Ijhallen is the largest flea market in Europe and contains over 700 individual stalls. These stands and trestle tables are housed inside two enormous industrial warehouses. Originally this complex was used for shipping, with its interior being laced with grey, iron scaffolding that winds over chipped concrete slabs. Outside, the market spills into the open air with merchants and food vendors lining the courtyard that connects these two buildings.
While the flea market is held every second weekend of the month, this complex is usually used as a cultural space. Its outer walls are marked with tags and murals created by local street artists and its eastern warehouse is home to a number of ateliers.
The warehouses are part of NDSM wharf, a larger district that was once a prosperous dockyard. This area is located on the northern side of Amsterdam and is a short ferry journey from Central Station. Travelling to Ijhallen, you will pass by several industrial structures now used for cultural purposes. A crane towers over the northern port and houses a luxurious hotel with possibly the best views in Amsterdam. Just east of the ferry lies a disused quay that has been converted into an improvised skatepark.
Most of Ijhallen’s vendors are locals looking to downsize their wardrobes or make room in their garages. Groups of friends often sell their belongings together, renting one or two stalls and spending their weekend haggling with shoppers. Families are also a common sight, using small children to charm potential buyers. Other stalls, though, are manned by dedicated merchants who travel to Ijhallen each month to expand their clientele.
Many stalls are devoted to vintage clothing and sell items in a variety of sizes. Jewellery is also easy to find and many vendors arrange high brand sneakers and shoes around their stands.
It is always a good idea to bring a backpack, as even if you are set on buying one or two items, wondering around Ijhallen you will undoubtedly find something else you simply can’t do without. Almost anything can be found, and many people leave with furniture or car parts strapped to their bikes.
Vendors are usually willing to barter and bargaining skills can save you some serious cash. Unfortunately, this side of Amsterdam has a scarcity of ATMs and its always better to withdraw spending money before getting on the ferry. Several restaurants are within walking distance from Ijhallen, with both Norderlicht and Pllek offering a wide selection of organic food, along with unparalleled views across the river Ij.