Amsterdam on a budget: The best free things to see and do (2024)

Visitar Amesterdão gastando pouco.
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2024-01-25

Is it possible to visit Amsterdam on a budget? Of course, as long as you have the correct information and follow some of the suggestions I share in this article.

Amsterdam is a vibrant city filled with culture, history and stunning architecture. However, for many tourists, the city can be quite expensive.

But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune to enjoy everything Amsterdam has to offer, as I mentioned before, you just need to have the right information!

In fact, there are many things you can do and see in Amsterdam without spending a penny. So, in this article, I’m going to explore some of the best free activities Amsterdam has to offer.

From free museums, events and festivals, no-ticket sights and free gardens in the capital of the Netherlands, you’ll find your days visiting Amsterdam on a budget to be quite full. And your wallet won’t empty…

This is because I will also share tips to save money on hotels, restaurants and transport that I follow on all my trips and that allow me to travel frequently.

As you can see, it is possible to enjoy Amsterdam without spending a lot of money, as long as you take advantage of some of these practical suggestions for free activities and savings tips that I share below.

Best things to See and Do in Amsterdam for free

Praça Dam, Amesterdão. Amsterdam on a budget.
Dam Square, Amsterdam.

Take note of the free museums in Amsterdam, festivals that take place throughout the year, the main free tourist attractions, as well as the most sought after gardens and green areas in the city.

All this without paying a penny!

Free Museums in Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum Schiphol (Museum at Schiphol Airport)

The Rijksmuseum Schiphol was the first museum to open in an airport, and is a branch of the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

It’s open every day from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm and has free admission, so don’t forget to include it in your itinerary when visiting Amsterdam.

To visit this free museum, go to the first floor of the airport, after security, between concourse E and F.

Open Space Contemporary Art Museum (OSCAM)

The Open Space Contemporary Art Museum (OSCAM) is a museum of art, fashion, design, crafts and development in Amsterdam.

In addition to the exhibition, you can also participate in the workshops that take place regularly in this museum.

At the end, if you want, you can leave a monetary contribution, however, the visit is free.

Amsterdam on a budget: Free festivals

Estação Central em Amesterdão. Amsterdam on a budget
Central Station in Amsterdam.

ARTZUID – Netherlands Sculpture Biennale

ARTZUID is a Sculpture Biennial that takes place every two years in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and the next edition is in 2023.

The event presents a diverse selection of contemporary works of art, produced by Dutch and international artists. It is a cultural event of great importance for the city, attracting thousands of visitors and, as I mentioned, it is free.

Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual event that takes place in the city of Amsterdam during the winter. It is a public art festival that celebrates the beauty of the city through lighting and design.

During the Amsterdam Light Festival, the city becomes a stage of lights, with various artistic installations spread across the streets, canals and bridges. Artists from all over the world participate in the festival, creating incredible works that use different lighting technologies such as LED, projections and lasers.

The Amsterdam Light Festival usually takes place between November and January, and in addition to the works of art that illuminate the city, it includes a series of cultural activities, such as lectures, guided tours and live performances.

Amsterdam Christmas Market

The Amsterdam Christmas Market usually takes place during the month of December (there are still no dates for 2023), with several stalls spread across the city. It’s an opportunity for visitors to experience local culture, including food, drinks and handicrafts.

You can expect a charming and cozy atmosphere at the Amsterdam Christmas Market, with the city lit up with Christmas lights and decorations.

In the market, you can find handcrafted products such as candles, ceramics, jewelry and clothing. There is also a wide range of typical Dutch foods and drinks, such as stroopwafels, bitterballen, and the traditional mulled wine known as glühwein.

In addition, the Amsterdam Christmas Market also offers cultural attractions such as musical and theatrical performances. There is also the possibility of visiting the ice rink in the Museums area.

Amsterdam on a budget: free sights in Amsterdam

O que fazer em Amesterdão: cruzeiro nos canais.
What to do in Amsterdam on a budget: explore the canals.

Please remember that some of Amsterdam’s sights are public places for which you don’t need to buy a ticket.

Dam Square, for example, is an excellent starting point for exploring the city.

One of the main attractions of Dam Square is the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, which was built in the 17th century and is the official residence of the King of Holland. Visitors can tour the palace during the summer months when it is open to the public.

Another highlight of Dam Square is the Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church that is now used as an exhibition and concert venue. In the church is the Royal Mausoleum, a monument that honors the Dutch royal family.

From Dam Square go to the canal area and explore the city, preferably on foot.

In terms of historic neighborhoods to visit in Amsterdam for free, you already know that the most touristic area is Amsterdam-Centrum, which is where Dam Square is located, as well as several shops, restaurants and bars for tourists, that is, more expensive .

On the other hand, the De Wallen neighborhood is known for being the medieval center, while in the Jordaan neighborhood there are several more affordable restaurants for dinner.

During the day in the De Pijp neighborhood you can visit the Albert Cuyp street market and the green spaces in Westerpark for free, so they should be part of your itinerary of free things in Amsterdam!

Trendy bars and concert venues are in the Leidseplein district, and of course, don’t forget to include the Red Light District in your itinerary in Amsterdam on a budget.

Free Gardens and parks in Amsterdam

Vondelpark, Amesterdão, Países Baixos.
Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Visit the Rijksmuseum Gardens for free

The Rijksmuseum is one of the most famous and visited museums in Amsterdam, attracting thousands of tourists every year. However, what many visitors don’t know is that the museum’s gardens can be visited for free, without the need to buy a ticket to enter the museum.

The Rijksmuseum Gardens are a true oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the city, offering a peaceful place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty in the heart of the city.

In total there are four gardens, two at the front and two at the back of the museum, all with a wide variety of plants and flowers, including rare and exotic species, as well as a large number of majestic trees that provide shade and a fresh environment.

And if you like art, in addition to admiring the building that is the Rijksmuseum up close, you can also observe the sculptures and fountains that adorn the green space of the garden.

Walk in Vondelpark and take a Yoga or Tai Chi class

One of the main attractions of Vondelpark is simply walking and exploring the park.

Visitors can admire the natural landscape, which includes lakes, bridges and a wide variety of plants and animals, such as ducks and swans. There are also outdoor sculptures and artwork that embellish the park.

Also, at Vondelpark there are some free activities for visitors to enjoy.

That is, tourists can attend live music concerts, theater and dance performances and even free yoga and tai chi classes.

Tips to save money in Amsterdam (hotel, restaurants and transport)

Hotel Ibis Amsterdam.
Ibis Amsterdam Hotel.

Here are some suggestions for saving money while traveling, most of which can be applied to other European capitals.

When it comes to accommodation, to get a cheap hotel it’s important to book as early as possible. If the hotel prices don’t suit you, consider staying in a hostel or in an area farther from the center.

Cheap hotels in Amsterdam can be found through websites such as Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Cheep Hotels in Amsterdam

Meals can weigh heavily on a travel budget, so stock up on ready-to-eat meals at local markets like Albert Cuyp and have a picnic in a nearby park.

In addition, as a rule, lunches in restaurants tend to be cheaper compared to dinner. So, choose to have lunch at a restaurant and for dinner, buy something cheaper like pizza or sandwiches.

By the way, it is relevant to mention that there are several budget restaurants offering hamburgers, kebabs and ready-to-go meals for around 6-7€. There are also KFC, Burguer King, McDonalds, Dominos and the like scattered around the city if you want to save a few euros.

In terms of transport, Amsterdam is very easy to visit on foot, but if you want to get an idea of the prices of public transport, a ticket for the metro, bus or tram costs 3.20 and is valid for one hour.

Ticket can be used on different public transports in Amsterdam, as long as it is within the period of one hour after validation.

Taxis in Amsterdam are expensive, but there is Uber in the city of Amsterdam and at the Airport, so it is a good alternative if you are traveling with heavy bags or with children.

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