On a hopping night, Noorderlicht (Northern Lights) blazes with colorful lights visible clear across the IJ River—hence its name. For those drinking and jamming to live music on a waterfront terrace warmed by a roaring bonfire, the setting is more intimate.
We've reached Noorderlicht, a "cultural café" in Noord-Amsterdam, via free ferry from Central Station. Destination: NDSM yard, a revitalized shipyard that belies its maritime/industrial heritage with warehouses and shipping containers transformed into nightclubs, hotels and student housing. Dotted with fishing villages, condos and restaurants, the eclectic neighborhood calls itself "Art City."
With its airplane hangar shape and greenhouse-like architecture, Noorderlicht enhances the funky landscape. The popular café draws creative types who come for waterfront dining, drinking and dancing. Inside, warm-hued wall hangings, wooden flooring, tables ornamented with polished driftwood and a disco ball contribute to an inviting ambiance. Seasonal lunch and dinner menus feature organic and regional dishes, plus casual fare like frites and burgers.
Noorderlicht's grassy terrace offers a spectacular view of Amsterdam city center from the other side of the Ij River. Dine on wicker chairs, cushioned couches and picnic tables as musicians perform overlooking the waterfront. A roster of events ranges from campfires and poetry readings to DJ nights that usually inspire some pumping and grinding in a young, energetic crowd.
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Noorderlicht Cafe takes you north and back in time
So chill, this spot is in the heart of North Amsterdam's burgeoning art scene, and it's mellow, got delicious food, and the feel of days gone by. There is often music and a bonfire, so bring your scarf and stay for a while.