As a student, travelling in Holland was a bit expensive. I visited Amsterdam a few times last year to explore the city, but since I had already spent 40 euros on a return train ticket, I didn’t want to spend much more. Thus, I looked at what I could do there spending a minimum amount of money. Here are my suggestions for cheap or free attractions if you are exploring Amsterdam on a tight budget.
1. Free walking tour
If you are going to Amsterdam for the first time, I would recommend heading to Dam Square for a free walking tour of the city. The first time I visited I had only a couple of hours, so the tour was a great option. You can learn about the history of the city, about the drug decriminalization and what you can find in the canals in Amsterdam. You can spot famous landmarks such as Anne Frank’s House and the smallest house in Amsterdam. The tour lasts around 2.30h and you get a map of the city as well. Although the tours are free, it is courteous to express your gratitude to your guide at the end. The tour I did was organized by Sandemans and they run from 10 am to 3 pm every half an hour.
Head to Rembrandtplein where you will see a statue of Rembrandt and the Night Watch. As you might have guessed the square is named after the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. If you visit there in the evening the square turns into a nightlife hub with a lot of cafes, bars and clubs.
3. Bridge of 15 bridges
2 minutes from Rembrandtplein is the Bridge of 15 Bridges. A good spot for a picture or to enjoy the lights in the evening, as the bridges are illuminated at night. You can see the 14 of the bridges while standing on the bridge: turn your back to the Thorbeckeplein to spot six of them. To the left, you will see six more over the Herengracht and on the right, you are the last two. Of course, the 15th bridge is the one you are standing on.
4. The floating flower market
Everyone knows that Holland is famous for canals and tulips, thus the floating flower market in Amsterdam is a must see. You will find it floating on the Singel Canal and blooming with flowers. It’s a good place to hunt for souvenirs for your family and friends.
The Begijnhof is a private courtyard with medieval houses which can be accessed through a wooden door on Spui. It was originally built in 1346 as a living place for a Catholic sisterhood known as Begijntjes. Here you can see the oldest house which has survived in Amsterdam since 1475. Women still live in the place, so large groups are not allowed in the courtyard.
6. Take a picture with the iconic I Amsterdam Sign
Museumplein is one of the most visited squares in Amsterdam. It is right in front of Rijksmuseum and it is where the I Amsterdam Sign is located. You will see a lot of people posing for a picture there. Another place where you can find a smaller I Amsterdam Sign is in front of Schiphol airport.
7. Explore the Red Light District
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a walk through the Red Light District. You can explore on your own or book one of the walking tours if you want to learn more about the history of the place. You can find it in one of the oldest parts of the city. During the night the district illuminates with fluorescent red light and comes to live with coffee shops, sex shops, gay bars and window prostitutes. Note that it is forbidden to take pictures of the women.
Things I haven’t done but I wish I had time to:
Nemo Panorama Terrace
A panorama terrace accessible free of charge at the Nemo Science Centre museum. It is 22m high and can be accessed through a staircase. A friend of mine visited it and said that it is definitely worth it. There is a Rooftop Café on top and I bet that the view will be amazing.
Free Boat Trip
Yes, you understood correctly, there are free boat tours behind the Central Station of Amsterdam which go to the North of Amsterdam. The ferry crosses the IJ river and they are free for passengers, cyclists and moped riders. They run 24h. Next time when I am visiting, I am going to check them out for sure.
Do you have favourite free attractions in Amsterdam as well? Let me know in the comments.
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A girl from Bulgaria, travelling around Europe and sharing her travelling experiences! Currently living in Scotland.