With Amsterdam’s long-awaited North-South metro line finally due to open this month, there’s more reason than ever to head north and discover a totally different side to the vibrant Dutch capital. Its northern borough – helpfully called Noord – has evolved into one of the city’s trendiest districts, thanks to an artist-led, bottom-up regeneration.
Co-founder of Noorderlicht Café
Noorderlicht has served as a canteen for the people initially working to regenerate Noord. These days, the bohemian café’s organic food, riverside views and live music are enjoyed by people from all over the city.
Co-owner Jasper Helmer loves going to Hotel de Goudfazant, where diners can savour modern European fare in an elegantly converted car garage. After chowing down, he recommends a trip to club Skatecafe to dance on its indoor half-pipe. Helmer says that this kind of imaginative project is typical of Noord. “It’s all temporary here, mainly using low-budget builds. Because of that, it’s really creative,” he says.
Unsurprisingly, graffiti art is prominent here, and Helmer is involved in an enormous new 7,000m² museum opening later this year. “It [will feature] top street artists,” he says. “That’s going to be the next big thing in Noord.”
Eva de Klerk
Co-founder of Kunststad
Eva de Klerk was instrumental in breathing life back into one of Noord’s main hubs, the NDSM wharf, by creating Kunststad – literally meaning “art city”. The creative hub has brought skateboarders and art initiatives to the area’s former silos and warehouses.
Artist and grassroots developer de Klerk explains, “Noord really attracts people who are interested in urban development and alternative ways of doing things.”
The eco-friendly Noorderlicht Café – set in an old greenhouse – is a great example of this. For visitors interested in art, de Klerk recommends hotfooting it over to Nieuw Dakota, a new waterside gallery, and Framer Framed, an exhibition space that presents contemporary art pieces that reflect on different cultures and perspectives.
Co-owner of Blom & Blom
Martijn Blom opened Blom & Blom’s physical store last year along with his brother, Kamiel, making this chic lighting shop one of the newest additions to the Noord retail landscape. They create nearly everything they sell, inspired by the strong tradition of craftsmanship in the neighbourhood.
“For us, Noord is an area where a lot of things are still possible,” he says. “It’s kind of the Berlin of Amsterdam.”
According to Blom, no trip to Noord would be complete without a beer at local gem Café de Ceuvel, where you can enjoy sustainably produced food on its sun-drenched terrace. “I used to live behind it and it’s just such a cool concept,” he says.
Blom is also a fan of family-friendly Café Keppler, an unpretentious all-day Dutch affair with board games and great coffee; and nearby bakery Dolzon, which is the perfect spot to pick up some croissants and olive bread for an impromptu picnic.
Co-founder and director of Oedipus
Amsterdam is overflowing with beer, but few are as interesting or unusual as those being churned out by Oedipus. This wonderfully Dutch brewery has a serious sense of humour – with beer names such as Panty, Kinder Yoga, Offline and Mama – and also throws some great parties at its restaurant and taproom in Noord to boot.
For even more beer, Oedipus’ director Tristan Spits recommends new brewery Walhalla, which he says does a great brown ale, followed by a trip to nearby Mexican taqueria Coba, another fresh arrival in the area. The latter is so popular that booking ahead is essential.
If you’re looking for an evening of entertainment, Spits suggests stopping by local cinema FC Hyena. “It’s a quirky place and a little retro,” he says. “They also have very good natural wines and a huge pizza oven.”
To Spits, nowhere in Amsterdam rivals Noord: “It’s [in] between industrial and [gentrified] – at this moment where it’s really exciting, and all these new places are popping up.”
Where to stay
Chic hotels to bed down at when you visit the Dutch capital
Sir Adam Hotel
This hip hotel just across the river from Centraal Station is perfect for lovers of all things retro. Besides arcade machines in the lobby, you’ll also find fabulous city views.
Hotel Asile Flottant
For an unconventional hospitality experience, stay at one of six ships lovingly converted into stylish houseboats. They’re docked right next to the popular Café de Ceuvel.
Hotel Café Modern
This homey, three-room boutique hotel is located above a wonderful restaurant of the same name. It’s also situated within walking distance of all major sights.
– PHOTOGRAPHY BY JORDI HUISMAN
Singapore Airlines flies to Amsterdam daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine