9 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Amsterdam on a Budget

By | March 12, 2024

Amsterdam has a reputation for being an expensive city, but there are actually plenty of ways to experience it without breaking the bank. From world-class art museums to charming parks and outdoor activities, these are our top picks for budget-friendly things to do in Amsterdam.

amsterdam tours

Admire Art at Top Museums

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum do charge admission, but both have free or discounted entry one day per week. At the Rijksmuseum, free entry is on the last Monday of every month, while the Van Gogh is free every first Wednesday and last Friday. 

The Stedelijk Museum next door accepts donations rather than charging an entry fee. Several smaller museums like the Royal Palace and Hermitage Amsterdam are also affordable. Tip: on the first Monday evening of the month, entrance to most museums is free after 5 pm too.

Wander through City Parks

Amsterdam has numerous gorgeous parks to unwind in, totally free of charge. Vondelpark, Oosterpark, and Westerpark are perfect for picnics, people-watching, and catching some sun. An especially nice free activity is relaxing along the Amsterdam canals, watching the water traffic float by. Just be sure not to swim in the canals, as the water isn’t treated for recreational use!

Visit Churches and Religious Sites

While Amsterdam is known for its progressive values today, many beautiful churches offer free entry and a chance to admire their architecture. Top picks include the ornate 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk downtown and Westerkerk with its towering spire. The Portuguese Synagogue is also free to enter for its historic significance. Tip: the rooftop view at the Old Church on Oude Kirkplein is a hidden gem charging just €8 admission.

Browse Markets and Shopping Streets

Wandering lively outdoor markets is a fun cultural experience that won’t break the bank. Check out the huge Albert Cuyp Market on Saturdays or tiny Noordermarkt on Mondays featuring everything from food to bargains. Browse quirky shops along Utrechtsestraat and Haarlemmerdijk. Admiring free street performances in the Jordaan is also entertaining.

Visit Neighborhoods by Foot or Bike

One of the best ways to experience Amsterdam is to bike or walk through different neighborhoods. Rent a bike or borrow one through a bike-sharing program like Swapfiets for just €15/month. Pedal along the canals, stopping in hip areas like Jordaan, De Pijp and Oud-West. Wandering through residential streets away from the center lets you discover hidden gems off the tourist track.

Take a Guided Tour of the City

Getting acquainted with Amsterdam via a walking or biking tour is very affordable. Many guided tours in Amsterdam are quite cheap thanks to sponsorship, including walking tours of the Jordaan neighborhood and Red Light District. 

For a small fee around €15, you can join excellent 3-hour walking tours that cover the city’s history. It’s a fascinating way to see the landmarks and learn local stories on your own schedule.

Check out Free Festivals and Events

In summer, Amsterdam hosts many free cultural activities in parks and public spaces. Enjoy outdoor movies, live concerts, artisan markets, food festivals and more. Year-round keep an eye out for free happenings like the monthly Full Moon outdoor parties in Westerpark. Events are publicized on local Amsterdam event listing sites.

Relax in Outdoor Spaces

Parks, lawns and public squares are perfect free spaces to unwind with a picnic, book or Frisbee. Top outdoor spots include huge Amsterdamse Bos nature area, charming Sarphatipark and squares like Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein with street performers. Ferries also cross the IJ river daily for free views of the harbor area.

Sample Street Food and Budget Cuisine

Amsterdam street food is top-notch and budget-friendly. Indulge in snacks like broodjes (sandwiches), biting into succulent herring with onions for just €2-4. Cozy brown cafes are also affordable for lunch specials and casual beers. Best options are Amsterdam’s budget-friendly eateries serving fantastic food for €10 or less per person.

With some planning and effort to seek out free activities, it’s very possible to experience Amsterdam’s charms without going over budget. Let me know if you need any other tips for enjoying the city affordably!