Amsterdam’s Spui Square is one of the city’s main cultural centers outside of the museum quarter. This is Amsterdam’s art and book scene. Spui Square (“Spui” is pronounced “spouw,” like “now”) and adjoining street Het Spui abut Amsterdam’s main shopping street, Kalverstraat. Het Spui, however, is a smallish street and seems a little understated from the outside— it’s a place you’d probably pass right by if you didn’t know what it was.
But if you love to read, Het Spui/Spui Square is a must-do stop during your visit to Amsterdam. Here is where the largest and most impressive bookstores in the city are located— and you’ll find them all one right next to the other. On Het Spui, right behind the statue of the small street boy named “Lieverdje” (or “Sweetie”) in the middle of the square, are the huge bookshops Athenaeum, Nieuwscentrum, and the American Book Center, with Waterstone’s and Selexzyz-Scheltema (the largest bookshop in Amsterdam) along the same street. With all these huge booksellers in one place, Spui Square in Amsterdam is truly a book-lovers paradise. Another bonus? Every Friday a whole swathe of Spui street is taken by a weekly outdoor book market full of both used and new books.
Even if you’re not a big reader or don’t want to go home loaded down with books you purchased on your trip, it’s worth stopping by and spending an hour or two in Spui Square— or even just stopping for a snack. This area has several great bars and restaurants, and one of the most famous literary cafes in Amsterdam, De Zwart, is located here, too. There’s also a famous cafe in Spui Square called Cafe Luxemburg, where they serve small French-style meals. Bored of wandering through the city? Every Sunday Spui Square holds an outdoor art market, where artists from all over the city sell their wares.