To Market, To Market: Amsterdam Street Bazaars

badge_AmsterdamInterNationsLike soldiers in an army that marches on its stomach, eco-conscious Amsterdammers love local markets for fresh edibles, specialty products and household goods. Not the corporate chain type markets like our ubiquitous Albert Heijns, but convivial street gatherings where farmers and craftspeople hawk organic produce and hand-crafted products. In spaces like these, friends combine shopping with chats over warm glühwein and plates of herring. Here you can rub shoulders with locals, grab a broodje (sandwich) and a koffie, and uncover one-of-a-kind finds.

To see what fuels Dutchies, check out these sources for organic produce, flowers, clothes and kitsch in Amsterdam:

Albert Cuyp Market: Granddaddy of ‘Em All

As outdoor markets go, this is the largest in the Dutch capital, lining both sides of the Albert Cuypstraat with more than 300 stands piled with the town’s most varied offerings. Since 1904, the Albert Cuyp Market has been a source for fresh fruit and vegetables, Dutch cheeses, fish, flowers, fabrics, trendy clothing, bedding, accessories, electronics, jewelry and pretty much anything else you might need for life in Holland. Open daily except Sunday, the expansive outdoor market is surrounded by cozy cafés, pubs, restaurants, handicraft shops, hair salons and computer stores in funky De Pijp. Combine your visit with a trip to the nearby Heineken Experience or Rijksmuseum.

Meet the artisans behind the products while soaking up the sights and scents of the culinary world at the Pure Markt.
Meet artisans behind the products at the Neighbourfood Market.

NeighbourFood Market: Fantasyland for Foodies

On the first Sunday of the month, the NeighbourFood Market draws foodies, organic farmers, bakers, butchers and local chefs to Westergasfabriek, a gas plant turned cultural park on Amsterdam’s western edge. In an open square warmed by makeshift bonfires, sample local sausages, Spanish tapas, Japanese sushi, Lebanese falafel and French quiche. Meet the artisans behind the products while soaking up sights and scents of the culinary world. The outdoor market spills into the adjacent warehouse—a melting pot of international tastes where you can enjoy your edibles in a lively setting, sitting on benches at long wooden tables.

tuck into a world of international flavor and fun
Tuck into a world of international flavor and fun at the Pure Markt.

Pure Markt: Pure Food, International Flavor

With more than 80 vendors, all passionate about the food they grow, harvest and prepare for consumption, Amsterdam’s Pure Markt (Pure Market) is a world of international flavor and fun. Scheduled at rotating parks throughout the year, the Sunday market features food, drink and and hand-crafted gifts from Holland and around the world.

Shop and eat at the Pure Markt.
Pure Markt is a feast of creative edibles.

Since 2008, the Pure Markt has drawn foodies, families and both regional and out-of-town visitors with above-average interest in creative, healthy food and drink. Some 70% of its stalls are devoted to edibles; the rest are a melange of designer items, vintage clothes and crafts.

Chowing down at the Pure Markt
Chowing down at the Pure Markt

Sample Edam cheese, Dutch apple pie, Surinam roti or Indian curry. Dig into freshly shucked oysters or feast on roast chicken at a picnic table or terrace seat. Wash it all down with organic beer, glühwein, hot cocoa or coffee served from a market stall. While grown-ups sample market offerings and shop for food to take home or to a hotel room, kids can spin on the solar-powered merry-go-round. For everyone’s enjoyment, small bonfires warm the friendly commerce and local musicians and theater groups frequently perform.

Waterlooplein: Finding Gold Amidst Others’ Garbage

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Find treasures amidst others’ garbage at Waterlooplein Flea Market.

If searching for treasures amidst other folks’ junk is your thing, head to the Waterlooplein Flea Market, across the Amstel River from Rembrandtplein. Named for the Battle of Waterloo that took down Napoleon in 1815, the city’s oldest outdoor bazaar features 300 stands stocked with everything from new and second-hand clothing to antique bric-a-brac, old military camouflage, bicycle parts, Che Guevara posters, vintage tableware, vinyls from the ’50s, graffiti spray paint and other curiosities from past and present eras.

With roots going back to the late 19th century, when Jewish merchants hawked their wares on the square, Waterlooplein has a long tradition of commerce in Amsterdam. The Nazi invasion forced a hiatus of trade, but the market rose from the ashes of World War II as an outdoor bazaar in the city’s Jewish quarter, then magnetized youth and hippie culture in the ’60s and ’70s. Open daily except Sunday, it remains a big tourist draw.

Vintage biscuit tins abound at Waterlooplein.
Vintage biscuit tins and other kitsch abound at Waterlooplein.

Adjacent to the market, find the Mozes en Aäronkerk (Moses and Aaron Church) and Stopera, the latter housing both Amsterdam’s City Hall and its Muziektheater, home of De Nederlandse OperaHet Nationale Ballet, and the Holland Symfonia. Exit the first stop on the metro to reach Waterlooplein, or access the square via tram 9 or 14. A visit to the flea market is easily combined with tours of the nearby Jewish Historical Museum and Portuguese Synagogue.

Ij Hallen Flea Market: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The journey is part of the fun of visiting Ij-Hallen.
Take the free NDSM ferry to Ij-Hallen.

The journey is part of the fun of visiting this market on the north side of the River IJ: the IJ-Hallen Flea Market, boasting some 750 stands manned by vendors hawking vintage clothes, antiques, books, leather goods and bric-a-brac, typically held the first Saturday and Sunday of every month.

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Ij-Hallen is for serious bargain hunters.

Get there by walking through Central Station to the water, turning left as you exit. Continue to the free NDSM ferry heading for Amsterdam-Noord. Vie with locals for a seat or stand with the cyclists enjoying views of the city skyline. In less than 15 minutes, you’ll dock, where signs will point you to the largest flea market in the Netherlands and allegedly the biggest in Europe—a five minute walk from the ferry. With a €4.50 entrance fee (€ 2.00 for kids 11 years and younger), this is a market for serious shoppers and bargain hunters. In two giant warehouses, one-of-a-kind toss-offs abound, but you’ll need patience to dig through piles of treasures in a vast montage of stalls. If no one-of-a-kind treasure appears, drown your sorrows at Pllek, Noorderlicht or IJ-Kantine—all great places for a snack and a beer on the serene side of the Ij.

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Buy paintings from local artists at the Spui Sunday Market.

Sundays Are for Art at Spui

If you’re out for a Sunday stroll, check out the small art fair off Spui square, near the American Book Center. At 25 stalls, professional artists showcase original works, selling directly to passersby while local musicians serenade the crowd on harp and guitar.

Find more of my Amsterdam highlights at Afar.com.
Find more of my Amsterdam highlights at Afar.com.

Rotating exhibitors belong to an organizing foundation that unites some 60 local artists. Most display prints, small paintings, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry. Adding to the joy of finding treasures to bring home, shoppers can engage with the artists and negotiate prices without paying a gallery commission, which can exceed 50% in Europe.

13 comments

  1. The markets are the saving grace for cyclists coming through the Netherlands on a budget and this is such an awesome resource! Awesome blog and will definitely follow this much much more! Ira and Rachel from CS!

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  2. Super cool to learn about the history of these markets! I hope to check some of them out during my visit to Amesterdam!

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  3. Good work! Thanks a lot for info (often I can’t find some tips for street markets in cities, I am going to visit) and here I found all I need for bazaaring in Amsterdam.

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  4. I am absolutely in love with this post. I love how the markets range from a huge variety of food to antiques and art pieces. I can imagine wandering around all day which is what I may do during my visit!

    Also a plus how it seems there is always one going on.

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  5. Hello! My name is Haley Ehlers. My housemate, Emily Steelquist, who I will be travelling with to Amsterdam at the end of this month, suggested your blog to me. After she found your Couchsurfing profile, and showed it to Tyler and I, to say we were excited is an understatement! We love getting to know new people, and new places through these connections!
    After opening your blog, I found myself clicking more and more links, and getting more and more excited to see this unique city! In particular, this post attracted my travel senses. Whenever visiting a new place, I am always on the search for a market. Street markets are my favorite attractions, and where I think I have the most authentic interactions with people and places. I have been known to skip planned tourist destination spot days, just to make sure I have seen everything and everyone in a local market. This post describes so many great markets; I don’t know which I would like to visit most! The Albert Cuyp Market sounds like a must-see, and the environment described at the Waterloopein sounds like a great place for finding one-of-a-kind goodies. I also appreciate your explanation of the market’s histories. It is amazing how all around the world markets have continued due to the dedication of the local producers, artists, and tradesman. Through my travel experience, it is often hard finding the exact details of local markets due to their organic nature, this post is very beneficial in gaining an insiders perspective.
    Thank you for graciously considering hosting us, and I look forward to meeting you!

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    • You will love the outdoor markets, Haley! If there’s anything you need (and anything you don’t need), you can find it at one of them. The Ten Kate is a few blocks from me and a good “starter” market, i.e., it’s about 1/4 the size of the Albert Cuyp, which is a bit overwhelming but good for an outing if you have a few hours.

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  6. Wow, these sound really cool, thank you Melissa! I’m all for flea markets, will definitely try and stop at Waterlooplein: even the name is enticing — “Waterloo, waterloo, waterloo, morne plaine” says Hugo

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  7. In my opinion markets are the heart of the city, her you can find the real soul of habitants.
    Finding a post like this for me is incredible, because it means that I’m not the one thinks that. I rather spend a day lost between market instead spending all day to some silly full boring shop.
    I hope to have the possibility to experience even half of these market you listed!

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