NDSM: Amsterdam’s Best Free Thing

Have you ever heard of NDSM? Did you know this is Amsterdam’s best free thing to do? Do you like street art? Then look no further, this is the thing you must do when you come to Amsterdam!

The street art on NDSM is why it is Amsterdam's best free thing to do.
The street art on NDSM is why it is Amsterdam’s best free thing to do.

What is NDSM:

NDSM stands for Nederlands Dok en Scheepsgebous Maatschappij or the Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company.

NDSM was the largest ship building company in the world. Then in 1979, it went bankrupt. This area became an area for squatters until 2008 when a project started to turn this into the cultural hotspot that it is today.

If you are lucky, you can find one of Nemo's pandas on NDSM: Amsterdam's best free thing to do..
If you are lucky, you can find one of Nemo’s pandas on NDSM.

Once an industrial shipyard has now been turned into a street art haven. Located in Amsterdam Noord, it is a hotspot for the artist community. There is an eclectic mix of bars and restaurants to explore and watch the sunset.

Getting to NDSM:

The NDSM wharf can be easily reached by hopping on the free GVB ferry at the back of the Amsterdam central station. Yes, free! The run 2-4 times an hour. It is an easy 15-minute ride over there. 

When I was there in October 2019. the loading dock for this ferry is the farthest spot on the left as you face the water. The sign can be a bit confusing because it looks like there are several stops. There is only one stop there and one on the way back. It is just calling out what is located at the wharf.

NDSM sign at Amsterdam Central which shows what is located there.
NDSM sign at Amsterdam Central which shows what is located there.

Note: If you are standing near the front of the boat, your feet may get wet. You may want to stand several feet back from it to avoid having wet feet all day.

Getting Around NDSM:

NDSM is quite small so you can easily get around it on your feet. As you are coming over, you will also see many people on their bicycles. If you decide this is something you would like to do when you are here, you can rent one from NDSM Bikes. They can also assist you if you need bike repairs or accessories.

Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:30am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm, closed Monday

Artists on NDSM:

As you approach NDSM, you will see the large Anne Frank mural (Let Me Be Myself) by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. This was one of the main murals I wanted to see, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find it. There is no problem finding this or any of the other murals here. It is small and easy to navigate your way around the wharf. 

 Anne Frank mural by Kobra: Amsterdam's best free thing to do.
Anne Frank mural by Kobra

One of the main reasons people come here, if not the main reason, is to see the street art. While it is technically not legal for the artists to do it here, as long as it is good, they look the other way. 

Even on a rainy day, NDSM reeks of spray paint. Just follow your nose to find where the new works are occurring on any particular day. It is fun to watch the artists at work.

Lele is known for gorillas.
Lele is known for gorillas.

NDSM is a mix of graffiti and street art so it is fun to explore because you never know what you will find. What’s even better is that it is constantly changing so there are new works that are being created for you to enjoy every time.

Big Tute dog at NDSM: Amsterdam's best free thing to do..
Big Tute dog at NDSM.

The artist range from names you have never heard of to nationally and internationally known ones like Dotsy, Kobra, and Oxalien.

Other Things to See / Do on NDSM:

Flea Market

Check out Europe’s largest flea market.

Address: T.T. Neveritaweg 1

Hours: 9a – 4:30p on certain weekends. Confirm their site for dates.

Cost: 5 euros adults, 2 euros for kids

Beach

Catch some rays on the beach during the summer in front of Pllek. When the weather is nice, chances are there will be a lot of people hanging out here.

Catch a Movie

During the summer, you can watch a movie, if the weather is nice, on the beach. There is a small fee to rent the headphones (7.50 euros in 2019). Check out Pllek’s Facebook page for more movies and dates.

Greenpeace Netherlands

Probably more of a fun fact more than anything. There is something cool about pulling into the port and seeing a Greenpeace boat.

Address: NDSM-Plein 32

Greenpeace boat in the NDSM harbor.
Greenpeace boat in the NDSM harbor.

Places to Eat on NDSM:

Because NDSM is basically on open air museum, sometimes weather is not your best friend. When this occurs, you can pop into one of the various bars or restaurants and grab something to eat or drink.

Ijver

Located in a 100-year old warehouse, this place is filled with tons of character. They have a nice selection of beer and wine. While the menu is limited, the food was tasty and they do have a couple of gluten-free options.

Address: Scheepsbouwkade 72

Pllek 

A vegetarian heavy menu that offers indoor and outdoor seating.  What makes this restaurant quirky is that it is made out of shipping containers. It also has a private beach area with amazing views of Amsterdam’s skyline. A great place to watch the sunset.

Address: tt. Neveritaweg 59

Pollux Bar & Food

A great option if you are a vegetarian or vegan. This restaurant is unique because it is located on an old ship. Bonus, the prices are inexpensive.

Address: NDSM-Pier 2

edmx shows here how every surface is free game.
edmx shows here how every surface is free game.

Where to Stay on NDSM:

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam

This hotel is located on the NDSM wharf and offers amazing waterfront views. They even have their own restaurant: Restaurant Brooklyn.

Address: NDSM – Plein 28

If you are looking for day trips from Amsterdam that include street art, check out my Rotterdam blog.

Mural by Dotsy, a Swedish artist now living in Amsterdam.
Mural by Dotsy, a Swedish artist now living in Amsterdam.

Remember: Above all, this is a working shipyard. So watch where you are going and make sure you don’t get run over.

While there are tons of things to do around Amsterdam, NDSM offers one of the most unique opportunities for locals and visitors alike. There aren’t many places where you can get free transportation to these days let alone have hours of free entertainment and this fits the bill. Should you get hungry, there are many high-quality places to eat that provide reasonable prices.

We were lucky enough to see Lastplak hard at work on NDSM: Amsterdam's best free thing to do.
We were lucky enough to see oxalien hard at work on NDSM.

And who knows, if you get lucky you might even get lucky enough to see one of your favorite artists hard at work.

I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.

Nina Zee

© 2020 Nina Zee ⁠

23 thoughts on “NDSM: Amsterdam’s Best Free Thing

    1. John, you would have a field day here! There are so many amazing colors and interesting buildings. The best part is that you can go constantly and it is and ever changing canvas so it would never get boring. 😀 Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  1. Looks very interesting and artistic with excellent photograghs of NDSM.I missed visiting it last year but will certainly be there as soon as I get the next chance.

    1. NDSM was one the highlights of our trip to Amsterdam. So many people still don’t know that it exists and it is truly the cities hidden gem. Thank you for your time to comment, I really appreciate it. 😀

      1. I was in Amsterdam in Sept. last year with family and we thoroughly enjoyed the exciting boatride on the river Amster.After the resolution of the Corona crisis we will plan our trip and visit this Artistic wonder for sure.

  2. This is a great post, Nina, lively with fun street art in an area of Amsterdam that I have never heard of. I enjoyed all your photos. Greenpeace’s Rain Warrior is an exciting find. And the artwork is great fun.

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback, Jet! I really appreciate it. I thought the Greenpeace boat was extremely cool as well! 😃 I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    1. There really are some great murals here! Amsterdam has so much to offer for everyone. I really is so much fun just to wander around and explore. Thank for commenting Allison. 😃😃😃

  3. Lovely post, Nina. Enjoyed reading this very much. I especially liked the mural on Anne Frank, speaks volume. I hope to see more street art when I return to Amsterdam. Thank you for such an easy to use and an informative post.

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