15 Cheap and Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam on a Trip

Steve Cummings


Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands, is a popular destination. There is more on offer than its enticing red light district and straightforward approach to selling marijuana. Amsterdam is a beautiful and exciting place to visit, even if you only go for a few days.

With its rich artistic heritage, narrow canal houses with beautiful gabled facades, and intricately laid out canal system, there are many reasons to fall in love with this city. Home to the Van Gogh Museum, which pays tribute to one of the best artists, the city is a visual feat with many of its 17th-century golden age remnants still visible.

There is a lot to see and do, perhaps even too much. Mainly, if it's your first visit, you are only there briefly or on a tight budget, and it can take time to figure out what you should and shouldn't do. To give you a helping hand in planning your trip, in this article, we will look at some of the best cheap things to do in Amsterdam.

1. Visit The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Credit: Depositphotos

One of Amsterdam's biggest and most important attractions is the Royal Palace, known locally as Koninklijik Paleis. It is considered one of the most significant historical monuments in the city and features truly spectacular architectural elements such as marbled ceilings and arched doorways. Inside, you will find famous art pieces such as the Ten Commandments by Ferdinand Bol and Moses and the Seventy Elders by Jacob de Wit.

The building was built in the 17th century and is still in remarkable condition. Generally, throughout the year, the palace is open to members of the public. The only exception to this is when there are state visits by the Dutch royal family or royal weddings and other official affairs. Whether you are interested in architecture, royalty, or history, this is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.

2. Sail Through Amsterdam's Intricate Canals

Amsterdam, Netherlands
credit: depositphotos

As the city is known as the City of Canals, one of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to take a trip around the stunning city via its intricate and extensive networks of canals. Although it may sound relatively inexpensive, there are many different tour operators and canal boats of varying quality and class, so you should be able to find something to meet your budget.

This is an especially great thing to do if you are traveling as a couple and want to see the best of the city in style. Many hop-on-and-off style canal trips allow you to take in many landmarks and points of interest.

3. Get Lost in Art and History at Museumplein

Whether you are interested in learning more about the rich and diverse heritage of Amsterdam and The Netherlands or want to look at some stunning art, Museumplein is one of those essential things to do in Amsterdam. Aptly named, Museumplein is an area of the city devoted to the delicate and captivating museums that call Amsterdam home. The Rijksmuseum is The Netherlands's national museum, where you can enjoy critical pieces from the history of Dutch art through the ages. Look for iconic pieces like The Sampling Officials and The Night Watch by Rembrandt.

However, if you are more interested in contemporary and modern art, check out the Moco Museum and Stedelijk within Museumplein.

Even if you are not a fan of the arts in particular, the highly coveted Van Gogh Museum is one of the things to see in Amsterdam that you can't see anywhere else. This is dedicated to the life and art of one of the world's greatest painters. It also has the most extensive publicly viewable collection of paintings by the great and troubled man. The Bedroom, Almond Blossoms, Sunflowers, and The Potato Eaters are all here. You will also find handwritten letters that help to give insight into his mind.

4. Hire a Bike 

One of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam with friends is to hire bikes and take in the delights of the hugely bike-friendly city. A well-developed and kept network of bicycle lanes and mostly flat grounds make it an exciting and safe way to get from one part of the city to another. You will notice many locals opt for cycling rather than other modes of transport.

5. Relax at the Breathtaking Vondelpark

Credit: Depositphotos

A trek around Vondelpark is one of the best cheap things to do in Amsterdam if you are interested in wiling away the hours of relaxing surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The largest city park in Amsterdam is the perfect place to take a stroll, picnic, skate, cycle, or walk with your dogs. Families will find lots of space to let their kids burn off energy, and if you are okay with spending a little money, there is the Vondelpark Open Air Theater. A word of caution, though: if you intend to go to the theatre, book your spot online to avoid disappointment.

6. Learn About a Remarkable Girl at the Anne Frank House

The famous German-born Jewish girl who penned The Diary of a Young Girl about her life during World War II once lived in the home that is now a museum dedicated to her memory. It is a sad place that brings her autobiographical account in the book to life. The house has been kept in the same conditions it was during the Holocaust, from the concealed doorway into the annex to every other element.

It doesn't matter if you have read the book or want to learn more about that period – this living museum is one of the most recommended things in Amsterdam.

7. Learn More About Dutch Beer Brewing at The Heineken Experience

The Heineken Experience
Credit: Depositphotos

If you are looking for fun things to do in Amsterdam for adults, you will want to take advantage of every trip to The Heineken Experience take advantage of. Find out from the makers of one of the most famous alcohol brands in the world how they make their premium quality beer. As well as taking in the company's history, you can see the brewery and the brewing process.

After you have taken the tour, one of the best places to drink in Amsterdam is undoubtedly the Best ‘Dam Bar, the brewery's own bar on its roof. From there, sample some of the freshest Dutch beer while taking in astonishing city views.

8. Eat Some Traditional Dutch Herring from One of Many Fishmonger Stalls

Anyone who knows a little about Dutch cuisine will know Dutch herring is a particularly iconic delicacy. The locals and those with more adventurous tastebuds that visit the city enjoy it, and there are a fantastic number of haringhandels or fishmonger carts dotted around the city, where you can buy some. Frozen raw and similar to sashimi, Dutch herring is usually served with raw onions and pickles.

If you don't fancy raw fish but still want an authentic Dutch meal, ask for the fish to be warmed and placed into a white fluffy bread bun. This is one of the standout cheap Amsterdam things to do, as herring is incredibly affordable.

9. Explore the Churches of Amsterdam

Child praying in church
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Some of the church buildings in Amsterdam were built many centuries ago, making them some of continental Europe's oldest buildings. A tour of these prestigious and ancient buildings is a must when looking for cheap things to do in Amsterdam. Oude Kerk is the oldest of them all, having been built in 1206 and was a central point during the Reformation years, so it has seen its fair share of religious turmoil and strife. Westerkerk is the biggest church, standing at an imposing 86 meters high. Another notable reason to visit this particular place of worship is that it is the resting place for noteworthy Dutch people like Rembrandt.

10. Bargain Hunt at Ij-Hallen

One of the most obviously cheap fun things to do in Amsterdam is to take a gander around its large and sprawling flea market known as Ij-Hallen. Here, you will find just about anything and everything pre-owned and pre-loved, from vinyl to antiques to clothing.

Be aware that Ij-Hallen only happens one weekend every month, so plan your trip to coincide with the day it will run. Although there is a relatively small entrance fee, the bargains you will find within its parameters will give you more than your money's worth.

11. More Upmarket Retail Therapy at De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets)

You may be interested in a more upmarket form of retail therapy and the chance to dine at a nice restaurant while in Amsterdam. If that is the case, there are many fun things to see in Amsterdam's De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets). As you may have guessed from its name, it is a city shopping district with nine streets full of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Berestraat 36 and Toos & Roos, two of the best places to grab food in the city, are found there, along with coffee shops like Runstraat 6 and Screaming Beans.

12. Tour Through Lovely Countryside in Zaanse Schans

While it may be under 30 minutes from central Amsterdam, if you have the time and inclination and want to get away from the busy metropolis, Zaanse Schans is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam. What can you expect from a trip through this countryside paradise? There are lots of wooden façade homes and windmills to make you feel like you've stepped into a photograph or postcard.

Aside from the scenery, there are several fun things to do here you can do anywhere else. Watch and learn how giant windmills and boat sails are made at The Weaver's House, make your Dutch chocolate at Blik op de Zaan, and visit a clog workshop to see how authentic Dutch cogs are made.

13. Watch the Sunset or Sunbathe at Zandvoort aan Zee

If you are looking for fun things to do at night in Amsterdam, you may need to go beyond the city limits and take the train to Zandvoort aan Zee. This little seaside town offers the pristine Zandvoort Beach and some of the most enchanting views across the clear North Sea. We recommend taking in the unhindered and breathtaking sunset over the beach.

14. More Retail Therapy at Haarlem’s de Gouden Straatjes

pretty backpackers buying chili decorations in the traditional market. two travelers shopping in a colorful vendor. Mexican decorations shop in USA.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When looking for more places to go and do a little window browsing and shopping, consider taking a tour of Haarlem, located only 15 minutes from the city by train. This is incredibly popular, and it's not surprising why. Everything is here, from specialty shops and little local boutiques to the biggest and best brands worldwide.

There is also the Grote Markt, which is the city's market that sits in its center. This is a great place to visit for something to eat and drink. We recommend this when you have run out of things to do in Amsterdam.

15. Wander Through the Tulip Fields of Keukenhof

Are you looking to go to Amsterdam in springtime? One of Amsterdam's best and cheapest fun things is to stroll around Bellenstreek and the famous Keukenhof. A flower park like no other, it is open for just eight weeks every year and is home to tulips in full bloom. There are more than 800 species of flowers, which are too numerous to count the colors and shapes. While most are tulips, other visual and scented treats are found around the park's 15km walking and cycling routes.

Final Thoughts

So, whether you are on a tight budget or just looking for value over expense, there are many cheap things to do in Amsterdam. We have tried to include something for everyone in our guide, but if you feel we need to include an important activity or place from our list, please let us know in the comments section. Enjoy your trip to Amsterdam.

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