Things to do in Amsterdam – Visit the NDSM Werf

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Across the River IJ from the historic centrum of Amsterdam is an area of Amsterdam-Noord called NDSM-Werf. The acronym stands for Nederlands Dok en Scheepsgebouw Maatschappij or the Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company.  In its heyday, this modern-era company, would become world-renowned in the industry with the largest shipyard in Europe, continuing centuries of Dutch shipbuilding tradition.

NDSM went bankrupt in the 1980s  and the wharf was abandoned for a time, leaving it with a desolate and postapocalyptic ambience. Though there has been an attempt to breathe a bit of life back into the docks, there are still warehouses in various stages of disrepair,

Old Tram at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

abandoned buses and tramcars rusting in the parking lot,

Defunct submarine NDSM Werf Amsterdam

even a defunct submarine partially submerged in the river, and covering much of this, lots of colorful street art. Factions of Amsterdam’s art community have taken over the area and NDSM-Wharf has become in essence ‘one great art and culture laboratory’.

Lasloods at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

One of the larger buildings in the shipyard is the Lasloods, where the ships’ hulls were welded.

Artist Studios Inside Lasloods at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Considered the ‘Cathedral of NDSM’, the warehouse now houses a maze of artist studios, galleries and an elevated skate park.

Photo Shoot at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

This massive space is also used as a venue for concerts, fashion shows, and film and photo shoots.

MTV NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Nearby is the old timmerwerkplaats or carpentry shop, now European headquarters of MTV Networks.

Faralda Crane Hotel at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

There is also Faralda Crane Hotel Amsterdam, the crane turned hotel/bungee-rope Jump platform.

Vous Etes Ici at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Vous Etes Ici interior

Other warehouses serve as art galleries, like Vous Etes Ici  which exhibits work by artists from the US, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the Netherlands.

Amstel Botel NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Docked along the wharf, is the Amstel Botel, a floating ‘cruise ship’ of a hotel.

MV Sirius at NDSM Werf Amsterdam

The MV Sirius which belongs to Greenpeace is also docked nearby. The Sirius was purchased from the Royal Dutch Navy and used by Greenpeace for many years before being decommissioned and put into service as an educational vessel.

Each year, NDSM-Wharf is the site of Over Het IJ Festival, an 11-day celebration of performing arts.  Other cultural events taking place at NDSM include The Summer of Love, a multicultural expo of music, art and yoga, and Voltt Loves Summer, a music and dance festival. Be sure to check the NDSM-Werf official website for additional events, dates, times and ticket info.

IJ Kantine NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Ij Kantine at NDSM Werf

If you’re heading over to NDSM, consider stopping by the IJ Kantine for a bite to eat. They’re located in a former assembly warehouse that also served as the cafeteria for the shipbuilders. Once you disembark the ferry veer to your left. The Kantine is within a minute’s walk from the dock.  More neighborhood hangout than tourist eatery, IJ Kantine is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they have an impressively stocked bar. They also have outdoor seating along the docks. Menu items include soups, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers and fresh fruit juices.

If there’s nothing scheduled at NDSM-Werf during your visit, it’s not all that spectacular, and not something we recommend doing if this is your first time in Amsterdam.  However, a round-trip ride on the ferry is still an interesting and unique way to spend an hour in the city.

Ferry to NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Travel tips:

Getting to NDSM-Wharf and Amsterdam-Noord is easy; just take the ferry.  It’s free.  Ferries depart from Amsterdam Centraal Station and the trip takes about 15 minutes.  There are usually at least two ferries per hour.

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