Discover a treasure trove of flea markets, flowers, fashion and unique local brands in the beautiful surroundings of The Dam
Amsterdam’s world-class cultural attractions usually top visitors’ bucket lists – not shopping. Yet that’s exactly why shopping in Amsterdam is such an unexpected delight. From trying on eclectic clothes by Dutch and Belgian designers on one of Europe’s most adorable shopping streets, to stumbling upon a 18th Century lithograph while buying 5-year-old Gouda at the organic Boerenmarkt, Amsterdam shopping offers a refreshing mix of food, fashion, furnishings, flowers and flea market treasures.
Shopping fanatics will want to ensure their Amsterdam visit includes a Thursday night, when most stores are open until 8 or 9 pm. (Other days of the week, small shops generally remain open until 5 or 6 pm, with larger stores closing at 6 or 7 pm.)
For a fun organic farmer’s market/flea market Amsterdam offers Boerenmarkt, located at the Noordermarkt in the charming Jordaan neighbourhood on Saturdays. For rare and secondhand tomes, there’s the book market on Fridays at the Spui. And then there’s the famous Amsterdam flower market, Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. Seven days a week, through all four seasons, browse a mind-blowing array of fresh flowers, seeds and bulbs on covered barges that float on the Singel Canal. The Amsterdam flower market is definitely one of the most colourful and fragrant tours you’ll find!
Yet if you only hit one market in Amsterdam, make it Europe’s largest daily street market, De Pijp’s Albert Cuyp Markt. Closed on Sundays, six days a week it’s a treasure trove of flowers, fresh fish, cheeses, inexpensive clothing and textiles, Amsterdam souvenirs, and signature Dutch snacks – try the homemade stroopwafel (syrup waffle). It’s far superior eaten fresh and piping hot than the premade variety sold in stores. Visit at lunchtime, and put together a picnic to enjoy in nearby Sarphatipark, a lush English-style garden where locals go to relax. On cold days, warm up with a post-market coffee or a beer at one of the neighbourhood’s many cozy bruin cafes (brown cafes).
The Nine Streets
Get ready to gleefully blow your Amsterdam shopping budget. Despite its popularity (expect crowds on weekends) the Negen Straatjes remain the most delightful shopping experience in town. Park your rental bike on the Prinsengracht and stroll down all nine short blocks of the Western Canal Belt, ducking into the petite storefronts that take your fancy. Expect unique specialty shops: don’t miss the fabulous toothbrushes at “The White Teeth Shop”: De Witte Tanden Winkel. For cutting-edge fashions by designers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia and beyond, browse boutiques like Scotch and Soda, Van Ravenstein and Filippa K. You probably won’t find that luscious cashmere sweater elsewhere, even in Paris. In a daring mood? Pop into Marlies Dekkers, where Holland’s most famous lingerie designer plies her eye-popping designs.
With a regal location behind the Royal Palace, the Magna Plaza is the perfect place to shop on a rainy day. Originally built in the 19th century as Amsterdam’s main post office, you’ll now find smart international chains like Mango and Swarovski next to Dutch favourites such as Gsus Industries and Sissy Boy. NÜ Amsterdam gives you the chance to browse cool Danish fashions without taking the train to Copenhagen. It’s open seven days a week.
For a traditional department store experience, classy De Bijenkorf is your best bet. Whether you’re in the mood to splurge on Italian shoes or a designer handbag, or in search of something (umbrella, perhaps?) you forgot at home – you’ll find it at the Dam Square flagship store. The cosmetics department features the usual suspects like Chanel and Laura Mercier, along with Tom Ford and Asian-inspired Dutch brand Rituals.
Ready for a unique Amsterdam shopping experience? Don’t forget to leave plenty of space in your suitcase!