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A guide to the specialist markets of Amsterdam


Amsterdam has alot to offer but does not get enough attention for the markets in the city. They are more than places to go shopping, as they also double as social meeting grounds where people hang out. Let’s check out a few inconspicuous markets with pleasant cafés that are consistently talked about.

Boekenmarkt, Oudemanshuispoort
Open: Monday – Saturday 10.00 am – 4.00 pm

Are you looking for an interesting and unusual read? If you don’t mind thumbed pages and the occasional scribble on pages, you can indulge yourself in this book market. It is located in an old archway, Oudemanshuispoort, and attached to the same is a small park with benches, neatly tucked away and convenient for you to read the first pages of your new purchase.

Check out Staalmeesters, on the corner of Staalstraat and Halvemaansbrug. This little café looks over the Kloveniersburgwal. The canal used to be part of the original defences for the city and the name comes from the old guards, Kloveniers, which was the gun that the guards were armed with. The portrait ‘De Nachtwacht’ by Rembrandt pictures Kloveniers meeting. An interesting fact to keep in mind is that you are nearby the old setting for the night guards in the 17th century. You might want to try the Old Amsterdam sandwich which comes with Old Amsterdam cheese, red onions, cucumber and mustard. You will not have to look further for a proper Dutch breakfast, especially in this proper setting!

Noordermarkt Flea Market
Open: Monday 09:00–14:00, Tuesday – Friday: Closed, Saturday: 09:00-17:00, Sunday: Closed

On Mondays there is a flea market here offering mostly textiles but you can make some interesting finds for kitchenware as well. On Saturdays the organic farmer’s market is held here. This is when the market is dedicated to organic food, and you can buy groceries as well as try out the snacks offered. Especially check out the variety of cheese and herbs.

When you have had your share of shopping and tasting snacks, you can try Cafe Winkel 43 which is on the corner of the square where the market is held. It is known for its applepie. The café becomes crowded quickly so turn up early and have your applepie before strawling into the maze of market stalls.

Art Plein, Spui
Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (not in winter)

The artists by the stalls are talkative and you can easily strike up a converation about a painting you find appealing. Not too shabby in case you want to know their thoughts about their own art before you strike a deal. Here you can find paintings as well as silver jewellery. The works on display are usually paintings and this is the definite place to go for oil paintings by local artists.

Tucked away in an alley behind Spui you will find Cafe Tomaz, close to the entrance to Begijnhof. It is a relatively small cafe sparcely decorated, but with a genuine homely feel to it. Although so close to Kalverstraat you can find a quiet table here most of the time and the staff is very friendly and always interested in the stories of people visiting.

This little district, The Spui, was originally the southern edge of the city and in the 15th century the digging of the Singel canal began and was to be a moat around the city. It was not until 1882 that the Spui was turned into solid ground. Nowadays the square is a cultural hotspot, with the Aula of the university also facing the square, as well as several bookstores.

Waterlooplein Flea Market
Open: Monday – Friday 9.00 am – 5.30 pm; Saturday: 8.30 am –5.30 pm.

This flea market has plenty to offer for the happy trinket hunter, hundreds of stalls line the streets around Waterlooplein. Whether you want to find a hat, an oldschool camera, clothes or paintings, you can find it here. Situated close to a number of cafes as well as a stone’s throw from Rembrandtplein, it is easily accessible. Despite the proximity to the touristic places the market has a proper Dutch feel to it and you will notice Dutch people as well as tourists are going through the merchandise in the narrow alleys between the shop stands. It is mostly known among expats as the onestop place to buy a used bicycle.

Find out more about Paul-Christian Markovski here.

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