People speak of this street market in superlatives: longest-running (since 1904), largest (several long blocks), most diverse (dozens of ethnicities), and that's just for starters. From 9:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday, street stalls and shops sell fresh fruit and fresh fish, exotic herbs and exotic pets, umbrellas and underwear. Signs reading "Hollandse Nieuwe" announce that it's the season for herring, the quintessential Dutch street food (dangle it over your mouth and gradually lower it). Another reason to visit: The market is still frequented more by locals than tourists.
Netherlands 1011 JJ
Tel: 31 20 523 5050
Droog Design is more than a shop—although it has one. It's an approach to the world that began as a 1993 show curated by Renny Ramaker and Gijs Bakker. Like the overarching Dutch philosophy to "do normal," the lighting, furniture, and accessories created by this nonprofit's stable of some 100 designers emphasize each piece's reason to exist and the meaning behind that reason. The results are both cerebral and useful (Droog does mean dry, as in "dry wit," in Dutch), such as a silicone tablecloth with a built-in bowl, bronze chair backs that fashion a bench when affixed to a fallen tree trunk, and an oil and vinegar set that's just one tube with two spouts (one near the top for the oil, the other at the base for the vinegar).
Open Tuesdays through Sundays noon to 6 pm.
Netherlands 1016 HV
Tel: 31 20 622 9375
A showcase for top contemporary Dutch designers, this housewares shop on the Prinsengracht canal single-handedly makes the case for Amsterdam's status as a new style center. Among the greatest design hits on view: the Moooi Studio's collection of neo-baroque papier-mâché furniture; Piet Hein Eek's garden chairs constructed from recycled wood; Tord Boontje's ceramic tableware splashed with cobalt-blue flowers and butterflies; and an updated line from the Makkum porcelain factory that comes unglazed and imprinted with iconic images (most fun: the Hans Brinker skate, its long shoelaces unfurling in a tangled explosion). While all the references to Dutch design traditions lends these showpieces their historic gravitas, you'll probably have to settle for something easier to bring home, like the only-in-cerebral-Amsterdam Goethe and Schiller salt and pepper shakers.
Open Mondays 1 to 6 pm, Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm.
In the heart of the Western Canal Belt, "the Nine Streets" are a tic-tac-toe board filled with small, specialized home, fashion, and art boutiques. At Laura Dols, vintage organza party dresses look ready to float out the door and table linens are hand-embroidered with garlands of candy-colored flowers (6-7 Wolvenstraat; 31-20-624-9066; www.lauradols.nl). Two doors down, the long-running H. J. van de Kerkhof, which opened for business here in 1938, is stocked with only the trimmings—silk ribbons, bows, and a taxonomy of tassels (9-11 Wolvenstraat; 31-20-623-4666). Continue down Wolvenstratt across the Keizersgracht canal to browse Mendo's oversized fashion, photography, and graphic-design books—themselves a study in flawless taste (11 Berenstraat; 31-20-612-1216; www.mendo.nl). A block to the north from Mendo's, de Weldaad is filled with the recovered detritus of old canal houses, such as end-irons, Delft tiles, and neoclassical busts (1 Reestraat; 31-20-627-0077; www.weldaad.com); if you're shopping for something richer, but lighter, head south a block to stock up on green-tea chocolates and Dutch butter cookies from Pompadour patisserie and tearoom (12 Huidenstraat; 31-20-623-9554).
Netherlands 1013 ER
Tel: 31 20 330 8400
While Amsterdam bursts with galleries of photographic art, this space across from Centraal Station shows photos pulled from the headlines. Using giant printers, staffers can blow up the latest and greatest images from press photographers around the globe and have them displayed on the gallery's magnetic walls faster than your local paper hits the newsstands. Small exhibits are posted each month; if you see a photo you like, you can purchase a printout to take home.
Open daily 11 am to 6 pm.
One of the last great antiques hubs in Europe, this long street, aptly running straight to the Rijksmuseum, is a legacy of the Golden Age when Holland's traders traversed the globe and returned laden with goods. Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is lined with arcane shops, each with its own cabinet of curiosities. At Decorativa, the specialty is museum-worthy 17th- and 18th-century portraits (9A N. Spiegelstraat; 31-20-320-1093). E.H. Ariëns Kappers deals in antique Dutch prints, including hard-to-find winter scenes of skaters skimming down Amsterdam's canals, as well as smaller, more moderately priced folk prints, which prove that bargains are sometimes still to be had along the antiques row (32 N. Spiegelstraat; 31-20-623-5356; www.masterprints.nl). And just off Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, on Keizersgracht, Thom & Lenny Nelis Antiques holds a collection of pharmaceutical objects, including apothecary jars and a dinosaur-sized plaster tooth that once hung over a dental office (541 Keizersgracht; 31-20-623-1546; www.nelisantiques.com).
The best place for watching classic Jordaan bohemians, this canal-side market sits on a square at the foot of the Noorderkerk, one of Amsterdam's oldest, most austere churches, and does double-duty. On Saturdays, neo-hippie farmers and foragers sell organic produce and cut off wedges of prime artisanal Gouda from wheels bigger than tractor tires. On Mondays, the textile vendors take over, shaking out bolts of fabric (sold by the meter), and filmy lengths of jewel-toned saris alongside hawkers of antiques, clothing, and bric-a-brac.
On this, Amsterdam's Rodeo Drive, international name-brands rule and homegrown specialty shops thrive. Designers from abroad run the gamut from Armani (39 P.C. Hooftstraat; 31-20-471-1121; www.armani.com) to Zegna (70 P.C. Hooftstraat; 31-20-670-4477; www.zegna.com), and Shoebaloo, with its green-lit cylindrical interior—like a tanning bed for Martians—is a local favorite (80 PC Hooftstraat; 31-20-671-2210; www.shoebaloo.nl). You'll know you're on the right block by the lineup of luxury cars.