You find yourself at Amsterdam central station an hour or two to spare. Go and explore the neighbourhood! There’s a lot to see and do near the station and it’s also one of the best photo locations in Amsterdam. There’s plenty of variety nearby so let’s take a look at what kind of photos you can expect to capture within a 5-10 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal.
Inside the Main Station
The main roof arches have a decorative piece; a train wheel with wings which was the original symbol for the Dutch railways. For a well-centred photo like this one, head on up to platforms 5 & 6. This was taken on the north-west side of the station (or left side if you’re looking from the front)
Starbucks has a cafe on platform 2 which is set in the old second class waiting room.
The mirrored ceiling at the back of the main building…In this photo, I’ve flipped it 180 to give the impression of a mirrored floor 🙂
Front of the Station
Starting with the obvious, let’s take a look at the front of the station building itself. The station architecture has a very similar style to the Rijksmuseum – both were designed by architect Pierre Cuypers. With a wide angle lens or an iPhone, you can probably capture the main facade by positioning yourself in front of the Metro entrance.
To capture the full width of the station and gain a bit of perspective, walk around the section of water (Open Havenfront) in front of the station.
The sun hits the front of the station in the late afternoon or evening depending on the time of year adding a little extra warmth to the red bricks. Maybe you want to experiment a bit and look for some more original shots? Look at the metro station, trams & maybe street photo of commuters & tourists.
The rear of the station
So, what’s behind the station in Amsterdam, anything photo-worthy? The rearmost part of the station complex is home to an elevated bus station. In itself, not particularly stunning unless you like modern architecture, but you do get nice views across the river Ij.
You’ll sometimes see people ignoring the “no pedestrian” signs to get a nice shot of the harbour. The photos you will get from here are not significantly better than you’d get from the pavement below, so probably not worth the risk of getting hit by a bus.
The best photo of the bus station would be from the Eye Museum on the other side of the water. The roof of the station has “Amsterdam” in large letters. Below the bus station are a selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
All water behind the station – the river Ij to be exact, is the reason why Amsterdam became so successful. This is the entrance to Amsterdam’s port, connecting the city with the wider world. The wealth and growth of the city through the 16th and 17th centuries stems from the trade which passed through here.
As you come out of the station’s rear entrance, you can pick up FREE transport Ferries which take you across the river to various locations in Amsterdam Noord. You can visit the futuristic Eye which is Amsterdam’s film museum. Another ferry will take you on a longer trip to NDSM edgy/artsy/regeneration, Botel, Submarine.
The east of the station
At the rear of the station To the east, you have a series of modern architecture buildings, the first of which is the concert hall Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ / Bimhuis. The Amsterdam passenger terminal where large cruise ship dock is part of the same complex. Very close by is the Belgian cafe/bar Delirium serving 720 types of beer- a great atmosphere, but it won’t necessarily help your photography! Further on down there’s a bridge (Jan Schaeferbrug) across the river Ij if you want to get a different perspective of the harbour & station.
The west of the station
Running underneath the west side of the station is a tunnel for pedestrians and cyclists. Towards the front of the tunnel is a tiled mosaic depicting Amsterdam’s maritime past.
Further to the west of the station, you have some jetties followed by a series of modern offices with hotels and cafes. Bagel & Beans is friendly and relatively cheap for coffee & lunch.