I don’t often return to places I’ve already visited, no matter how much I love them and wish to go back. I want to see as much of our beautiful planet and experience as many cultures as possible, so revisiting the same spots over and over again is something I generally try to avoid. But every now and again, I stumble upon a place that sweeps me off my feet and a great love affair is unavoidable. Before I moved here, London used to be that place for me – Australia would be up there too if the distance wasn’t such a hurdle – but now Amsterdam has taken the number one spot. My favourite thing about it is how small but diverse it is. There’s far more to it than just the famous canals and the notorious Red Light District. One of the lesser-known areas worth checking out is definitely Amsterdam-Noord, a hip uptown district on the other side of the river. What used to be an industrial part of the city is now a super cool creative hub, so if you have a day to spare, hop on a free 5-minute ferry from the central station and get exploring!
First head over to the A’DAM Tower for an amazing 360 view of the city. A ticket to the A’DAM Lookout will cost you €12,50 and give you access to the two-level observation deck – the bottom floor is an indoor restaurant and the upper a super cool open sky deck with bean bags you can chill out on as well as a ‘death swing’ that lets you swing over the edge of the building for extra €5. Oh, and the elevator ride to the top is quite an experience too. In a good way! Click here to see what I’m taking about.
Then, once you’re full of adrenaline rush, it’s time to relax. A boat tour of the canals with Pure Boats, a sustainable boutique tour company, is the perfect way to unwind – I couldn’t recommend them enough. Joining James and Geertje for a tailored 90-minute ride to get to know Amsterdam from another perspective was by far my favourite part of my day in Amsterdam Noord. It was so different from the usual tourist offerings where they sit you on a big boat and tell you historical facts you can read in every guidebook over the speaker. It was more like having your local friends show you around while having a good old chat, and we all know that’s the best way to explore a new place. Not to mention the boat is super nice and you can even try out some beverages and snacks from local suppliers on board too! I may or may not have had gin at 10 o’clock in the morning… To rent a whole boat (captain included), which sits 12 people, it will cost you €250, but you can obviously go with friends or pair up with other explorers, in which case it works out €20 for each. Not bad, not bad at all!
Next you can stretch your legs and hop on a bike to continue exploring Amsterdam like a proper local! You can rent one at TIP Noord – I of course picked up a mint one – and have a ride around the area, admiring the cute little houses, checking out De Krijtmolen d’Admiraal windmill, and stopping at De Ceuvel Cafe for a delicious, organic vegan lunch. De Ceuvel is actually more than just a place to stop for lunch. It’s an urban development built on a former shipyard with spaces for creative entrepreneurs to work at, organise workshops and help build a more sustainable community, which is a movement I definitely stand behind.
While in Amsterdam Noord, you also have to swing by a former ship wharf called NDSM, which is now a hipster, creative hub with Berlin kind of vibes. There’s empty warehouses, amazing street art every way you look, a crane that was transformed an exclusive hotel and another sustainable cafe to check out – Pllek. It’s a really cool spot I already visited on my first trip to Amsterdam, with its own beach on the waterfront and amazing views of the city.
To finish off the day, you can dance the night away in one of the many nightclubs, but since I’m a bit of a granny myself and tend to avoid them, I made another trip to the A’DAM Tower for the amazing night views (just look at that moon) and then spent the rest of the night at Clink NOORD, the best place to stay on this side of the river. They have their own bar with music as well as fun activities planned every night of the week, so you won’t be missing out on any fun! To find out more about the hostel, check out my full review over here.