It's a fact: as far as shopping is concerned, Amsterdam doesn't measure up to Paris. However, the absence of exclusive fashion houses endows the city with something you could never experience at Place Vendome. Here's a place that doesn't care what you wear while you’re bargain-hunting, disclosing its treasures only to those who stray off the main boulevards.
The city centre of Amsterdam is so small that a shopping trip usually means a very pleasant walk. It's easy to combine sightseeing with it, as the major shopping locations are situated just beside the principal tourist attractions. Many of the central streets are pedestrian areas where the only form of traffic is a never-ending flow of students, locals and tourists.
Art & Antiques
Amsterdam certainly deserves its status of a Mecca for art collectors from all over the world. The small area along the banks of the little Nieuwe Spiegelgracht Canal, north of the Rijksmuseum, is home to an endless multitude of art galleries and antique shops. You can spend hours browsing through old prints, rare books, original Delfware and stylish pieces of home decor.
Amsterdam is a renowned centre of diamond dealing. Reputable jewellery shops are scattered all over the city. For most visitors to Amsterdam, they remain an object of wishful window-shopping, but they're definitely worthy stopping by for free guided tours explaining the process of cutting and polishing precious stones. The most popular locations are:
*Amsterdam Diamond Center
*Van Moppes Diamonds
The Dutch capital might not be a fashion centre of global importance, but it remains an attractive destination for fans of designer clothes and accessories. The city is home to several locations that a true fashion fan simply can't miss.
- Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat is Amsterdam's most exclusive shopping location, justly called Dutch Fifth Avenue. It houses the shops of such famous brands as Chanel, Hermés, Vuitton, Gucci, Chopard and Cartier. Interesting vintage shops can also be found in this picturesque area
- De 9 Straatjes is a very picturesque area that’s home to a number of interesting vintage fashion outlets.
- De Jordaan is a fascinating neighbourhood with tiny second-hand shops. If you're into more funky fashion, make it a whole-afternoon visit.
- Dam Square, right next to the Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk and Madame Tussaud's, is where you'll find all of the popular fashion outlets, as well as Amsterdam’s biggest department stores. There's no better way to spot an excellent bargain than to compare the prices of the mall giants of De Bijenkorf, Magna Plaza and Kalvertoren.
- To complete your fashion tour of Amsterdam, be sure to visit some of the intriguing boutiques of the young Dutch designers that keep opening in various locations all over the city. This is something that you definitely won't have a chance to admire in other European capitals.
The artificial peninsula of KNSM Eiland is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in interior design. Once an industrial neighbourhood of warehouses, today it holds some of the most interesting studios of interior design in Europe. The spectacular ideas that come to life in the workshops of Pilat&Pilat, Keet in Huis, World of Wonders and Frozen Fountain set trends for the whole world of contemporary design.
Did you know... ?
1. With over 350 stalls, Albert Cuyp Markt is the largest flea market in Amsterdam.
2. Located just by the Flower Market, the Christmas Palace sells Christmas decorations all year round.
3. Maranon Hammocks in Singel Street sells only hammocks, hanging chairs and mosquito nets.
4. On Queensday (April 30), the street trade in Amsterdam is not regulated and the city turns into one huge flea market.
5. Some of the typical culinary specialities sold in Amsterdam are syrupwaffles, chocolate and many types of cheese.
6. The Singel Canal hosts a floating flower market where the flower bulbs are sold on 16 barges.
7. In Amsterdam's grocery shops, you have to pay for the plastic bags into which your groceries are packed.
8. 50 open-air markets operate in Amsterdam during the week. They all remain closed on Sundays.
9. The Thorbeckeplein Sunday Art Market displays the works of local artists.
10. The Dutch people are the tallest nation in the world, so standard-sized clothes tend to be larger than in other parts of the world.
1. The general opening hours for shops in Amsterdam are from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and 9 or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.
2. During the week, all shops and restaurants close before 1 a.m., so remember to do all the necessary shopping early.
3. Hema is a very popular Dutch chain of all-in-one shops.
4. The Schipol Airport is a surprisigly attractive shopping location if you need to buy your gifts at the last minute.
5. The ANWB, located just behind the Rijksmuseum, is the most popular Amsterdam shop for motorcycle and automobile equipment.
6. The Lambiek comics shop in Kerkstraat Street is one of the oldest establishments of its kind in Europe. A true fan can't miss it!
7. Before you decide to buy some flower bulbs as a souvenir, check if your national customs regulations allow you to bring them with you into your country.
8. Most large shops in Amsterdam stay open late on Thursday night.
9. Schiphol Airport duty-free shops offer online reservation of goods that you can pick up later when you leave Amsterdam.
10. While shopping for groceries, remember that Dutch milk is packed into blue cartons. Red cartons contain buttermilk.
Shop Review: Kitsch Kitchen
It's places like these that make a visit to Amsterdam obligatory for all interior design maniacs. If you love tackiness, Latin-American inspired decor, religious icon motifs and flashy colours, Kitsch Kitchen is your paradise. The shop offers literally everything you might need to redecorate your flat in a true kitsch spirit. You can browse through a wide selection of extraordinary pieces of furniture or kitchenware, all made of plastic, tin or papier-mache, and available at very reasonable prices. The shop also boasts a large selection of personal items, such as umbrellas or oil-cloth handbags. Most of the objects displayed in Kitsch Kitchen come from the studio's own workshops in Mexico.
Address: Rozengracht, 8-12
Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
This traditional element of Dutch folklore is available in a number of forms: you can have them painted or plain, wooden or furry-slippers style. They're sold in souvenir shops all over the city.
Don't hesitate to drop into one of the city's numerous chocolateries. Dutch chocolate is famous worldwide and is best bought in the form of fresh handmade slabs and pralines.
Visit the floating flower market in the Singel Canal and bring home some of the Dutch spring spirit. Remember to get the certificate that might be required to pass through customs!
Dutch cigars are produced from Indonesian tobacco. They can be an interesting change for enthusiasts of Cuban cigars, as they have a much drier flavour.
Amsterdam boasts quite a number of extraordinary toy shops, offering everything from replicas of Rennaisance theatre houses to artfully-crafted porcelain dolls.