Any trip I plan has to be budgeted for and planned around my other commitments. Luckily, living in the UK, we have very easy and cheap access to numerous European destinations! One of these being Amsterdam, which can easily be reached in under an hour. Not only is Amsterdam easy to get to on a budget, but there is also plenty to do and explore on a budget when you arrive – here is my quick guide to Amsterdam on a budget.
HOTEL AND FLIGHTS
Choosing a destination which can be reached by cheap flights and that offers cheap options for somewhere to stay is key. This doesn’t always mean you have to go to lesser known destinations and stay in hostels. There are other ways in which you can make a popular destination, such as Amsterdam, affordable.
- Check Deals: to see whether you can find hotel deals, money off vouchers or coupons which you can use towards your stay. In the UK we have supermarkets with points reward schemes. These points can then be turned into vouchers and it just so happened that I was able to turn my points into Hotel vouchers. This helped me find a central hotel in Amsterdam for just £7.70 for a two nights.
- Use Skyscanner: to find the cheap flights. This allows you can look at a month as a whole and pick the best dates.
- Be flexible: with your travel dates and times is a must when it comes to budgeting. I found that travelling from a Sunday to a Tuesday was going to get me the cheapest flights, which cost me £40 return from London Luton. To avoid any unnecessary additional costs I made sure I only took hand luggage and did not select my seats or opt for fast track, luxuries I could live without!
When researching your trip to Amsterdam you will soon realise there is an abundance of things to do whilst you are there. Many of these things however cost a lot of money to do, thankfully Amsterdam also offers plenty to do which is free or costs very little. Here are just 12 of them!
1) WALK THROUGH DE 9 STRAATJES
The 9 Straatjes in Amsterdam are nine streets nestled in the heart of the city located in the middle of the World Heritage Canal belt. These quaint cobbled streets are lined with plenty of little shops and cafes. Make sure you take some time to wonder around these streets as it is the perfect place to shop, eat and take some iconic photos. I managed to walk around these streets everyday as you can never get bored of canals, bikes and traditional buildings, especially when you can take it all in for free!
2) CLIMB THE IAMSTERDAM SIGN
The Amsterdam sign is located directly in front of Rijksmuseum, in the heart of Museum Square. The museums themselves are not budget friendly costing roughly €18 each! The square itself is free to walk around and the museum buildings are worth seeing from the outside. The Iamsterdam sign is always busy with lots of people trying to get that photo of the sign in front of the museum. You are free to climb on the sign (if you can), I would recommend getting there early or later on in the day if you want to get the perfect photo of the sign with no people!
3) EAT AT FOODHALLEN
The Foodhallen is a hidden gem and the perfect budget friendly food destination. Seating is communal and located in the centre of a large hall which is lined with a variety of food and drink stalls. You can choose anything from pizzas, Mexican, dim sum and traditional Bitterballen! The food costs no more than €10 and drinks vary, with soft drinks and beer being the cheapest options. I sampled some of the Bitterballen and the dim sum. I also visited the gin bar (although this is only budget friendly if you can restrict yourself to one).
4) SHOP FOR FLOWERS AT BLOEMENMARKT
The Bloemenmarkt is located on the Singel Canal and is a floating flower market, they sell everything from fresh flowers, bulbs and flower themed souvenirs. On a sunny day, the market is the perfect photo spot as every stall is full of tulips. Make sure you walk down the other side of the canal behind the market to get some incredible photos of the floating stalls. (I bought my one souvenir from these markets, a magnet of a cute little clog with tulips and a windmill, for just €2!)
5) VISIT DAM SQUARE
Dam Square is located in the very heart of Amsterdam, if arriving from the train station you can walk straight down Damrak and you will stumble across this big open square. Looking onto this square is the Royal Palace, Madame Tussauds and the National Monument. You can explore the Royal Palace inside, but save yourself €10 and marvel at this impressive building from the outside. The building which houses Madame Tussauds is equally as impressive.
6) EXPLORE THE SEX MUSEUM
Amsterdam is home to a large number of museums big and small covering history, art, beer and even sex! There are plenty of lesser known and cheaper museums to visit, my favourite being the Sex Museum. Entry costs only €5 and there is plenty to see, there is a mix of ancient artifacts, displays and modern day pictures and well as moving manikins which will make you jump and laugh simultaneously. I spent about an hour exploring this museum.
7) DRINK BEER IN A WINDMILL
The Dutch are famous for their windmills and Amsterdam is no exception. If you have the time to get out of the main city centre, take the 30 minute walk to Brouwerij’ t IJ. This dutch brewery is located next to De Gooyer windmill, the tallest thatched windmill in the country and it doesn’t disappoint. Whilst you are there you may as well pop in for a beer and these are perfectly affordable and they offer a wide variety of types all brewed on site. If beer isn’t your thing I can also highly recommend the wine.
8) RELAX IN VONDELPARK
Vondelpark is located about 10 minutes from the Museum Square and is the largest city park in Amsterdam. The park was originally opened in 1865 and is a great place to explore if you want a break from the city. The park is perfect for a nice walk, cycling or even to sit down and have a picnic (if the weather allows). I explored it on the bike I hired, but it was incredibly cold so I didn’t hang around too long.
9) ESCAPE TO AMSTERDAM FOREST
If Vondelpark sounds up your street then the Amsterdam Forest will definitely blow you away. The best way to get here in my opinion is by bike. It takes about 30 minutes to ride here from the Museum square. Once into the forest there are miles of stunning scenery and hidden paths which leads to forest, rivers and grassland. A perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and at the cost of nothing.
10) HIRE BIKES
There are bikes everywhere and the city is built for bike users. I had never cycled in a city before and Amsterdam is the safest place I have ever ridden a bike. You can usually hire bikes from your hotel, which I was able to do. There was the option to hire for a full day, half a day or 3 hours. At a cost of only €7, hiring a bike is incredibly budget friendly. If you stick to the special cycle paths you can get anywhere you like and is a lot faster than walking if you are stretched for time!
11) TAKE THE FERRY
Behind the Central Station lies the Noordzeekanaal which can be crossed by a number of ferries. Depending on how long you have in Amsterdam you might want to explore Amsterdam Noord, however even if you are pushed for time you can take a quick trip on one of these ferries. I did not have a long time to explore this area but thought with half an hour to spare it was worth taking the free crossing which only took five minutes. The north side of Amsterdam is a lot quieter and the crossing gives you great views of the canal.
12) DISCOVER BEGIJNHOF
Begijnhof park lies hidden in the centre of Amsterdam and I highly recommend you seek out this hidden courtyard which was founded in the Middle Ages. This small area of park is surrounded by traditional buildings and also home to two churches. A tranquil space, it will take you back in time. You cannot stumble across this place as it is so well hidden so make sure you take the time to find it.
A budget friendly city, Amsterdam makes it far too tempting to return. I’ll be back soon!
Have you been to Amsterdam? If you have any questions or tips please leave these in the comments below.
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