A sunny Sunday visiting IJ-Hallen flea market in Amsterdam for a family day out.
I have long heard about this frugal paradise across the IJ in Amsterdam Noord. But since I am an impatient shopper and a stickler for neatness, such flea market expedition is not something I would normally do. However, I do like a long, leisurely walk under the sun. My 2 kids (age 11 & 8 years old) were a little reluctant at first. I assured them a list of things they can have, if they could find them. Hence, it was a promised of a scavenger hunt.
We arrived at Amsterdam central station around 10am. We wasted no time and made our way to the back of the building to catch the FREE GVB ferry service number 906 towards the NDSM-werf (translation: NDSM wharf). The 10-12 minute breezy ride through the IJ river was a refreshing change instead of the alternative bus ride. Did you know bicycles and scooters are allowed on the ferry too?
As our ferry steered towards north of Amsterdam, the industrial landscape came into view. We passed by a crane (boutique) hotel, an old abandoned Russian submarine, a floating boat hotel and a cruising pancake restaurant.
We disembarked and followed the crowd turning right passing a Rabobank ATM machine (tip!) and walked 3 minutes toward the two large shipyards where the flea market was located. The gated market atmosphere can be heard buzzing from afar! We quickly paid our admission fees and started perusing every stands. Like any flea markets, sellers were friendly and haggling was part of the shopping fun. Before long, my kids had learned the art of negotiation.
There was a small food area serving typical Dutch snacks such as fries, krokets (croquettes), burgers & poffertjes. Naturally, we took a break and fueled-up with some ‘patat’ (Dutch word for fries).
IJ_Hallen is the biggest flea market in the Netherlands. Best of all, it is the largest in Europe! Imagine 750 vendors selling clothes, shoes, posters, antiques, vinyl records, books, tools, instruments, kitchen supplies, posters, furniture, jewelries and so much more.
The unique location is part of the charm. For more than a century, the
Nederlandse Droogdok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (NDSM) otherwise known as the Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company, was the largest shipyard in Amsterdam building cargo ship, passenger ships and even warships. NDSM went bankrupt in 1984 and buildings were abandoned.
Nowadays, the neighborhood has become a creative destination sprinkled with colorful murals along its art galleries, performance venues and hip cafes/restaurants.
Should you want to visit …
During the winter months, the flea market is located inside the two main halls of the NDSM shipyard. In the warmer months of April till September, the events are relocated outside these buildings.
It is an industrial terrain so watch your step carefully, especially if you are with little ones.
I would suggest leaving the venue for a proper lunch at the nearby café/restaurants such as Noorderlicht Café, Pllek or IJ-Kantine . Make sure you get a wrist stamp on your way out for re-entry.
Bring a backpack and some extra bags to carry your purchases. People buy the craziest things on impulse!
Prepare loose change for tiny trinkets and other small cheap items.
Be there early if you are treasure hunting.
Be there late near closing times if you want a great bargain.
Towards the end of the day, I spent about €10 on food & drinks and another €10 on toys & decorative items for my kids. I personally bought nothing. The scavenger list items were never found, but it kept my kids occupied throughout the day. We had a blast strolling, rummaging and discovering vintage pieces. A fantastic Sunday distraction!
Upcoming IJ-Hallen dates in 2018:
9 and 10 June
30 June and 1 July
28 and 29 July
11 and 12 August
15 and 16 September
6 and 7 October
27 and 28 October
17 and 18 November
8 and 9 December
Address: T.T. Neveritaweg 1. 1033 WB Amsterdam-Noord.
Entrance fees: €5.00 and €2.00 for kids under 11 years old.
How to get there:
By car – From Ring Amsterdam (A10): exit Oostzaan towards S118. Rates at €1.30 per hour close to the market or € 7,80 for a day card.
By bus – From Amsterdam Central Station by bus 35, 91 or 94. Get off at Klaprozenweg (91, 94) or Ataturk (35). It is a 5 minute walk from the bus stop to the market.
By ferry – From the IJ side of Amsterdam Central Station ferry service 906 towards NDSM-werf. It is a 3 minute walk from the ferry stop to the market.