Netherlands — Shopping and Leisure
There are several notable retail destinations in the Netherlands, with shopping as a credible pastime. Many towns and cities house modern shops and designer stores in historical buildings and picturesque settings. Though the Dutch are not exactly the biggest consumers of commercial fashion, they do enjoy their boutiques with unique and artsy garments to admire, so expect to see a few more alternative and niche shops in comparison to other major European cities. Shopping is a wonderful way to explore, with local products such as cheese, (notably Edam and Gouda) and flowers (tulips and daffodils), among the country’s most popular souviners.
For upscale fashion and accessories, mixed with popular high street clothing, jewelry and lots of those niche, arty shops, the area of Amsterdam from the Singel over to Prinses Gracht is a paradise, and the Netherlands’ most famous shopping district. This really is shop ‘til you drop territory, and the picturesque setting makes it a breath of fresh air in comparison to the mega malls that tend to dominate elsewhere in the world.
For something truly Dutch, the Netherlands has a number of popular flower markets, most notably in Amsterdam and Utrecht, attracting many floral experts and window shoppers. From bulbs to bouquets, flowers are one of the Netherlands’ prize products. For traditional Dutch cheese, a stop in the town of Gouda is a must-see, literally dedicated to the creamy, rich dairy delicacy and a chance to learn about the history and see how it is made. Another great place to buy Dutch cheese is at the traditional cheese market of the Netherlands, which is based in Alkmaar every Friday from mid-April to mid-September.
Another favorite gift from the Netherlands is decorative Delftware. These unmistakable, blue and white hand-painted ornaments and tiles depict scenes of everyday Dutch life and its history. Delftware tiles are not only used as wall decorations, but also as trivets or cheeseboards, which can be found in just about every gift shop in the country.