3 to 4 times a year I go shopping with a friend, we pick a city somewhere in The Netherlands and arrive there by train. We started this in 2013. My son was saying to me “When are you not here?”, not because he had enough of me, but because he thought that on a day with just his dad he could have screen time all day long (luckily that didn’t come true). My friend and I have one city we go to each year, Maastricht, and then a number of cities that rotate.
Next to these I have added some cities where I used to go shopping with friends in my teenage years and early twenties.
Best cities for shopping
How does a city come on this list? Well there’s a number of things I looked at. First it has to be a city with a lively center, there have to be shops in it. And some streets with shops other than the regular chains. This makes those cities extra special and sets them apart from the others. Second best cities for shopping also have to have terraces and restaurants. Since the best part of shopping for me isn’t browsing through shops all day, but sitting down to have a drink and bite. Bonus points for cities with their own specialities in food. Third the best cities for shopping have to offer more than just shops, also museums, concert venues or (historic) attractions.
Here’s my list of best cities for shopping in The Netherlands, in no particular order.
Amsterdam is the capitol of The Netherlands and a famous city all over the world. With this famousness come the hords of tourists. So if you’re looking for a quiet city to shop in, Amsterdam is not for you. But if you don’t mind or have a local friend who can lead you away from the busiest points you can have a fun time in Amsterdam.
The Damrak and Kalverstraat are famous streets with plenty of shops. But they’re not the only streets with shops or the best ones. Explore further than these streets and find ones with quirky or rare shops and have a blast.
Restaurants and terraces abound, lots of them catering to tourists, but not all. So go find those hidden gems or make it easy and see where most of the tourists stand in line. Attractions, both historic and other, are numerous, you can fill more than a week with those. Ranging from the Anne Frank house to Artis (zoo) to A’dam Lookout to the famous canals. Museums are there also for all sorts of interests. You can go to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, Nemo Science museum or Ripley’s believe it or not. There’s so much choice.
The rival city of Amsterdam, with a totally different feeling than Amsterdam. Rotterdam is certainly worth a visit. Rotterdam had to be completely built up again after a bombing during Wo II and its citizens did this with vigor. Because of this the city has a newer and more industrial look and feel. There’re plenty of shops in Rotterdam, the ‘koopgoot’, the nickname of the Beurstraverse, with 40 shops is a good start. It’s a street located lower than the rest. Going further away from the center there are some smaller street with shops not belonging to the bigger chains.
Rotterdam has some good restaurants and terraces and an Asian supermarket, always a win for delicious stuff. Further away from the center I love the Fenix Food Factory.
Attractions abound in Rotterdam, Blijdorp zoo is not that far from the trainstation and there are some good museums like the Wereldmuseum, the Netherlands Photography museum and the Pinball museum.
My hometown were I’ve been living since 1999, and I love it. Next to the canals and the new Hoog Catharijne (mall) there are many shops. The 7 streets in Utrecht are 7 historical streets that are in the oldest part of the city. The streets are a bit smaller and the shops are exclusive and more special. They’re the Zadelstraat, Lijnmarkt, Lichte Gaard, Vismarkt, Oudkerkhof, Domstraat and Domplein.
Restaurants and terraces abound in Utrecht. It shouldn’t be hard to find a good spot to sit down, although with the sun out all the spots in the sun seem to be taken fast. I have an extensive blog about restaurants in Utrecht, you can find it here.
For attractions climb the Domtower or go gaming at Gamestate. There’re plenty of museums in Utrecht, good ones are Museum Speelklok, Spoorwegmuseum and the Universiteitsmuseum. In my blog about activities with kids in Utrecht I describe them in more detail, you can find that here. Utrecht has some beautiful street art, so go on a tour exploring it.
The number 1 city for me in The Netherlands, I just love the vibe there. The atmosphere is burgundian and distinguished. While walking through Maastricht you hear Dutch, German, Limburgian, Flemmish and some French.
There are plenty of shops, already beginning in the Stationsstraat just outside the trainstation. After crossing the St. Servaasbridge there are even more shops and a lively atmosphere. Maastricht had ‘Kookhuis aan de Maes’, a cooking shop which has so much good stuff! I never walk out empty handed. With the Vrijthof and Markt and in all the smaller streets, Maastricht has lots of good restaurants and terraces. My blog about my favorite restaurants in Maastricht is here. Love the goosberry cake, local to the area.
With the St. Servaasbridge, Maastricht has the oldest bridge in the country. There are still caves left from the mining days, which are open to the public. In Valkenburg there are Christmas markets in the caves in November and December. Good museums are the Natural history museum and the Van Abbemuseum.
A lively center with lots of shops to browse through. It’s fun to walk around the city center. There are lots of good restaurants and terraces. One of Paul’s favorite restaurants is located in Tilburg: Gember & Sereh. A blog about restaurants in Tilburg from us is here.
A lot of terraces are in a street close to 013, a concert venue. The street Heuvel with all the pubs and restaurants is lively until late in the evening. Tilburg has some good museums like the Textile museum and De Pont.
A beautiful, old(er) city which has a lively center. Love browsing around in the center. Bonus is that Haarlem is close to Zandvoort, which has beaches and the Sea. Perfect to combine together. From the Grote Markt there are several streets worth strolling around in, looking for great shops. There are so many good restaurants in Haarlem, see my blog about them here. Sitting on a terrace on the Grote Markt is wonderful.
The famous ‘De Grote’ or St. Bavo Church is also located on the Grote Markt. This isn’t the only famous historical attraction, there’s also the Adriaan windmill and the Waag. Then there’re a lot of good museums, like Teylers museum and Frans Hals museum.
A fun city to stroll around in. Lots of shops, restaurants and terraces to choose from. There are historical monuments from the Nassau time, like the ‘Grote’ church, the Begijnhof and Breda castle. There are museums like the Stedelijk museum Breda.
The city where the government of The Netherlands resides. Next to that The Hague is close to Scheveningen, a famous beachtown in The Netherlands.
I love to shop here, especially the shop DOK Cookware. There’re plenty of terraces and nice restaurants in The Hague, here’s my blog about them.
Attractions are the Binnenhof (seat of the government), Buitenhof and the Omniversum. Famous museums are Panorama Mesdag, Museon and Museum de Gevangenpoort.
A lively city with the burgundian atmosphere belonging to the province of Noord-Brabant. Love the Markt and the streets around it for shopping. On the Markt are also good terraces. Restaurants abound and here’s list of places to eat in Den Bosch. Den Bosch also has the famous Bossche bol and Bossche koek.
Den Bosch is famous for the Binnendieze, you can go on a boattour on this canal. St. Jan cathedral is the most famous church in The Netherlands. They’re plenty of museums in Den Bosch, we like the Carnavals ‘Oeteldonks’ Gemintemuseum (Mardi Gras) and the Noordbrabants museum.
A lively city center with Sonsbeek Park not far from the trainstation. Plenty of shops to have a good day of shopping here. Lots of restaurants and terraces. For attractions there’s Burgers’ Zoo, the Eusebius church and the iconic John Frostbridge. Museums are plenty here, especially about WO II, such as the Airborne museum Hartenstein. Other museums are the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum.
A beautiful, old city. Lots of history to be found here. A lively center for shopping, with lots of choice in different shops. Restaurants and terraces abound, I loved ‘Annie’s’. My mom’s name is Annie. It’s fun to stroll here with the canals.
Attractions are Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Leidse hofjes (the first one was opened in 1467) and the Burcht. There’re so many good museums in Leiden, to name but a few: Naturalis, Rijksmuseum of Oudheden and museum Volkenkunde (one of my all time favorite museums).
The town where I grew up. I used to go shopping here, made the same round with my friends on Friday evening. Still love coming back here. There aren’t as many shops as in the larger cities, but enough to have a fun time.
Still love to sit down on one of the terraces of the Markt. Plenty of choices in good restaurants. Attractions are Hullie and Jetten windmill. Museums are the famous museum for Religious art and the sterrenwacht Orion.
The first town I went to for shopping after Uden. We could bike to this city from Uden. Nice shopping to be done here, not as much as in the larger cities, the overview is good here. Plenty or restaurants and terraces to have a good afternoon. Attractions are playground Elckerlyc and Royal grave Oss. A museum is museum Jan Cunen.
As a teenager this was my favorite city to go shopping. It’s an industrial city. Lots of good shops, surrounded around the lively Rechtestraat. Fun is also the Heuvel Galerie.
For restaurants and terraces the Markt is lively. See my blog about it here. As an older teenager I loved going out at ‘Straatum’s end’. Attractions are Strijp S and St Catharina church. Good museums are Van Abbemuseum, Philips museum and the Prehistoric village.
In my teenage years this was my favorite city for shopping after Eindhoven. The city dates back to Roman times. Nijmegen has a lively center. There’s plenty of choices in restaurants and terraces.
Attractions are Valkhof, Kronenburgerpark and Goffertpark. Museums to be found in Nijmegen are museum Het Valkhof, muZIEum and the Nature museum.
Amersfoort I got to know when I started dating Paul. He lived close by. When going shopping or the cinema we went here. Downtown is nice, with some good shops, restaurants and terraces.
Attractions are the Koppelpoort, dierenpark Amersfoort and Onze lieve vrouwetower. Museums are the Mondriaanhuis, museum Flehite and the Cavalary museum.
There’s plenty of choice for a citytrip with shopping in The Netherlands. 15 Best cities for shopping were listed in this blog. So go have fun in The Netherlands!