Amsterdammers are no strangers to international visitors, one of the first world powers of international trade. Amsterdam can be costly for backpackers on a budget who visit Central Station daily.
It’s important to try to think outside the box when planning your trip to a city like Amsterdam, where you can get a room in a hostel for as low as EUR50. The Dutch capital’s cobblestone streets are filled with amazing sights, and there are many free exhibits for your wandering mind and vibrant markets that won’t cost you anything.
Our top picks for Amsterdam’s best activities are for less than EUR5 or even free.
HEMA offers breakfast
HEMA is the place to go if you don’t have breakfast in your hostel or guesthouse. They offer the best value for money and serve breakfast between 9-10 am. Depending on the type of breakfast you choose, this Dutch variety shop can cost you as low as EUR2.
The Amsterdam Architecture Foundation is open to you.
The building is worth visiting Oosterdok alone, but admission is free. Inside, you will find information and exhibits about Amsterdam architecture. Before you arrive, you will need to reserve a time slot online.
See the smallest house in the area.
Built in 1738 in the Red Light District, this tiny house now houses The Smallest House. You can get a sample of loose leaf tea for as low as EUR3, and they have the largest selection in the city. This should not be confused with Singel 7, the narrowest house in Amsterdam. It is still a private residence.
Sunbathe on the Sloterplas beach
Sloterplas, an artificial freshwater lake, is located approximately 25 minutes by bike from the town centre. On a sunny day, you will find a sandy beach with a green lawn at the north end. You can also reach the beach using public transport if you don’t own a bicycle.
Cycle through the Cycle Tunnel
The tunnel runs 110 meters under Amsterdam’s Central Railway Station. It was designed to be used by cyclists and pedestrians who need to get to their trains faster. The tunnel can be divided in half, with one half being a bike path and the other half being a sidewalk. The impressive mural of Irma Boom is located on the side for pedestrians. It was created to interpret an important Dutch work dating back to the 1700s.
Take the ferry
You can take one of the ferries from Central Station if you want to be on the water, but not spend the money on a boat trip. You can choose from three routes, each arriving in different locations, but they are free.
You can climb up to the NEMO Science Museum’s roof terrace.
The NEMO rooftop terrace is the highest square in all of the Netherlands. It’s open to the public from 10 am to 5:30 pm, except Mondays and New Year’s Day. You can access it by taking a staircase up from the street.
Take photos of Amsterdam’s iconic street art.
Amsterdam is a major city in the street art scene. There are many places to look for outstanding work around the city. You can take one of the free ferries from Central Station to NSDM harbour, where you will find the largest collection of Amsterdam street art.
Enjoy the Openbare Bibliotheek in Amsterdam
The OBA Oosterdok library is the most famous of all the public libraries in Amsterdam. The 7th-floor terrace offers a stunning view of Amsterdam and is free to visit.
Take a ride on a historic tram.
You can enjoy a joyride on one of the refurbished tram cars at the Electrische Museumtramlijn Amsterdam. A ticket costs only EUR3.50 for a single direction and can be purchased in cash at the conductor after you board. It runs from Haarlemmermeer station through the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) to Amstelveen–Bovenkerk Station.
The Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchief provides information about the city’s past.
The city archive is open to the public. Most of the facilities can be explored for free. The treasury, movie theatre, and many other exhibitions require admission tickets.