Where in the Netherlands are you able to eat world cuisine without having to pay a fortune? Where can you buy cosmetics and computers in one place? Where can you encounter multiple ethnicities but still seem like you speak a typical language? Naveen Haroon explore
Amsterdam is home to bazaars and markets for example AlbertCuyp Markt, Dappermarkt, Noordermarkt and Westerstraatmarket. Each one has its unique feature, whether it is exotic spices and herbs, biological fresh food or cheap clothing. After you have a taste of these markets, or simply want an experience which effectively combines all these markets, it's time to head towards Beverwijk. Located approximately twenty kilometres north-west of Amsterdam, Beverwijk is famous for its Bazaar; Europe's largest covered market.
Comparable to London's Camden Market, which is a miniature form of the Bazaar, Beverwijk Bazaar provides a hustling and bustling atmosphere, multicultural visitors – local and tourists – over fifty restaurants around the bazaar, multiple languages, fresh fruit and flowers, computers and IT-related applications, nail salons and sweetness parlours, clothing ranging from lingerie to leather jackets, shoes and also the list continues. The diversity and scale of this market are astonishing.
The Bazaar is ideal for a family outing because it opens its doors towards the public at weekends. There are more than enough facilities for a pit-stop, so you can have a snack, recharge your batteries and continue to explore the Bazaar all night at a time. Covering the entire Bazaar in one day is nigh on impossible, so plan an entire weekend for exploring, or return another weekend.
A Bazaar of such scale didn't materialise and become popular overnight. After nearly thirty colourful years of trading, Beverwijk Bazaar has turned into a mega tourist attraction. What started out as a mere flower and vegetable auction hall continued to attract 60,000 visitors every weekend. The first “Zwarte Markt” or Underground community immediately drew 500 stallholders and 14,000 visitors. Word-of-mouth pulled in the others. Once merely a Saturday event, because of growing popularity the expanding Bazaar was a weekend event by 1991. Today, the Bazaar is home to over 2500 stalls.
In 1982, the Zwarte Markt was accompanied by the “Oosterse Markt” (Oriental Market) as well as in 1993, the Grand Bazaar welcomed visitors. The “Computermarkt” (Computer Market) and “Vlooienmarkt” (Flea Market) joined annually next. The steady yet rapid development of Beverwijk Bazaar says a lot about its ambiance and appeal.
Introducing the markets
This is how everything began. Inexpensive price points, numerous cafés and live music set a dark tone from the Underground community. Try your hand at negotiation, if without other reason but to enrich your experience.
Exotic spices and fresh vegetables are in the heart of the Oriental Market. Halal or kosher meat can be purchased because along with freshly baked items. One will discover professional goldsmiths as well as oriental carpets. The forex market can also be home to the Kappersgalerij or Hairdressers' Gallery. You can just walk in with no appointment.
The Grand Bazaar is in effect a combination of the Underground community and the Oriental Market. Keen shoppers will discover clothes and cosmetics in this Hall together with things for the home. Next to the Grand Bazaar is lively pub cum café Klein Mokum, which plays live music every weekend.
Whether you are in search of a used or new computer, the pc Market provides you with a range of software and hardware. Game fans will love this market.
The Flea Marketplace is located in halls two and three. It's quite common knowledge that everything sold here's used. You may also trade for a day yourself if you rent then a stall; a fantastic way of clearing out your attic or garage!
Being a foodie, the Bazaar has become my haven. Each time I visit, I be sure to try something new. There are not limits; you'll find cuisine from countries as diverse as Iraq, India, Morocco, Japan, China, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Turkey. Warm waffles, ice-cream and other treats can be purchased all around the Bazaar.
The best thing about Beverwijk Bazaar is the fact that there's nothing you cannot find. Products and services include leather jackets, party wear, cosmetics; piercing, tattoo and nail studios; extensions, shoes, bags, socks, baby clothes, toys, DVDs, beauty parlours, furniture, crystal, gold jeweller, desserts. The list is endless. Because of capacity issues not every shops have their own changing room, but several do. I simply discovered a Bollywood shop too where six DVDs can be purchased for the price of EUR 10 – not necessarily a bad! Also, if you want to pamper yourself, nail studious come in Hall 30. Prices range from EUR 30. In regular nail studios you would potentially wind up paying double that. You might want to get accustomed to the Chinese employees calling to you while you walk past to try and persuade you to definitely enter. This “pull” tactic appears to work for them.
The art of negotiation
Someone once asserted “in business, you don’t get that which you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” Negotiate the right path into low prices in the Bazaar. You will notice that not every sales agents are open for negotiation, however with skilful and careful persistence, they will be more receptive to knocking off a few euro. At times during my wanderings through the Bazaar, I've experienced the cold shoulder from disinterested salesmen. Others have been kinder, particularly those with a similar origin as mine (Pakistan). I've discovered when you push it you are able to bargain things down. If they say, “It is much more expensive in the shops,” then give them a good reason as to why they ought to still go lower. I suggest being friendly in any case, as they respect loyal customers and will likely offer you discounts in your next visit.
Saturday and Sunday 8:30 – 18:00.
Oriental Market opening hours Friday till Sunday 10:00 – 22:00.
Beverwijk Bazaar can also be open on the following days:
- Christmas day, 25 December
- Boxing day, 26 December
- Easter Sunday, 8 April
- Easter Monday, 9 April
- Ascension day, 17 May
- Whitsun, 27 May
- Whitsun, 28 May
On Sunday, 1 January the market is closed.
For EUR 2, you have full access to all of the halls inside the Bazaar. As a visitor, you will get your ticket and stamp at certain entrances/exits so you can be there for the day and still have the liberty to leave the market, for instance, to obtain something from your car, and pop back in later. Children under the age of 13 enter for free.
Parking can cost you a fixed EUR 3 each day at Beverwijk Bazaar. Unlike most other shopping venues in and around Amsterdam, you can shop and stroll around peacefully without having to worry about a ticking parking meter. Parking is free of charge before 9 am.
There are ATMs or “pin” machines at a number of locations from the Bazaar. You will find a Rabobank alongside Hall 31 and carpark P2, an ABN AMRO at the Bazaar Boulevard along with a Postbank in the entrance of the Zwarte Markt. Cash is the main means of payment.
The following is worth knowing before planning your trip to the Beverwijk Bazaar.
- Pets aren't allowed. Needless to say I remember when i spotted a tiny dog's head coming out of a lady's handbag.
- Bike storage is situated at the entrance from the Zwarte Markt and the Oosterse Markt
- Wheelchairs are available but should be reserved in advance for a deposit of EUR 50
- Toilets are well maintained at 20 cents per visit
- The Bazaar does have its very own security. Heated arguments over prices are rare, but it is comforting to understand that security is really a telephone call away
- A lost and found can be obtained at the market office, reachable on 025-1262626
- There is a First Aid Post next to cash desk in Hall 28.
From Amsterdam/Haarlem: train direction Uitgeest
From Den Haag/Haarlem: train direction Hoorn
From Uitgeest: train direction Amsterdam
From Hoorn/Alkmaar: train direction Den Haag
Directions by public transport from Beverwijk station
Bus 76 takes you towards the Bazaar every 30 minutes. Public transit stops outside the entrance towards the Zwarte Markt and the Oosterse Markt. Alternatively, if the weather permits, you might take a ten-minute walk to the Bazaar. (IPlan your route ahead of time via 9292ov.nl and ns.nl.)
If you are travelling by car, check map24.nl and anwb.nl.