Amsterdam is a beautiful historical city. Crammed full of art, culture and quirky architecture. Amsterdam truly has something for everyone., Whether you are visiting to sample the local history and art or merely to sample something else. It is all available in Amsterdam. Traveling on a budget is never an easy option to take. Especially in Europe and Amsterdam is no exception. So when myself and two of my close girlfriends decided on a last minute girly weekend, we realized we needed to plan our spending well. With this in mind we decided to be more budget friendly in the day and to splurge a bit more in the evening.
Below are my 10 top recommendations of things to do to stay on budget in Amsterdam.
- Relax in vondel park.
We stayed just around the corner from the park and ended up spending a lovely afternoon relaxing by the lake. If a bit of city nature is right up your street then Volden park is perfect for you. Depending on your mood you can choose to take a leisurely stroll around the park or if you are feeling jus a tad more sporty you could choose to cycle or strap on your rollar blades. I suggest packing a picnic and finding a shady spot and putting your feet up and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a couple hours.
- Stroll around the city.
Amsterdam is beautiful with its cobbled streets and interlocking canal ways. You can get lost for hours exploring the different neighbourhoods. If you need to stop for a rest, grab a coffee or a bite to eat at any of the cute cafes that adorn the side streets. If you decide not to take a walking tour be prepared to go around in circles a few times.
Free walking tours
Instead of wandering aimlessly along the canal ways you can get your bearings courtesy of a complimentary walking tour. Sandemans New Amsterdam offers three-hour ambles twice a day, covering the gentrification of the Red Light District and the Begijnhof Convent, an inner courtyard leading to the Civic Guards Gallery, where a collection of paintings by old masters is on permanent display. If you want to try something different theres always the Original Amsterdam Alternative Tour, which starts daily at 2pm, at Spuistraat. This tour includes street, art squatter areas and hidden graffiti.
- Check out the Churches.
Amsterdam is home to many historical and beautiful churches. You will find them in all sorts of nooks and crannies and hidden spaces. I recommended you do some research in advance to find the ones you want to see. Regardless of your faith or belief system, the churches are a must see. I really felt quite peaceful staring up at the intricate stained glass windows, so much so that we ended up leaving a shopping bag behind!!
4. Chillout by the canal.
There’s lots of cute cafes and restaurants alongside the canals, where you can stop for a coffee or a small bite to eat. If your budget is super tight or you cant find a place to sit down in one of the over crowded cafes. We noticed that many people just parked themselves up on the canal side. After a long day of sight seeing and no luck in finding an empty table at a café we ended up doing the same and it was actually a lot of fun. Feet dangling over the edge we enjoyed a few leisurely hours talking and watching the boats go by
- Munch on street food and free cheese samples.
Street food is in abundance in Amsterdam, everything from the infamous Frits or as I like to call them chunky chips to waffles. Sticking to street food during the day really helped to keep our budgets down and meant that we could spend more splurging on dinner. There are plenty of Veggie and Halal options out there to sample. I especially enjoyed my Halal Doner Kebab roll with Frits. If the delicious street food isn’t enough to fill you up you could always do a cheese detour. You will find that all the specialist cheese shops offer a variety of samples. The shop we visited offered over 50 different samples. Ranging from Red pesto to chill and cumin. We didn’t manage to get through all of the free samples but we did give it a good try.
- I am Amsterdam sign
A visit to Amsterdam isn’t complete without attempting to take a photo at the ‘I am Amsterdam sign.’ Make sure you get up extra early and head down there or you will find yourself with the same problem we did. Unfortunately for us there were tons of teenagers on some kind of school trip as well as tourists. I didn’t end up with the best photo but we checked it off our checklist.
- Hire a bike
Hiring a bike for the day is relatively cheap and fun way to explore the city. Prices range from 7.50 – 15 Euros a day. Timewise, it’s actually works out cheaper to rent the bike by the day rather than for a couple of hours. Bicycles seemed to be the main mode of travel in Amsterdam both for the locals and tourists but be warned it’s survival of the fittest out there and its bikes who run the world.
- Take a lesuirely boat trip
A boat trip along the canals is a different but relaxing way to see the city. Boat cruises are very popular in Amsterdam. Watching them cruise by you will see all sorts of boats from the very small and rusty to the very grand and luxurious. As well as basic one or two hour cruises there are lots of different companies you can book with offering a variance of options from dinner, music and sunset cruises. However if you want to keep the costs down there is also a public canal boat from about 11 Euros.
- Visit the flower market.
I love flowers and particularly Tulips. Considering that I live in Turkey and It was Ottaman Empire that İntroduced them to Europe it would be strange if I didn’t visit the market. In the 16th century, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq was serving as the ambassador of the Habsburg monarchy to the Ottoman Empire. While visiting Sultan Suleiman the Magnificant, a fan of tulips, he was given some bulbs to take back to Vienna. You will also find a variety of other plants, bulbs and cactuses. I suggest taking a leisurely stroll through the market. Take your time soaking in the colours and smells and if you have time stop for a Dutch waffle.
- Free art galleries and wacky souvenir stores
If you are a lover of art or anything creative. Amsterdam is the place to be. However with prices like 17 Euro for the Van Gogh Museum it can all add up. But luckily for the traveller on a tighter budget Amsterdam is full of independent galleries where you can stop, wander around and even get to speak to the artist or gallery owner. We enjoyed not planning our art excursions and just stopping at random galleries on our adventures
Even if you don’t make it to any of the galleries Amsterdam is full of fun and quirky shops to check out. At one point in out travels we came across one that specialized in 3D printer jewelry. The owner showed us how it all worked and it was pretty fascinating. We also stumbled upon a huge store crammed with the most insane dolls and collectable items. It was like a mini fairy land and we walked around for ages with our mouths gaped open and I cant begin to tell you how much fun we had in the glow in the dark shop.
With many budget airlines flying into Amsterdam you could really enjoy this city on affordable budget for the weekend. Really theres no stopping you. Book your ticket, grab your passport and start exploring.