Where in the Netherlands can you eat world cuisine without paying a fortune? Where can you buy cosmetics and computers under one roof? Where can you encounter multiple ethnicities and still feel like you speak a common language? Naveen Haroon explore
Amsterdam is home to bazaars and markets such as AlbertCuyp Markt, Dappermarkt, Noordermarkt and Westerstraatmarket. Each has its unique selling point, be it exotic herbs and spices, biological fresh food or cheap clothing. Once you have a taste of these markets, or simply want an experience which effectively combines all these markets, it is 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 version of the Bazaar, Beverwijk Bazaar offers a hustling and bustling atmosphere, multicultural visitors – local and tourists – over fifty restaurants in and around the bazaar, multiple languages, fresh fruit and flowers, computers and IT-related applications, nail salons and beauty parlours, clothing ranging from lingerie to leather jackets, shoes and the list goes on and on. The diversity and scale of this market are astonishing.
The Bazaar is ideal for a family outing as it opens its doors to 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 for hours on end. Covering the entire Bazaar in one day is nigh on impossible, so plan a whole weekend for exploring, or return another weekend.
A Bazaar of such scale did not materialise and become popular overnight. After nearly thirty colourful years of trading, Beverwijk Bazaar has become a mega tourist attraction. What started off as a mere flower and vegetable auction hall went on to attract 60,000 visitors every weekend. The first “Zwarte Markt” or Black Market immediately drew 500 stallholders and 14,000 visitors. Word-of-mouth pulled in the others. Once only a Saturday event, due to growing popularity the expanding Bazaar became a weekend event as of 1991. Today, the Bazaar is home to over 2500 stalls.
In 1982, the Zwarte Markt was joined by the “Oosterse Markt” (Oriental Market) and in 1993, the Grand Bazaar welcomed visitors. The “Computermarkt” (Computer Market) and “Vlooienmarkt” (Flea Market) joined a year after that. The steady yet rapid growth of Beverwijk Bazaar says a lot about its ambiance and appeal.
Introducing the markets
This is where it all began. Reasonable prices, numerous cafés and live music set the tone of the Black Market. Try your hand at negotiation, if for no other reason but to enrich your experience.
Exotic spices and fresh vegetables are at the heart of the Oriental Market. Halal or kosher meat can be bought here as well as freshly baked items. One can find professional goldsmiths as well as oriental carpets. This market is also home to the Kappersgalerij or Hairdressers’ Gallery. You can just walk in without an appointment.
The Grand Bazaar is in effect a combination of the Black Market and the Oriental Market. Keen shoppers will find the latest fashions and cosmetics in this Hall along with household items. 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 new or used computer, the Computer Market will provide you with a range of hardware and software. Game fans will enjoy this market.
The Flea Market is located in halls two and three. It is common knowledge that everything sold here is second hand. You can also trade for a day yourself by renting a stall; a fantastic means of clearing out your attic or garage!
Being a foodie, the Bazaar has become my haven. Every time I visit, I make 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 are sold all over the Bazaar.
The best thing about Beverwijk Bazaar is that there is nothing you cannot find. Products and services include leather jackets, party wear, cosmetics; piercing, tattoo and nail studios; hair extensions, shoes, bags, socks, baby clothes, toys, DVDs, beauty parlours, furniture, crystal, gold jeweller, desserts. The list is endless. Due to capacity issues not all shops have their own changing room, but several do. I just discovered a Bollywood shop too where six DVDs are sold for the price of EUR 10 – not a bad! Also, if you want to pamper yourself, nail studious are located in Hall 30. Prices range from EUR 30. In regular nail studios you would potentially wind up paying double that. You may have to get accustomed to the Chinese employees calling out to you as you walk past to try and persuade you to enter. This “pull” tactic seems to work for them.
The art of negotiation
Someone once said that “in business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” Negotiate your way into great prices at the Bazaar. You will find that not all sales people are open for negotiation, but 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, especially those with a similar origin as mine (Pakistan). I’ve discovered that if you push it you can bargain things down. If they say, “It is much more expensive in the shops,” then give them a good reason as to why they should still go lower. I recommend being friendly in any case, as they respect loyal customers and will likely offer you discounts on your next visit.
Saturday and Sunday 8:30 – 18:00.
Oriental Market opening hours Friday till Sunday 10:00 – 22:00.
Beverwijk Bazaar is also 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 the halls within 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 freedom to leave the market, for instance, to get something from your car, and pop back in later. Children under the age of 13 enter for free.
Parking will cost you a fixed EUR 3 per day at Beverwijk Bazaar. Unlike most other shopping venues in and around Amsterdam, you can shop and stroll around peacefully without worrying about a ticking parking meter. Parking is free before 9 am.
There are ATMs or “pin” machines at several locations of the Bazaar. You will find a Rabobank next to Hall 31 and car park P2, an ABN AMRO at the Bazaar Boulevard and a Postbank at the entrance of the Zwarte Markt. Cash is the primary means of payment.
The following is worth knowing before planning your visit to the Beverwijk Bazaar.
- Pets are not allowed. Needless to say I once spotted a tiny dog’s head popping out of a lady’s handbag.
- Bike storage is located at the entrance of the Zwarte Markt and the Oosterse Markt
- Wheelchairs are available but must be reserved in advance for a deposit of EUR 50
- Toilets are well maintained at 20 cents per visit
- The Bazaar does have its own security. Heated arguments over prices are rare, but it is comforting to know that security is a phone call away
- A lost and found is available 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 to the Bazaar every 30 minutes. The bus stops outside the entrance to the Zwarte Markt and the Oosterse Markt. Alternatively, if the weather permits, you could take a ten-minute walk to the Bazaar. (IPlan your route in advance via 9292ov.nl and ns.nl.)