Amsterdam

Amsterdam on a Budget:

Cheap things to doin Amsterdam in Amsterdam | Affordable ways to get there

Looking to do Amsterdam on a budget? To be quite frank, it's difficult to do depending what time of year you go. If you're hoping to go to the Netherlands during tulip season (Mid April/early May), expect to pay a premium. No need to worry though, there are still plenty of cheap things to do in Amsterdam and affordable ways to get there. When we decided to go in late May/early June hostels were still outrageously priced (€60-70 for a hostel bed) so we stayed nearby city of Utrecht and did day trips to Amsterdam which saved us quite a bit of money.

Taking a day trip to Amsterdam from nearby cities like Utrecht or Haarlem is a great way to save on lodging costs, but a one-way train ticket is roughly €5-8 departing from either city. We kept this in mind while making our Amsterdam on a budget guide so you can make the most of your time and money.

Europe tends to get pretty touristy in the late spring through the summer, so we recommend fall or late summer for better weather and crowds. It's especially easier to do Amsterdam on a budget if you visit before tulip season, or wait until after summer to make your euro to last you longer.

1. Free Guided Walking Tours

If you’re looking to do Amsterdam on a budget, one of the best cheap things to do in Amsterdam is to go on a free walking tour. Some of the best things to see in this city can be done so by foot. Tours meet daily in Dam Square at varying times throughout the day, see timetables for 3 of the tours offered below.

Frequency: Everyday
Times: 10:30, 13:30, and 16:00
Duration: 2 hrs
Meeting Place: Dam Square

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam
Cheap things to do in Amsterdam

Frequency: Everyday
Times: 13:30
Duration: 1.5-2 hrs
Meeting Place: Dam Square

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam on a Budget - Free Walking Tour

Frequency: Everyday
Times: 10:30
Duration: 1.5-2 hrs
Meeting Place: Dam Square

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam on a Budget - Free Walking Tour
Cheap things to do in Amsterdam on a Budget - Free Walking Tour

Some of the free walking tours we’ve done in Europe have been hit or miss but the Amsterdam Free Walking Tours was one of the better ones. Not only did the guide offer insight to how Amsterdam came to be, they incorporated interesting nuggets of Dutch culture and history that have stayed with us ever since. As always, if you feel the tour is worth it, please consider giving a donation to the guide at the end of the tour. That way guides are encouraged to keep giving great tours. We suggest anywhere from €5-10 depending on the length of the tour.

2. Wander the Canals and Streets

Though wandering the streets and canals for that perfect Instagram-able shot sounds like one of the best free cheap things to do in Amsterdam, we advise you to keep your head out of the clouds and stay aware of your surroundings 😉 If you have a keen eye for photography, the canals and bridges are very picturesque so this city is very photogenic. However, some places can be quite busy with all the pedestrian and bike traffic. There are plenty of sidewalks and pedestrian ways in Amsterdam, but there are also separate lanes marked for bikes so watch where you walk.

Amsterdam 2 - 600 4x5
Amsterdam 1 - 600 4x5

If you find your way into a coffeeshop on your walkabout through the streets, be sure to look both ways before making your way onto the sidewalk because the Dutch take their biking seriously. To be honest, we preferred walking the quieter streets and canals of Utrecht.

3. Amsterdam Street Art Tour

Amsterdam is home to some unique and hilarious street art. We found one of the more contemporary pieces, the 'Wake Me Up When I'm Famous' sign, about a 5 minute walk from Sarphatipark located on Frans Halsstraat 64. Taking yourself on a self guided street art tour is one of the best cheap things to do in Amsterdam on a shoestring. Check out this guide here to see more cool locations to check out around the city.

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam - Street Art in Amsterdam

4. Pathé Tuschinski Theatre

The Pathé Tuschinski Theatre is an impressive retro cinema that's worth a visit if you’re into that sort of thing. Since going to vintage movie theatres is one of Molly’s new found hobbies, we decided to catch a film here. Unfortunately it's not one of the cheapest things to do in Amsterdam since tickets starts at roughly €14/adult. But if you want to splurge a bit on yourself then it's definitely worth a visit.


Photo of Tuschinski Theater courtesy of TripAdvisor

3. Amsterdam Street Art

Amsterdam is home to some unique and hilarious street art. We found one of the more contemporary pieces, the 'Wake Me Up When I'm Famous' sign, about a 5 minute walk from Sarphatipark located on Frans Halsstraat 64. Taking yourself on a self guided street art tour is one of the best cheap things to do in Amsterdam on a shoestring. Check out this guide here to see more cool locations to check out around the city.

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam - Street Art in Amsterdam

4. Pathé Tuschinski

The Pathé Tuschinski Theatre is an impressive retro cinema that's worth a visit if you’re into that sort of thing. Since going to vintage movie theatres is one of Molly’s new found hobbies, we decided to catch a film here. Unfortunately it's not one of the cheapest things to do in Amsterdam since tickets starts at roughly €14/adult. But if you want to splurge a bit on yourself then it's definitely worth a visit.


Photo of Tuschinski Theater courtesy of TripAdvisor

5. Eat some Stroopwafels

Eating Stroopwafels is a must when you’re in the Netherlands. Van Wonderen Stroopwafels makes the absolute best ones we had during our time in the Netherlands. They offer customizable fresh-made stroopwafels, and a delicious pre-made variety. These things are freakin' addicting; we might have smuggled a pack with us on our way into Germany. But like they say, everything in moderation. The stroopwafels at Van Wonderen's are roughly €7-8 each so the more you eat, the skinnier your wallet will be.

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam budget guide - Stroopwafels
Cheap things to do in Amsterdam budget guide - Stroopwafels

6. Anne Frank House

One of the most visited tourist sites in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House. Given its popularity, tickets sell out well in advance. 80% of the total tickets of any given day are available to pre-book up for 2 months in advance. The remaining 20% go on sale the day of at 8:00AM.

We lucked out when we planned go and waited in the online queue the day of and got 2 tickets. Tickets are only €11/adult (including a €0.50 booking fee) so spending a couple hours here is very affordable and educational.

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam - Anne Frank House
Pro Tip: Sign on by 7:30AM to get in the online queue. Also be sure to wait in the queue no matter how many people it says are ahead of you. We were set on waiting until all the tickets were sold out and since so many people ended up dropping out ahead of us, we were able to buy 2 tickets.

To be honest, we suggest only staying a few days at most in Amsterdam. If time permits, we highly recommend checking out it’s smaller sister city of Utrecht. Taking a day trip here to here is one of the great cheap things to do in Amsterdam if you're willing to make it worth your while.

The trains in the Netherlands are very nice, but back and forth travel can get a bit pricey as a one way ticket between the two cities starts at about €7-8/trip. If you're keen on doing Amsterdam on a budget, we have also put together a  budget guide to Utrecht.

Cheapest ways to get to Amsterdam

If you're looking to do a cheap day trip to Amsterdam, it's pretty easy to do it for under €20, especially if you are coming from a nearby city. Utrecht is roughly 30 minutes away and has frequent trains/buses running for €5-7 each way. Haarlem is another Dutch city within a 30 minute train ride of Amsterdam; a one way ticket is roughly €5.60/adult.

Though most people think the Eurorail trains are the best way to get around Europe, taking a bus is the cheapest way to get to Amsterdam on a budget. Hands down our favorite bus operator in Europe is Flixbus. They run to most countries and large cities, and are by far the most comfortable buses with the most leg room.

Photo Credit: Flixbus.com
Photo Credit: Flixbus.com
Utrecht ↠ Amsterdam
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €4.99+
    • Time: 0.5 hrs
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €6.30+
    • Time: 0.5 hrs
Paris ↠ Amsterdam
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €13.98+
    • Time: 9 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €55+
    • Time: 3 hrs+
Cologne ↠ Amsterdam
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €4.99+
    • Time: 4 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €18.90+
    • Time: 3 hrs+

We also like browsing tickets on CheckMyBus to see the cheapest and easiest options. This website also suggests train tickets, but buses are usually the most cost effective option. Above are rough costs of getting to Amsterdam from a few close-by European cities. Another good website we like to is Trainline for both bus and train tickets. They also offer a comprehensive search of the quickest/cheapest transport between European cities.

Pro Tip: If you plan on taking trains anywhere in Europe, you will need to book more than a month ahead of time if you want a decent price. Booking train tickets only a few weeks out can sometimes be 3-4x more expensive than a bus. Fortunately, bus tickets remain fairly stable and only increase a modest amount closer to the departure date.

Where to stay in Amsterdam

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Dorms: €11.00+

Private Rooms: €14.50+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Bar, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage, 24 Hr Reception, Laundry Facilities, Bike Hire

Photo Courtesty: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: €18.00+

Private Rooms: €42.27+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Air Conditioning, , Bar, Luggage Storage, 24 Hr Reception

Photo Courtesty: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: €11.00+

Private Rooms: €14.50+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Bar, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage, 24 Hr Reception, Self-Catering Facilities

Photo Courtesty: Hostelworld.com

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By |2020-01-19T13:57:36-05:00January 19th, 2020|Budget Travel, Europe, Netherlands, Travel Guides|0 Comments

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