Walk Amsterdam’s Houthavens
This tour is best done by bike, unless you decide to skip de Prael Brewery!
Houthavens in the West of Amsterdam is a neighborhood far too often overlooked. With a rich history dating back to 1876 when it was one of the most important global harbors, Houthavens is now being creatively transformed into a lively residential and working environment for its residents. So get ready to explore one of the city’s best kept secrets, home to some of Amsterdam’s most recognizable buildings, trendiest waterborne restaurants, and thirst quenching neighborhood bars.
Enjoy your walk!
⏱️ Total Walking Time: 75 min
🧭 Directions: Hit this Link, then click the top right corner of the map to open full screen in Google Maps
FYI: the technology behind Google Maps is sometimes a bit shaky, so sometimes you need to click the link more than once, or zoom in to get the route view. Apologies for the inconvenience.
☕ Best Roast en Route: Paaseiland
This urban beach coffee spot has been making waves with locals since its opening last year! Paaseiland, or ‘Easter Island’ is a unique, festival style hangout right on the bank of the IJ. Enjoy delicious homemade bites and White Label coffee from a deckchair on their terrace, or as you gently swing in one of their hammocks. With exciting views of the tankers and boats making their way into the city, Paaseiliand is pretty hard to beat.
Highlight A: MVRDV Apartment Complex
It’s likely that you’ve already spotted the colorful Silodam building glinting at you from the banks of the IJ: a personal favorite of the newer developments along the waterfront! The Silodam was designed by renowned Dutch architect practice MVRDV in 2003, transforming a former dam and silo building into a ten story high ‘urban envelope’ to meet the ever-increasing demand for social housing. Its construction was quite the operation, involving an underwater protection barrier against the passing oil tankers, and deep foundations 20 meters in height! Every apartment inside is unique, and the colors you see on the building’s exterior run dynamically through its interior too. Missing views of big skies in Amsterdam? Then this is definitely the place to be.
Highlight B: Graansilo’s
Turning vast industrial monuments like this one into functional buildings takes a phenomenal amount of care! The magnificent brick silo building of Graansilo’s dates to 1897, back when it was all about showing off the great wealth and prosperity of the city and its trade. Its transformation into residential and working spaces was no small feat, seeing as the building is made up of an estimated 4 million bricks to accommodate 17,000 tonnes of grain back in the day! One feature we particularly like is its parking lot, which works a little like a jukebox (remember those?). When you drive onto the platform at street level, a space is allotted to your care underground. Your car will also reappear for you on request! Just like that Michael Jackson single you just can’t get enough of on Saturday nights…
Highlight C: Het Veem
Het Veem was built over a century ago to store luxury goods brought from the Dutch colonies, such as tobacco, tea, coffee and cocoa. Back then it was a collective enterprise, meaning that each person who worked there had an invested interest in the warehouse. As with many of the most impressive repurposed spaces across Amsterdam, Het Veem was squatted in the 1980s with the aim of creating affordable and beautiful living and working spaces. The building was then steadily renovated until 1997, and is now a creative workspace for small businesses and artists. Quite the story, right!
Highlight D: De Pontsteiger
We just couldn’t let you visit Houthavens without stopping off to admire De Pontsteiger (the pontoon jetty) now could we?! This visually striking residential building, constructed in 2018 by architects Arons & Gelauff, generally divides the opinions of Amsterdammers! But whether you like it or not, the 90 meter, 26 story Pontsteiger is now a modern monument on the banks of the IJ. You have to admire its remarkable engineering as you gaze up at the bridge suspended between two towers. It was designed so that even if one of the trusses failed, the rest wouldn’t collapse. Now that’s ultimate jenga!
Highlight E: REM Eiland & Pont 13
The REM Eiland may look a little like something out of transformers, but it in fact has a radical history dating back to the 1960s. It was initially constructed as a broadcast tower for the television station TV Woordzee at a time when advertisements on television were illegal. By broadcasting from the sea, the rebellious station was able to circumvent the ban! While this made them hugely popular with the public, they weren’t so much in favor with the government, who shut them down in 1964. Its former helicopter platform is now the home of a stunning restaurant, and includes an industrial style interior bar, and rooftop bar with sweeping views of the water.
For our second unconventional waterborne restaurant, welcome to Pont 13, an incredible nautical dining experience moored to the pier. This hip restaurant is housed in a 1920s ferry, which was saved from demolition and given a happy new life as the trendy bar and restaurant you see before you! It even features some old elements of the ferry: the wood burning stove is an old diesel tank from the engine room! We’re convinced that every boat should be saved from the scrapyard if their second life gets to look something like this.
Highlight F: De Prael Houthavens Brouwerij
De Prael Houthavens is one of our favorite hidden gems of the area! De Prael brewery is deeply invested in ‘arbeidsmogelijkheden’: programs which employ those who have a disadvantage in the conventional job market. So not only do you get to enjoy a delicious locally brewed beer, but you’ll also be making a positive and long lasting contribution to the community. Their large sunny terrace is the perfect place to end this week’s walk, as we all know that beer tastes just that bit better in the sun!
Highlight G: Het Stenen Hoofd
Het Stenen Hooft, or ‘Stone Head’, may appear to be a little rough around the edges, but it’s a perfect spot to soak up some rays in the summer. The jetty dates back to 1905, but was used far less than it was initially anticipated. Since the 1990s, the Stone Head foundation has been preserving the area as a neighborhood spot for cultural events and general recreation. The jetty was partially converted into an urban beach complete with a sandy corner and swimming area!
Your Fav Hidden Gems
The above highlights are just some of our favorite spots along the way. If something catches your eye while en route, share a picture with us so we can share with the group next week. Email is best to email@example.com 🙂
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