The Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam on a Budget (2023)
If you’re visiting Amsterdam on a budget, the good news is that there are plenty of ways you can experience everything this fantastic city has to offer without breaking the bank. Its fantastic blend of history, entertainment, culture, architecture and vibrant nightlight makes it a must-visit destination for travellers.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your euros, from visiting Amsterdam at the cheapest time of year (winter) to saving money on transport by seeing the sights on foot or by bicycle. Here we’ll look at how you can do Amsterdam on a budget with the best budget-friendly accommodation, activities, sights, food and more in this ultimate guide to Amsterdam on a budget.
Where to stay in Amsterdam on a budget
You have several options when it comes to budget-friendly accommodation in Amsterdam. Various hotels are available to suit different budgets, but even the cheapest hotels can be expensive for budget-conscious travellers, especially during peak season. Hostels offer a much more affordable option for accommodation, offering clean and comfortable rooms at a fraction of the cost of hotels.
Staying at ClinkNOORD
ClinkNOORD Youth Hostel offers travellers on a budget the chance to save money while enjoying a comfortable and convenient stay in Amsterdam. We have great options if you’re travelling as a group or want added privacy for a romantic getaway. Not only do we provide affordable accommodation, but our hostel also serves as a hub for meeting other travellers.
With a focus on community and a fun atmosphere, ClinkNOORD is ideal for backpackers and solo travellers looking to connect with like-minded people. With its modern facilities, prime location, and friendly staff, ClinkNOORD is the perfect choice for anyone looking to experience Amsterdam on a budget. We provide free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and regular events and activities to ensure you get the most out of your stay. Choose from private single, double and family en-suite rooms, 4-8 and 8-14 bed en-suite dorms and four and 10-bed girls en-suite dorms. Hostels are also a great way to find cheap group accommodation in Amsterdam if you plan to travel in a group.
How to travel cheaply in Amsterdam
Travelling around Amsterdam can be expensive, but there are ways to save money while exploring the city.
Amsterdam is a relatively small, compact, pedestrian-friendly city easily explored on foot. Walking through Amsterdam’s canals, narrow streets, and picturesque neighbourhoods allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s unique charm and architecture at your own pace.
Amsterdam has many scenic walks and pathways, including Vondelpark, the city’s largest and most famous park. Jordaan neighbourhood is known for its vibrant street culture, beautiful architecture and shops, galleries and cafes. There’s also Amsterdam’s canal belt, where you can stroll along the city’s iconic canals and admire historic buildings and picturesque houseboats. Check out one of the several free walking tours in Amsterdam, including Sandemans New Amsterdam Tour and Free Tour Amsterdam.
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Renting a bike
Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Nearly everyone here cycles and the city has over 400 kilometres of bike lanes and paths, making it easy and safe to get around on two wheels. Many of the city’s main attractions are located within cycling distance of each other, so getting around by bike is efficient and eco-friendly.
Bikes are available for rent at many locations throughout the city. Some bike rental shops also offer guided bike tours, allowing you to explore Amsterdam with a knowledgeable guide who can share interesting facts and local insights.
Amsterdam has many nice cycling routes to explore the city on two wheels, including the Amsterdam-North route, Amstel River route, Waterland route, Green Heart route and the historic Jordaan neighbourhood route.
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Trams, buses and ferries
If you are travelling a long distance in Amsterdam, taking the tram or bus can be a convenient and efficient option. The trams and buses are spacious, comfortable, and easy to use with regular schedules and clear signage. They are also more cost-effective than taking a taxi, especially if you plan to travel a long distance.
The ferry in Amsterdam is a free, convenient and scenic way to travel without having to navigate the city’s busy streets and is essential if you want to visit the Amsterdam Noord area. There are various ferry departure points across central Amsterdam and the ferries typically run every five to 10 minutes.
The OV-chipkaart travel card
The OV-chipkaart is an electronic smartcard used for public transportation in Amsterdam that you preload with funds. It can be used across all forms of public transport, including trains, buses, trams and ferries, and the cost of your journey is deducted from the card’s balance.
To use an OV-chipkaart, you need to use the card readers on board trams, buses, trains, and ferry terminals to check in and out. The cost of your journey will be calculated based on the time of day and the distance you’ve travelled.
Things to do in Amsterdam on a budget
Amsterdam offers a range of low-cost and free activities for visitors. Take a free walking tour to explore the city, visit world-class museums with free or discounted admission on certain days, relax in one of Amsterdam’s many parks like Vondelpark, browse local markets, such as Albert Cuypmarkt, or rent a bike to see the sights.
Enjoy local food and drinks at affordable prices, including street food stalls and traditional Dutch cuisine at cafes and restaurants. Check the tourist information centre or museum websites for updated information on free and discounted admission days.
One of the best ways to see Amsterdam’s most iconic landmarks is by taking a free walking tour of the city. A walking tour allows you to explore the city at a leisurely pace, while a knowledgeable guide introduces you to Amsterdam’s history, culture, and architecture.
During a walking tour, you’ll see famous landmarks like the Anne Frank House, Dam Square, Oude Kerk, The Van Gogh Museum and the Royal Palace, and many others. Free walking tours typically last two to three hours and are a great way to get an overview of the city and its sights without spending much money. These tours usually operate on a “pay what you wish” basis, so you can choose to donate what you feel the tour was worth after it’s completed.
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Amsterdam is home to many world-class museums, including the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum which typically charge admission fees. However, there are several unique and interesting museums in Amsterdam that are free to visit, such as the EYE Filmmuseum, Cannabis College, Melkweg Expo, the Civic Guards Gallery, and Amsterdam City Archives. Here you can explore the city’s rich cultural heritage and history without breaking the bank.
These free museums offer a unique and engaging look into different aspects of Amsterdam’s history and culture and are definitely worth a visit for those interested in exploring the city’s cultural offerings.
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Amsterdam is abundant with beautiful parks, with some of the most famous being Vondelpark, ideal for picnics and outdoor concerts; Rembrandtpark, Oosterpark, known for its large pond and gardens; Westerpark, popular with families for its playground, picnic areas and a large pond, and Amstel park, popular with joggers and cyclists.
These parks offer a wonderful opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam’s city centre and enjoy some fresh air and green space. There are also some lesser-known parks in Amsterdam that are well worth visiting, including the Amsterdam Forest or Amsterdamse Bos, a large, forested area offering lakes, picnic areas and cycle paths.
Frankendael is a pretty park with a large pond, manicured gardens and a historic manor house. Amstelpark is large with walking paths, a lake, a botanical garden and a bird sanctuary. These parks offer a peaceful escape from the busy city and a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of Amsterdam.
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Amsterdam is known for its vibrant and diverse markets, offering a wide range of goods, from fresh produce to handmade crafts. Some of the most interesting markets in Amsterdam include Bloemenmarket, a floating flower market, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam’s largest daily market, and Waterlooplein Flea Market, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of antiques, clothing and secondhand goods. Don’t forget to also check out Ten Katemarket, known for its household goods and fresh produce and Noordermarket, a popular destination for handmade crafts, fresh produce and clothing. These markets offer a unique glimpse into Amsterdam’s rich cultural heritage and are a must-visit for anyone looking for a truly local experience.
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Top 5 unmissable free things to do in Amsterdam
Get to know Amsterdam’s personality, rich history and culture with these five unmissable free things to do in the city:
- Free Amsterdam walking tour: Join a free walking tour of the city to discover its history and architecture. Guides will take you to some of Amsterdam’s most iconic landmarks, including Dam Square, the Royal Palace, and the Begijnhof.
- The Canal Belt at night: The canals of Amsterdam are even more beautiful at night when they are lit up and the reflections shimmer in the water. Take a stroll along the waterways to see the city in a new light.
- Amsterdam street art: Amsterdam is home to a thriving street art scene, with murals and graffiti art visible throughout the city. Some popular neighbourhoods to check out include De Pijp and Jordaan.
- The Gassan Diamonds Factory tour: Take a free tour of the Gassan Diamonds factory to learn about the history of diamond cutting in Amsterdam. You’ll get to see the diamond cutters at work and learn about the process of turning rough stones into sparkling gems.
- Friday Night Skate at Vondelpark: The Friday Night Skate at Vondelpark in Amsterdam is a weekly event where skaters gather to skate around the park. The route is approximately 10 km and is patrolled by volunteer marshals. The event is a fun and safe way to explore the city on skates.
Eating in Amsterdam on a budget
Eating in Amsterdam doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little creativity and an adventurous spirit, it’s easy to enjoy Amsterdam’s food scene on a budget. Whether you’re looking for street food, a takeaway, or a sit-down meal, read on to discover some of the best places to eat in Amsterdam on a budget.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Amsterdam is home to a variety of affordable and diverse breakfast options for those seeking a hearty and budget-friendly start to their day. At ClinkNOORD, our restaurant offers a delicious and filling breakfast buffet. Another great option is the Hema breakfast deal, which includes freshly brewed coffee and croissant. For a sit-down experience, Café de Jaren is a popular spot known for its affordable breakfast platters, including a variety of bread, spreads, and toppings to choose from. Many cafes and bakeries also offer take-out options, perfect for exploring the city on foot.
Amsterdam offers plenty of options for cheap and tasty meals, whether it be for lunch or dinner. Mister Meatball, located in the heart of the city, offers a variety of meatball dishes made with high-quality ingredients, all at an affordable price.
Another popular option is Toastable Nieuwendijk, a small cafe known for its delicious toasted sandwiches and salads, all made with fresh ingredients. Sefa Grill Restaurant is another affordable option, offering a variety of Turkish and Mediterranean dishes, including kebabs, falafel, and mixed grill platters.
For those seeking some vegan comfort food, try the Vegan Junk Food Bar, a vegan restaurant that serves up a variety of plant-based dishes designed to mimic meat-based junk food items such as burgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken.
Going out in Amsterdam on a budget
Amsterdam is a vibrant city that comes alive at night, offering various options for a budget-friendly, fun and memorable night out. From live music venues and dance clubs to bars and pubs, Amsterdam has something to suit every taste and budget.
Pubs and bars
This city offers a diverse range of pubs and bars, each with its own unique atmosphere and drink selection. For a traditional experience, visit one of Amsterdam’s many brown cafés, which are known for their cosy ambience and selection of local beers and Dutch spirits.
Another popular option is The Greenhouse Effect, a vibrant bar that serves up a range of drinks, including cocktails and beers, in a lively and friendly environment. For those looking for a more alternative and eclectic experience, check out OT301, a cultural centre that serves as a bar, concert venue, and cinema. Whether you’re looking for a nightcap or a place to catch up with friends, Amsterdam has a great choice of affordable and lively pubs and bars to choose from.
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Live music venues
In Amsterdam, you’ll find a thriving live music scene, with a variety of venues that offer free live performances. Mulligans Irish Music Bar is a popular destination for those looking to enjoy traditional Irish music, with live performances by local and visiting musicians.
The Cave Rock Club is another great option, offering a range of rock, pop, and alternative music, with a lively and energetic atmosphere. Jazz Café Alto is a popular spot for jazz fans, offering live performances by local and international jazz musicians, along with a range of drinks and snacks.
The Jitterbug Saloon is a vibrant and eclectic venue that showcases live performances by local and international artists, with a focus on swing and blues music. Sound Garden is another great place for music lovers, offering live performances by local and international artists, as well as a variety of drinks and snacks.
To sum up
Even on a budget, you can experience everything Amsterdam has to offer by utilising public transportation, cycling, or walking to get around the city, stay at ClinkNOORD Youth Hostel and take advantage of free admission at museums.
Why not take a free walking tour to explore the city, and later enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife and its many free live music events? Amsterdam’s thriving food culture also offers a range of budget-friendly options. With a little bit of research and planning, you can have a memorable experience in Amsterdam without breaking the bank.