Visiting Amsterdam on a Budget
A city of 1500 bridges, 50km of canals and more bikes than people, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular cities with visitors from around the world. Along with its beautiful gabled houses and flower-decked watersides, there’s an enormous amount to see and do, whether your interests are more Golden Age art or graffiti, high culture or getting high in a coffee shop. But this wealth of amazing experiences doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag attached to it. So here are my top tips for making the most of Amsterdam on a budget.
Read more: Exploring the Amsterdam Light Festival
Tulips in the Bloemenmarkt flower market
Things to do in a budget
Amsterdam is synonymous with its canals, and one of the best free things to do in the city is get out and get lost among them. The city is centred around the UNESCO-listed Canal Ring, where three canals form a horseshoe shape around the old centre.
Beyond that there’s Jordaan, a former working-class area now full of galleries, restaurants and boutiques among some of the prettiest stretch of canal. Or hang out in the cafés of De Pijp, a district with a young, creative feel that’s is home to the Albert Cuypmarkt street market. You can also visit the Jewish Quarter for the Waterlooplein flea market, zoo and botanical gardens.
If you want a break from canals, the city also has some lovely parks – ranging from the huge Vondelpark (which hosts free events in its open-air theatre on weekends from May to September) to the peaceful Begijn of, a pretty courtyard surrounded by 14th-century cottages.To learn a bit about the city’s history, several companies run free walking tours where you just tip your guide. Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours do a 3-hour city highlights tour leaving from the National Monument in Dam Square several times a day. Original Amsterdam Tours run a 3-hour city history walk and an ‘Alternative Amsterdam’ tour of street art, coffee shops and squats in some of the city’s lesser-known areas. Both depart opposite Madame Tussauds at 2pm.
Or the I Amsterdam card gives you free entry to over 60 museums and attractions, plus a free canal cruise and unlimited public transport on the trams, buses and metro. There are four different versions: 24 hours (€59), 48 hours (€74), 72 hours (€87) and 96 hours (€98).
For a free taste of culture, head to the Schuttersgalerij or Civic Guards Gallery, where 15 Goldern Age paintings, similar in style to Rembrandt’s Night Watch, line a covered street near the Amsterdam Museum. In a modern building on the riverside, the EYE film museum has a free basement cinema and private viewing pods. It’s free to get there too on the Buiksloterweg ferry from behind Centraal Station. Other free museums include the City Archives, Multatuli Museum and the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Holocaust Memorial).