Amsterdam is fertile ground for free and almost-free souvenirs. While floral bouquets don’t travel well on an airplane (and may not be allowed!), seed packets and bulbs are both easy to pack, travel well, and will blossom back home. Plus, they’re totally cheap.
(Please note: US Customs doesn’t want American tourists bringing home just any old bulb or seed, of course. The agency carefully regulates what agricultural items it allows back into the States. When seed shopping, make sure you choose items labeled as “cleared for US Customs.” See comments below for more information.)
Tulip mania peaked in Amsterdam during the city’s 17th-century golden age, sowing the scene for today’s fragrant flower markets, or Bloemenmarkt. We recommend visiting two of the city’s flower markets.
The Aalsmeer Flower Auction
Every morning, the Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer, or Aalsmeer flower auction, takes place in nearby Aalsmeer, 10 km south of Amsterdam. The fast-paced auction gives tourists an introduction to the global flower market, as 19 million flowers get bought and sold daily, before being shipped worldwide. Try picking up some sample seeds or bulbs at the market for a cheapo souvenir.
The Floating Flower Market, or Bloemenmarkt, is in full bloom every day along the Singel canal. The market, held in barges floating along the Singel, is the place to find thousands of seed packets, bulbs, and cut (and dried) flowers for mere euros.
Even if you don’t plan on bringing any seeds home, you might also consider swinging by the Bloemenmarkt at night, as the shops are closing up and eager owners slash their prices on cut fresh flowers. After all, couldn’t your hotel room use a little sprucing up?
More information on Amsterdam Flower Markets
Aalsmeer Flower Auction
Driekolommenplein 1. Open Monday through Friday, from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM. The best time to go is between 7:30 AM and 9 AM.
Daily between Koninsplein and Heiligeweg. Monday through Saturday, 9 AM – 5:30 PM, Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM.
See also: Our guide to recommended budget hotels in Amsterdam.
Editor’s Note: This is the first post in our “Cheapo Souvenirs” blog series. Join us over the next four weeks as we suggest one cheap or free souvenir to bring home from each city we cover on EuroCheapo. Do you have a suggestion for another cheap souvenir in Amsterdam? Leave a comment below!