When Amsterdam beer had real body
On a canal tour, I see the extent of the canals built during the Golden Age.
There’s no better way to get to grips with a city and mingle with the locals than by visiting a bustling market.
The city of Amsterdam is fit to bursting with them, boasting all manner of eclectic flea markets, food markets and everything else inbetween. Without any further ado and in no particular order whatsoever, this is our list of 7 of the best neighborhood markets in Amsterdam.
This busy, lively market in trendy de Pijp is one of the largest in Europe, open all week except on Sunday. You can pick up fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, unusual spices, bunches of flowers and retro furniture items here, as well as poffertjes, kibbeling, and broodjes kroket – all Dutch delicacies, all not very good for you. Oh well.
You can buy everything from vintage clothes, fine antiques and decades-old vinyl to the freshest of fresh, organic produce at the once-weekly Noordermarkt in the Jordaan. Held every Saturday and packing a cheerful, neighborhood feel, the Noordermarkt is one of the smaller markets to be featured on this list, but it is perhaps the most charming. We recommend the mango and onion hummus in particular; eat some there, then go back and buy some for later.
Many tourists that wander through Ten Kate Markt do so simply to get to De Hallen, Oud West’s covered food hall and cinema. You should go there too, but only after exploring this bustling neighborhood market. Ten Kate Markt is almost like the Albert Cuyp Markt in miniature, with a couple of dozen stalls selling fruit and vegetables, cheap toiletries and fresh meat and fish to a mostly local crowd. Try a freshly-made Turkse pizza – you won’t find many better in all of Amsterdam.
We could list some of the items you can expect to find at the IJ-Hallen, but the chances are that whatever it is you’re thinking of, you’ll find it at this monthly flea market in Amsterdam Noord. That’s because the IJ-Hallen is the biggest flea market in Europe, a veritable treasure trove of antiques, arts and crafts and general tat that you definitely don’t need but really do want. Catch the boat (free of charge) from the back of Centraal Station to reach it, and enjoy the views!
There’s a lot to like about Dappermarkt, whether it’s the 250 stalls, the recession-busting prices, or the multicultural, neighborhood feel. Of all the markets in Amsterdam, Dappermarkt is perhaps the most culturally diverse; you can pick up Surinamese, Turkish and Indonesian goodies here, either to take home and cook or to eat there and then. Don’t just take our word for it: back in 2007, National Geographic Traveler listed Dappermarkt as one of the world’s top 10 shopping streets. It hasn’t changed much since!
For second-hand books, rare prints and limited editions, you need look no further than the weekly book market on Spui. This market in the city center and just to the east of the Canal Ring plays host to around 25 knowledgeable book dealers every Friday and has done so for well over 20 years. Spui is also home to two of Amsterdam’s largest independent bookstores, so don’t worry if you forget to pack your Kindle.
The Waterlooplein Flea Market is one of the oldest markets in Amsterdam, if not the oldest. The IJ-Hallen is bigger, but you don’t have to catch a boat to get to Waterlooplein; in fact, you only need to wander a few minutes east of the city center towards Plantage and you’ll quickly find yourself picking up everything from military paraphernalia to retro handbags and colorful (if dusty) lampshades.
On a canal tour, I see the extent of the canals built during the Golden Age.
When I stroll around the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I am struck by the portraits from the 17th-century Dutch “Golden Age.”
Amsterdam is one of those cities that is drenched in clichés. I’ve overheard people saying that they thought Amsterdam was itself a country (Holland clearly isn’t interesting enough to benefit from word of mouth publicity), that the Dutch all wear wooden shoes (imagine the pain!), that Amsterdam is covered in tulips, and that literally everyone smokes weed. All. Day. Long. I’m not here to smash your dreams into a thousand tiny pieces, but that’s plain bullcheese. On the other hand, some Amsterdam clichés are true and are definitely worth giving a try. They aren’t clichés for nothing, am I right?
The riches flooding in from overseas funded a massive expansion in Amsterdam during its so-called “Golden Age”.
Dam Square, the Nieuwe Kerk, the Red Light District – the center of Amsterdam is unsurprisingly the most crowded area of the city.
In a canalside street, a short distance away from one of Amsterdam’s central Red Light areas, lies one of the city’s most remarkable secrets. What looks like an ordinary 17th century canal house hides an even more extraordinary tribute to Dutch tolerance.
De Pijp is one of Amsterdam's hippest neighborhoods, a favorite with the locals and especially the city's vibrant, young crowd. You can shop, eat well and, in particular, drink plenty of beer – but then you could hardly expect anything less from a neighborhood that has the Heineken Experience as its gateway.
Wearing a cycle helmet is not obligatory in Amsterdam, and it’s rare to see one. Some families will insist their smaller children wear them, however. So why don’t the adults set a good example?
On a clear day, the blocky Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) is visible from afar but today a drizzling rain hides it until the three towering masts of an old wooden ship, the Amsterdam, loom out of the mist.
As I watch the reflection of three bell gables in one of Amsterdam's canals, I notice how narrow these canal houses actually are. Because Amsterdam used to tax lot on the basis of house width, most of the houses along the canals were built very narrow and very deep.
“We have a saying in Dutch: ‘In de aap gelogeerd’ or ‘You slept in the monkey house’ – which means you’re in trouble, having a bit of bad luck. That comes from here.”
Several people tell me, in jest I think, that there is a very easy way to get a free bike in Amsterdam.
The trade in jenever, Dutch gin, has been a part of Amsterdam's culture for hundreds of years, giving rise to its own peculiar traditions.
Sitting on Dam Square, a massive cobbled plaza thronged with tourists, Amsterdam's Royal Palace is often overlooked by those on their way to such attractions as the nearby Madame Tussauds.
Café Papeneiland, with its lovely corner setting, is one of the most-photographed buildings in Amsterdam.
I love wandering around Amsterdam’s Jordaan district, formerly a working class area but now, like many such, the home of trendy cafés, boutique bakeries and craft shops.
Vincent van Gogh was a classic example of a total misfit. Except for just a very few close friends he was hardly loved by anyone.
On a weekday morning, I watch the city of Amsterdam go to and from work. By bike, obviously. There is no breed apart of anarchic, sporty types in tight lycra, as in so many other western cities.
Rembrandt’s success led to him buying a large house in 1639 that is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. It has a large display of the prints that were the actual basis for his wealth and much of his fame while he lived.
In the recently refurbished Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the star of the show is the 1642 ‘Night Watch’ by Rembrandt van Rijn.
I stop for a drink at Amsterdam’s smallest pub in the city center, Café De Dokter (“The Doctor”), just off Kalverstraat, a busy pedestrianized shopping street.
The Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s best-loved green oasis, full of joggers, picnickers, kids running around and friends playing soccer or just lazing on the grass.
Many traces of Rembrandt remain in Amsterdam. His favorite café, which is older than the USA, still exists today.