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How to spend less and see more in Amsterdam

Visiting Amsterdam doesn’t have to be pricey. The more touristy attractions may come with a price tag, but there are a number of great sights and activities that are completely free.

Even getting around Amsterdam can be free or very low cost. Despite its size, the city is very walkable with many of the must-see areas super close together. And with over 800,000 bicycles (which is more than the number of people by the way) and city designed with two-wheel transportation in mind, the extensive network of bike paths make it easy to get around for both experienced and beginner cyclists. Plus bike rental prices are very reasonable.

Full of local tips, this guide to enjoying Amsterdam for free will help you make the most of your time in the Dutch capital without breaking the bank.

Tours – Free canal cruise

Lampedusa Cruises tell the story of Amsterdam as a city of migration

Lampedusa Cruises tell the story of Amsterdam as a city of migration

There are numerous walking tour companies that will take you through the city centre’s famous canals, but for a truly Amsterdam experience you’ll want to take a canal boat tour. Canal tours begin at ports across the city and give you a great background on the city’s history.

Lampedusa Cruises focuses on the role migrants have played in the development of Amsterdam, telling its story as a city of migration. The tours often include stories about the personal experiences of the guides who are recent refugees themselves. Unlike many canal tours, boarding is free but donations are welcomed.

Music – Free concerts

The Royal Concertgebouw is one of the venues that offers free concerts

The Royal Concertgebouw is one of the venues that offers free concerts

Music lovers of all genres will have no shortage of free concerts to attend any day of the week. The National Opera & Ballet offer free lunchtime concerts Tuesdays at 12:30 and the Royal Concertgebouw offer them at the same time on Wednesday. Free jazz performances and jam sessions are available one night a week at the Bimhuis, while bars such as Bourbon Street offer live music every night – all you need to pay is cover.

Art – Galleries and street art

Keep an eye out for an authentic Picasso sculpture in Vondelpark

Keep an eye out for an authentic Picasso sculpture in Vondelpark

Amsterdam is home to world-class museums and galleries, but art can be found outside as well. Attached to the Amsterdam Museum is the Schuttersgalerij (Civic Guards Gallery), a free art gallery that offers visitors a small but impressive collection of historical and modern art.
Sculpture fans in particular should spend some time in Amsterdam’s parks, many of which have beautiful sculptures nestled amongst the green. If you make it to Vondelpark, keep your eyes peeled for an authentic Picasso sculpture.

City views – Amsterdam library

The best views of the city can be seen from the top floor of the OBA

The best views of the city can be seen from the top floor of the OBA

Nearly free of skyscrapers, there are only a handful of buildings in Amsterdam that offer panoramic city views. While the majority of buildings that invite visitors to the top charge for their visit, not all do. Just a short walk away from Centraal Station, the central branch of the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA) offers unobstructed views of the city from its most central point.

Food – Albert Cuypmarkt

All of the tastes of Amsterdam can be found at the Albert Cuypmarkt

All of the tastes of Amsterdam can be found at the Albert Cuypmarkt

Monday through Saturday, vendors line the busy Albert Cuypstraat in De Pijp. The best part is that many provide free samples of their delicious goods. If you do decide that you’d like more than a sample, why not take the food ‘to go’ and enjoy a little picnic as you explore the city or relax in the nearby Sarphatipark. From fresh seafood, meats, fruits, and vegetables, the Albert Cuypmarkt has options for any dietary preference.

Added tip: If you’re looking for a proper sit down meal, OT301 and De Nieuwe Anita offer delicious plant-based dishes for generally under €10 a person.

Where to stay nearby

Hotel Not Hotel
Located in De Baarsjes neighbourhood, this hotel is an art-filled exhibition-like space, each room with a different theme and story. Whether you stay in a secret room hidden behind a bookcase or in a converted tram, your stay will be nothing short of memorable.

The Student Hotel West
Despite the name, The Student Hotel West is not just for students. Just a 10-minute bike ride or short metro ride from the city centre, the Student Hotel West offers everything you need for a comfortable stay at student-approved prices.

CityHub
For those looking for a unique accommodation experience, book a night at CityHub. Guests are given a private pod-like cabin, spacious enough for a king size bed, and access to an on-site, self-service bar. Located right in the heart of the popular Oud West neighbourhood, CityHub is a short trip from all of the city’s must-see sights.