Amsterdam shops

The essence of Amsterdam city break shopping is the variety. The city is packed with every kind of shop, from fleamarkets to Gucci, from multi-floored malls to trendy one-room boutiques.

Add to the mix any number of antiques shops, book stores and diamond dealers, then throw in a handful of street markets, and you have shopping to die for.

Normal shopping hours are 9am to 6pm and shops usually close on Sunday and Monday mornings. Late-night shopping is on Thursday until 9pm.

The strip from Nieuwedijk to Kalverstraat, through Dam Square, is Amsterdam's main 'shopping mile'. Here are the mainstream department stores and high fashion outlets.

Nearby are Leidsestraat and Koningsplein, home to designer shoe and clothes shops. There are also several large stores near the Munt Tower and a large supermarket behind the Royal Palace opens daily until 11pm.

Amsterdam boutiques

Small designer shops are everywhere on an Amsterdam city break but the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) area, between Prinses Gracht and the Singel, is noted for quality.

This is a great place to browse boutiques, galleries, antique shops and designer stores but don't expect a bargain - you pay city centre tourist prices here.

Better shopping bargains can be found to the west in the Jordaan, with its myriad quirky studios and speciality shops that sell everything from clogs to dogs.

Amsterdam books and antiques

Amsterdam is a book lover's dream. Bookshops are centred on Spuiplein, a square behind Kalverstraat that is full of bookshops and literary cafés. In neighbouring Koningsplein is Scheltema, the city's biggest bookshop. Every Friday the square hosts a huge outdoor book market.

The area around Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, near the Rijksmuseum, has a reputation for fine art shops, though prices will be steep. Bargains can be found at De Looiers Antiques Market in Elandsgracht, with more than 80 stalls. And the Nieuwmarkt Antique Market opens every Sunday from May to September.

Amsterdam luxuries

Near the Rijksmuseum is a street called PC Hooftstraat. This is the place to melt your credit card: the land of haute couture with Cartier, Gucci, Edgar Vos, Tommy Hillfinger and Oger all in residence.

Amsterdam has also been a major diamond centre since the 16th century and there are about a dozen diamond factories here as well as scores of diamond and jewellery shops.

Diamond factories with free daily guided tours include Costers on Paulus Potterstraat; Gassan Diamonds on Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat; Stoeltie Diamonds near Rembrandt Square and Van Moppes Diamonds on Albert Cuypstraat.

Amsterdam markets

Bargain hunters on an Amsterdam city break can head for the huge daily outdoor flea market at Waterlooplein which has about 300 stalls selling clothes and bric-a-brac. It's a 15 minute walk from Dam Square. There is also a busy food and clothes market in the Albert Cuypstraat, daily 9am to 6pm except Sunday.

On Monday morning there is an antiques flea market on the Noordermarkt in the Jordaan, with a farmers' market at the same venue on Saturdays.

On the Singel, near Leidsestraat, is Amsterdam's world famous Flower Market. It's the only floating flower market in the world with shopping stalls set up on houseboats.

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