Europe,  Netherlands

How to do Amsterdam on a budget

With Lisbon, Venice and Vienna now the cheapest city breaks in Europe, according to the Post Office’s annual worldwide holiday costs report, one of our favourite Dutch cities has slipped further down the affordability list. With that in mind, here’s how you can enjoy your day trip or weekend break to Amsterdam on a budget.

Take a walking tour

You could spend hours walking the streets of Amsterdam (and believe me, I have) with a trusty Lonely Planet guide in hand but when you’re shorter on time, it’s often easier to opt for a free walking tour. I’ve used Sandemans New Amsterdam before, they offer two walks a day, each one is three-hours long. They cover the Red Light District, the Begijnhof Convent and the Civic Guards Gallery, where you can spot a few of the ‘old masters’ paintings on display. If you’re like me and you fancy something a little alternative, then opt for the Original Amsterdam Alternative Tour. It starts at 2pm at Spuistraat; you’ll be able to see the city’s best street art and hidden graffiti all on one walk.

amsterdam-on-a-budget

Explore the canals

With more canals than Venice, it’s worth renting a bike for the day to cycle the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Enjoy the fresh air, cycle along the 400-year-old waterways so you can gaze at the city’s waterside views and exotic canal boats. You’ll also be able to take photos of the unique architecture all around the city, including Singel 7, the narrowest house in the city measuring only 1 metre in width. It’s all because during the sixteenth century, Dutch authorities levied taxes from citizens based on the width of their houses. Crazy!

amsterdam-on-a-budget

See art for free

I’ve been to, pretty much, all of the art museums in Amsterdam over my multiple visits to the city and can tell you that the admission costs often stack up. The Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in particular.
But you can see world-class art for free in other galleries in the city, just head to bohemian Spiegelkwartier or Jordaan. Wander down Prinsengracht to make a stop in Keren de Vreede, where local artists regularly meet and where you can see multiple textural canvases. If you’d rather see more substantial curated collections, then visit Galerie Ron Mandos, Gabriel Rolt or Annet Gelink Gallery. You’ll save a heck of a lot and still feel cultured.

amsterdam-on-a-budget

Picnic in the park

There’s plenty of green spaces throughout Amsterdam to enjoy a picnic but there’s two that really stand out – Vondelpark as it’s the biggest and the public gardens outside the Rijksmuseum for its own sculpture collection. So, visit one of the many foodie markets in the morning, pick up your ingredients and take a packed lunch along to either of them. If you enjoy wildlife as much as I do, then I can also recommend the beautiful Artsplein which is nearby to Artis Zoo, take advantage of Amsterdam on a budget and see some of the 900 animals for free at the same time!

amsterdam-on-a-budget

Visit the mini museums

I’d be lying if I said that Amsterdam is just a place for art museums, it’s not – it didn’t get it’s quirky reputation for nothing! Take some time out to visit some of the cheaper museums, which still offer a curious look into the city’s eclectic culture. Visit the trippy Electric Lady Land, the world’s first fluorescent museum, the Houseboat Museum for a glimpse of life on one of the city’s 2,500-plus homes or the interactive science exhibits at NEMO Schiphol – yes, it’s at the airport. The museum in the city centre has an admission fee but this smaller version won’t cost you anything.

amsterdam-on-a-budget

Listen to free live music

It’s true that Amsterdam comes alive after dark, not just for the obvious reason, head to Bourbon Street for an evening education in rhythm and blues. Entrance is free on Mondays. Walk just five minutes down the road to the equally lively Jazz Café Alto, where performances span genres from salsa to soul performances are free every night. If I had to pick between the two, I’d prioritise the latter for its warm atmosphere, enigmatic crowd and cheaper drinks. Both are popular with locals so don’t leave your visit too late in the day.

amsterdam-on-a-budget

Pick up a vintage gem

You won’t find a better vintage offering than some of the shops and markets in this city – fact.
This Danish hub offers a wide range of vintage wares that are perfect if you’re visiting Amsterdam on a budget. At Kiloshop items are priced by weight, I’ve managed to find historical soviet pins, Parisian posters and European tea dresses here for under €10. On trendier Haarlemmerstraat, pop into Rumors Vintage for stylish coats and jackets or spend a couple of hours sifting through one of the local flea markets; I’ve been to the monthly flea market at Noord’s IJ-Hallen Vlooienmarkt and absolutely loved it.

amsterdam-on-a-budget

Do you have any recommendations for doing Amsterdam on a budget?

 

How to do Amsterdam on a budget | Ladies What Travel

Suitcases and Sandcastles
MummyTravels

Louise works as a Senior Strategist in the digital marketing industry and loves to see as much of the world as often as she can. She had her wedding and honeymoon in Iceland and dreams of going back. She also loves a European city break, as well as Asian adventures. Japan, Norway and LA are next on her wish list.

35 Comments

  • Chiera

    Some great advice for seeing Amsterdam on a budget! I absolutely love it there, and as it’s pretty touristy people may think they have to spend to enjoy, when really there is so much accessible and you barely have to spend a penny! #FarawayFiles

    • Louise

      Totally agree, Chiera. You don’t have to do all the touristy things to have a great time in Amsterdam. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best. The first time I went, I just walked around taking in its beauty… 🙂

  • Ruth

    Like all the suggestions in here. I think a lot of places can be seen in an affordable way if needed (the problem is usually the accommodations and food prices). I can’t believe Vienna made the affordability list. I went last year and didn’t find it that cheap.

    • Louise

      Oh really, Ruth? What was Vienna like? I agree in that the cost is the accom and food but I used Airbnb in Amsterdam and it was incredible value for money. The guest even laid on food, so it was a lot easier to budget. We splurged on a couple of meals out but that’s all. It was a bit of a steal that property x

  • Katy Clarke

    I’d love to visit the Electric LadyLand museum and am such a big fan of walking tours. A relax in Vondelpark near the Van Gogh museum also costs nothing and it’s such a beautiful space. Thanks for joining us on #farawayfiles

    • Louise

      You should totally go, it’s incredible! 🙂 Walking tours are definitely my go-to for exploring new places… it’s great with a local guide telling you all their favourite places. That’s how I discovered some of the best spots in Amsterdam. Vondelpark is SO beautiful, especially picnics in the Spring… No worries, Katy x

  • Addie Gray

    Love all of these suggestions! I’m currently a student in Scotland but I’m originally from the US, so I want to see as much of Europe as I can while I’m here because it’s so much cheaper to get places. But I always run into trouble saving money once I’m actually there. I’ll definitely save this post for later reference when I go to Amsterdam! #FarawayFiles

    • Louise

      Thanks, Addie. It’s definitely one of the cheaper places in Europe to visit. You could almost do it on a whim! Where else have you gone so far? I’d definitely recommend Barcelona, Florence and Berlin – all can be done on the cheap and are incredible places x

  • Kat

    Oh great tips and especially about vintage markets because I love vintage! I have read many articles about how expensive Amsterdam is but seldom come across guides like yours which give alternatives to help us save some moolah. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #farawayfiles

    • Louise

      No worries, Kat. It was a pleasure to put this together. You don’t always have to spend a load to experience somewhere new, especially not in Amsterdam. Even the vintage there is well-priced 😉 x

  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    Some great tips for budget travel. There are quite a lot of free activities in Amsterdam if you know where to look and the sights and walks are an absolute delight. I’m amazed that Venice was on the list of the cheapest city breaks. We haven’t visited because of the high cost of flights and accommodation compared to other cities. Thanks for sharing your tips on #FarawayFiles

    • Louise

      It’s a pleasure, Clare. Ah really, it’s such a shame because Venice looks so incredibly beautiful. Having worked in travel, I’d definitely agree that the hotels are pricey there. Not just that, I don’t think I could go without a boat ride to Burano and they’re not cheap either… x

  • Sharon

    Wonderful post! I love Amsterdam! We did pay to go to the Anne Frank museum and it’s well worth the small price. But you’re so right that much of the charm of Amsterdam is free — just stroll around the canals and over the bridges. We also hit a Saturday market that was fabulous — and free!

    • Louise

      Which market did you go to, Sharon? There’s just so many to choose from! The Anne Frank museum had me in tears so many times, as you say, well worth the admission fee 🙂

    • Louise

      There was SO much! 🙂 You could actually smell that and the garlic from down the street. Helps if you’re not sure which corner the market is on! Definitely give it a visit, there’s so much there and it’s perfect for a weekend x

  • Elizabeth Newcamp

    You’ve found so many fun things to do in Amsterdam. We live a bit south and are always looking for new fun things to do with guests in Amsterdam. I love all the little towns in the Netherlands and exploring the countryside but you always find something new in Amsterdam! Thanks for sharing. #CityTripping

    • Louise

      Thanks Emma! Defo the easiest city I’ve ever been to where you don’t have to spend money, I guess that’s why I’ve been back a few times 😛

  • Cathy (Mummytravels)

    I could very happily spend hours in the Vondelpark, such a lovely place especially in the summer – Amsterdam’s little quirky museum’s are fantastic too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  • Vlad

    Vienna and Venice being cheap city break destinations? The accommodation prices are crazy high! I loved Amsterdam and I found it rather easy to see it on a budget, I’m dying to go back 😀 #citytripping

    • Louise

      We thought the same thing, Vlad but apparently so! The accommodation is, unless you stay in a hostel, but everything else not so much. It must balance itself out. You should totally go back! 😉

    • Louise

      It’s amazing what nuggets come out on a walking guided tour 😉 They’re both work a visit for sure. Vondelpark is absolutely beautiful and the Rijksmuseum has so many Dutch treasures to see!

    • Louise

      You absolutely should, Sarah! 🙂 If you like zoos, then the one in Amsterdam is hands down the best I’ve ever been to. You can tell they genuinely care about their animals.

  • Stuart Forster

    Especially for first time visitors it’s well worth taking a canal tour of Amsterdam, so good to see that on your list. They can be quite romantic (and a welcome break for the feet after a busy day of walking) as dusk falls.

    • Louise

      No worries, Stuart. It had to be, it’s the perfect introduction! 🙂 I always find the canal trips romantic, unless your husband falls asleep… then not so much! 😛

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