There is nothing more satisfying than a trip where you can have memorable experiences without breaking the bank. Especially when it is to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Amsterdam! And despite the general consensus of western European cities being expensive destinations, there are tons of ways to save if you’re up for a little compromise and creativity. Plan your perfect trip to Amsterdam on a budget with these travel tips!
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Arriving to & Getting Around Amsterdam on a Budget
Transportation is a major cost on any trip. Discover how to limit your spending while getting around Amsterdam.
1. Get creative with flights
If you are flying from elsewhere in Europe, you may be able to take advantage of one of my favorite cheap flight hacks.
Low-cost European airlines can offer super cheap flights, but if you are traveling at peak times like weekends or the summer season, prices can take off.
But, there is a travel hack that, while it takes a bit of planning to pull off, can help you save big and also better explore The Netherlands! It’s also how I pulled off visiting Amsterdam on a budget.
Flights to Schiphol Airport tend to be costly, but low-cost airline companies like Ryanair also fly to much smaller regional airports that are within two hours of Amsterdam. I got a super cheap flight flying into Dusseldorf and out of Weeze (both small airports in Germany) and arrived to Amsterdam by renting a car.
Pro Tip: If you end up not renting a car, but still want to see these places, you may want to consider booking a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens and Zaanse Schans to have it all planned out for you.
While this is not going to be a budget hack for everyone (you will have to weigh the cost of the flights + rental car with the cost of the flights directly to Amsterdam), it can be a super saver if your dates work out and you are willing to do the calculations.
2. Put on your walking shoes
Amsterdam is a fairly compact city and the main areas of the historic city center are all walkable.
It is actually better explored on foot because of all the beautiful (and tricky to navigate) canals running through it. And walking is free!
Avoid taking taxis, as they are way overpriced. If you need to, use the tram to get around for a ride that costs €2.80.
3. Rent a bike for a day
The last budget-friendly way to get around Amsterdam is to do as the locals do!
Being one of the bike friendliest cities in the world, Amsterdam is the perfect place to be seen by bike, getting you around quicker than if you were walking but also for fairly cheap!
Bike rentals can often go down in price the more days you rent them for, so consider this when planning your trip itinerary.
Staying in Amsterdam on a Budget
4. Book accommodation outside the city
The best tip for staying in Amsterdam on a budget is – don’t stay in Amsterdam!
I hope you get lucky and find a nice accommodation for a good price in the city center – but in all my searching, staying in the city center is a killer to an Amsterdam trip budget.
Instead, opt to stay in an area just outside of Amsterdam, like Halfweg. I stayed at this simple, budget-friendly hotel De Keizerskroon that also had the bus stop right outside taking you straight into the city!
5. Consider a private room in a hostel
Another usually budget-friendly option for staying in Amsterdam is to take advantage of the city’s many hostels.
You may not want to sleep in a dorm with others, but many hostels like Generator Hostels, also offer private rooms. Of course, you will have to weigh the option of a private room in a hostel to a private hotel room because they can creep up in price significantly from the dorm room prices.
Exploring Amsterdam on a Budget
6. Free walking tours and itineraries
Google “Amsterdam walking tours” and you will find a whole website dedicated to providing free walking tours of Amsterdam that can take you anywhere from the Red Light District to the Anne Frank House to the Van Gogh Museum.
You could also check out the many articles online sharing walking itineraries so you can see the best of Amsterdam without spending a penny on transportation in the city.
7. Invest in one good tour
While I love a good walking tour, I really loved the canal tour I did in Amsterdam.
If I can tell you to spend on one thing, it would be on a canal boat tour, the best way to see this completely unique city an experience you just can’t replicate anywhere else.
8. Free things to do in Amsterdam
It may not seem like there are many, but there are indeed lots of free things to do in Amsterdam beyond just walking around and exploring!
One of my favorite free things to do was to go up to the NEMO Science Museum rooftop where you got an amazing view of both modern and old town Amsterdam.
Some museums are free to enter in Amsterdam, like the Amsterdam City Archives, Rijksmuseum Gardens, and Open Space Contemporary Art Museum.
Better yet? You can even find free museum tours, like at Gassan Diamonds Factory. Just book in advance to reserve your spot.
Lastly for free things to do in Amsterdam, check out the city’s parks and markets. They offer an amazing glimpse into local life, from the floral Bloemenmarkt to the endless Vondelpark.
Bonus: Should you get the I Amsterdam city card?
I did not personally get the I Amsterdam city card because I wasn’t doing all of the museums. The card starts at €66 for one day, however it does include a lot like unlimited use of public transport, a canal cruise and a 24 hour bike rental.
If you are really looking to make the most of your time and see as many landmarks as possible, then it could be a worthy investment. However, I do think you can enjoy Amsterdam on a budget without it.
Eating in Amsterdam on a Budget
9. Opt for food halls over restaurants
A great way to accessing the diverse food scene of Amsterdam is to skip table dining and go for food market halls.
The prices at food market halls can vary from stand to stand, leaving you the choice of both budget-friendly options or a more upscale experience across cuisines.
Head to Foodhallen to taste Amsterdam!
10. Scope out Amsterdam cheap eats
There are tons of articles online that highlight the best places to get cheap eats in Amsterdam.
Save these spots ahead of your travels and integrate them into your itinerary so you don’t end up resorting last-minute to an expensive restaurant because of poor planning.
Bonus tip: Amsterdam has free drinking water fountains all around the city. Don’t pay for bottled water – bring your own empty travel water bottle to fill!
Best Amsterdam Weekend Itinerary
Now that you’ve learned how to save on a trip to Amsterdam, plan the ultimate Amsterdam itinerary! In my itinerary, I’ve highlighted the best things to do if you have just 2 days in Amsterdam, plus shared the tips for what you must know before you go.
The SGTD Take: Is a budget trip to Amsterdam worth it?
I’m all about budget travel, but sometimes I do stop and think before I book and say: will this trip be worth it if I have to be super conscious of my spending?
Luckily, with Amsterdam, it is. It’s not the cheapest city you will ever travel to, but its cultural significance and crazy charm make it worth a spot on anyone’s bucket list.
I know it can get really easy to forget about a trip budget the moment you make it to your destination, which is why I wanted to share tips for visiting Amsterdam on a budget that could be seamlessly integrated into your pre-trip planning and easily executed upon arrival. I hope you have gotten something useful out of them!
Save this budget travel guide on Pinterest!
What are you finding the most difficult about planning a trip to Amsterdam on a budget? Let me know in the comments so we can chat strategy!