An Alternative Weekend In Amsterdam

Last month, you may have noticed that Sophie took over my Twitter and Facebook accounts. She went on a trip to Amsterdam representing She Gets Around, and got up to all sorts of fun things she can’t wait to tell you all about!

The idea of the weekend was simple; to introduce a lesser-known side of Amsterdam, the Noord. This borough is just north of Centraal Station and boasts a diverse array of greenery, picturesque villages, artsy-industrial expanses adorned with the best graffiti and some of the coolest hangout spots ever.

Getting there

The Noord is directly behind Centraal Station, so once you arrive there follow signs to the ferries. From here, jump on the free ferry (that runs 24/7) to ‘Veer Buiksloterweg’ which only takes 5 minutes and runs every 7 minutes. From the boat, the hostel ClinkNOORD is only 400m away.

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If you want to explore this area of Amsterdam, then ClinkNOORD is honestly such a great option. Not only is it a fab hostel with comfy beds, lovely hot showers and great security features like big lockers… the location couldn’t be better. It’s so easy to hop from the Noord to the main touristy areas and beyond, and it doesn’t cost any extra, as the ferry is free!

Getting around

Aside from the excellent trains, ferries and easy to navigate tram system… you know there is only one way to get around Amsterdam… CYCLING! This is a city of bicycles, they are literally EVERYWHERE.

We rented our lovely bicycles from Tip Noord, they had a huge range and it was so convenient as it’s just a stone’s throw from the ferry.

Boating around the canals

Did you even go to Amsterdam if you didn’t go on a boat trip around the canals? Well, my friends, we did this in style. Organised by Pure Boats Amsterdam, we embarked on a trip meandering around the stunning canals of the Noord, Westerpark and Jordaan areas… and my oh my it was stunning!

Hosted by experienced captain James, they pick you up and take you on a 90-minute cruise, plus full use of their incredibly well-stocked mini bar. Dutch gin, lush tonics, a great choice of craft beers, Heineken and even some fine wines and Champers. All enjoyed ice-cold from the comfort of a tender boat with cream leather seats complete with cushions and throws. This really is the affordable luxury at its best! Don’t forget to check out their AirBnB experience, too!

For the adventure-seeker in you

Next up, we did something a little more on the daring side. Did you know that Amsterdam Noord is home to Europe’s highest swing? Yep… You read that right. On top of the A’DAM Tower is LOOKOUT, an observation deck with an unrivalled panoramic view of Amsterdam. From here you can see the city’s historical centre, the busy port, the unique Dutch landscape and spot the famous canals which belong to the UNESCO world heritage list.

Also up here is an interactive exhibition about Amsterdam’s history and culture. Plus a lush bar and restaurant if you’re not feeling so adventurous!

‘Over the Edge’ is Europe’s highest swing; once strapped in you swing 100 meters above the ground, back and forth over the edge of the building…. with nothing but Amsterdam below your feet! An incredible, adrenaline-inducing way to see this stunning city. Highly recommended!

Now let’s eat!

With all this adventure and exploring an alternative Amsterdam, we also had to make sure we ate well. Our first food stop was Cafe De Ceuvel. De Ceuvel is an award-winning, sustainable planned workplace for creative and social enterprises. It’s based on a former shipyard next to the Johan van Hasselt kanaal off the river IJ in Amsterdam Noord and it is stunning!

Think upcycled, recycled junk, mismatched tables and chairs, and a rustic, hearty menu of stunning vegan dishes. I must admit when we were told lunch was ‘soup and sandwiches’ I wasn’t so excited. But their sarnies, salads and soup were some of the best I’ve tasted, and I didn’t think I would say that of a vegan menu! An uber-cool hangout spot indeed, well worth coming here to chill out, eat great food, try their homemade lemonades and explore this wonderful ‘forbidden garden’.

Alternative art lovers

Now the Van Gogh museum is up there on most people’s Amsterdam bucket list, and rightly so. But what about seeking out some modern street art, and maybe even catching some live-in-the-making? Then you have to cycle up to Noord NDSM wharf… It’s an artsy hipsters haven. It’s just 10 minutes by free ferry (also departing from Centraal Station, whoop!) and is a large, open area to explore.

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“Let me be myself” and incredible tribute to Anne Frank in Amsterdam’s NDSM

Restaurants, bars, terraces, a skatepark, new and old architecture, it has something for everyone. We headed inside the huge warehouse where they used to fix the ships. A Barbie peep show and some stunning hand-painted murals were inside. Outside the warehouse, you can spot graffiti in the making and my favourite piece of street art to date, this stunning, colourful image of Anne Frank. What a tribute!

Charlotte and Ed checking out the Barbie Peep Show… The filthy buggars!

If you’re feeling fancy and have loads of spare cash… then you can even stay the night in this boutique hotel that’s made from an old CRANE. Yep… Quirky, cool and very alternative indeed. It was also great to be away from the crazy hustle of Dam square!

Parks, villages and a traditional Dutch windmill

On the cycle tour of Noord, we also saw a completely new side of Amsterdam. Pretty cobbled streets, quaint villages, green parks, canals and a stunning windmill. So, I’m gonna leave you with some images of this stunning side of the city… And hope that you take the time to visit it someday, you will not be disappointed.

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