The shopping scene has radically changed in the past few years. Great bargains still abound, but the Dutch capital is fast becoming one of the world’s expensive shopping attractions. With its flat streets, few places are as well suited to movement on foot, and unlike the cloned malls you’ll find all over the planet, Amsterdam’s quirky neighborhood boutiques have personality by the bucketful. Many occupy superb historical canal buildings or sell fantastic art and design.
For souvenirs, try the Galleria d’Arte, purveyor of hand-painted tiles and herring plates that are genuinely local (i.e. not Delft by way of Hong Kong). At the colorful Monday morning market on Noordermarkt Square, cheesemakers carve wheels of Edam bigger than tractor tires and vendors hawk the contents of of countless attics bulging with bricq-brac. Heirlooms are jam packed into the antique shops lining the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat (stop at Van der Peet for historic prints and maps), though Amsterdam’s au courant power shoppers pack their bags with contemporary finds from Metz & Co., a department store. P.C. Hooftstraat (Amsterdam’s version of Rodeo Drive and King’s Road) draws the young and the curious, who pick through the black minis at Mexx, the regal cashmere suits at Leeser, and the contempo-Gothic velvet blazers at Emporio Armani. For nostalgia, head to Laura Dols, packed with enough retro wear to outfit every road show of Grease well into the 21st century. Among the quirkiest of the canalside emporiums is the all-buttons Knopen Winkel, where the best of the bunch are displayed like tiny royal jewels.