Downtown areas in towns and cities are packed with department stores (ranging from top-end De Bijenkorf to the cheap-and-cheerful Hema chain, much-loved by every bargain-loving local) and mainstream international chains. But it's the designer concept stores and tiny boutiques, specialising in the wildest and most unexpected of items, that are the real delight. Tulip bulbs, cheese and delicate blue-and-white porcelain are top Dutch goods to take home.

Need to Know

  • Department stores and large shops tend to open from 9am or 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, noon to 6pm Sunday.
  • Thursday ushers in late-night shopping in many towns and cities, with shops staying open until around 9pm.
  • Some small stores, especially in more rural parts, do not accept credit cards. Unless you have a Dutch debit card, you'll be needing hard cash to shop.
  • Every town has a weekly market, with open-air stalls atmospherically mushrooming on the original market square, Grote Markt, or another key town-centre square.
  • Bring your own bag when shopping for food, whether at the local supermarket or weekly market.