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69 free & cheap things to do in Amsterdam 1


Visiting and exploring Amsterdam doesn’t have to be expensive. We’ve compiled a list of 69 free (and under $6!) things to do in Amsterdam that will let you have fun without breaking the bank.

Our list is ordered based on location, in neighbourhoods going outward from the Central Station, so no matter where your hotel or Airbnb is, you don’t have to travel far to have some low-priced fun!

 

Amsterdam Central Station area

    1. Cycle tunnel
      Located directly underneath Amsterdam’s Central Station is a tunnel built exclusively for cyclists and visitors who are on foot! Built in 2015, this passageway is a relatively new addition to the city. As you walk or ride through the tunnel, be sure to look at the murals on the walls, created my local Dutch artists. Don’t worry if you’re afraid of the dark – the area is always lit, and is a straight road, so you can see the end of it during your entire trek. Walk under the station for something to do, or to get to the ferry on the other side, without having to pass by busy intersections up above.
    2. NDSM Wharf
      This former shipyard is now the home of street art, artists, and local nightlife. The free 15-minute ferry ride along the River IJ right by Central Station will take you to this cultural hotspot now known for flea markets, festivals, and outdoor movie events during the summer months.
    3. Café Karpershoek
      Café Karpershoek boasts the title of being the oldest bar in Amsterdam. Located just across from Central Station, this bar opened its doors in 1606, originally as a guest house for sailors of the Dutch East-Indian Company.
    4. Sex Museum
      One of the more remarkable museums in Amsterdam is the Sex Museum. Located just south of Central Station is a museum that is unique in its own right. For just $4 (yes, an entire museum for a price this cheap!), visitors can explore the history of sex in all of its forms. Note that those under 16 years old are not allowed – this is one inexpensive outing to have without the little ones!
    5. Zeedijk 1, a wooden house
      What makes this house so unique is that it is only one of two wooden houses still standing in Amsterdam today. (The other one is Begijnhof 34, down below!) The use of timber for buildings was banned in 1669 after two fires nearly destroyed the city in 1421 and 1452. The house is located in a narrow street, which may not look like much, but the history and difference between that of the wood and the brick houses around it allow for a unique peek at Dutch history.The Catboat - De Poezenboot
    6. De Poezenboot, or Cat Boat
      If you love cats, you will love this houseboat! Located on the Singel, this oasis for the furry friends is completely free to visit, though the Poezenboot organization does rely on donations to stay afloat. Remember to plan your trip ahead of time, as this boat is very popular and entrance is limited. But once you’re in, you’re in, and don’t be afraid to fall in love — adoption at this location is possible!
    7. Singel 7, the narrowest house
      Continuing on our theme of unique architecture in the city, Singel 7 is home to the narrowest facade in Amsterdam. At only one meter wide, this building is wedged in between two larger houses, creating for an interesting sight. If you don’t feel like walking to it and plan on going on a canal cruise, don’t worry — Singel 7 faces the canal, and the tour guides almost always point it out.

Oosterdok area

    1. Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA)
      Just east of the Centraal Station on your way to the docks is Amsterdam’s main public library. The OBA is eight stories tall, and a sight to see even if you don’t go inside. With both English and Dutch texts, book lovers and history aficionados can spend hours here. Plus, WiFi is only $1 for every 30 minutes you spend here. So, if you need to post an Instagram story of your gorgeous view of the Oosterdok, they’ve got you covered!

      Kids playing in the water on the rooftop terrace at NEMO science museum

      NEMO offers an entertaining, educational experience inside. The rooftop terrace, however, offers space for fun & relaxation

    2. NEMO Science Museum roof terrace
      If you’re enjoying the NEMO Science Museum, be sure to visit the terrace on top of the roof for some much-needed relaxation time. And even if you haven’t bought a ticket to this fun location, you can still visit the roof for free! Take a breather and check out Energetica, an exhibit on the terrace to learn how they are generating power for the building using nature.
    3. Museum Haven
      Sailors and ocean lovers will love to check out this area of the docks, where more than 20 historical ships are docked and on display in the Oosterdok. Preserved by the Harbor Museum Society, this area can be visited via a pedestrian bridge.
    4. ARCAM
      For an interesting look at architecture, urban design, and landscaping, the Architectuur Centrum Amsterdam (or, Architecture Centre Amsterdam) is the place to be. Though the museum itself, as well as interesting architectural walking tours, cost money, the building is something to stop and look at, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and funky shape. Check out their website for directions and opening hours.
    5. Python Bridge/High Bridge
      The Pythonbrug is a red pedestrian bridge in northeast Amsterdam that spans 90 meters, the longest and tallest in the city. It even has stairs because it’s so tall! Visitors have a great view of the IJ as they travel from Borneo Isle to Zeeburg.

De Wallen – Red Light area

red light district amsterdam

    1. Red Light District
      A staple of Amsterdam culture is the Red Light District, which truly needs no introduction or explanation. Free to walk around at any time of day or night, this area is the most popular tourist spot in the city, making for some truly unique stories.
    2. Condomerie
      For the sex-positive (and safe!) type, there is actually a specialty condom shop in Amsterdam! Located in the Red Light District, this shop was aimed to remove the taboo of buying and selling condoms, especially in a time that STIs were on high alert in the 1980s.
    3. W139 art space
      With pay-what-you-will pricing, this little-known art gallery, W139, is home to dozens of contemporary art created by Dutch artists. This artist-run space is an interesting museum for art lovers who want something new to see and enjoy.
    4. Oude Hoogstraat 22, the smallest house
      Built in 1738, the smallest house in Amsterdam is only 2.02 meters (6 feet, 7 inches) wide and 5 meters (16 feet, 4 inches) deep. Though it was originally a residence, the building is now home to a tearoom and shop selling tea ceramics created by Dutch potters. Right across the canal from this tiny house is the widest house known as the Trippenhuis.
    5. Trippenhuis, the widest house
      Built in 1666, the Trippenhuis is located along the Kloveniersburgwal canal. At 22 meters (72 feet) wide, this is the most spacious residence in Amsterdam. It is so large, in fact, that it used to house the Rijksmuseum in the 1800s before the museum moved to its permanent spot at the Museumplein.

Dam Square

Royal-palace-dam-square

    1. Sandeman’s New Amsterdam walking tour
      Sandeman’s New Amsterdam offers free and low-priced 3-hour walking tours, with the organization relying mainly on tips. The meeting point is the National Monument in Dam Square, and the tours are conducted regularly, and it is suggested that you book your tickets in advance.
    2. Beurspassage
      The Beurspassage is simply a beautiful tunnel from Nieuwendijk to Damrak streets. If you’re looking for some gorgeous antique sights for free, this literal hole in the wall is perfect.
    3. Scheltema Bookshop
      The Scheltema Bookshop is one of the biggest bookshops in Europe, with five stories, and one of the oldest in the Netherlands, constructed in 1853. With many new and used titles in both English and Dutch, book lovers can spend an entire afternoon here.
    4. Rokin Station
      The Noord/Zuidlijn is Amsterdam’s newest subway line. It opened its doors in July 2018, 7 years later than expected. As the name suggests, the new subway line connects the Northern part of Amsterdam to the South. During the 15 years of digging and building, a lot of old artefacts were found. Many of them are now on display at Rokin station, you can see them for free when you take the escalator in our out of the station.

Jordaan

    1. Westerkerk church
      For those visiting Westerkerk plaza, be sure to check out the Westerkerk church, the biggest church in Amsterdam. Visiting the church and admiring the gorgeous architecture with its 85-meter (278 feet) bell tower, or Westertoren, is, of course, free, but tickets to tour and go up the tower is $7 from April to October. On Tuesdays, you can hear the concert the bells perform, which include classical compositions, and even songs by contemporary artists like The Beatles!
    2. Anne Frank statue
      One of two statues of Anne Frank in Amsterdam (the other one is at Merwedeplein, noted down below!), this lifesize piece of art can be found in Westerkerk plaza. The artist, Mari Andriessen, expertly captured Anne’s essence as she gazes at the city beyond.
    3. Electric Ladyland
      This hole-in-the-wall art museum focuses on fluorescent art, making it the only museum of its kind in the world. For the low price of $5 for a ticket, visitors can view the incredible art pieces and then become a part of the art themselves through what they call “Participatory Art.” Tickets and tours of the museum are by appointment only, but you don’t want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.
    4. Het Huis met de Hoofden (the House with the Heads)
      Another interesting house for your tour, the House with the Heads, located at Keizersgracht 123, boasts multiple pieces of art on its facade, like gargoyles, pillars, and, most notably, heads. Constructed in 1622, this, too, you can see while on a canal cruise.
    5. Noorderkerk
      A protestant church northwest of the Central Station, the Noorderkerk church finished construction in 1623 and still has Sunday services today. There are also concerts every Saturday at 2 PM, from mid-September to mid-June. The impressive facade of the building almost rivals the inside, with its cross-shaped floor plan.
    6. Noordermarkt
      The first ever organic farmers market in the Netherlands, this outdoor market is open on Saturdays, no matter the weather. Vendors here emphasize locally grown, organic, sustainable products, emphasizing the simple production of fruits and vegetables.
    7. Cats & Things Shop
      Can you tell the people of Amsterdam like cats? Continuing this tradition, this quaint shop has nearly every kitten-inspired item you can think of, from jewellery to cushions, including items for your cat itself.

Spui

    1. Begijnhof
      This hidden courtyard, called Begijnhof, is located off the Spuiplein, where the women of the Catholic sisterhood lived and spent their free time. The area is still home to two churches today, providing a tiny oasis for all who enter.
    2. Houten Huys, a wooden house
      Known as Houten Huys (wooden house), Begijnhof 34 is also the oldest house in Amsterdam, built around 1425, and one of two houses still with their original wooden construction. The other one is Zeedijk 1, which you can learn about above.
    3. ABC Bookshop (American Book Center)
      With three stories of English and Dutch books, the American Book Center is a large shop for book lovers everywhere. It’s located just next to the Begijnhof entry.
    4. Amsterdam Book Market
      Another one for book lovers, the book market at Spui is flea market-type area open every Friday, selling new and vintage texts.

Bloemenmarkt

    1. Bloemenmarkt (The Flower Market)
      The Bloemenmarkt is another Amsterdam staple, located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein. It’s the only floating flower market in the world and, though it may not appear so, the stalls are actually suspended above the water. Luckily for travellers, this market is open all year long, and travellers can buy flowers, seeds, and unique Dutch souvenirs.
    2. Stadsarchief Amsterdam (Amsterdam City Archives)
      The Amsterdam City Archives is another building for history buffs. Of note is that the basement is free, but other temporary exhibitions cost. Here, visitors can learn more about the city’s history. Even if you don’t go inside, the building itself is worth a peek!
    3. Fault in Our Stars bench
      Romantic movie lovers, rejoice! Eagle-eyed travellers found the bench that Hazel Grace and Gus sat at when they visited the beautiful city. Located near the intersection of the Herengracht and Leidsegracht canals, this bench doesn’t look special, but a scene recreation is overdue.
    4. Antique stores on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
      In the art district on Keizersgracht are dozens of antique stores to peruse and enjoy. From tacky souvenirs to true local Dutch pieces and artwork, antiquing in these shops is a lovely break from the more touristy locations.

Rembrandtplein

    1. Rembrandtplein
      This popular square is home to life-size statues based on Rembrandt’s paintings. Surrounding the grassy area are shops, restaurants, and bars which are rich with visitors wanting a bit of nightlife.
    2. Bridge of 15 Bridges
      There are 165 canals and more than 1200 bridges in Amsterdam. In this spot, you can see 15 of them. On the bridge crossing of the Reguliersgracht and the Herengracht, stand facing away from Thorbeckeplein. From here, you can see 6 arched bridges across the Reguliersgracht. Look toward your left, down the Herengracht, and you see another 6 bridges. Look to your left, and two more bridges are visible. The 15th bridge is the one you’re standing on.
    3. Utrechtsestraat
      Utrechtsestraat is a trendy street near Rembrandtplein. Here, you can go shopping, eat at restaurants or cafes, or simply window shop to keep within your budget.

Oud Zuid

    1. Museumplein
      A lovely spot to relax is in the Museumplein, especially before the museums open. Though the square is filled with tourists and museumgoers during prime time, the area in the morning is a great spot to grab a coffee and enjoy the scenery.
    2. Lunchtime concerts at the Concertgebouw
      Every Wednesday at 12:30 pm, the Concertgebouw hosts classical concerts for free inside the building! This is a lovely break during the sometimes unpredictable weather of the city and the hubbub of Museumplein. Performances are most often by local artists, but can also include students and school productions.

Vondelpark

    1. Vondelpark
      Vondelpark is a gorgeous spot, one of the many parks nestled in the fast-paced city to explore. With a terrace, rose garden and open-air theatre, to name a few sights among this park, Vondelpark is a lovely break.
    2. Picasso’s “The Fish” (1965)
      One of the many sculptures found in Vondelpark, “The Fish” is actually a Pablo Picasso original. Be sure to explore the park and find this little-known section of art history.
    3. Seven Countries-Houses (1894)
      The architect of Seven Countries-Houses, Tjeerd Kuipers, was inspired by seven European countries and their characteristic styles of building. The Zevenlandenhuizen is at Roemer Visscherstraat, near the entrance to Vondelpark. Walking past these buildings is like travelling through Europe itself.
    4. Max Eeuwe Centre
      This chess museum is a must for any lover of the game, though it does cost money! However, located right by Vondelpark, the area around the museum is a great spot to relax, eat lunch, and watch hardcore chess players sparring in friendly matches.
    5. Friday Night Skate Amsterdam
      The free Friday Night Skate is a must for any experienced in-line skater. This two-hour skating tour is a perfect way to explore and experience Amsterdam when the weather is good. It’s a different route every time, so veteran skaters are sure to enjoy a different view of the city each Friday night! The tour meets in Vondelpark and will always end there, too. Be sure to check out their website for more information.

De Pijp

Flower stand, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam

    1. Albert Cuyp Market
      The largest day market in Amsterdam, the Albert Cuyp Market, named after the famed Dutch painter, is an area with vendors selling clothing, food, flowers, and souvenirs.
    2. Sarphatipark
      Located in the neighbourhood of De Pijp, Sarphatipark is a relatively small garden named after Samuel Sarphati (1813-1866), whose monument is the focal point of the area. With ponds, sports areas, and plenty of walking, this is another relaxing area to get away from central Amsterdam.

Oud-West

    1. De Foodhallen
      De Foodhallen is an indoor food market with around 20 vendors to choose from. Whether you’re grabbing a bite to eat or drink, or just smelling all of the great foods to keep within your budget, this market is a great place to spend an afternoon.
    2. Ten Katemarkt
      Ten Katemarkt is a street market similar to Albert Cuyp Market, but smaller and away from the bustle of the larger, more well-known area. If you’re looking to buy or window-shop your way through a market without the crowds, Ten Katemarkt is the one to go to.
    3. Kattencafe Kopjes
      Kattencafe Kopjes is a cat cafe for all of the cat lovers travelling to Amsterdam. Here, you can enjoy a latte, lemonade, or even cat-shaped pastries and cakes, all while visiting and cuddling with the cats who live there. There is a $3 entrance fee, which is used to pay for the cats’ food and upkeep. We think this is a small price to pay to get a friendly and furry hug when you might be far from home.

Westerpark

    1. Hotel de Windketel
      Hotel de Windketel, the smallest hotel in Amsterdam, is an octagonal brick tower that only houses two apartments that are furnished with furniture by Dutch designers. Of course, it costs to stay there (around $500 for their minimum 3 nights package!), but going to see the automobile-free area is a sight to remember.
    2. Tony’s Chocolonely Superstore
      Tony’s Chocolonely brand is a famous one in the Netherlands, and their superstore in Westerpark is every chocolate lover’s dream. Even with the free chocolate samples, we would be surprised if you didn’t spend money on a bar here.

Waterlooplein

    1. Shadow Canal/Wall
      Right by Hermitage and ARTIS, the Shadow Canal/Wall is a must-see in Amsterdam. Along the canal, there are engraved metal plates of names of Jewish people who were killed during World War II. Each plate corresponds to the address on the other side of the Nieuwe Keizersgracht where those exact people lived. It is a very sobering and real sight to behold.
    2. Auschwitz Monument
      Another sombre monument to killed Jewish individuals is in Wertheimpark. This monument was created by Dutch writer and artist Jan Wolkers, in memory of the many victims of Auschwitz. It is made up of broken mirrors, painting a distinct picture of the broken lives that suffered in the concentration camps.
    3. Stopera Concert Hall
      Inside the Stopera Concert Hall — a sight in and of itself — is a statue that needs to be seen to be believed. The Fiddler (de Violinist) (created by an anonymous artist) greets you at the entrance of the Hall, breaking out of the ground, as though he can’t wait to play you a song.
    4. Artisplein
      Another free square to enjoy and relax in is Artisplein, located outside of the Micropia and ARTIS Zoo buildings.

Nieuw-West

    1. Sloterpark
      Sloterpark is another one of Amsterdam’s largest parks. It houses a pool and a petting zoo, as well as many places to sit, relax, and enjoy the warm weather that Amsterdam so often brings.
    2. Sloterplas
      Though not thought of as a big beach area, Amsterdam actually has quite a few places to go for a swim, including this beach along the Sloterplas lake.
    3. Open air film festival in August
      The West Beach Film Festival is just one of many things to do in Amsterdam during the summer months. This free festival will take place this year from September 15 – 21, 2019 in the Sloterplas beach area. Note that the films are not always English, nor subtitled, but we think that just lets your travel experience be even more immersive.

Leidseplein

    1. Leidseplein
      This busy nightlife square is filled to the brim with street performers, restaurants, shops, and bars. With alleyways and local haunts, there is sure to be something for everyone at Leidseplein.
    2. The Little Woodcutter statue
      The Little Woodcutter statue is a 50 cm sculpture hidden on a tree branch right by the American Hotel and Leidseplein. It is super easy to miss, as the woodcutter is literally sitting on a high branch. The artist has remained anonymous, but there has been much speculation among the locals as to how and who made it happen.

Amsterdam-Zuid

    1. Anne Frank’s actual house before the Annex
      In the area of Rivierenbuurt in the south of Amsterdam is where Anne Frank grew up and began her diary in before fleeing to the Annex. The Frank Family lived in an apartment on the second floor of this Merwedeplein building from December 1933 until July 6, 1942. The only known film of Anne shows her leaning out of this very window. Visitors can’t go in, but the apartment is now a safe haven for writers who cannot write freely in their home countries.
    2. Anne Frank statue at Merwedeplein
      Another statue of Anne is this one by Jett Schepp, located in the park in front of the house on Merwedeplein. It was placed there as a symbolic way of acknowledging her looking at her neighbourhood one last time before fleeing.
    3. Amsterdamse Bos
      Another free park is the national forest, Amsterdamse Bos. This is a great place to take kids, as there is a playground and many areas to relax or walk around.
    4. Goat farm at the Amsterdamse Bos
      One fun activity is the goat farm at the Forest. Children and adults alike can visit with the charming goats that live there.
    5. Botanical Garden Zuidas – Botanische Tuin Zuidas
      The Botanical Garden Zuidas is a gorgeous botanical garden away from the city centre. It’s run by the Vrije Universiteit and is a lovely relief for plant and flower lovers.

Around the City

    1. Gevelstenen
      Gevelstenen, or gable stones or stone tablets, are decorations on the walls of the buildings of Amsterdam depicting shops or addresses before buildings were numbered, dating all the way to the 1500s and before. Some even appealed to those who couldn’t read, showing instead of telling visitors what the house owner’s profession or religions. As you walk around the old streets of the city, look up! Make a game out of it to point them out and figure out what they’re trying to portray.
    2. I Amsterdam letters sign around the city
      Those famous letters spelling out “I Amsterdam” are still located around the city to find! Unfortunately, the most famous one in Museumplein is permanently closed because of the crowds. However, there is one at Shiphol Airport, Bijlmer ArenA, and another at Sloterplas lake, those this one is hard to get photos of, as some of the letters lie flat on the ground.
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