High above Amsterdam at the A’DAM LOOKOUT

(Last Updated On: October 16, 2020)

Looking to see Amsterdam from the sky? The A’DAM LOOKOUT offers the next best thing, with both indoor and rooftop panoramic viewing areas, bars, and restaurants. There’s even a swing that lets thrill-seekers glide over the edge of the 21-story tower.

top of a tower with an off-set panorama deck and roof-top swing

It’s all part of the action at the A’DAM Tower, which also includes a hotel, clubs, more restaurants, event space, and work areas for professionals in the music industry and other creative types.

Visit the A’DAM tower’s LOOKOUT observation decks with me and plan your own visit.

I use links to improve your browsing experience, but some may also pay me a small commission if you use one to reserve a room, rent a car, or purchase goods or services. You don’t pay anything extra, but it helps keep this website running without intrusive advertisements. To learn more, review my policies and disclosures.

Welcome to the A’DAM Tower

If you have walked along or cruised through Amsterdam’s harbor at some point over the last 40 years, you will recognize the A’DAM Tower.

modern towers and other architecture along the waterfront

The tower is a familiar landmark. One that was transformed from a staid office building into a modern hotel, entertainment complex, and workspace designed with both music fans and industry creatives in mind.

An old industrial landmark transformed

The building now known as the A’DAM Toren dates back to 1971, when it opened as the headquarters for the Royal Dutch Shell oil company. Known at the time as the Shell Overhoeks Tower, it was designed by local architect Arthur Staal (PDF). For a time, it was the tallest building in Amsterdam.

historic picture of the Shell tower along water

The Shell Overhoeks Tower. Photo courtesy of the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, via Wikimedia and re-edited for ExplorationVacation.

In its new incarnation, it’s part of a neighborhood sprouting modern apartments and trendy shops, restaurants, and bars. The A’DAM Tower itself houses a music-themed hotel, work space for music and related creative businesses, meeting and event space, restaurants, bars, and the LOOKOUT’s indoor and outdoor observation decks, a nightclub, and (most recently) a virtual reality gaming venue.

graphic of uses in the A'DAM Tower

The A’DAM Tower is an around-the-clock venue. Graphic courtesy of the A’DAM Tower.

However, it’s the top two levels, the panoramic floors of the LOOKOUT, that have become particularly popular with both Amsterdammers and visitors alike.

Exploring the A’DAM LOOKOUT

Although no longer the tallest building in Amsterdam, the panoramic spaces in the A’DAM tower are pretty far above the ground – about 300 feet above. That makes the LOOKOUT the highest observation deck in Amsterdam.

A nightclub in an elevator

Of course, before you can go out on the rooftop and take a look, you have to get up there. And, while the trip to the 20th floor only takes 20 seconds, it’s enough time for a pulsating sound and light show that turns the elevator into a tiny nightclub – minus the drinks.

bright colored lights above an elevator car

Click on the photo for a sample of the elevator ride, but do NOT do so if you suffer from epilepsy.

(Fortunately, there is another elevator available for anyone subject to seizures.)

Visitors exit on the 20th floor at the LOOKOUT’s Madam bar and restaurant. However, to get the full 360 panorama experience, first follow the stairs up to the 360° Sky Deck.

The LOOKOUT’s 360° Sky Deck

It’s best to visit on a still day. I went on a cloudy, windy, rainy day. It was not ideal weather for an outdoor observation deck!

The A’DAM Tower’s rooftop Sky Deck is mostly an open observation area. The outside edge is lined with informational signage, including historic photos, about Amsterdam’s buildings and the city’s development over time.

people standing on a large deck with fencing

On a pleasant day, there’s a bar. And of course, there is also the swing. (More on that below.)

I was there mostly for the view. Unfortunately, the view is mostly behind a chain link fence. There are a few small “windows” cut into that fence, but they are small, very limited in number, and not particularly useful unless you are tall.

view of a riverfront from above through a fence

In addition to the windows in the fence, a few free telescopes let visitors zoom into the view.

On a beautiful summer day there would be a line to use the telescope or get a spot at one of the holes in the fence. Fortunately (?), the howling wind and threatening sky kept the number of visitors down on my visit. With fewer than a dozen of us wandering about, it wasn’t hard to find a spot to check out the view.

view from above of Amsterdam rail station and city

Amsterdam from above

While it might be easier to take pictures of the city from the roof, the view is virtually the same on the enclosed floor below. And you don’t have to look through a fence to enjoy it. That’s nice, because, even on a dark day with limited visibility, the view is impressive.

Swing Over the Edge of the A’DAM Tower

From the ground, you might not even notice the swing perched at the edge of the roof high above.

view looking up at a rooftop swing

And, if you do, you might think it looks rather small and fragile.

However, it only looks small because it’s over 300 feet above your head. From the tower’s rooftop sky deck, it’s clear the A’DAM swing is not your typical playground toy. It is VERY substantial.

rooftop swing

Perhaps too substantial for true thrill seekers. While not for suitable for anyone with a fear of heights, it’s clear there isn’t any meaningful risk to swinging over the edge here. But it still comes with bragging rights!

Madam panorama bar, restaurant, and exhibit area

The tower’s panoramic 20th floor houses exhibit space that flows around and through Madam bar and restaurant.

tables and bar with panoramic windows in background

We could have bought tickets that included a drink in the bar. However, having visited a lot of sky deck lounges over the years, I didn’t expect much value for money. And we were all on a budget.

Fortunately, the roof tickets allow you to visit the bar area.

I say fortunately because, Madam is an indoor observation deck with a bar and restaurant, rather than the other way around. Floor to ceiling windows provide easy access to the 360-degree view.

But it’s not all about the view. The entire floor is an exhibit area with fun and informative signage, interactive displays, and scale models that tell the story of Amsterdam’s development and the A’DAM TOWER itself.

 

It would have been worth the cost of a drink just to relax for a bit and take it all in.

Plan your visit to the A’DAM LOOKOUT

The A’DAM Tower and its panoramic A’DAM LOOKOUT are easy to visit from central Amsterdam. You can get there and take in the view in less than a couple of hours.

However, given the cost, the number of exhibits available, and the opportunity to sit and enjoy the view over a drink, it’s worth at least another hour. Stay for lunch and a stroll along the waterfront and it’s a half-day adventure. Visit the EYE Film Museum or check out the galleries and street art in other parts of Amsterdam Noord and you’ll need a full day. (Rachel’s Ruminations has more ideas on what to do in Amsterdam’s more northerly neighborhoods.)

Also, if you are looking for an evening view, it’s included in the cost of dinner at Madam or Moon. Or, on evenings when Madam becomes a nightclub, you can take in the view for the cost of a drink.

Tickets

Tickets to visit the A’DAM LOOKOUT are always available online.

Usually they are also available on-site at the ticket office, as well as through various third-party vendors. However, it appears that tickets are currently available only through the LOOKOUT’s website.

Tickets to the A’DAM swing can be purchased online AFTER booking your entrance ticket. Usually swing tickets are also available at the ticket office or right on the rooftop, but that might not be true this summer.

It’s always better to book in advance, as you’ll get a lower price online and be able to get up to the roof quicker.

Check the weather forecast

If you want the best view from the A’DAM LOOKOUT and/or a ride on the swing, weather matters.

  • Dress for the weather and then some. Depending on the day, it can be a lot hotter or a lot windier and colder on the roof. If it’s cool, bring something warmer than you think you need, as the wind can be fierce. On hot, sunny days, you’ll want sunscreen and a hat, as shade is limited.
  • Whether cloudy or sunny, it’s also likely to be windier on the roof. A lot windier. The day I visited, it was breezy on the ground, but so windy (and cold) on the roof it was almost impossible to stand still!
  • Not surprisingly, rain and low clouds are best avoided, although a break in the clouds where the sun shines through can be glorious. But even hazy, humid weather makes it hard to get a great view of the city.

Get there

The A’DAM LOOKOUT is located across the river from the Central Rail Station.

By ferry

For most visitors, the easiest way to get to the A’DAM Tower will be on the FREE commuter ferry that runs between the Central station and Amsterdam-Noord.

small passenger ferry

Tips for visitors

This is a rather random list of tips and observations to help you make the most of your visit to the A’DAM LOOKOUT.

Eat

Amsterdam Noord’s large old industrial area is rapidly redeveloping into an artsy neighborhood with lots of bars and restaurants. But you don’t have to wander very far from the A’DAM Tower to find something to eat. Heck, you don’t even have to leave the tower.

Spend the night

The A’DAM Tower bills itself as a round-the-clock destination, with nightclubs that allow visitors to party until the sun comes up.

However, if you’d rather get some sleep, the tower’s Sir Adam Hotel offers a variety of music-themed rooms at a variety of prices. It also has a vinyl music library where you can put together a soundtrack for your stay.

Is this the best view of Amsterdam?

Maybe.

If you come in the morning on a beautiful day and you like your city views large and expansive, the A’DAM LOOKOUT provides the biggest view of Amsterdam you’ll find without a helicopter. It’s particularly appealing because you can enjoy the view from the roof or indoors. And the informational signage turns the view into a museum of Amsterdam’s history (for those of us interested in that sort of thing).

But there are a few other places where you can see the city from above.

Map of Amsterdam’s best panoramic views

For a more intimate view: Blue Amsterdam

My go-to spot to see the city from above is Blue Amsterdam, a bar/café/restaurant in a glass tower above the Kalvertoren shopping center. (Your friends will not believe you when you tell them there is a great restaurant with fabulous views above this rather ordinary shopping mall.)

Other panoramic options

The streets of Amsterdam are so enticing that I seldom think to view the city from a higher vantage point. But there are several other bars, restaurants, and towers that promise panoramic views over the city.

Amsterdam’s Central Library, the OBA Oosterdok, is also located near the Centraal station. It’s along the harbor next to the floating Chinese restaurant. The 7th floor has a terrace with great views of the old central city. There’s a cafe, but you don’t need to buy anything to take in the view.

NEMO, the odd-shaped science museum along the harbor, has a slanted terrace that faces central Amsterdam. It’s about 70 feet up, offering a nice view of the city from across the water.  There’s also a café and bar on the terrace. While it is usually open to the public for free, right now it is only open to museum visitors who buy a drink or snack.

SkyLounge Amsterdam is located on the 11th floor roof of a Hilton DoubleTree hotel near the Centraal station. The bar/restaurant has an open deck with 360° views of the city center.

Canvas bar/restaurant sits on the roof of the Volkshotel just outside the canal belt. It includes an outdoor deck and indoor spaces with panoramic windows. The canal belt and many of Amsterdam’s historic landmarks are said to be visible from here. Currently, reservations are required.

Twenty Third Bar is located, appropriately, on the 23rd floor of the Okura Hotel. This is an indoor cocktail bar with panoramic view through the windows. It’s located in the mostly residential De Pijp district south of central Amsterdam. While it’s said to have a great view of the city, it seems a little far out for it to be in the same league as the others. But I haven’t been there to know for sure.

Of course, you can also take a more traditional route to seeing Amsterdam from above by climbing a church tower.

  • Westertoren, the tower at Westerkerk, is the highest church tower in Amsterdam. During summer, visitors can climb to the first balcony. There’s likely a charge to do so.
  • Oudekerkstoern is located in the Red Light district and, apparently, provides good views over Amsterdam. The tower is open through the summer on guided tours, although there doesn’t seem to be any information available online. The church itself holds art installations, for which there is a charge. I expect there is a charge to climb the tower as well.

looking up at a rooftop swing with text "Swing over Amsterdam at the A'DAM LOOKOUT"

 

All Netherlands posts

Red tulips with text"Belgium and the Netherlands on a Tulip Time River Cruise"

3 thoughts on “High above Amsterdam at the A’DAM LOOKOUT”

  1. Great article! I loved your reference to the high windows on the observation deck. The Dutch do the same with their bathroom mirrors: place them too high for people under about 5’5″.

    I have another place to add to you list of where to see views of the city. Try the public library (openbare bibliotheek) on Oosterdokskade. Just take a left out of Amsterdam Central Station and walk along the water with the water on your right. You’ll see a floating Chinese restaurant on your right and the library is on the left just after that. Go up to the top floor where there’s a cafe. The cafe has a balcony with a view, and it’s absolutely free to go there! It’s not all that high but gives a great view over the older part of the city.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.