Shopping in Amsterdam
Shops in Amsterdam range from large department stores such as De Bijenkorf founded in 1870 and Maison de Bonneterie – a Parisian style store founded in 1889, to small specialty shops. Amsterdam’s high-end shopping is found in the streets Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat, which are located in the vicinity of the Vondelpark and Museumplein.
One of Amsterdam’s busiest shopping streets is the narrow, medieval Kalverstraat in the heart of the city off the Dam Square. Newendijk and Haarlemer Straat also offer plenty of shopping opportunities. Another shopping area is the Negen Straatjes: nine narrow streets within the canal belt. The Negen Straatjes differ from other shopping districts with the presence of a large diversity of privately owned shops. The city also features a large number of open-air markets such as the Albert Cuypmarkt, Westermarkt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt.
Saturday is an especially good day for shopping, you will see the rest of the city out doing the same thing. The main central shopping streets run in a line from near Central Station to the Leidseplein: Nieuwendijk, Kalverstraat, Heiligeweg, Leidsestraat. The emphasis is on clothes & fashion, but there are plenty of other shops. Amsterdam’s only upmarket shopping street is the P.C. Hooftstraat (near the Rijksmuseum). Other concentrations of shops in the centre are Haarlemmerstraat / Haarlemmerdijk, Utrechtsestraat, Spiegelstraat (art/antiques), and around Nieuwmarkt. There is a concentration of Chinese shops at Zeedijk / Nieuwmarkt, but it is not a real Chinatown.
The ‘interesting little shops’ are located in the side streets of the main canals (Prinsengracht / Keizersgracht / Herengracht), and especially in the Jordaan – bounded by Prinsengracht, Elandsgracht, Marnixstraat and Brouwersgracht. The partly gentrified neighbourhood of De Pijp – around Ferdinand Bolstraat and Sarphatipark – is often seen as a ‘second Jordaan’. For general shop info and their openings hours you can visit ‘Openingstijden Amsterdam’ it shows an overview of the most popular shops and their location on the map.
For books, your best bet is The Book Exchange at Kloveniersburgwal 58 (tel (020) 6266 266), diagonally across from the youth hostel. It is a second-hand bookstore specialising in English books, and has a large selection, with an especially good selection of travel writing, detectives, and SF/fantasy. Open Mon- Sun 10AM- 4PM, Sun 11:30-4:30PM. For English literature and books, you can also try The American Book Center store on Spui square. Waterstone’s (Kalverstraat 152) is also a good tip for English literature. Large Dutch bookstores also carry a selection of foreign language books.
In the older areas surrounding the centre, the main shopping streets are the Kinkerstraat, the Ferdinand Bolstraat, the Van Woustraat, and the Javastraat. The most ‘ethnic’ shopping street in Amsterdam is the Javastraat. There are toy stores and clothing shops for kids in the centre, but most are in the shopping streets further out, because that’s where families with children live. You can find plus size clothing in the center of Amsterdam. C&A, and H&M are both on the main shopping streets from the Central station. A bit further from the city center you can find Mateloos, Promiss, Ulla Popken as well as several stores by chain M&S mode. A give-away shop can be found at Singel 267, open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1700-1900 and Saturdays 1200-1700.
The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes): Nine narrow streets between the main canals from the Prinsengracht to the Singel, south-west of Dam Square. Boutiques, specialist shops, galleries and restaurants.
Santa Jet: Prinsenstraat 7, tel (020) 427 2070. This little boutique specializes in hand-made imports from Latin America. You can find everything from mini shrines made of tin, to lamps, to kitschy postcards.
De Beeldenwinkel Sculpture Gallery: This is a gallery for sculpture lovers, with bronze statues, pottery, abstract sculpture, raku-fired statues and marble figures sculpture to suit every budget and taste.
Jordaan: One of the most picturesque ‘village’ areas of Amsterdam, the Jordaan has always been a centre for artisans, artists and creatives. Today, this area has a wonderful selection of goldsmiths and jewellers, fashion boutiques, galleries, designer florists, and specialty shops.
Fashion & Museum District: Located in Amsterdam Zuid, this is considered the chic area for shopping in Amsterdam, close to the Museum district, the PC Hooftstraat and the Cornelis Schuytstraat have some of the finest designer shops in the city, including designer shoes, health and well-being specialists, massage, fashion boutiques, designer interiors, designer florists and specialist shops.
Cracked Kettle: Located at Raamsteeg 3, 1012VZ Amsterdam, this beer, wine, and spirits shop carries independent, unique, and rare bottles. The staff are friendly, but the space is quite confined and obtaining bottles from the very top shelves requires assistance and a dust rag. 12.00 – 22.00 everyday
Street markets originally sold mainly food, and most still sell food and clothing, but they have become more specialized. A complete list of Amsterdam markets (with opening times and the number of stalls) can be found at online at Hollandse Markten.
Bloemenmarkt: Monday to Saturday from about 8AM until around 5PM. Floating flower market, open daily on the Singel canal, near Muntplein. Very touristy, but you could do worse than buy your tulips here. Make sure you buy pre-approved bulbs if taking them to the US or Canada. They will have the holographic licence and export tag on the bag.
Albert Cuyp: Largest in Amsterdam, best-known street market in the country. Can get very crowded, so watch out for pickpockets. Monday to Saturday from about 9AM until around 5PM. Dappermarkt. In the east, behind the zoo, and was voted best market in the Netherlands. Monday to Saturday from about 8AM until around 5PM.
Waterlooplein: Well-known but overrated flea market. Monday to Saturday until about 5PM.
Lindengracht: In the Jordaan, selling a wide range of goods, fruit and vegetables, fish and various household items. Saturday only. 9AM to 4PM. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk along the Lijnbaansgracht.
Spui: Fridays: Books. Sundays: Art and Antiques.
Lapjesmarkt: Westerstraat, in the Jordaan. A specialist market concentrating on selling clothes and material for making clothes, curtains etc. Mondays only. 9AM to 1PM. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein.
Noordermarkt: In the historical Jordaan area of the city. On Monday morning (9AM to 1PM) the Noordermarkt is a flea market selling fabrics, records, second-hand clothing etc, and forms part of the Lapjesmarkt mentioned above. On Saturday (9AM to 4PM), the Noordermarkt is a biological food market, selling a wide range of ecological products like organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, cheese, mushrooms etc, there is also a small flea market. Tram 3 or 10 to Marnixplein, and a short walk down the Westerstraat.
Treinreiswinkel is a travel agency specializing in rail travel. They are well informed and can arrange international train tickets and even a complete package tour if you wish. They also sell interrail tickets. It’s at Singel 393, 1012 WN +31 (0) 71 5137008. They also have an Leiden office which is their main office.