Europe, The Netherlands

NDSM Werf: Amsterdam’s New Creative Hotspot

July 23, 2015

Amsterdam has come a long way since its small fishing village roots of the 12th century. These days its famous for its one hundred kilometre plus network of canals, its tall, narrow merchants’ houses with their stepped gable facades and shuttered windows, its relaxed laws on prostitution and marijuana-smoking, its efficient tram system, its popular push-bike culture (approximately 58% of the population cycle on a daily basis), its ‘brown’ cafés and its large number of museums – 75, to be exact.

If you’ve ever visited this multi-cultural Dutch city (Amsterdam is home to one of the widest varieties of nationalities of any city in the world), you’ll probably have dedicated a few hours to admiring the works of Van Gogh, or exploring a slice of the city’s history at the Anne Frank House. You’ll have walked along many of its numerous canals, crossed several of its 1500 bridges and wandered through the streets of its famous red-light district after dark.

Amsterdam at Night by F. Gopp via Flickr Creative Commons licence

But one area of Amsterdam that you likely haven’t explored is NDSM Werf. Amsterdam Noord has been undergoing a surge of redevelopment over the last few years, and as a direct result of this its old docklands area (NDSM stands for Nederlands Dok en Scheepsgebouw Maatschappij – Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) has been transformed into an ever-evolving creative space for artists and musicians.

NDSM Harbour by Elvin via Flickr Creative Commons licence

Here are just a few reasons why you should pay Amsterdam’s NDSM Werf a visit…


NDSM Werf is home to a number of international music, theatre and dance festivals throughout the year. Some of its most famous are Over het IJ Festival, Valtifest and Voltt Loves Summer.

Artists’ Workspaces

The NDSM Hall is a huge 20,000 square metre hangar-like structure that houses workshops, studios and exhibitions – and even a skate park.

06-Melbourne-Daily-Photo-Blog-Amsterdam- Arts- Exhibition- Gallery- NDSM- Werf-Amsterdam_20130603_218_19_20-2

Photo by Stefano Ferro via Flickr

Restaurants, Bars and Cafés

As well as affording some spectacular panoramic views of the city across the River IJ, and serving up some delicious, healthy and eco-friendly fare, the eating and drinking establishments here double up as art galleries and live music venues.

Reminiscent of the famous Ruin Bars in Budapest, Café Noorderlicht (Northern Lights Cafe) is located inside a Tibetan prayer flag-draped greenhouse, and Pllek has been constructed from used shipping containers. Both offer interesting and unique dining experiences.

Photographic Opportunities Galore

If you’re anything like me (and a lot of photographers, so I hear!) then you’ll find incredible beauty in the abandoned boats and trams that you’ll find rusting by the water’s edge, and in the recycled junk street art that’s scattered throughout the area.

Way Out by Kirstenv via Flickr Creative Commons Licence

Practical Info

A free ferry to the NDSM Werf leaves from platform 1, behind Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. The ferry runs from 9am until midnight daily at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past the hour. The trip takes approximately 15 minutes, and you can bring your bike along too (also free).

NDSM Werf is fast becoming one of Amsterdam’s most diverse and exciting neighbourhoods, and hotel owners are starting to see the benefit of locating their businesses here. If you’d like to stay in the area, both the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and NH Amsterdam Noord are good, reasonably priced choices.

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**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  All this means is that if you make a booking through one of the links I have provided, I will earn a small commission as a result but the cost to you will remain exactly the same**

Mentioned in this post
  1. Amsterdam
    City in Netherlands

    Amsterdam Netherlands
  2. NDSM
    Attraction in Amsterdam Netherlands

    61 Tt. Neveritaweg
    Amsterdam Netherlands
    020 493 1070

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  • Reply Eden July 26, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    Great information and photos — I’d love to visit Amsterdam someday and explore more of Europe. Sounds like an amazing city 🙂

    • Reply Kiara Gallop July 26, 2015 at 6:37 PM

      It is a great city, and one I probably should’ve visited more than I have considering its proximity to the UK!

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