Across Prinsengracht canal from the Anne Frank house and bordered by the streets Marnixstraat and Rozengracht, and the canal Brouwersgracht, Amsterdam’s Jordaan district is a gorgeous area of narrow streets and gabled houses. Wander the narrow streets – beware of bicycles clanking through! – and explore the shops, cafes and restaurants dotted throughout.
The district was built for the working-classes in the seventeenth century – the wealthy lived on the other side of Prinsengracht – and was reclaimed by students and artists from the 1960s on, giving it its current lively character. Many of Amsterdam’s most interesting shops are here, and you can find fashion, toys, books, handbags, and specialty foodstores. One of the wider streets running across the Jordaan is Westerstraat where there’s a market on Monday mornings specializing in textiles and fabrics. You’ll also find food, clothes, shoes and household goods. Around the corner, alongside the Prisengracht is the square called the Noordermarkt. On Monday mornings this is an antiques market, and on Saturday mornings it’s an organic farmers market, very popular with the locals. It’s not huge but it is definitely worth the visit on a walking tour of Amsterdam.
Once you’ve stocked up on cheeses and vegetables and delicious breads, follow the queue to café Winkel on the corner and order apple cake. I have no idea how many of these they must bake for the Saturday crowds because nearly everyone has a thick slice in front of them; it is amazing, stuffed full of apple and huge. Work the calories off by strolling around Jordaan exploring the shops and soaking up the atmosphere. I’m always surprised when I see an open door and a family sitting in their kitchen eating a meal a few feet from the street where I’m walking, them looking at me as curiously as I’m staring back at them.