On the lead up to my exchange I was researching plenty about Amsterdam on all the big blogs and travel sites. And many provided useful tips about where to go and what to do, but one aspect about Amsterdam that no site really touched on was the markets. And for me, these ended up being one of the best surprises of the city. There are a plethora of markets throughout the city, and over my semester I managed to visit most of them, and would return to several of the recurring or daily markets often. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, they’re lots of fun to meander through. So for anyone heading over to Amsterdam, here is my guide to the best of the Mokum markets.
One of the oldest markets in the city is Waterlooplein, located very close to Oudemanhuispoort, the largest central city university campus. It’s open everyday except Sunday, and if you’re a good bargain hunter, this is the flea market to visit. There are several super cheap clothes stalls with literally piles of clothes for you to search through. And if you decide the bargain piles aren’t for you, there are two great vintage clothes shops bordering the market, Episode (a big franchise in Amsterdam) and the Kilo Store. Certainly not as cheap but both are crammed with the coolest gear.
It’s also the place my RA recommended that I buy my bike from. According to her (please note this is her advice, not mine) the bike sellers in Waterlooplein are all peddling stolen bikes, which means that you can get a decent bike for €50. Apparently in Amsterdam most of the bikes are stolen at some point, so it’s okay to buy a stolen bike because your bike will most likely be stolen again at some point anyway. I don’t know if they are dealing in stolen bikes, but I will note that on one visit to Waterlooplein I saw one seller out the back of his stall rather suspiciously spray painting a bunch of bikes black. Personally I would recommend buying a bike on the Facebook bike buy and sell pages, but if you know what to look for in a bike you can find a pretty good deal at this market.
Aside from the flea market stalls Waterlooplein is a pretty touristy market, with plenty of pricey stalls selling overpriced cheese and souvenirs, but it’s a nice mid-sized market if you have an hour or so to kill. However, if you want to go full-tourist, Albert Cuypmarkt is a good place to check out.
Albert Cuyp a massive establishment in the De Pijp district, and sprawls on down the road for a decent couple of kilometres. Most of the stalls are cheap clothes and souvenirs, but if you’re looking for a Dutch food tour, you can find all the popular snacks here There’s freshly made stroopwafels, poffertjes, waffles, harring, frites, cheese, and plenty more. There’s also a few random stalls that will come and go. I had the best corn on the cob I’ve ever had in Albert Cuyp, but alas the stall was never to be found again.
Google hyped this market as the biggest and best market in Amsterdam. And it probably is the biggest. In my opinion is definitely isn’t the best, but it is great for a snack if you’re passing through.
The winner of the title of best market in Amsterdam is hands-down Noordermarkt. Located in the Jordaan and only open on Saturdays, this market has everything. It combines the best features of all the markets listed above, and then some. It starts off as a farmers market in the square outside the Noorder church, but then you go around the corner to Lindengracht and there are lines of stalls stretching the full length of the street. There are plenty of cheese stalls, including some beautiful artisan stores, and, because this is Amsterdam, you can sample nearly all the cheeses as you walk past. So, while the cheese prices are pretty cheap, if you’re living the poor student life you can treat yourself to a free lunch of cheeses by strolling down Noordermarkt. There are also fantastic fruit and vege stands, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, vintage clothes stalls, cheap art and jewellery, and great food and coffee stands. I have spent many Saturdays wandering down the marketplace, and it’s always one of my top recommendations for anyone traveling to Amsterdam.
In my previous post I sung the praises of Ten Katemarkt, which is the best place to get the cheapest fruit and vege. Other markets to check out are the beautiful antique book stalls inside the entrance to Oudemanhuispoort, and IJ-Hallen, the Netherlands’ biggest flea market held on the first Sunday of the month. But also half the fun in Amsterdam markets is stumbling onto them by chance, so take my guide for what it’s worth, but let me know if you find any other hotspots in the city!