AMSTERDAM: ITINERARY & BUDGET TIPS
Amsterdam has been on my bucket list for a long time and this year I finally got the opportunity to visit!
The fairytale town (also called “Venice of the North”) is most known for its beautiful canals, picturebook houses, and legal marijuana.
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Amsterdam is known to be a really expensive city, and sometimes visiting it means making a huge dent in your wallet.
As I’m currently traveling on a budget, I decided to share with you my top 5 budget-friendly tips which helped me get the most out of my visit to the Netherlands.
AMSTERDAM BUDGET TIP #1 – Find the cheapest flight!
We flew with Ryanair from Zagreb, Croatia to Brussels, Belgium, as that was the cheapest option for us.
Our flight to Brussels was around 50 euros both ways, whereas a flight from Zagreb to Amsterdam is usually at least 120 euros per person.
This way, the “saved” money was used for a rental car which allowed us to see much more than we would’ve if we flew directly to Amsterdam.
We used the rental company Avis on the Brussels Charleroi Airport, got a lovely car, and completely enjoyed the experience of making our trip to Amsterdam a little roadtrip.
AMSTERDAM BUDGET TIP #2 – Your accommodation does not have to be exactly in the center of the city
After a 2.5h drive from Brussels to Amsterdam, we checked into our hotel, Chasse Hotel.
The 4-star hotel was just outside the main city rings, therefore a little cheaper than the ones in the center of the city.
Our three nights in a hotel were 225 euros in the peak season in July, which is way cheaper than for example Mercure Hotel which, for the same dates, was around 700 euros, and Park Inn by Radisson around 450 euros.
We were only a 30-minute walk from most city sights like Dam Square, Van Gogh Museum, and The Red Light District yet our wallets were very much spared and we were still extremely comfortable in our large room with a huge, beautiful bathroom.
AMSTERDAM BUDGET TIP #3 – If the weather is nice, public transport is unnecessary
One of my favorite things and memories of the trip are the long walks through the city.
You truly have a feeling you’re in a fairytale and if the weather allows you, I would highly recommend going out and getting lost in the narrow, meandering streets of Amsterdam.
If you don’t like walking – RENT A BIKE! We rented a MAC bike.
Being on a bike in Amsterdam is a magical experience – it makes you feel like a local even though everyone there clearly sees you’re not.
The 2 bikes were around 23 euros for 2 days, which is way cheaper and more fun than public transport.
For comparison – a 3-day public transport ticket is around 20 euros per person.
(NON EXISTENT) AMSTERDAM BUDGET TIP #4 – indulge in some seriously unhealthy, but delicious food
While walking around Amsterdam you will notice the abundance of food being at your disposal.
The most famous snacks in Amsterdam are fries and churros.
Churros are heavenly delicious but expensive – 8 euros is one average portion which you will not want to share.
Also, for Europeans who do not have Dunkin Donuts in their country and have a sweet tooth – please go. My mind has been blown by the Nutella donuts they offer and I think of them daily.
As we were on a budget and there weren’t any “too” affordable lunch options, we mostly checked which restaurants have big portions and had one meal for lunch and dinner.
If you want to eat fast food though, you will find many affordable options that range from around 10 euros per meal.
AMSTERDAM BUDGET TIP #5 – visit the free of charge places in Amsterdam
Yes, Van Gogh Museum seems like an amazing place to visit, but you can still have an amazing time even if you don’t have 20 euros for each of the museums.
Amsterdam is full of gorgeous streets, parks, coffee shops, and squares.
For affordable sightseeing visit the Dam and Rembrandt Square, walk through the Red Light District, sit and eat your lunch in Vondelpark, visit their flower and fair markets… the options are endless.
We spent most of our time on bikes exploring – didn’t spend a penny.
If you do want to spend money on some of Amsterdam’s activities, check out the following activities on Get Your Guide:
ITINERARY FOR 3 DAYS IN AMSTERDAM + 2 IN BELGIUM
This is how we spent our time in Amsterdam and Belgium so if you’re interested to see a budget-friendly itinerary, keep reading!
- Firstly, as soon as you arrive, immediately leave to explore the city, especially if you arrive during sunset. The days in Amsterdam are long during summer – for us, the sunset was from 9 to 10 pm, so you won’t feel like you lost the day even if you arrive in the late afternoon.
- Secondly, get some churros and walk around through the narrow streets of Amsterdam. On our first evening, we’ve gone to Reguliersdwarsstraat, which is the main gay street in Amsterdam. Here you can find most of the gay bars, shops, clubs, and cafes in the city and it’s extremely fun and colorful. If you want to relax, go to Leidseplein and sit in the Coffee shop BULLDOG. If after that you’re interested in going out, the side streets are full of nightclubs.
- Rent your bikes and dedicate your morning to the Albert Cuyptmarkt – the largest and most popular outdoor market in the Netherlands. The market is open 6 days a week and there you can find anything you need– from fresh food to clothes.
- If you have a car, use your afternoon to visit Zaanse Schans. It’s a village which attracts over a million tourists every single year and it’s famous for the collection of perfectly preserved windmills and houses from the last century. If you don’t have a car, use a train, it’s only 20 minutes away from Amsterdam – the ticket is only 3.50 euros and the entrance is FREE.
- On day three, go to Utrecht. Utrecht is a city 40 minutes away from Amsterdam and it looks like the mini version of it. The city center is traffic-free so you can walk wherever you want completely carefree. The charming town offers many boat or kayak tours for cheap (16 euros), and you can also enjoy restaurants and bars alongside the canals.
- after Utrecht, we decided to have lunch in nature. Get a pizza or any other food of your choice and sit down in Vondelpark. The enormous park offers 120 acres of greenery which means no matter how many people might be there, you will have your privacy, peace, and quiet.
- in the evening, our last Amsterdam walk was to Central Station, to get to NDSM. From the Central Station take the free GVB Amsterdam ferry to get to the other side of the river IJ. NDSM has become a real cultural hotspot where you can see old hangars transformed into exhibitions, coffee shops and bars made for creative youth, and walls full of graffiti.
- We spent our day four on our way back to Belgium, and our first stop was Bruges. The city is 2.5 hours from Amsterdam and only an hour from Brussels, The city is the largest city of the of province West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium and the city center is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
- The small, picturesque city gives off Harry Potter vibes; it’s old, full of history and the architecture is outstanding. It was overcrowded when we were there so that is the only con about our day trip.
- We didn’t have much time to see Brussels so if you’re wondering what to see in a short time – go see the Atom expo and walk around the city center. We were very underwhelmed with the city as it was extremely dirty with a lot of trash and broken glass everywhere around.
If you’ve been to any of these places and you feel like we missed out on something, please let me know in the comments, and if you want to check out my article on Positano, feel free to do so here!
Amsterdam is such a wonderful city! I’ve been there many years ago and would love to return. Your money-saving tips are also very helpful! 🙂
Thanks so much! And I agree, Amsterdam is wonderful!
Loved the guide. I remember having Amsterdam fries every day during my stay in Amsterdam. I tried the churros too.
Churros are deliciousssssssss. Thanks for reading!
I love the Netherlands. So I hope to get back soon and use some of your great tips. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! Hope you get to go soon!
The itinerary is so helpful – thank you!! Loved the budget travel tips.
Thanks for reading!
Love these tips! Amsterdam is pretty expensive so it’s great to have you recommendations 🙂
Thanks for reading!