Markthal in Rotterdam (Spectacular Food Market Hall)

markthal rotterdam

Following our post on Foodhallen, an indoor food market in Amsterdam we should also take a look at another major food market in the Netherlands – the stunning Markthal in Rotterdam which was opened in October 2014 by Queen Maxima.

The unique €175m Markthal building was designed by Dutch architectural firm MVRDV and is helping to put Rotterdam firmly on the world map. Made up of a large 40m high archway, it offers a covered market area the size of a large football pitch with around 100 food stalls and 20 shops and restaurants. Each end is sealed by a glass façade to keep out the weather.

markthal arch rotterdam

The building is 70m wide and 120m long and contains no less than 228 appartments (102 rentals and 126 private, the bulk of which have been sold). Each has an outside terrace whilst half of the appartments also have triple-glazed windows overlooking the market.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Markthal is the huge psychedelic artwork on the inner wall featuring colourful fruits, grains and vegetables. Called the Horn of Plenty, it was conceived by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam and is made up of 4,000 separate tiles covering 11,000 m².

The stallholders are a mix of local and national businesses with a focus on high-end food produce. This includes dedicated stalls selling cheeses, meats, fruit & veg and fish. Plus those selling miscellaneous items such as nuts, olives, spices, chocolates and sweets. There is also a decent sized Asian supermarket (Wah Nam Hong).

The complex also contains a number of restaurants – including the first Jamie’s Italian in the Netherlands. A few of the restaurants have upper seating terraces.

The level below has an Albert Heijn supermarket, a Gall & Gall off license and Etos chemist; there is a large 4 storey underground car park with 1,200 spaces. Deliveries to the stalls and shops are also handled from the underground level which has its own cooling facility.

markthal rotterdam restaurants

There is an exhibition called Tijdtrap which shows medieval archaeological finds from the construction of the building.

The Markthal is located in the east of the city centre in the Laurens district – being marketed as the ‘SoHO of Rotterdam’. It is just opposite Rotterdam Blaak station or a 15 minute walk from Rotterdam Central station. There is an outdoor market in the square outside and you will also find Rotterdam’s library and the Kubuswoningen (Cube houses) nearby.

markthal rotterdam food

The Markthal is open daily between 1000 and 2000. We visited on a Saturday morning and the market was very busy attracting a lot of curious Dutch and international visitors.

Rotterdam certainly has a different atmosphere to the other historic Randstad cities – its centre was destroyed in World War 2 so it has a more modern metropolis feel. If you are a food lover then Markthal is a good reason to give the city a visit.

De Markthal, Ds. Jan Scharpstraat 298, 3011 GZ Rotterdam

Cheap NS Train Day Tickets from Blokker and other Dutch Stores

blokker ns train day ticket

A number of Dutch retail stores occasionally offer deals on day tickets for unlimited travel on NS trains. In this article we will keep up-to-date on the latest rail offers available over-the-counter from various Dutch stores.

Here is a summary of the NS train day tickets (NS dagkaartjes) regularly on offer. Bear in mind that sales periods are short and the tickets are often unavailable. You will note that each store has slightly different travel validity restrictions for its tickets.

Kruidvat (chemist)

NS Day Ticket (valid on weekends only, OV-chip card). Usual price €13.99. Currently not available. Last sale period: 26 Sep – 9 Oct 2016. Last travel validity: 1 Oct 2016 – 1 Jan 2017. For a full explanation see our article Kruidvat NS day tickets

Blokker (houseware store)

NS Day Ticket (valid off-peak on weekdays, anytime at weekends, OV-chip card). Usual price €15. Currently not available. Last sale expired: 31 Jul 2016. Last travel validity: 18 Jul – 11 Sep 2016. See below for more info.

Albert Heijn (supermarket)

NS Day Ticket (valid after 0900 on weekdays with no evening restrictions, anytime at weekends, OV-chip card). Usual price €16. Currently not available. Last sale expired: 4 Sep 2016. Last travel validity: 22 Aug – 6 Nov 2016.

HEMA (general store)

NS Day Return (valid after 0900 on weekdays with no evening restrictions, anytime at weekends, e-ticket). Usual price €19. Includes HEMA drink and snack. Currently not available. Last sale expired: 25 Sep 2016. Last travel validity: 5 Sep – 20 Nov 2016.

Etos (chemist)

NS Day Return (“super dal” ticket, valid only after 1100, OV-chip card). Usual price €19.90 for 2 tickets (which is €9.95 per ticket). Currently not available. Last sale expired: 27 Mar 2016. Last travel validity: 14 Mar – 22 May 2016.

How To Use the NS Day Tickets

All the tickets above are valid on the entire Dutch rail network including NS and other operators: Arriva, Breng, Connexxion, Syntus and Veolia. Domestic rail travel is also valid on Intercity Direct (Schiphol-Rotterdam) and ICE International trains (Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem) as long as you purchase the appropriate supplements. No travel is permitted on the Thalys trains.

For OV-chip card tickets, you must always check-in and check-out at the card readers for every segment of your trip when you leave the station. The card is simply activated on the day you travel by checking-in for the first time.

E-tickets are personal and need to be printed out with your name and date-of-birth. You need to bring accompanying ID. With e-tickets you do not check-in or out but you can use the special barcode to open gates if required (an increasing number of Dutch stations are using closed barriers).

Blokker NS Day Tickets

Household retail chain Blokker offers a 1 day off-peak ticket (Dal Vrij Dagkaart) a few times per year which costs around €15. These are available over-the-counter and are in the form of an OV-chip smart card. The Kruidvat and Blokker tickets are the most popular offers and can sell out quickly.

The Blokker NS tickets are valid during off-peak hours on weekdays and anytime at weekends – unlike the Kruidvat tickets which are only valid over the weekends. This means you cannot check-in during the peak hours of 0630-0900 and 1600-1830 Monday to Friday. However you can travel during the peak hours if you have checked-in before 0630 or 1600.

There are around 600 Blokker stores in the Netherlands. Locations in Amsterdam include:

Kalverstraat 41 (main shopping street)
Jodenbreestraat 19 (near Waterlooplein)
Stadhouderskade 111 (near Heineken Brewery)
Ceintuurbaan 109A (De Pijp)
Haarlemmerdijk 72 (north-west)
Spaarndammerstraat 99 (north-west)
Maasstraat 37 (Rivierenbuurt)
Rijnstraat 64 (Rivierenbuurt)
Oostelijke Handelskade 1029  (Zeeburg)
1E Oosterparkstraat 197 (east)
Beethovenstraat 76 (Apollo/old south district)
Zeilstraat 2 (old-south)
Kinkerstraat 260 (old-west)
Bilderdijkstraat 169 (old-west)
Jan van Galenstraat 107A (west)
Mercatorplein 88 (west)

Top 10 Amsterdam Museums by Visitor Numbers

rijksmuseum visitors

With tourist numbers booming, Amsterdam has seen an increase in museum visitors over the last few years. In this article we list the top 10 Amsterdam museums as measured by visitor numbers.

Figures are sourced from the museums themselves and are for the year 2015, the last full calendar year. The percentage increase/decrease from 2014 is also shown.

We will update this list for 2016 when the new attendance figures are announced.

Between them, the top 10 museums in Amsterdam attracted around 8.3 million visitors in total for 2015. Not surprisingly, 3 of the top 4 spots are made up of the Museumplein trio of the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk.

Note, this is a museums list and we have not included well-visited Amsterdam attractions (such as Artis Zoo, Heineken Brewery etc) in the top 10 list.

Top 10 Museums in Amsterdam (by Visitor Numbers)

1Rijksmuseum (2.35 million) [-6%]

Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s premier museum and was awarded the European Museum of the Year in 2015. Visitor numbers for 2015 included 325,000 child visitors – those aged 0-18 get free entry. The grand total was down 6% from the record year of 2014 (2.5 million).

2Van Gogh Museum (1.9 million) [+18%]

A record year for the Van Gogh museum with an increase of 18% from 2014 (1.6 million). About 80% of the museum’s visitors are international guests. Visitors are expected to top 2 million in 2016 and it could possibly challenge the Rijksmuseum for top spot.

3Anne Frank House (1.268 million) [+3%]

The Anne Frank House attracted a record attendance for the 6th consecutive year with numbers firmly above the 1 million mark. 2015 saw a 3% rise from the 1.227 million visitors in 2014. A new entry system for ticket holders is in place for 2016.

4Stedelijk Museum (720,000) [-10%]

The modern and contemporary art museum saw visitor numbers decrease by 10% from the record 800,000 in 2014. The major Matisse exhibition in 2015 attracted an impressive 360,000 visitors.

5NEMO Science Center (590,000) [+0.3%]

NEMO is a science museum for children that gets a lot of school groups. Visitor numbers in 2015 remained firm with a very small increase (0.3%) from the previous year’s 588,000 visitors.

6Hermitage (444,000) [+18%]

2015 was an excellent year for the Hermitage with an increase of 18% from the 375,000 visitors in 2014. The number included visitors to the Alexander, Napoleon & Joséphine exhibition as well as the Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age.

7Maritime Museum (300,000) [-7%]

Annual visitors to the Scheepvaartmuseum were down 7% from the 322,000 visits in 2014. Visitor numbers could also be affected in 2016 as the museum has spent a number of weeks closed because of EU Presidency meetings.

8Rembrandt House (249,000) [+5%]

A solid year for the compact Rembrandt House museum with visitor numbers up a reasonable 5% from the 237,000 visits in 2014.

9Nieuwe Kerk (230,000) [+13%]

Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square saw a 13% jump in visitors from the 203,000 of 2014. With the Marilyn Monroe exhibition in late 2016, visitor numbers should again be solid.

10Amsterdam Museum (222,000) [+1%]

Amsterdam Museum had a small increase in visitors, up 1% from 2014’s 220,000. Figures do not include the significant number of people visiting the museum’s freely accessible Civic Guards’ Gallery (Schuttersgalerij) passageway.


Let’s also take a look at some Amsterdam attractions and museums that didn’t make it onto our top 10 list.

Artis Royal Zoo (which includes the Micropia Museum) had a total of 1.342 million visitors in 2015. That would have put it into 3rd place on the list but was excluded as it is classed as a zoo rather than a museum.

Heineken Experience in Amsterdam had 900,000 visitors in 2015, though we would class it as an attraction. Likewise with Madame Tussauds on Dam Square which receives a similar amount of visitors.

The Jewish Cultural Quarter announced 284,000 visits in 2015. This figure comprises the Jewish Historical Museum (122,000), Portuguese Synagogue (100,000) and Hollandsche Schouwburg – National Holocaust Memorial (63,000). It’s not ranked in our top 10 as some visitors could visit all 3 (on a single ticket) and would theoretically be triple counted in the total visits figure.

Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) on Dam Square had an impressive 277,000 visitors in 2015.

FOAM photography museum just missed out on the top 10 with 200,000 visitors in 2015.

Tropenmuseum would have ranked in 12th spot in 2015 with 182,000 visitors.

EYE Film claimed to have 700,000 visitors in total in 2015 although 40,000 visited the temporary exhibitions and 40,000 saw the free Panorama exhibit.

Other Amsterdam Museum visitor numbers in 2015:

Ons’ Live Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic) 110,000
Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) 100,000
Allard Pierson Museum 91,000
Van Loon Museum 82,000
Tassenmuseum (Bags & Purses Museum) 70,000
Willet Holthuysen Museum 53,000
Huis Marseille Photo Museum 40,000

Cheap Haircuts in Amsterdam

haircut amsterdam

Hair salons in Amsterdam, Netherlands are not known for offering a really cheap haircut deal unlike some cities around the world. There are lots of high-end barbers, hairdressers and stylists that charge a significant sum. In this article we look at a few places to get a reasonably cheap haircut – in Amsterdam this means from around €14.

Clustered mainly around the De Pijp district are a number of budget hairdressing salons which can offer you a cheap haircut in Amsterdam:

1. Nederlandse Kappersakademie

This is a hairdressing training school which has locations in Amsterdam, Amersfoort, Den Haag and Rotterdam. The Amsterdam outlet is on Weteringschans next door to the Albert Heijn supermarket near Weteringcircuit.

The Nederlandse Kappersakademie offers cut-price haircuts to give students a chance to practice on clients. A supervisor is always on hand to offer advice and provide quality control of each cut.

nederlandse kappersakademie amsterdam

The basic price for a men’s or women’s haircut is €13.95. For women a cut and blow-dry is €16.50; for men a beard trim is €7.20. Other services include head massage (€4.95), manicure (€8) and colour treatments (from €37.75).

Personal experience: I had no appointment. You go to the reception and give your name. I was called after about 10 minutes waiting and brought into the cutting room. This was very busy with about 15-20 people getting cuts (the place seems popular with locals – from female students, young business men to old ladies). The men’s haircut took quite a long time – at least an hour, as the student was a little inexperienced but did include a wash and head massage. The cut was fine in the end.

Nederlandse Kappersakademie, Weteringschans 167
Open 0900-1630 (Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri), 0900-1900 (Thu), 0900-1500 (Sat).
T: +31(0)20 626 3430

2. Herenkapsalon L. Visser

This is a traditional men’s barber on Ferdinand Bol straat just opposite the tram stop by the Heineken Brewery. It’s a family business which has been running since 1938. It charges €14.50 for a standard dry cut (no hair wash) and you can walk in without an appointment.

herenkapsalon visser amsterdam

Personal experience: I have had a few cuts here, they take good care and all-in-all a decent job. The seating area is hidden away around the corner so it’s difficult to see how many clients are waiting. The only minor criticism was the smell of cigarette smoke lingering from the staff area at the back.

Herenkapsalon L. Visser, Ferdinand Bolstraat 4
Open Tue-Fri 0900-1715, Sat 0900-1630. Note, closed Monday.
T: +31(0)20 671 2640

3. Pieter Bas Kapsalon