With all the clichéd stories about Amsterdam’s legal drugs scene and red light district, it can be easy for travellers looking for a cultured break on a budget to forget the Netherlands’ capital city. However, with 51 museums, 55 theatres and concert halls and more than 8,800 Renaissance buildings on offer, Amsterdam is an exciting option for those looking to explore art and history in mainland Europe. Furthermore, with its 165 canals, 880,000 bicycles, 8 windmills, 36 clubs and 1,150 restaurants, it doesn’t matter whether your passion is for boating, cycling, architecture, dancing or fine dining: you’ll find a way to enjoy it in Amsterdam.
If you’re working within a strict budget, booking a short city break is often the ideal way to see Amsterdam. Average flying times of one hour from the UK make two- or three-day getaways convenient as well as affordable. Whether you’re hoping to stay in a hotel in the city centre or to bunk down in a campsite on the banks of the Markermeer, you’re sure to find accommodation to suit your finances in one of the area’s 400+ hotels and campsites.
Known for its outdoorsy nature, thanks to its cycling enthusiasts, extensive waterways and thirty parks, Amsterdam is extremely popular in summer. However, winter is a perfect time to enjoy off-peak prices and experience crowd-free visits to some of Amsterdam’s most beloved attractions, such as The Royal Concertgebouw (concert hall) and Anne Frank’s house, or even to enjoy seasonal events such as the annual Wereldkerst circus performance. Regardless of the time of year in which you embark on a city break in Amsterdam, it’s often possible to book yourself a cheap hotel.
Amsterdam has a huge number of museums and galleries that you should check out while you are there. It is possible to buy a museumkaart wich will allow you access to 34 museums around the city. It is also valid for a whole year and costs €54.90 or €29.95 for under eighteens. This is a great investment for your frugal trip should you be looking to visit a number of museums or planning to come back in the year. You could also give the card to any friends or relatives who are visiting.
Getting around Amsterdam is easy with a great tram service that will quickly get you from A to B efficiently. Of course the best way to take in any city you visit is to walk and thankfully Amsterdam is such a beautiful city that you can walk for hours and take in all the amazing architecture and picturesque canals. To blend in with the locals you might consider hiring a bike to cruise along the waterways. There are lots of bike hire shops with rates averaging around €8 euros for a day with some multi day rates as low as €4. Many of the bike hire shops also offer guided tours that you might want to consider to get a bit more information on the city from a local.
Whatever your style and interests, you will find activities and attractions to suit all tastes and finances in Amsterdam. Beer aficionados will find plenty of gustatory delights all year long in the Netherlands and art lovers will enjoy the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) and Rembrandt’s house in Jodenbreestraat. The Amstelkring, a clandestine Catholic house church, is one of Amsterdam’s top cultural attractions and religious centres, while other museums such as Het Schip, the Resistance Museum and the Museum of Bags and Purses provide insights into aspects of Dutch history and culture.
Most importantly for those travelling on a budget, Amsterdam is an urban photographer’s paradise and full of plenty of striking architecture and city design that can be explored and captured for free. Start by taking in Herengracht, a beautiful canal in the upmarket and beautiful Jordaan district. Move on to Dam Square for window shopping opportunities against the backdrop of Prinsengracht canal or admire the stalls alongside the Amstel river. Follow this with a tour of the idyllic Vondelpark then stroll through the nine little streets of De Negen Straatjes and later explore the charming view of Haarlemmerstraat. End the day with the sunset in Begijnhof’s hidden garden and you’ll have seen the very best of Amsterdam’s most scenic points without having to spend a single Euro. Leidseplein is one of Amsterdam’s most popular night spots, and if you’re looking to keep costs down, it can be a cheap and cheerful place to do a little people watching or to soak up the electric ambiance of Amsterdam at night.
Guest post from Catherine Halsey who has travelled all around Europe and Amsterdam never fails to impress. She hopes that you enjoy this guide to the city and have a great time while visiting.