Now, we know there's nothing more magical than going to Tomorrowland in Belgium.
The huge electronic music festival transforms the town of Boom every summer into a fantastical fairytale where the world’s biggest house DJs come to play. It’s where we all chase that effervescent limitless feeling between partying and dancing while camping at DreamVille.
But the days leading up to Tomorrowland, and the days after, make for the perfect time to explore and travel the nearby area. Because let's face it, as extraordinary as the venue and stages are (all 16 of them - I can’t choose which one is my favourite) Tomorrowland isn’t forever…until we get our tickets again for next summer that is.
2 hours away from Tomorrowland is Amsterdam, a city which really does feel just as carefree as the festival itself.
During your time in the Dutch capital, these are 10 places you should visit in Amsterdam that will get you excited (or let you relive) the legendary festival we all love.
PS. Please note we aren't in any way affiliated with Tomorrowland, we just want to help you have the trip of a lifetime!
A quick 10-minute ferry (all rides are free too!) from Amsterdam Central Station, will get you to the city’s most special district. Packed with endless street art, an eclectic community of artists and cultures, NDSM makes for a perfect Tomorrowland teaser. The NDSM Wharf, which was a former industrial shipyard has been transformed into a vibrant hub with a rotation of art installations, vintage flea markets, and street art that includes Banksy. On most days, you can also catch local artists with fresh spray cans, adding more to the graffiti murals that sprawl the grounds of NDSM. It’s a seriously cool place to wander around, where half the fun is a feast for your eyes.
While the 16 different stages at Tomorrowland all have different epic designs, there isn’t one with a beach. Pllek is a remedy to that, as the city’s most beloved beachfront bar. The joint was constructed out of used shipping containers, thus sustainability has always been a core part of Pllek, being highlighted in their eco-friendly all-day dining menu too. Be sure to check out their summer events, whether it’s a Midsummer night celebration right in the sand or a live music performance, in a way Pllek can be an honorary Tomorrowland venue in itself. Insider tip: If it’s a hot day, bring your swimwear cus you can jump right off the nearby docks for a dip into the IJ river.
The rush of endorphins and hits of dopamine you get from the world-class line-ups and spectacular firework shows at Tomorrowland is in one word: insane. NXT Museum in Amsterdam is another type of madness, where you’re pulled into a large-scale digital art exhibition that heightens every sense that you have - in the best of ways. As you explore the space, you interact with thought-provoking concepts as flashing lights and dreamy pattern sequences are projected onto you and in the room, you’re in. It’s a simulation that while differs from a festival, still connects you with yourself and the world around you in a groundbreaking medium.
Book your tickets here.
Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum
Amsterdam is known for a lot of things - the bohemia, its openness, a city of liberation - and part of that is tied to its widely infamous cannabis culture. As the name of this place is an introduction to the exhibits themselves - taking you through the history of hash, marijuana and hemp with artefacts relating to the plants. The museum also ties into how and what the Netherlands view on cannabis and the legalization of it.
The happiness from your fellow ravers at Tomorrowland just so purely contagious. Who knew one can connect with so many people, wherever they may be around the world? This is a similar happiness roaming the many various stalls at Albert Cuypmarket. Whether you’re trying freshly made stroopwafels (a favourite snack amongst the Dutch) or authentic dim sum, this long stretch of the market unites different cultures along with locals and travellers alike. The Albert Cuypmarket is also in the heart of De Pijp - Amsterdam’s eccentric, young, and hip neighbourhood that has been liken to the city’s latin quarters.
Known all over the world in a cold, refreshing iconic green bottle is Heineken, one of the Netherlands’ biggest inventions and export. The beer has now been long intertwined with the Dutch identity and the Heineken Experience takes you on a tour through the gigantic Heineken brewery. During this experience, let your amazement be guided by a 4D adventure ride through the story of Heineken, as well as other interactive exhibits. Of course, two tall glasses of beer is included.
Book your tickets here.
What Tomorrowland and Amsterdam have so much in common is the feeling of freedom, and being able to be yourself - whether you’re packed infant of a DJ stage with thousands of fellow music lovers, or in an old squatter’s house turned creative hotspot. The latter is OT301, which includes a trendy vegan cafe, an underground venue for live music and a gallery for upcoming artists. It’s another side of Amsterdam where it’s easy to connect with other people in the various artistic spaces that is accessible and easy to roam around.
Our Lord in the Attic
A peculiar name is fitting for a peculiar setting - tucked deep inside a traditional canal house, you’ll find a hidden church and museum! First, seeing all of these canal houses on the streets of Amsterdam is one thing - how tall, slender, and sometimes toppling over one another it seems they are. But to actually go in and explore a classic Dutch home? That’s an elusive experience itself! And second, going into an attic of this historical building to discover a secret church built during an era when Catholic mass was banned is truly a trip back in time.
Now this place has all the vibes - visiting this place is as if you are Alice, falling down a rabbit hole into Wonderland. Except, that Wonderland is a psychedelic fluorescent tail-spin of a tunnel because that’s what Electric Ladyland is all about. This hidden gem immerses you into a 1970s vibe of glowing minerals under black light. With each step, you become a part of the art that surrounds you like a technicolour experiment surrounded by different geological elements and luminous rocks. You definitely won’t find this place anywhere else in Europe - or the world.
Tony's Chocolonely Superstore
In need for a snack, have a sweet tooth craving or just want to escape into a colourful land of chocolate? Look no further than the Tony's Chocolonely Superstore. Tony's Chocolonely is a Dutch chocolate brand that is close to the nation’s heart - with the mission to be sustainable in the cocoa industry and make chocolate that is as close to slavefree as possible. On top of that - their chocolate bars come in an array of tastebud drooling flavours. But this flagship store allows you to create your own custom bars, see how their chocolate is made through an interactive wall, and snap pics in their photo booth.
Curious about more non-touristy Amsterdam things to do?
Discover even more non-touristy activities in Amsterdam here. Looking to explore more of the Netherlands best hidden gems? Check out our "17 secret spots in Amsterdam only locals know: the best places to escape the tourists" blog post!