Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities, simply because it has an air of creativity and general open-mindedness about it that not all cities have.
For starters, the way people dress is different; they’re more experimental and really stylish. The art there is so diverse and experimental. The people are friendly. The atmosphere is really welcoming….I mean, what’s not to love? Amsterdam also has some of the best chips (frites) ever…
Most of the time when I travel I don’t strictly plan my days; I prefer to walk about, explore and find places through either word-of-mouth from a local or randomly discovering, especially by going down streets and to places most wouldn’t go.
It was this way I found a few of these places. And now I’m telling you!
1. NDSM Werf
Probably one of my favourite places in the world that I’ve ever been! It’s raw, it’s urban and it’s full of creativity. Anybody is welcome here as long as they have a healthy appreciation for art in all it’s forms, and that’s what NDSM really specialises in.
It used to be an old dockyard, which is clear from the building’s interiors (old ropes and pullies that used to keep the boats lifted are still on view).
Even the old tracks that used to help take the boats down to the river are still there (with an old tram carriage now situated on it which from what I could see is actually occupied by someone living there).
From the legal graffiti walls in the yard, the huge former dockyard building full of artists workshops and installations, to the rest of the surroundings just covered in art, street art and sculptures, this place is just amazing. There’s so much to see you could be there all day.
I think will do another post just on NDSM because it’s soooo interesting!!
You have to take a boat to get there but it’s worth it (more details in the next post). While you’re there make sure to support the Home Sweet Hummus stall – they offered us a lovely hot tea just as we were discussing how freezing cold it was so I feel it’s my duty to spread the good vibes 😀
Side note: I found this place because my friend made me walk about 10 miles to get a pancake at ‘the best pancake place in Amsterdam’ (I don’t even like pancakes that much but she LOVES them), and as we were leaving the place we saw a huge mural across the road so we went to see the mural and noticed a street art gallery next to it, which we went into.
Then we spoke to the guy who ran it who told us to take a boat to a particular place if we wanted to see some cool graffiti, which we did… And that’s how we found it!
Haarlemmer Dijk/straat is a long, funky street full of independent shops, some of them doubling as artists’ ateliers, situated in the Centrum area of Amsterdam.
Nearly every shop is run by a local artist, with all types of things being sold – jewellery, clothes, workshops, artwork… ranging from the affordable to the higher-end prices (such as specialist clothing boutiques).
It’s really worth taking a look because the windows in themselves are so creative – the shops tend to create beautiful displays to lure you in 😉
It’s also home to the oldest cinema in Amsterdam; The Movies!
One of my favourite shops along this street is the studio/store/gallery of Jolanta Izabela Pawlak. Located at Haarlemmerstraat 100, Amsterdam, it’s full of her unique jewellery, her custom-made clothing, and her really beautiful artwork, including huge sculptures, inspired by her time in the Caribbean and the USA.
Side note: I found this place through remembering how much I liked the Go Gallery, and as I was with a different friend this time I wanted to show her the gallery, and we ended up walking through here and spending quite a bit of time looking at everything!
3. Amsterdaam Centraal
Just take a walk through the centre of Amsterdam and take in the views of the rivers, the amazing super high and multi-coloured buildings, and all the boats and harbours dotted around everywhere.
Honestly, just the streets alone are so incredibly beautiful and inspiring. There’s also street art on many walls and nearly every lamppost and some of it is really interesting so keep an eye out!
For something extra special, take a boat trip and see the lesser-known graffiti and street art dotted along the rivers… not only that but you’ll see the architecture from a different perspective!
I always take the side roads and alleyways – that’s where I find cool art.
This is one of my biggest secrets so if I tell you about this place you’re not allowed to tell anyone, ok? OK?!
Ok, so right at the end of Warmoesstraat (which is actually one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam!), nearly on the corner, there is a shop called Kokopelli.
From the outside (and when you step inside) it looks like a typical hippy shop – incense, candles, positive energy things. But when you continue on to the back of the shop you’ll find one of the most beautiful cafes you’ll ever see.
The photos can’t really convey how peaceful and lovely it is in there, so if you’re in Amsterdam it’s worth going to see for yourself (and tell them cosmic traveller sent you!).
Side note: I found Kokopelli because we took a walk through the red light district, got kinda lost and, in remembering there was a shop with various fake rubber genitals in the window (that I wanted to show my friend), we ended up walking past and getting a little lured in by the smell of incense.
Hotel Not Hotel is a hotel (obviously), but with a twist. Each room is a piece of art in itself, with a story, a creator and reason for being designed the way it is.
And it’s not just the rooms; every part of the hotel is a piece of art so wherever you go in the building you feel inspired, curious, creatively challenged, and endlessly entertained.