Amsterdam is the most populous city in the Netherlands, known for its nightlife and cultural attractions. With over 17 million hotel nights expected this year, tourism to the city is on the rise. In fact, Amsterdam sees so many visitors that the Netherlands Tourist Board has stopped advertising the city as a vacation spot to cut back on rowdy tourists. Although this is certainly not a city to bring your kids to, it’s a great spot for a bachelorette trip or a college reunion!
Free things to do in Amsterdam
Since there are now restrictions on Airbnb accommodations to cut back on tourism, those who want to visit Amsterdam will have to put in some effort when planning their trip. As there are fewer accommodations available, tourists can expect to spend more on a trip to Amsterdam than they might spend elsewhere. If you’re craving a trip to the Netherlands regardless, check out these free things to do in Amsterdam to preserve your credit score. With the right approach to trip planning, anyone can see this city on a budget!
1. Walking Tour
Expert guides will help you experience Amsterdam on this 3-hour-long walking tour of the city! This free tour typically starts near the National Monument and ends near the Anne Frank House. Since it can be nerve-wracking to navigate a new city filled with cyclists and buses, let the locals show you around on the routes they’re familiar with. See the most iconic landmarks in the Dutch capital, even on the tightest of budgets!
The walking tour has both English and Spanish-speaking guides, each with several start times throughout the day. You’ll have to reserve your spot on the tour, but there are many opportunities to join in on the fun.
Visit this floating flower market, where you’ll find botanical displays 6 days a week! The Bloemenmarkt sits on the Singel Canal, providing great views of the surrounding area. In addition to in-season blooms, you can also buy Dutch souvenirs like cheese and Christmas baubles. Since the market is protected by a glasshouse, it operates regardless of the weather!
Did you know that Holland is known for its tulips? Be sure to take some pictures of these bulb flowers, which come in fascinating colours.
3. Civic Guard Gallery
The Civic Guard Gallery is a free section of the Amsterdam Museum. This walkway features over a dozen 17th-century portraits of Amsterdam’s wealthiest citizens. In addition, there are some more modern faces in the exhibit. Look for the portraits of common citizens, policemen, and Moroccan immigrants!
Once you reach the end of the gallery, you’ll see a wooden sculpture of Goliath. It’s over 300 years old!
Despite being a chaotic city, Amsterdam offers some natural escapes. Vondelpark is perhaps Amsterdam’s most popular city park, with around 10 million visitors each year. Locals and tourists visit the park to sunbathe, check out the statues, and climb on the playground. Bring your bike to Vondelpark for a self-guided tour!
Vondelpark also hosts free events in an open-air theatre. Between June and September, head to the park for musical and theatrical performances!
If you like cats, you’ll love this cat sanctuary on a boat! Between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, the adoption centre is open for visitors. While you’ll likely have to wait in line to get in, you can also make a free online reservation to visit, especially if you’d like to bring a furry friend home with you!
Another great way to experience Poezenboot is by volunteering. If you’re going to be in Amsterdam for a while, consider giving back to the community!
6. Red Light District
A trip to Amsterdam would be incomplete without checking out the Red Light District. Over time, the neighbourhood has become a hub for adult entertainment. Of course, there are also plenty of coffee shops in the Red Light District. However, the main attractions here are far more risqué. Experience Amsterdam nightlife the classic way!
Although you may be tempted to take photos while you’re in the Red Light District, note that it’s illegal to do so. This law is highly enforced, and the last place you’ll want to spend your vacation is in a jail cell!
7. Bridge of 15 Bridges
Stand on this bridge to see 14 others! The bridge you’d be standing on is the 15th. This sightseeing spot offers a picturesque view of Dutch architecture at all hours of the day. With your back facing Thorbeckeplein, you’ll see 6 bridges. Turn to the left to see 6 more; turn to the right to see the other two. At night, the bridges are illuminated, making the Bridge of 15 Bridges a worthwhile attraction!
8. Albert Cuyp Markt
Get an authentic Dutch experience at the Albert Cuyp Markt, the largest street market in the Netherlands. With over 300 stalls, you can find almost anything here. There’s a large selection of cheeses and floral arrangements, along with local treats. The market is open 6 days a week, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check it out!
The Albert Cuyp Markt is a great place to find souvenirs for sale, but it’s just as fun to window shop and takes photos. As with any market trip, it’s wise to bring some cash just in case!
9. OBA Public Library
OBA Public Library has many offices all over Amsterdam. In addition to literature, you’ll find free events and public information at this cultural centre. With over 7,000 activities each year, you can always find something to do here for free!
The top floor of the OBA Public Library offers some incredible views of the city. It’s open until 10 pm each day, so head to the library to watch the sunset indoors!
10. Rijksmuseum Garden
This garden is one of Amsterdam’s least-known attractions, but it’s one that’s worth visiting! Rijksmuseum Garden has 14,500 square meters of greenery, fountains, and flowers in its outdoor gallery. You’ll also find some works by Henry Moore, an English artist and sculptor. Take plenty of photos, or keep this wonderland a secret!
When planning a vacation from work or your kids, Amsterdam is a great place to consider. Saving money on activities will leave you with more funds for food, drinks, and fun. There’s a reason Amsterdam can’t keep people away from the Netherlands – it’s simply too much fun to not visit!