Shopping in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the city of antiques, books, diamonds, and curiosities. In general, shop-opening hours are 1-6pm on Mondays and 9/10am-6pm Tuesday to Friday. Most have late night shopping on Thursday until 9pm, and close earlier on Saturdays, at 5pm. Some supermarkets, like Albert Heijn stay open until 8 or 10 pm. On Sundays, you can shop in the city center, Kalverstraat, Damrak, Leidsestraat, and near the Noorderkerk.
Since many roads in the center are closed to cars, it makes for pleasant shopping. You will still find busses, trams, taxis and bicycles though, so watch you step. There are several “shopping corridors” in the city and each one has it’s own charms and specialties.
First off: Nieuwedijk-Kalverstraat, about 1 km full of shops. This pedestrian area, there is no traffic other than a constant stream of tourists, students, scholars, excursionists and locals. The Nieuwedijk is close to Central Station and basically dedicated to clothing, sportswear, music and gift shops with that special Amsterdam vibe. The road leads to Dam Square. Around this square you will find the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk and Madame Tussaud's.
On the other side of the square the shopping continues: you are now entering the Kalverstraat. More shoes, clothing, bags, gift shops, cards, perfume, and the occasional coffee shop, fast food restaurant and ice cream salon. You will find that nearly all mainstream brand names have one or more store on this road. Here you can also find Waterstones and American Book Center. For a quiet drink away from all these shops you can make a sidestep onto Spui, where you will find many cafes, bars and restaurants and several fast-food chains.
Parallel to the Nieuwedijk-Kalverstraat are the Damrak and Rokin. This is a normal road, so beware of bicycles! The Damrak is filled with restaurants, hotels and exchange offices. Here you can find Himalaya, a spiritual bookstore and teahouse, slightly off the Damrak, just before the Red Light area.
At the end of the Kalverstraat on the Muntplein, you will find all sorts of tulips, narcissus and other bulbs and flowers on the Flowermarket. The bulbs are ready for export, so you can enjoy them at home too.
If you cross the Muntplein and walk through the Regulier Breestraat, which consists of many restaurants, fast-food chains and gift shops, you’ll end up on the Rembrandtplein.
If you like a little more luxury, or actually a lot more the Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat, affectionately called P.C. Hooftstraat is where you can do some serious damage to your credit card. In this road in the Oud Zuid district of the city, near the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk museum, you will find the haute couture boutiques: Cartier, Gucci, Edgar Vos, Tommy Hillfinger and the very impressive Oger shop are all located here. If all this is too much you can always go for a walk in the Vondelpark which is situated directly at the end of this road.
As every metropolis, Amsterdam has several different quarters - each of them with a special character and public. Shopping streets in Amsterdam also vary, depending on their location in town. Many small shops, with their own importing contacts all over the world, make shopping in Amsterdam even more exciting. Furthermore, as the whole city center is not big, you may just walk through all the shopping streets of this city in just one or two days.
Amsterdam has great department stores and shopping malls. They offer unique choice of products with imports from Asia, Latin America and Africa. The best choice is offered by De Bijenkorf (The Bee Hive) located directly at the Dam square. Except for one (Villa Arena), all department stores and shopping malls in Amsterdam are located within a short walking distance from the Dam square. You may compare their actual choice within couple of hours. Shopping in Amsterdam may save you time and effort. If you like your shopping indoors, or if it happens to be raining you can always visit one of the shopping malls in Amsterdam: Magna Plaza (on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, again near the Dam square) or the Kalvertoren (on the Kalverstraat).
You may find in Amsterdam lively and different markets, some of them have food and general goods, some are specialized in all kind of things you might be interested in – starting from biological food and antiques, ending on post stamps and art. All markets are located within walking distance from the centre of the city. Check our page about Amsterdam markets for a day of the week they are open, opening hours and a location.
Amsterdam is renowned as the most important modern and experimental art center in the North of Europe. Amsterdam art galleries present artists from all over the world, focussed on abstract and experimental art as well as photography. Interesting realistic paintings from so called New Dutch Realism movement, as well as realistic paintings from Italy, Spain, UK and the US are always on offer. Prices often are moderate, starting as low as € 150,- for a small painting or a print, but works of the well-known living artists tend to reach last years the record prices.
Famous Dutch designers of the past as Gerrit Rietveld and Willem Hendrik Gispen were hardly ever active in Amsterdam. It is only since 1980’s that Amsterdam became an important city for the design in the Netherlands. Dutch design, today recognized all over the world, was usually full of Calvinistic modesty and disciplined simplicity, simultaneously seeking for the sense of humor in surrounding us world. Today, Dutch designer celebrities as Marcel Wanders and the architect guru and Pritzker Prize laureate Rem Koolhaas have their home base in Amsterdam. Their artistic works goes far away from the traditional Dutch sober and minimalist approach. A number of stores in Amsterdam, which function also as galleries, propose the most recent objects created by Dutch designers. Most known are Droog Design, Moooi and The Frozen Fountain, but each year brings new interesting design venues.
Amsterdam antique shops in Amsterdam are located mostly around Spiegelgracht and Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, a small street leading towards the center of the old city from the Rijksmuseum. Over 70 antique shops and fine art galleries are located at this one street or its direct neighborhood called also Spiegelkwartier (Mirror Quarter). Even if you are not a collector yourself, a walk around this area may give you an opportunity to discover objects which will fascinate you with their beauty and their past. Dutch Old Master paintings are always well represented, but you will also see Delftware and ceramics, Oriental and African Art, as well as many shops with old clocks, pewter, instruments and furniture.
If you are a book lover, Amsterdam is your town. Amsterdam has wonderful bookshops with unique books from all over the world. Most of the bookshops are located around or in proximity of the Spuiplein. Several bookshops are located on the Leliegracht (five bookshops on one side of the not very long street). The biggest bookshop in Amsterdam – Scheltema (Koningsplein 20) has four big floors full of books, most of them in English.
Amsterdam being multicultural and tolerant city, which accepts many different lifestyles, has plenty of sex shops, mainly in the Red Light District and in its direct neighborhood, or around the Rembrandtplein. Several of them are uniquely addressed to gay or lesbian people.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is a good place for shopping. Commercial and communication centre called Schiphol Plaza adjoining to the airport has already several luggage, consumer electronics, bookshops and fashion shops which might be of your interest. Offering similar prices to the shops in town, the Plaza remains an interesting shopping opportunity because of its location and the variety of merchandises. However you will find the real bargains since you have passed the passport controls and found yourself in the departure lounges of the airport. Amsterdam Airport duty free shops and their brand See Buy Fly are internationally recognized as one of the best.