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Whether you are looking for a department store in a shopping mall, a quirky boutique, or something in between, you'll find it all in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is full of fascinating quirky shops specialising in everything from toothbrushes to aboriginal art, children's comics to art deco lamps, potted plants to exotic cut flowers, jazz CDs to cheese, beer or African masks. The characterful shops are not always in the obvious places. Amsterdam's main shopping streets - Nieuwendijk and Kalverstraat - are dominated by global brands. Instead look where rents are lower: along Haarlemmerstraat, Damstraat and in the cross streets of the Canal Circle and the Jordaan. These cross streets were deliberately zoned for commercial use in the 17th century, when the canal circle was planned and thrived on the trade in furs and hides. Just go and wander down Reestraat, Hartenstraat, Berenstraat, Runstraat and Huidenstraat among the medley of small specialist shops, cafes and art galleries, which have replaced original furriers. You'll find more flowers and bulbs in Amsterdam than in any other European city - not just in the floating flower market, but all the way around the Canal Circle.
Read more on this destination in The AA Citypack Guide to Amsterdam.
Top shops in Amsterdam
Claire V, Prinsengracht 234F - Gorgeous high-quality handwoven silk hand-bags, evening wraps and accessories, many made by landmine victims in Cambodia. Each bag takes some 20 hours to craft. Lovely for gifts.
Absolute Danny, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 78 - Erotic clothing and accessories with a distinctive design sensibility and a touch of class.
Analik, Hartenstraat 36 - Simple, elegant designs are the hallmark of this boutique belonging to Anakujm, considered Amsterdam's foremost young designer.
De Bijenkorf, Dam 1 - Amsterdam's busy main department store, the Bijenkorf (beehive) lives up to it's name.
Head Shop, Kloveniersburgwal 39 - The shop for Marijuana paraphenalia and memorabilia ever since it opened in the 1960s.
Nic Nic, Gasthuismolensteeg 5 - Irresistable knickknacks shop selling 1950s to 1970s collectibles and near-antiques, all in good condition.
Oscar, Nieuwendijk 208-10 - Outrageous footwear, from glittery platforms to psychedelic thigh boots. Also popular brandnames like New Rock, Destroy and Sancho.
P. G. C. Hajenius, Rokin 96 - One of the world's finest tobacco shops, in elegant, art deco premises; in business for more than 250 years.
De Klompenboer, Sint-Antoniesbreestraat 51 - Authentic clog factory with the city's largest selection of beautifully hand-crafted footwear.
Bloemenmarkt, Singel, between Muntplein and Koningsplein - Golden sunflowers, deep blue irises, delicately scented roses and row upon row of tulips and tulip bulbs - a vibrant blaze on the floating stalls of the flower market.
Winterland Amsterdam Christmas Market, Rembrandtplein - Countless market stalls selling Christmas treats and gifts. You'll even find an ice rink, when you've had enough of shopping! Open from 19 November 2010 to 2 January 2011.