This whole country is really famous for its flowers, and specifically for its tulips, so it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular free things in Amsterdam is a stroll down the block-long flower market, which is officially called by its Dutch name of Bloemenmarkt in many places.
It’s usually billed as the “world’s only floating flower market” but don’t get your hopes up in that regard because the only things that are really floating are the houseboats behind the stalls, and even then you’ll only know that when you look behind them like in this photo to the right. And if you are a flower lover then you should consider a quick day-trip to the enormous flower auction just outside Amsterdam.
What you’ll see here
There are 15 stalls and each of them is quite similar unless you are a true flower aficionado. It’s open all year, but of course the offerings of live flowers and plants are seasonal. This is a reasonably mild climate so you’ll always find a good selection, along with bulbs, seeds, accessories, souvenirs, and everything else related to the flower trade for both tourists and locals.
The Dutch genuinely do love their fresh flowers, and this market exists mostly for locals, though it’s also very popular with tourists. It’s open and reasonably busy even during January and February, so there’s plenty to see at all times of the year.
Prices at the flower market
Since it’s mostly local business, the prices are actually quite reasonable. This is an open-air market and if one place tries to charge too much, you are only a few meters from another shop that wants your business, so the competition and relatively low overhead make many things real bargains here. You can get several tulip bulbs for one euro even in small quantities, and better prices if you buy a bag of 30 or so.
Buying and bringing things home
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One thing to look into is what is legal to import into your home country. The merchants will know exactly what is acceptable for the US, Canada, and UK, so the easiest thing to do is just ask them if you aren’t sure. Many packages have flags marked on them for what is legal to take into those countries. This isn’t like visiting a third-world country where they’d sell you anything even if they knew it would be taken away at the airport, or worse.
There are certain types of bulbs that can be brought into the US or Canada, and other types that aren’t, and some of that has to do with the packaging. There are also ways of having the shopkeeper mail the bulbs to your home for you, but not all of them can be sent to all places. There’s plenty to choose from, so you should be able to find something that works.
Cannabis starter kits
Probably the oddest thing you are likely to see at these stalls are what they call Cannabis Starter Kits. I’ve never bought one, or even looked too carefully at them, but I assume they are a few cannabis seeds and maybe some soil or moss. They sell for between €3 and €6, and that price alone tells you that they are worthless, even if you had a way of getting them home.
Buying marijuana seeds in Amsterdam is legal, and it’s big business. Any seeds of high enough quality that you’d risk smuggling them home and growing them will cost at least €5 for each seed, and most of the best ones are way more expensive than that. These kits are good for a novelty photo, but probably nothing else.
Hours, location, and map
The flower market is open from 9am to 6pm every day but Sundays.
>> Learn more about other day trips from Amsterdam, too.
Now that you know you are definitely coming:
Map of the flower market
See the map below for the block where it’s located, and check the main Amsterdam map for a larger view of the city center.