Don’t want to splash the cash on Amsterdam’s big ticket attractions? Never fear, because the city has a range of free experiences on offer. Whether it’s soaking in the sunshine in one of Amsterdam’s green spaces or taking in the unique floating flower markets, there’s plenty on offer for the money wise traveller.
Just a stone’s throw from Amsterdam’s major attractions, Vondelpark is one of the most popular green spaces in the city. This massive park is filled with meandering lakes and streams, perfect for relaxing next to. The park is home to plenty of cafes, and during a summer month free concerts and plays are held in the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre. For the art lovers out there Vondelpark also contains Pablo Picasso’s 1965 sculpture The Fish.
Soak up some culture in this refurbished Amsterdam-Noord shipyard. Take the free NDSM boat from Centraal Station to reach this hip hangout. Filled with creatives, it is home to galleries, cafes, art spaces, and urban beaches. NDSM’s festivals are a major draw, as are their monthly flea markets, packed with vintage finds. Whether it’s just wandering around admiring the street art, or sitting in a dockside cafe, NDSM is the place to go.
3. Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam Oosterdok
Looking for a view? Amsterdam’s famously flat landscape makes getting a birds eye view of the city tricky. However, head over to the Central Library, which is one of the tallest buildings in the city centre. Heading to the upper floors on a clear day will give you a view of the canals, picturesque buildings, and docks. The seventh floor restaurant is the ideal place to watch the sunset, as the library is usually open until 10pm.
4. EYE Film Institute
An iconic architectural gem in Amsterdam-Noord, the EYE is the place for film lovers. It’s dedicated to the history of moviemaking, with a collection of over 50,000 films. There’s a programme of films and exhibitions on offer, but all of these charge an entry fee. Instead, head down to the basement to discover their permanent collection for free. Here you can uncover the history of film through objects and artefacts, including clips from key pieces.
5. Amsterdamse Bos
Want to get out of the city? Head to Amsterdamse Bos, which is located on the outskirts of southern Amsterdam. It’s about three times larger than New York’s Central Park, and is a great space to take in some nature. With its grassy parklands and forests, it’s hard to believe how close you are to the urban centre of Amsterdam. This is the perfect place to hire a bike or rent a canoe, or to take in one of the free performances on offer at the Bos’s theatre.
Get a sneak peek into Amsterdam’s zoo in this public plaza. Located next to the Flamingo enclosure of ARTIS zoo, this square is an ideal place to take a breather. There’s plenty of chairs and tables here to lounge at whilst listening to the tranquil fountain and noise of the zoo. Grab a refreshment from the Café Restaurant Plantage, which backs onto the square.
7. Stadsarchief Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s major museums can come with a major price tag, but head to the City Archives for some free history. The building, which was once a bank, is an impressive sight in towering red brick. Inside you’ll find a permanent exhibition displaying some of the objects that make up the largest municipal archive in the world. Key documents are displayed in the ‘Treasure Room,’ including ones relating to Rembrandt, Spinoza, and Anne Frank.
The Netherlands has been world famous for its flowers for many centuries. A walk around the Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market, is therefore an essential Amsterdam activity. It’s the only market in the world of its kind, and has existed since the mid-19th century. The market sells everything from fresh flowers to garden ornaments from the floating barge stalls. Head here for the most fragrant of walks and some highly instagrammable vistas.