I love Amsterdam as it has a lot to offer, from arts and culture to coffee shops and canals galore. There’s plenty of things in Amsterdam to keep you occupied for a classy (or unclassy) weekend break. Having only previously visited as a teenager as part of a cruise for a religious Studies trip at school (yes, really), I hadn’t seen much of Amsterdam. That is, besides the Anne Frank Museum, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Van Gogh Museum (all of which I recommend). This time around, I was in Amsterdam for a few days for a friend’s birthday. It was a relaxed trip but one of the highlights was a magical evening in Amsterdam Noord, which I want to share with you.
The Noord district is in arty, alternative area of the city with galleries, bars and a great view of the city skyline. I’ve put together an itinerary for spending a fun filled evening in Amsterdam Noord based on a wonderful night I had there with a friend a couple of years ago.
Take the Ferry over the IJ River at Sunset
Just a short walk from the city centre, the ferry stop can be found by walking through the central train station towards the IJzijde (IJ bank) exit. Take the ferry across the river IJ to Buiksloterweg. The ferries very frequent, free(!) and run 24/7. The short journey is quite scenic in the evening.
Visit the Eye Film Museum
If you’re a fan of art and/or film the Eye Film Museum is a great way to spend an evening in Amsterdam Noord. As well as plenty of rooms showing thought provoking short art films, there are plenty of interactive things to do. You can even use a green screen to make your own mini film and email it to yourself. If I can dig mine up I might even share it with you (you’re in for a treat). You can also make your own flipbook for a quirky souvenir. The Eye do film screenings as well if you fancy a movie night.
Tickets & Info
Tickets to the exhibition, which is open daily until 7pm, costs €11. Other parts of the museum are open later into the night, with the cinema box office open until 10/11pm depending on the day and the restaurant and bar open until 1/2am. The restaurant offers panoramic views of Amsterdam’s city skyline and the river. Before you leave, visit the gift shop (open until 9pm), which is a wonderland for any film lover with classic film memorabilia and unique souvenirs galore.
Get your dose of virtual thrills at the This is Holland 5D Experience
When I visited, the This is Holland 5D flight simulation was a fairly new attraction that was recommended to us at the tourist centre opposite the centraal station. It sounds odd but was a really enjoyable experience and taught me a bit more about the Netherlands. It’s an interactive, self guided museum tour taking you through a history of Holland and an introduction to the natural landscape (from a creepily funny virtual guide). This is then followed by a virtual 5D ride over Holland.
It’s one of the weirdest and best things I’ve experienced and engages all your senses. You get strapped into your seats and prepare for your ‘flight’ before being launched forward and transported into “space”. Entering the earth and heading straight for the Netherlands, you can literally feel the sea spray as you glide over rivers and smell the tulips as you fly over the fields. Give it a go and see what you think!
Tickets & Info
Tickets cost €17.50 for adults (€16 if you book online). The last “flights” start at 7pm in the winter or 8pm in the summer.
Visit Madam Sky Bar & the A’Dam Lookout
Just around the corner from the EYE museum is the A’Dam tower. There you can ride the lift (with some really cool visuals albeit worthy of a flashing lights warning) all the way to the top to Madam restaurant and sky bar. There you will find panoramic views of Amsterdam’s skyline across the IJ river.
Entry is free after 9:30pm; the drinks are a bit expensive (as you’d expect in any rooftop bar) though they do really nice cocktails. It’s a lively bar with DJ sets and stunning views – what more could you want?! You can take a stairway from the bar up to the rooftop, the A’Dam lookout observation deck and…if you’re brave enough…the red electronic A’Dam swing.
So…I’d be lying if I said I went on this, as I’m of the faint hearted and can’t even do rollercoasters. If you however are a thrill seeker this is well worth a try. You can pay to take a short ride on this mechanical swing that takes you over the edge of the tower, allowing you to feel like you’re flying over Amsterdam. It’s the highest swing in Europe (which seems a little unnecessary but each to their own). I watched from a safe distance, which was enough for me!
Tickets & Info
I should add that it’s been a couple of years since this trip. Whilst the memories and experiences ares still fresh, I’ve had to fact check a couple of the finer details. You may have to pay to enter the observation deck, but when I visited we just snuck out of the sky bar to have a look and were not charged.
This might’ve been because it was night time, or because we went through a different entrance? I’m not sure but regular tickets are €14.50, €12.50 if you book online, or €18.50 to include a burger, cocktail or 2 regular drinks (if you go for a cocktail that’s not a bad deal). I do know that you get free entrance to the lookout platform and interactive Amsterdam exhibition if you make a reservation for dinner with a view at Madam.
Getting Around Amsterdam
I recommend getting a travel card for the duration of your trip if you intend to use the trams and buses, especially if you’re staying a bit further out of the centre to save money. You can get 1, 2 or 3 day cards that you tap on entry & exit of buses, trams and trains, a bit like an Oyster card for London. There is more info here but you can purchase this on arrival in Amsterdam. I think we got ours at the transport desk at Schipol airport, but you can also get them at the I Amsterdam visitor centre or the centraal station to name a few options.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading my post on my magical evening in Amsterdam Noord! I hope it inspires you to check out some of these places for yourself. Note that it was November when I visited, so it got dark around 5 pm. If you liked this, check out my posts on city breaks in Vienna, Gdańsk and Milan.