Observation Deck: 360° Panoramic views of Amsterdam
Summary: A’DAM Lookout is Amsterdam’s first and only publicly accessible observation deck.
Situated at the top of the iconic A’DAM tower, just across from Central Station, A’DAM Lookout’s sky deck provides spectacular 360° panoramic views of Amsterdam.
Plus, do you dare? The sky deck features Europe’s highest set of swings — right at the ledge of the building, 20 stories above the ground!
The attraction has an ideal location: at the top two floors of an iconic, 21-story tower on the banks of the river IJ, just across from Central Station.
Measured against international standards towers in Amsterdam are quite small. Indeed, the tallest tower in the city is the Rembrandttoren — an office skyscraper with a height of 135 meters. OK, 150 if you count the spire.
But given that the average building height in the city is just 30 meters — and only 15 meters in the historical center — the unimpeded views from the A’DAM Lookout observation deck are magnificent.
Not only do you get bird’s eye views across Amsterdam’s historic city center, but also of the busy port in the west, the IJsselmeer lake in the East, and the uniquely Dutch landscape (complete with farms and villages) to the north.
And of course, 21 stories below the lookout point, there is the busy river IJ with a never-ending parade of ships — from pleasure crafts to barges, and from dinghies to cruise ships.
At the end of December, 2016 — just seven months after its opening date — the A’DAM Lookout had already been visited by a quarter of a million people.
Europe’s highest set of swings
It gets even better: At the top of the tower you can take a ride in Europe’s highest set of swings. Yes, swings!
Strapped into a full-body safety harness, you’ll be able to propel yourself as high as you wish, or dare — right over the very edge of the observation platform.
Mind you, the swing requires an extra €5 ticket, but that won’t break the bank.
And that’s still not all.
A’DAM Lookout Extras
A visit to the observation platform comes with some nice extras.
It is an adventure that starts before you get there.
It begins with a (free) ferry ride across the river IJ. [There’s no nearby bridge. That’s a long story]
Alternatively, you’ll soon be able to arrive by canal tour boat by virtue of the fact that the Canal Company is one of the venture’s partners.
Or perhaps you’d like to arrive on board the Heineken boat — which will ferry visitors to and from the popular Heineken Experience, another partner. And yes, there will be a Heineken bar on the sky deck.1
Once you’re inside, you can have your photo taken while you and your family or friends are balancing on a steel beam high above the ground.
Virtually, that is. You’ll safely sit on a bench in front of a green screen. The free photo, a nice memento of your visit, will be emailed to you.
Next you travel 20 stories in 22 seconds, on the most colorful ‘Goes to Heaven’ elevator ride you’ll ever experience.
You now have a choice of observation decks: the 360° Indoor Panorama Deck or the 360° open air Sky Deck.
Of course you’re welcome to visit both. From either deck you get to see the city as it was usually depicted on medieval maps: from the North looking South — pretty much the way Amsterdam expanded.2
Are you brave enough to take your turn on one of the swings? Mind you, you’ll need to buy a separate ticket for that. And just in case you’re too scared to hold a camera while swinging, you’ll get a movie of your daring feat sent to your email address.
By the way, the sky deck includes a circular skylight where you can quickly (and safely) test whether you have acrophobia (fear of heights). Since the deck is placed at an angle to the building, the safety-glass covered sky light allows you to look down to the ground 21 floors below your feet.
The indoor panorama deck, a beautiful lounge featuring angled, tinted glass panels, includes a place where you can get something to eat and drink.
There’s also an interactive Amsterdam exhibition.
It comes complete with a three dimensional scale model of Amsterdam — a great way to get your bearings in a city whose layout of concentric half-circles has gotten even the best-travelled tourists lost for centuries.
At the very top of the A’DAM Toren
The attraction has an ideal location: at the top two floors of a well-known — but completely retrofitted — 21-story tower just across the river IJ behind Central Station.
This part of Amsterdam-North has over the past few years undergone what the New York Times describes as an “evolution from blue-collar industrial area to red-hot art neighborhood.”
The tower is symbolic for this metamorphosis.
Originally named Toren Overhoeks, the tower was developed as an office building for Royal Dutch Shell. You’ll hear many Amsterdammers still (for now) refer to it as the ‘Shell toren.’3
Retrofitted to the tune of 50 million euro, the former office tower has been transformed into a multi-functional ‘vertical city’ called the A’DAM Toren (toren = tower).
‘A’dam’ (pronounced as Adam) is the colloquial abbreviation of ‘Amsterdam.’
But A’DAM also stands for ‘Amsterdam Dance and Music,’ which reflects the business background of three of the four owners — big names behind some of the most popular music and dance festivals: Sander Groet (club Air), Duncan Stutterheim (ID&T), Hans Brouwer (MassiveMusic).4
Matter of fact, the building is destined to turn into Amsterdam’s most unique creative- and entertainment hub.5
How creative and entertaining? Well, expectations are high:
Aside from the observation deck, the A’DAM Toren features
- Restaurants, including one near the top that revolves 360° an hour
- Several (lounge) bars
- Sir Adam, a 110-room boutique hotel (Opens in October 2016)
- Offices for music- and creative companies
- Two nightclubs — one at the top of the building, and one subterranean
- A double-height space for exhibitions, congresses, or product launches
In addition, two stories are set aside for A’DAM Works, providing office and meeting space to small companies in the music- and creative sector. This will be an ideal incubator for startup companies to network and grow.
While the lookout opens May 14, these additional businesses will open one after the other in the months following.
We’ll describe these various ventures in future updates to this article.
For now, you may want to know about Madam…
Madam – Amsterdam’s highest nightclub
At 6 pm the indoor deck turns into a restaurant called Madam (Get it? M’adam…).
Then, at 10:00 pm — when the sky deck closes — Madam undergoes another transformation, turning into Amsterdam’s highest nightclub.
Tickets and Information
Every day from 10:00 to 22:00 (10 am to 10 pm). Last Admission: 21:00 (9 pm).
Directions to A’DAM Lookout observation deck at the A’DAM Toren
The venue is located across the water from Amsterdam Central Station.
You exit the station at the IJzijde (which means, the side of the station facing the river IJ).
Make your way to the ferry dock at the Western side of the station. You will see the tower across the water, right next to the spaceship-like EYE Film Museum.
You then take one of the free ferries across. Look for the ferry labelled ‘Buiksloterwegveer.’ Ignore the one labelled ‘NDSM.’
1031 KS Amsterdam
- There will also be a combination ticket for access to the A’DAM Lookout and the Heineken Experience. Visitors will ferry between the two venues on a special Heineken tour boat with a D.J. on board. ↩
- You can view such a map in the article Was Amsterdam named after a dam in the river Amstel? ↩
- The original tower was commissioned by Royal Dutch Shell to be built on a plot of land that also housed the multinational’s laboratories.
Architect Arthur Staal designed the building to be placed at a 45° to the IJ waterfront. This diagonal position (overhoeks in Dutch) gave the building its official name: Toren Overhoeks.
However, the name never quite caught on, and to this day most Amsterdammers still refer to the building as the ‘Shell toren.’
Shell moved into the building in 1971. In 2003 the city purchased the land as part of a long-term development plan in which industry along the banks of the river IJ is moved elsewhere in favour of residential housing and mixed-used buildings.
Shell left the building in 2009. ↩
- The fourth partner is Eric-Jan de Rooij of project developer Lingotto ↩
- In case you are wondering about the emphasis on the music- and creative industry, note that “the Dutch dance industry alone, focused on Amsterdam, is worth €600m (£470m) a year(pdf) and employs 13,000 people full- and part-time.” – The Guardian, March 21, 2016. ↩
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