Bijlmer in Amsterdam
The Bijlmer, offically Amsterdam South East (Amsterdam Zuidoost), is an exclave of Amsterdam, separated from its mainland by Duivendrecht and Diemen.
With no shared borders with Amsterdam, Zuidoost is an entity to itself. It was built up in the 1960s and 70s as a residential utopia of sorts with apartment blocks separated by tracts of green. Also known as ‘De Bijlmer’, Zuidoost is a vibrant multicultural district renowned as the home of the Ajax football team.
Zuidoost lies southeast of the A10 ring motorway and west of the Weespertrekvaart waterway which connects with the Amsterdam-Rijn canal. To the north are the town of Diemen and its forest Diemenbos. To the south lies Nieuw Utrechtseweg (A2 motorway) and open fields, beyond which is the Amstel River-side town of Oudekerk aan de Amstel. The A9 motorway runs through Bijlmer from Haarlem and connects to the A1 for Eastern destinations.
The new architecturally-acclaimed train station Bijlmer provides easy access to Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA (Asb) railway station serves the Bijlmermeer neighborhood.
- From Schiphol Airport. Schiphol station is located directly beneath the airport. From the arrivals hall walk through Schiphol Plazato to reach the train station.
- Trains run to and from the Randstad (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht region)
A number of special (through) trains also run throughout the night commencing after the last train of the day and are available until the early morning. These trains run once an hour and the fare for the night train is the same as that for the day train.
Local trains on the Amsterdam - Utrecht and Amsterdam - Gouda - Rotterdam routes also stop at the new Holendrecht station outside the Amsterdam Medical Center (AMC) hospital, about 2km south of Bijlmer ArenA.
Metro lines 50, 53 and 54 link the Bijlmer to the rest of Amsterdam.
- 50 runs from Isolatorweg to Gein along the same route as 54 and connects Bijlmer to the south and west of Amsterdam.
- 53 runs from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Gaasperplas and services the north and east of Bijlmer.
- 54 also from Amsterdam Centraal Station, runs parallel to the railway along the west of Bijlmer, then turns east to Gein in the south.
- Bijlmermonument (address: Nellesteinplad, Amsterdam-Zuidoost)
In 1992 a Boeing 747F jumbo freighter crashed into two flats in the Bijlmer. This is a monument to the people on the ground who died or lost their houses in the disaster. 39 residents are known to have died, but due to the large number of unregistered illegal immigrants living in the cellars of the flats at the time, which were completely incinerated in the crash, it is possible that more died than could officially be accounted for. The monument was designed by architect Herman Hertzberger and is built around a tree that survived the crash, with the names of the known victims and mosaics laid by survivors. The foundations of the destroyed buildings are also still visible.
The Amsterdam ArenA, built from 1993 to 1996 and with a capacity of 51,628 seats during sports matches, is home to the most successful football club in the Netherlands, Ajax. The arena can hold up to 68,000 people during concerts and regularly holds popular music events. In past many well known artists have performed here including Tina Turner, Justin Timberlake and U2.
- Heineken Music Hall (address: De Corridor 9) (directions: Metro/Train: Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA) 0900 687 42 42 (Dutch phones only)
One of the largest cinemas of the country, and it also has IMAX movies.
Recreational area and nature reserve with a lake and water-sports centre. The centre offers facilities for canoeing, swimming, rowing, sailing and a surfing school. Explore the park (5 km around the lake) by foot, bicycle or horseback. On the edge of the park is the Gaasper Camping campsite.
- Kraaiennest Outdoor Gym (address: Kleiburg 52) (directions: Next to the Kraaiennest Metro station tracks)
open: 24 hrs
A well equipped outdoor gym with permanent workout stations, made out of green plastic & metal. If you spend some time in Bijlmer, this is a good spot to workout for free during daytime, and talk to locals.
Just beside the running tracks and tennis court which you will see from the metro station and the Kraaiennest Winkelcentrum.
As this is a new part of Amsterdam, shopping malls are generally modern and large. From Bijlmer Station, west of the railroad you can find large retail stores, such as IKEA, MediaMarkt and others. The area east of the railroad could be called "downtown Bijlmer", where you can find a more relaxed atmosphere with smaller stores and quick dining facilities.
- Kam Yin Chinees Surinaams restaurant (address: Bijlmerplein 525)
Surinamese/Indonesian cuisine. Very good Moksi Meti (marinated pork and sausages with noodles). Popular with the locals. Take-away.
In part due to its bad reputation Bijlmer suffers from an acute shortage of legal drinking premises. There are few bars and most of those close very early (18h). Thirsty locals either drink in the park, or at various social clubs in the basements of the huge flats - where theoretically no alcohol may be drunk, but in practice it is brought, bought and sold. As these places are illegal and uncontrolled, tend to be in the worst parts of the neighbourhood, and are frequently the scene of drug dealing and violence, tourists should steer well clear of them unless in the company of a trusted local.
That said, the few legal bars are very liveley and colourful places and have a quite different feel to anything in the center of town or indeed anywhere else in the Netherlands, and definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.
- 't Pleintje (address: Harriet Freezerstraat 104, 1103JP Amsterdam-Zuidoost)
Located just off the Bijlmerdreef near metro Ganzenhoef (53), this is one of only two legal bars in the northeastern quadrant of Bijlmer, and so serves maybe twenty thousand inhabitants. Although the building is very new, the decoration is typically "bruin cafe". Clientele is incredibly mixed, everything from rastafarians (inevitably outside smoking pot) to old Amsterdammers you'd expect to find in the Jordaan. Closes at 18h.
Just twenty minutes from the centre of Amsterdam is the Gaasperpark on the Gaasperplas (Gaasper Lake). There, close to the metro station Gaasperplas (5 minutes walk), you will find the capital's largest campsite: Gaasper Camping Amsterdam.
Address: Loosdrecht 7, 1108 AZ Route and Directions
- Campanile Hotel Amsterdam (address: Loosdrechtdreef 3, 1108 AX)
3 star hotel.
1 minute walk from metro station Gaasperplas. Free wifi. Free parking.
- Tulip Inn Amsterdam Riverside (address: Provincialeweg 38, 1108 AB)
3 star hotel.
7 minute walk from metro station Gaasperplas. Free parking. 8 conference rooms. Restaurant. Bar open till 1:00 am.
As this used to be the most crime-ridden area of Amsterdam (and the Netherlands as a whole), it is important to always be cautious and stay within the well-populated areas. Do not walk around alone in the dark and avoid groups of youth standing around. Generally speaking, the area around Bijlmer ArenA station and along the Bijlmerdreef is quite safe, while the further off you get from there, the unsafer it gets. Currently the area around Holendrecht is probably the worst. It must be said though that the last 20 years crime has lessened considerably and the area can be visited safely during daylight.
Non-residents who never actually go there will tell horror-stories about Bijlmer, but not only are they generally out-of-date, they also need some perspective: even though populist Dutch politicians claim otherwise, the Netherlands is one of the safest countries on earth, and Amsterdam one of the safest large cities. If you live in a city, chances are that it has neigbourhoods much less safe than Bijlmer. Even within Amsterdam there are much worse neighbourhoods, such as the western suburbs of Slotermeer/Slotervaart.
Objectively Bijlmer may even be safer for tourists than the center of town - pickpocketing is by far the commonest crime tourists suffer in Amsterdam and it is endemic in the center and on the trains to and from the airport. As there are almost no tourists in Bijlmer, there are hardly any pick-pockets either!