diamonds_are_forever_in-amsterdam

Nine Famous Film Locations: Amsterdam

If you’re planning a city trip to Amsterdam in the foreseeable future – and you love watching movies – this list is for you!

I love travelling almost just as much as doing absolutely nothing and watching movies all day. Not very productive, but that’s okay every now and then, right? That said, sometimes I do feel guilty about just hanging on the couch staring at the screen all day. So, I found the perfect way to combine my two passions. I’m compiling a huge list of cool travel tips based on movies shot in European cities. In my first post of this series of famous film locations I’m investigating my home country’s capital: Amsterdam. Here’s the list!

#1 Diamonds Are Forever – 1971

The first movie on the list is one from the Bond franchise. Diamonds are Forever is the seventh cinematic version of Ian Fleming’s famous series of spy novels. 007, portrayed by Sean Connery, tries to unveil a diamond smuggling line running from Africa, to Amsterdam, to the UK and finally ends up in the US. The well-travelled spy meets the lovely Tiffany Case in Amsterdam who provides him with a bag of diamonds dive into the smuggling pipeline. Obviously our beloved Bond gets the girl and saves the world once again.

Locations

Amsterdam makes quite the appearance in DAF. James cruises around the canals in a classic yellow Triumph Stag. Also, the body of an old lady is pulled from the water at the in 1934 opened Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) over the Amstel river. A couple of blocks further down at 36 Reguliersgracht, Bond meets Tiffancy Case for the diamond deal. Today, a professor from the University of Amsterdam lives in the canal-side apartment on the third floor.

Cheap To Travel Tip

If you’re a James Bond fan like me, head to Reguliersgracht 36 to check out Tiffany’s monumental residence. Then, make your way to Skinny Bridge to reenact the body being pulled from the Amstel river. After successfully posting your best ‘dead body from river’ photo to Instagram it’s time for a break. Cross the Magere brug to the side of Nieuwe Kerkstraat. Then take a left and follow the Amstel river up to Blauwbrug. Here you’ll find Café ‘t Hooischip on the corner. A nice little café where Dutch hospitality remains. Depending on the time of day try the coffee and apple pie or grab a beer with one of Joop’s ballen (meatballs).

#2 Puppet on a Chain – 1971

In the 1960 love-and-peace Los Angeles three drugdealers are killed by ‘the assassin’. In an attempt to stop the drug war, special agent Paul Sherman is send to Europe to find and uncover the source of the drugs sold and used in LA. Sherman’s Dutch roots gets him a foot in the door in the investigation led by Amsterdam police forces. Despite being obstructed by some guys on the force, he finds one police officer who’s daughter has fallen victim to heroin and is willing to work with him.

Locations

This UK thriller based on a novel by Alistair MacLean portrays the early 1970s Amsterdam in a fantastic way. The best-known, perhaps legendary scene from the movie is the epic boat chase starting on the Ijsselmeer continuing through the maze of the Amsterdam canals, literally covering all of the inner city. What a way to experience the Dutch capital! Besides this celebration of Amsterdam’s canal-side highlights, the movie shows other parts of the Netherlands: the famous Hotel Spaander in Volendam and the Muiderslot (a medieval castle) in Muiden proudly set the stage for this British production.

Cheap To Travel Tip

Are you into castles, knights and other medieval splendour? Take a (half)day trip to Muiden. Check out the glorious Muiderslot in one of their tours. Then, stroll into town where you can get a bite to eat at one of the restaurants along the Vecht river. Eatery Graaf Floris V is an all time favourite with me and my family. Good spot to grab a steak and a couple of beers!

#3 Bad Boys II – 2003

“Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you”. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence intercept a shipment of XTC from a group of KKK hillbillies in Miami. The two crazy American cops seize a two bags of pills, only a fraction of the massive amount potent pills being imported. The Cuban gangster Johnny Tapia leads the criminal organisation responsible. This classic cop vs crook action comedy movie provides two and a half hours of fun and fury. Perfect for some easy Saturday night watching!

Locations

Only a short, stereotypical appearance of the Dutch capital in this American blockbuster. The movie fades in at an XTC lab somewhere in Amsterdam. In the lab they hide countless bags of pills in caskets. These caskets are then shipped from Port of Amsterdam to Miami. Also, a supposedly Dutch guy in a phone booth confirms the shipment is on its way. He sounds kind of German, which seems to be a common mistake made by American film makers. Holland, Germany, Denmark, I guess it’s all the same, right?

Cheap To Travel Tip

If cycling floats your boat, rent a bike and discover the Port of Amsterdam. There are four cycling routes which you can explore. It’s a fantastic way to escape the city for a morning or afternoon. The starting point of the routes is at Station Sloterdijk, where you can grab a cup of coffee before getting adventurous! Here’s a map!

#4 Layer Cake – 2004

A movie much like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Reservoir Dogs. In Layer Cake, Daniel Craig plays a highly respected drug dealer about to retire. Hours before he successfully turns tail, his boss assigns him one last job: to find and extract Charlotte Ryder. The missing rich princess daughter of his boss’s old friend Edward. This sets the stage for crazy plots and bad-ass action in which XXXX is hurled back into the cake mix of organised crime!

Locations

Layer Cake primarily takes place in London, though Amsterdam does bob up a couple of brief moments.  For example when gang leader Duke and his girlfriend Slasher stroll through Amsterdam’s red light district on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal. Also, the obtrusive pretend gangster takes a call at the corner of Stoofsteeg and Oudezijds Voorburgwal. Lastly, Duke and his gang search for their contact’s premises among the hundreds of Dutch greenhouses outside of Amsterdam on the Achterweg 1424 De Kwakel. 

Cheap To Travel Tip

So, this is a real cracker. If you like the outdoors that is! Personally, I just love being adventurous and explore what’s outside the city. Near hundreds of greenhouses you’ll find the Westereindeplassen. The West End Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the built up area around Amsterdam. In summer perfect for swimming, boating and picnics. In winter, put on a proper coat and take one of the historic walks in the area. Also, there’s a monumental water tower which is open to the public every second and fourth Sunday of the month. The top of the tower offers a sweeping 360 degrees view of the lake and its surroundings. Absolutely stunning!

#5 Ocean’s Twelve – 2004

I just love the Ocean movies starring the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. They’re good actors, the story line is okay and these movies are easy on the eyes. Perfect for a dreary fall day. In the sequel to Ocean’s Eleven the star cast touches down in Amsterdam to pull off a heist of an old, valuable VOC stock. During the making of this blockbuster several streets were fenced off and, to be honest, Amsterdammers were annoyed.

Locations

The film makers really promoted touristy Amsterdam in Ocean’s Twelve. Most scenes were shot at the 9 Straatjes area; at the bar of the Pulitzer Hotel on the Keizersgracht; the Koningsplein; and well-known coffeeshop De Dampkring. Other inner city locations are the Kalverstraat and Heiligeweg – a high-end shopping area – and the ‘golden bend’ at the Herengracht canal. A part of Amsterdam chock-full of monumental buildings and one of the most prestigious places of the Dutch capital. Interestingly, the scenes at Amsterdam Central Station were actually filmed at Haarlem Station.

Cheap To Travel Tip

Sure it’s fun to recreate a couple of scenes in the inner city. Do your thing, but we want to be different. Instead, catch a train to Station Haarlem. Feel the vibe of the over hundred year old structure. Take a stroll through the picturesque Kenaupark. On a sunny fall day, bring a blanket and a bottle of wine and enjoy the majestic trees and vibrant colours. Then, make your way to De Hallen Haarlem at the Grote Markt. This museum focuses on temporary photo and video expositions where the humanities are the central topic. Students only pay €4. For current info check their Facebookpage or website.

#6 Deuce Bigalow – 2005

This ridiculous American production about a former male prostitute from Amsterdam and a series of gigolo murders wastes no time stereotyping the city and its Red Light District. The Dutch only watched it to play a game of ‘guess the location’ and to see Dutch actors making fools out of themselves. Deuce Bigalow can only be described as the worst movie ever and is right up there with another failed comedy movie, Eurotrip.

Locations

The producers of this joke of a movie transformed the area from Oranjebrug to Brouwersgracht 127 into the Red Light District. Also they shot some scenes on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 45 the heart of Amsterdam.

Cheap To Travel Tip

I’d recommend to just skip the famous Red Light District. It is not something I am proud of. It is not an area, in my opinion, you should visit as a city tripper. There are plenty of other, way more fun things to do in and around Amsterdam. Just check out the other options on this list!

#7 Zwartboek (Black Book) – 2006

This well-renowned Dutch production takes you back to Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II. A Jewish singer infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance. Carice van Houten – Melisandre in Game of Thrones – stars in this internationally acclaimed Paul Verhoeven film. It’s been credited with several Dutch awards, shortlisted for the Academy Awards and proclaimed best Dutch film of all times in 2008.

Locations

Mainly shot in The Hague, however Amsterdam does make an impressive appearance. Sociëteit De Witte is located in the Tropenmuseum, a museum about history and humankind. An impressive mansion overlooking Oosterpark (East Amsterdam) houses a more than fascinating collection. This film uses the characteristic Haarlem railway station as Station Holland SpoorFun fact: A real pre-war farmhouse, Boerderij Verhoef, was blown to shreds whilst filming Black Book. Don’t worry, the house was already on its last legs! 

Cheap To Travel Tip

For an inspirational day in Amsterdam East head to the Tropenmuseum. The museum opens at 10am. Temporary exhibitions currently on display are ‘The Buddha’ (31/12) and ‘Rythm and Roots’ (30/10). Students get a discount! When all those impressions leave you hungry, get a roti at one of the many Surinamese places near the museum. Lalla Rookh is an excellent choice. Go for a wander in the stunningly luscious Oosterpark. Discuss the impressions of the day – the exhibitions or the roti. From there, mosey on to Café Ruk en Pluk to continue the conversation. Enjoy good company, a couple of beers and some bitterballs!

#8 Dallas Buyers Club – 2013

A cowboy living in 1980s Amerika gets diagnosed with HIV. Doctors tell him he’s going to die within a month. Ron, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, refuses to accept this news: “Newsflash for y’all, there ain’t nothing out there that can kill Ron Wood after 30 days”. However, he quickly realises that in the US his chances of surviving are pretty meagre to say the least. The racist and homophobic Ron sets out on a frantic journey around the world, not only to fight for his own life, but also for that of his fellow AIDS combatants.

Locations

The movie showcases six seconds of iconic Amsterdam. Canals, houseboats, bikes, trams and churches. The shot moves from Prinsengracht with a view of the Westerkerk; to a view of Central Station from Damrak; and finally the old façade of Schiphol as well as inside the terminal.

Cheap To Travel Tip

Houseboats; quintessentially Amsterdam. Start your day with a cappuccino at the Houseboat Museum. Entrance is only €3.50 when you show their website on your phone, or free if you have the Amsterdam City Card. From the museum a free walking tour is mapped out. It teaches you about the history of the city, the canals and its houseboats. The 5k walking tour showcases a bunch of highlights – including the spiralling Westertoren – from a houseboat perspective. Awesome right!? When your legs are tired, head to Café KromPlay your favourite song on their vintage jukebox (ask for a quarter at the bar); order a couple of beers; some truffle sausage; enjoy the local life. Classic!

#9 The Fault in Our Stars – 2014

The title of John Green’s original novel comes from Shakespeare’s play ‘Julius Ceasar’. In the play Cassius says that “[t]he fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings”. Cassius means that only you are responsible for what happens in your life. The novel, and now movie, clearly points out the opposite: a couple of teens surely didn’t do anything that caused their cancer. Hence, the strength of this story lies in the fact that despite the fault in their stars, they can still be the author of their own lives.

Locations

The American film makers only needed four days to turn Amsterdam in a modern day Mecca for movie maniacs. Hazel and Gus take the tram. Kiss on a bench. Also, scenes were shot at a house near the Vondelpark, at the American Hotel on Leidscheplein, the Rijksmuseum, Frederiksplein and the Anne Frank House. They just really ‘do Amsterdam’. Fun fact: The iconic wooden bench on Leidschegracht mysteriously disappeared. Movie lovers were left with a vacuum. People panicked. But later thanked their lucky stars that the old bench was only taken to be restored.

Cheap To Travel Tip

Do you like getting active and meeting new people? Go skating! Every Friday night at 8.30 pm a bunch of enthusiastic skaters leave from Vondelpark for a two hour ride through Amsterdam. They take it easy, so also very suitable for less experienced skaters. It really is a great way to get social and meet some locals. Check out their Facebookpage for more information. The ride itself is free and you can rent skates for €7,50 at SkateDokter. Happy skating!

Have I missed any movies that are filmed in Amsterdam? Or, do you have any suggestions for other European cities? Let me know in the comments! 

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