Besides the well-known and usually tourist-flooded Singel flower market, Amsterdam hosts countless street-markets every single day of the week, rain or shine. From local food to vintage clothes or fancy housewares, Amsterdam offers endless possibilities for anyone interested in soaking up the local culture in the most genuine manner.
Those who have had the chance to live in Amsterdam for some time will know that the Dutch -like everyone else- love bargains, and any bargain-hunter worth their salt knows that nowhere else can one find better deals than in a flea market. Be it indoors or outdoors, once a month, once a week, or even once a year, flea markets could be described as a deeply rooted tradition in the Netherlands.
Take Queen’s Day –or rather King’s Day- for instance, probably the most important national holiday, celebrated on the 27th of April (the 26th if it falls on a Sunday), when thousands of people take the streets, in a sort of massive yard sale and try to sell virtually anything: from used clothes or household items to home-made cakes and biscuits.
Fortunately, however, you do not have to wait for Queen’s Day to experience the charms of a Dutch flea market. Six days a week, Amsterdam hosts its (probably) most famous flea market in Waterlooplein. Although obviously tourist-oriented, the different stalls at Waterlooplein display such a bizarre range of items -from second-hand bicycles to colourful vintage clothes-that no one will be left indifferent.
Nevertheless, any self-respecting gem hunter should save their bargaining skills for the monthly and largest flea market in the Netherlands -and probably in Europe-; the famous IJ-hallen flea market in Amsterdam Noord. With up to 750 stands distributed in two massive halls that remind one of two old forsaken industrial warehouses, in IJ-hallen flea market one can find virtually anything.
To get there, you will have to take the ferry 906 towards NDSM Wharf from Amsterdam Central Station. Even though there is an entrance fee to the market of €4,50 for adults and €2 for kids under 11 years old, the ferry is free.
Finding the right ferry might appear to be a bit of a hassle for those visiting the market for the first time.
However, the huge lines of people forming are usually a tell-tale sign. The trip does not take longer than fifteen minutes, and once you are on the other side, it is just a matter of a 5-minute walk; you just have to follow the hordes of people heading to the IJ-hallen flea market.
There are also several buses from Amsterdam Central Station that will take you to the market. You can either take buses 91 or 94 and get off at Klaprozenweg or bus 35 and get off at Ataturk. For those of you arriving by car, from the Ring Amsterdam (A10) you have to take the Oostzaan exit towards S118.
Depending on the time of the day you arrive, the long lines to access the site might be disheartening, since everyone has to go through a small and usually under-staffed ticket office. If you happen to have the exact change, you can easily avoid the waiting time by handing the money to any of the staff members that usually walk up and down the lines in search of spare change.
Even though both halls are covered, they are not equipped with any heating system whatsoever, so besides wearing warm clothes -especially in winter- it does not harm carrying with you some extra jacket, since it can get quite chilli inside. In any case, forgetting your winter gear should not be a big issue , since you can get nice warm coats or jumpers for as cheap as 1€!
In between the two halls there is an open-air area with several stalls selling coffee and fast-food, such as: fries, home-made soup, or the traditional poffertjes. Besides some fast-food stalls, in the both halls you will find several stands selling specific gastronomic products, like: cheese from different countries, Spanish chorizo and serrano ham, fancy jams or exotic dressings. There are normally samples for the visitors to try, but otherwise the stall-keepers are usually quite happy to offer some if you ask them.
One of the best features of IJ-hallen flea market, is that only private sellers are allowed to set up their stalls and sell their second hand products only, which turns the place into a real Aladdin’s Cave, where real treasures can be found. Thus, anyone willing to put into practice their trading skills or simply longing to get rid of their old-fashioned wardrobe is able to try their luck at IJ-hallen by simply logging into their website (www.ij-hallen.nl) and booking a stand for around €30.
Bargain hunters should not miss the following IJ-hallen flea market, which will take place on the 8th and 9th of March.