Albert Cuyp Market began in 1904, along a wide street in the area of Amsterdam called De Pijp, just a five minute bike ride south of the city center.
It has 300 stalls, from cheap chic clothing to fresh fish, from bike accessories to huge amounts of flowers (10 roses for 5 Euros. Guys - it's never been cheaper to buy your way out of trouble).
It's a classic outdoor market, with various vendors barking out their specials all day while locals and tourists amble along and scarf down a fresh stroopwafel (thin syrup waffle) or fries. What it lacks in aesthetics - cheap-looking stalls atop dark grey gum-imprinted asphalt - it makes up for in products and in characters.
I personally get to experience the best and the worst of it. The best being tons of fresh, quality food about 90 seconds walk from my door, one street north of Albert Cuypstraat. This also includes the roasted chicken dripping off the spit, and the butcher who always has a spare bit of smoked turkey for our dog.
Tied for the tops are the people. The characters are real-life, seasoned market-hawkers - mostly very friendly, some gruff, always authentic and fair (this is not one of those markets where you haggle). They'll switch to speaking English in a second too. The old salty dogs selling an awesome variety of fish look like they caught it themselves that morning, and a faulty bike lock is replaced right away. You never feel jobbed (ahem, Istanbul and Barcelona markets - looking at you here).
The worst? The clattering fish and flower trolleys at 5:30 in the morning as they get set up for the day ahead, 6 days a week (the market is closed on Sundays). Ear plugs are a must for this time of day if you sleep anywhere near the market.
And the trash - the street is remarkably clean after 7pm as the city cleaning crews sweep it all up, but between 5 and 7 you can't imagine the heaps of trash and heaps of stink. (Of course, time your trip right at the end of the day and snag deals like 10 kiwis for 1.50Euros, and the stink is less than you think).
The next day, from a blank, flat slate, it rises all over again from the pavement. This is one of those places that you can't experience in many parts of the world.
Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 201 8800
Google map: bit.ly/u1lhTR
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
Google map: bit.ly/pO3GJS
A secondhand bookshop with the largest selection in Amsterdam of books published in English. Wide variety of subjects, reasonable prices, and an interesting American owner. Highly recommended.
In Amsterdam city centre, between the Singel and the Prinsengracht, behind the Royal Palace are nine little streets dotted with interesting shops, galleries, places to eat, and the best vintage shops. For fabulous party dresses for the ladies and classic dinner jackets and morning suits for the gents I love Laura Dols. You can pick up a pair of gloves for 5E or an 80s ballroom dancing dress for 100E. For more daytime vintage outfits my favourite places are Zipper and Exota. Zipper offers some original synthetic sports wear as well as leather jackets and jeans with prices ranging from 10E to 100E and Exota does great floral dresses in the 50E price bracket.
A vintage shop with a branch in London, but the London shop is nothing compared to the one in Amsterdam, which focuses more on 70s and 80s fashion for a better price, even with respect to the poor exchange rate Brits have to face! Girls looking for sequins will find paradise and guys wanting some chic tapered trousers or a more casual flannel shirt will be equally as pleased.
A langorous lesson in the intricacies of beer making first, becoming a faster paced ride through the history of Heineken advertising, with horses, a soaking, football fun and wonderfully enthusiastic staff to banter with. The best bit is the beer, a simple conclusion in the darkened bar to wind down later at journey's end. A rollicking few hours in Amsterdam!
A vintage shop I adore! They sell high end brands such as YSL, Dior but also normal vintage stuff. Lots of accessories (sunglasses, bags, boots, belts) and their own unique line called Jutka & Riska. I saw some other young designer stuff as well.
Jutka & Riska
Bilderdijkstraat 194, 1053 LE Amsterdam
+31 6 18486819
Google map: bit.ly/mpqEzF
Their other shops:
Jutka & Riska
Jutka & Riska
On Monday mornings there is a great flea market called Noordermarket which is fantastic for second hand retro clothing.
There is a general market on Saturdays on Lindengracht (parallel to Noordermarkt) selling everything from the mundane to the exotic and on Monday mornings the market specialises in cheap and cheerful materials.
Both are great places to mingle with the locals.
It's at the top end of Prinsengracht.
Right opposite the excellent Café Gollem (a lovely, cosy little bar where you can sample up to 200 Belgian beers) is one of the best beer shops in Holland. Selling about 500 beers from all over the world and specialising in beers from small independent brewers, it's an absolute treasure trove for the beer lover. You can buy Westvleteren there (which is reputedly the best beer in the world and extremely hard to come by), as well as some truly stunning Scandinavian and American beers. Try the Norwegian Porters and Imperial Stouts. Highly recommended.
And once you've bought some for later, why not pop into Café Gollem to try a couple on tap and maybe a Kaasplank (literally a plank with cheese & bread on it). Very satisfying. There's also a second branch of Café Gollem right by the Albert Cuyp Market in the Pijp district.
Both The Cracked Kettle and Café Gollem are on Raamsteeg, a small alley between Spuistraat and the Singel canal. The other Gollem is on Daniel Stalpertstraat, round the corner from the Albert Cuyp Market and the Heineken brewery
One of the best organic farmer's markets I've ever been to. Amazing cheese, bread, vegetable stalls, even a stall selling all sorts of mushrooms in season (bought some chanterelles and a black truffle last time). Smoked mozzarellas, huge focaccias, stunning veg - a truly superb market. 9am - 4pm Saturdays (the rest of the week it's a flea market).
Noordermarkt is in the shadow of Noorderkerk, about 10 minutes' walk from Centraal Station, on the edge of the Jordaan district.
About 45 kms from Amsterdam, Aalsmeer is the "Wall Street of flower trade". It has an average daily turnover of 6.6 million Euros, with about 60,000 clock transactions every morning.
In summer the temperatures in Amsterdam, like in any city, can get quite unbearable. Hire a bike and head for the green Bijlmermeer in the south-east of the city, only half an hour from the centre.
On summer weekends there is the Kwakoe Afro-Caribbean festival, which makes Notting Hill look like a family picnic. Football, food and kaseko and no multicultural pretensions.
When you get really hot and even the ginger beer doesn't work, take a dive in the sparkling clear waters of the Gaasperplas.
metro 53 or 54: station Bijlmer/Arena or Gaasperplas
La Tarte de Ma Tante on Ferdinand Bolstraat - a tea shop with the kitschiest decor ever seen, and magnificent multi-coloured fake three tier cakes adorning every table.
The real cakes that they serve are pretty magnificent too. This is the Barbara Cartland of tea-shops.
For unique and panoramic views over the city, within ten minutes walking distance of the station, visit the Metz cafe on the top floor of the Metz department store - and enjoy wonderful coffee and cakes at the same time!
Start the day by heading to De Bakkerswinkel bakery on 69 Warmoesstraat for a delightful breakfast. Their filled rolls, fresh from the oven are divine.
Work off breakfast by exploring the canals, visiting the floating Singel flower market and buying tulip bulbs for green-fingered friends and family. Take in some culture at the Van Gogh museum; alternatively, if the sun is shining, head south for a picnic in Vondelpark.
Spend the evening relaxing over delicious food and wine at Morlang (Keizersgracht 451); on a warm evening, sit on the terrace outside, overlooking one of Amsterdam’s tranquil canals.
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