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The best shopping in Amsterdam is spread across a number of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character and, sometimes, specialty. Here are the Forbes Travel Guide editors' top five.
1. Dam Square. Rivaling the Royal Palace opposite in grandeur, De Bijenkorf (“The Beehive”) is Amsterdam's largest department store. Six floors are filled with everything from international designer labels and cosmetics to clothing, kitchenware, books, and electronics.
2. Negen Straatjes. The aptly named “Nine Little Streets” are a pleasant warren of nine narrow streets that link the central canals. Packed with quirky fashion, design, and knickknack stores, they are one of the best places to hunt out unique souvenirs.
3. Hazenstraat. Cleverly nicknamed “The Tenth Little Street” by shopkeepers to profit from the popularity of the nearby Nine Streets, Hazenstraat is worth a visit in its own right for the specialty food and couture shops.
4. Spiegelkwartier. The “Mirror Quarter” is a treasure trove for art and antique lovers. Peruse the shelves for old maps, African masks, Dutch delftware, and Art Deco jewelry. Or pick up a piece of contemporary art at one of the many galleries.
5. Staalstraat. There are two main reasons to visit Staalstraat. The first is Puccini Bomboni, a chocolatier known for its delectable handcrafted candies flavored with sometimes unexpected ingredients, including rhubarb, lemongrass, and pink pepper. The second is Droog, a store that collaborates with home-grown and international designers on innovative products and projects.
The best shopping in Amsterdam is found in the Nine Streets (or De Negen Straatjes, in Dutch). This quaint area is literally made up of nine short streets that run between Amsterdam’s main canals — Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel — with Raadhuisstraat to the north (near the striking Westerkerk, the church with the largest tower in Amsterdam) and Leidsestraat to the south.
You can spend the better part of a day shopping the Nine Streets, especially if you stop for breakfast or lunch at one of the nearby restaurants like Pancakes! Amsterdam or Café Nielsen, which specializes in sandwiches with fresh organic ingredients. Next, meander in and out of the shops. You’ll see everything from upscale clothing stores like Van Ravenstein (it carries designers like Maison Martin Margiela and Balenciaga) to Lady Day and Laura Dols (these are the spots for vintage goods). One can’t-miss store in the Nine Streets is De Kaaskamer, a tiny cheese lover’s paradise that’s lined floor-to-ceiling with kaas (cheese) from all over Europe.
After shopping, take a coffee and snack break at Kaldi Koffie & Thee Amsterdam or Koffiehuis De Hoek. But save room for dinner — Amsterdam has a slew of restaurants specializing in Asian cuisines. We especially like Kagetsu for its relaxed atmosphere and Japanese specialties.
A runner-up for best shopping in Amsterdam in the Jordaan area, where you will stumble upon galleries, jewelry shops and unique clothing stores as you wander its narrow streets. One store that carries jewelry, clothing and art from designers in the Netherlands and throughout Europe is The New Label Project on Rozengracht. The charming Italian owner can point you toward an original piece that will make a great gift — even if it’s for yourself.
For high-end fashions, try the PC Hooftstraat shopping street near the museum district, which showcases stores like Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Hermès and Cartier. Or, if you’re short on time and want a one-stop shopping experience, pop into de Bijenkorf (the beehive), Amsterdam’s main department store near Dam Square.