and experience for each show.