Guide to Amsterdam’s NDSM - STRAAT Museum for street art and graffiti
Updated: Mar 28
Amsterdam’s NDSM Wharf is a shipping yard turned creative haven offering a different hip side to the traditional Dutch capital. Not only under the tourist radar, its art galleries, restaurants and cafés are not to be missed.
Street art is everywhere; it permeates our society and offers art for the masses. Whether you are a fan or not, graffiti has morphed into a movement for the creative who use the world as their canvas. Art that is inherently fleeting and transient is, by its own nature, exciting and current.
Talent is everywhere and expressed in many forms - from the playful Keith Haring subway paintings, to the anonymous and controversial Banksy stencils. And Parisian, Invader, is famous for using tile to create his little space invader works of art found all over the world today.
These artists offer a museum on the street, instead of inside stuffy expensive buildings, and one of the best places to enjoy this movement is by visiting the NSDM - Wharf in Amsterdam North.
Located in north Amsterdam, just a 15 minute ferry ride from central station, NDSM is a brand new community founded on a historical success story.
NDSM stands for Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (or Netherlands Dock and Ship Building Company).
Founded in 1946, the NDSM became one of the largest and most modern shipbuilding yards in the world. Closing its doors in 1984, it has arisen once more and now is on its way to becoming a hip, trendy, truly artistic community.
From chic upscale eateries to graffiti playground, there are no Dutch canal houses to be found, just modern cool.
STRAAT: the museum for street art and graffiti
On arrival at the dock you are greeted with industrial style architecture that is shipping container chic! It’s new and modern and yes, still somewhat under construction.
The STRAAT (meaning Street) museum is located a block back from the dock and is easy to spot with its enormous colorful Anne Frank 'let me be myself' mural by Eduardo Cobra, and brightly coloured exterior.
Featuring some of the biggest international names in street art, the museum is probably one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. 8000 square meters of former shipping warehouse beautifully showcases over 160 works of epic art on an incredibly grand scale.
The canvases are all realized in-house at the museum so if you’re lucky, you might come across an artist at work. The collection is constantly revolving, much like the work on the streets themselves.
‘Close to you’ (2022) by Studio Giftig is the largest canvas ever made at STRAAT. It is a whopping 15 meters high and 7 meters wide. You seriously can’t miss it!
Children under 12 enter the museum for free and there is even a fun scavenger hunt aimed at kids aged 6-12. It takes them all the way around the museum looking for details in the works of art. Oh and you get a prize at the gift shop after completing it. Incentive included!
There is a cool elevated café as well offering a birds eye view of the gallery while you enjoy a refreshment (and the best white chocolate chip cookie ever, I might add).
Naturally you must ‘exit through the gift shop’ (reference to the Banksy directed documentary) and enjoy a fine collection of on-topic books - we were there a while.
Most notably, they sell spray paint which you can purchase and have a go channeling your inner Banksy on any of the exterior walls of the building. This was a dream come true for my 9 year old artiste.
Art City NDSM - The Kunstaad
The large red lego brick covered with spiders greets you right away, and you can wander around the building and feel inspired. Also check out the NDSM Fuse gallery where a number of NDSM artists share their work. It’s open Thursday to Sunday 12:00-18:00 - free entry or donation.
One of my favorite Amsterdam artists, Elles, has a studio in the warehouse and sells her art in the Fuse Gallery shop. Her line art is wonderful. Go say hi and treat yourself to an Amsterdam inspired print.
Street art and graffiti reign here; it is everywhere and ever changing. Take a stroll around and you’ll come across many interesting open air masterpieces.
The large square in between STRAAT and the Art City warehouses is the epicenter, but there’s more to see wherever you turn.
The Faralda Crane
Surprisingly not just an old crane and landmark -Faralda is a boutique hotel! The highest crane hotel in the world offers 3 suites, a hot tub at the top, and is apparently not cheap. It’s certainly unique though.
A blast from the past - this is an old school arcade (with a café/bar). Pay a fee at the front desk and play as you please. Blast Galaxy is little kid and big kid friendly. Be sure to check the opening times.
Restaurants and Cafes
Pllek is a hip chilled restaurant and café fabricated entirely from shipping containers with a man made beach overlooking the river.
Oh and it’s also home to Amsterdam’s largest disco ball. The food is great and it’s the kind of place you can hang out all day and enjoy the view.
Another fab spot, the IJver has an industrial chic design with an indoor and outdoor terrace, not to mention 34 beers on tap. Excellent food and good vibes included.
Next - Chic, minimalist, and a bit fancy with a cocktail bar and a great view.
IJ-kantine - Expansive modern brasserie on the dock with a terrace.
Contrast - Looks amazing and super high end. A bit special.
BBROOD - Fresh spacious café for a quick coffee and sandwich.
Carroll’s - Cute coffee spot near the water.
Loetje Amsterdam aan ’t IJ - Fab location with a view of the harbour.
Cannibale Royale du Noord - Meat, it’s what’s for dinner!
Directly behind Amsterdam’s central station, you can catch a pedestrian ferry for a 15 minute ride to NDSM. The ferries leave every 5 minutes or so and you can also take a bikes on board. The NDSM ferry leaves from the far left hand side of the dock, when looking at the river.
There is reasonably priced parking at NDSM itself or you can park at Parking Centrum Oosterdok right by the central station. Book in advance online and get a deal. We paid €25 for 24 hours of parking but you can get it for as low as €10 in advance. It’s a good option if you want to spend some time in Amsterdam (the old bit!) while you’re there.
It’s such a great day out, super inspiring, and offers up something a little bit new in contrast to the old just across the river.