Shopping in Amsterdam may be not only affordable, but also colourful and lively as exploring local markets is a great way to clinch a bargain while picking up a few Dutch souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
I had a chance to go to Ij-Hallen Market, one of the biggest in Europe where I had a chance to practice my Dutch when bargaining, try some local treats and of course do some decent shopping on the cheap!
Address of market:
1033 WB Amsterdam-Noord
When is it?
The IJ-Hallen Vlooienmarkt is typically held the first weekend of the month and is open from 9 am to 4.30 pm. In order to follow the opening days of the market each month, feel free to check out IJ-Hallen’s calendar which is updated every two weeks.
How did you get there?
I cycled there on Sunday morning from Jan van Galenstraat. It took me exactly 24 minutes including the 2 minute ferry ride. The distance was 2,1 km.
Different ways to get to the market
By car – from Ring Amsterdam (A10): exit Oostzaan towards S118.
By bus – from Amsterdam Central Station: take a bus 35, 91 or 94. Get off at Klaprozenweg (91, 94) or Ataturk (35). Walk approximately 5 minutes from the bus stop to the market.
By ferry – from the backside of Amsterdam Central Station: take the ferry service 906 towards NDSM-werf.
Walk 5 minutes from the ferry stop to the market.
No. The entry to the flea market is €4,50 per adult and €2 for kids. The toilets cost 35 cents.
The market was extremely overcrowded with tourists, locals and expats. It was held inside the giant old shipbuilding which made it even more interesting to explore.
Numerous stands were places outside as well due to a decent weather. The atmosphere was amazing. The sellers smiled back to me and recommended good quality products for a good price.
Ij- Hallen is considered to be the biggest flea market in Europe. There are approximately 750 different stands so you can just imagine how huge it is.
You can find here almost anything: used clothing, shoes, toys, tools, antiques, kitchen supplies, hidden treasures, and tons and tons of random junk. From local food to vintage clothes or fancy housewares, Ij-Hallen offers endless possibilities for anyone interested in soaking up the local culture in the most genuine manner and bargaining.
Most of the stuff people sell here is really cheap so if you do have an eye for a bargain you really cannot miss this. Most of the prices start from 50 cents and they get even lower towards the end of the day (even 50% – 80%). Just to give you an example of what you can get for what price:
- Leather jacket – €2 – €10
- Cereal bowl – €1
- Perfumes – €10 – €15
- Shoes – €2 – €20
- Coats – €3 – €20
- T-shirts – 50 cents – €3
The Ij-Hallen market is held inside the giant old former ship building factory (NDSM). It is quite impressively and incredibly large warehouse which looks like an indoor village of artist studios. It is divided into halls – the one of the left side and the right side. In between the two halls there is an open-air area with several stalls selling coffee and fast-food. There is some space between the stands so you can move from one seller to another smoothly.
Who are the vendors? Mostly locals (Dutch people) in the middle age, but you can also see a lot of teenagers and young vendors (age 20-30).
Although the Ij-Hallen market is a bit overcrowded and being there more than 1 hour is very tiring, the vendors are extremely patient and friendly which makes your “treasure hunting” even more pleasant.
One of the best features of this flea market, is that only private sellers are allowed to set up their stalls and sell their second hand products only, which turns the place into a real Aladdin’s Cave, where real treasures can be found. Thus, anyone willing to put into practice their trading skills or simply longing to get rid of their stuff is able to try their luck at IJ-hallen by simply logging into their website and booking a stand for around €30.
There is no music at Ij-Hallen market and the place seems to be very loud.
In between the two halls there is an open-air area with several stalls selling traditional Dutch treats and drinks such as fries (€3 per portion), home-made soup (€1.50 – €3), or the traditional poffertjes (€2.75 per portion).
Besides some fast-food stalls, in the both halls you will find several stands selling specific gastronomic products, like: cheese from different countries, Spanish chorizo and serrano ham, fancy jams or exotic dressings.
I spent €20 at Ij-Hallen market buying 1 Million fragrance by Paco Rabanne for €15 ( it usually costs around €50 in a store but I got it discounted as the bottle was a bit damaged), leather jacket for €2, a cereal bowl for €1 and a coffee cup for €2.
I tried to speak Dutch as much as possible when asking for price.
The vendors understood me with no problems and we had a short conversation when bargaining for different stuff. It was a great experience! When I asked for the price in Dutch, the vendors smiled and responded in Dutch immediately. They were willing to put the price down in most cases and have a nice chat with me.
I was surprised and shocked at the same time by the low prices offered at Ij-Hallen market and a good quality of products/ tools sold there. Towards the end of the day, you could simply buy some furniture and kitchen equipment for less than €1!
Top tips for Ij-Hallen visitors
#1 It is best to arrive early for the special scores. Depending on the time of the day you arrive, the long lines to access the site might be disheartening, since everyone has to go through a small and usually under-staffed ticket office.
#2 If you happen to have the exact change, you can easily avoid the waiting time by handing the money to any of the staff members that usually walk up and down the lines in search of spare change.
#3 Sometimes the sellers start to discount their stock at the end of the day so it is good to stay till 5 pm here.
#4 If you are craving a different kind of fare than fast food and Dutch snacks, head outside the market to IJ-Kantine, bBrood, Pllek, or Cafe Noorderlicht for a home meal.