Amsterdam is an expensive city. Sure, the rent prices are exorbitant and it’s not exactly cheap to go out …. unless you’re doing one of these 30 activities! 


1. Watch the random action on the Dam Square or Leidseplein

Sure, you should tip any performers of course… if they earn it.


2. Walk/bike through the canals

It’s cliché for a reason.


3. Outdoor film festivals

Though you’re encouraged to pay extra for things like chair reservations and headphone rentals, and there’s plenty of food and drink to spend your money on, you can still show up to outdoor film festivals like Pluk de Nacht and Films With a View at Pllek and watch a movie without paying a dime (bring your own drinks for the first and headphones for the latter).


4. Go swimming at Blijburg

(Or another beach.)


5. Play Ping-Pong

There are free tables in Westerpark, Sarphatipark, and others. But you do need to bring your own equipment.


6. Morning t’ai chi classes

Find Sifu Chan in Oosterpark every morning at 10, rain or shine.


7. Explore art galleries and antique shops

Especially found on the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat and in the Jordaan, they’re free (and fascinating) if you’re just taking a peek…


8. Dig through the Amsterdam City Archives

There are more than 30km of official records, from letters and photography to audio recordings. Literal treasures of history. On your first visit, in fact, just skip to the Treasury collection in the basement. Think of it as a best-of.

stadsarchief amsterdam

9. Work out in Rembrandtpark

Yay for the outdoor gym!

10. Explore some secret gardens

Of course, there’s the Begijnhof, but there are also a bunch more that are way more hidden and private.

Read 12 best things to do in the Netherlands.

11. Take a walking tour (or bike tour), like the ones from 360 Amsterdam and Sandemans

They go multiple times per day and cover the overall history of the city or special topics, like the Red Light District.

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12. Walk the Schuttersgalerij

It’s a free hall of art next to the Amsterdam Museum with a looming Napoleon, a trippy multi-culti carpet, and life-sized 17th-century replicas of David and Goliath.

13. Regular classical and jazz concerts

Check out the city’s classiest musical acts for free at rehearsals and lunchtime concerts. In addition to the free lunchtime concerts at The Royal Concertgebouw in Museumplein every Wednesday, the Muziektheater in Waterlooplein, better known as the Stopera, also offers free concerts every Tuesday at 12:30 pm in the foyer (next to the awesome, floor-busting violin man). There’s more, music fans: the Badcuyp, Muziekgebouw aan t’ IJ, and Bimhuis all also offer the occasional free show. Just check their schedules.


14. Sample the city’s best cheese

De Reypenaer shop and tasting room is a money-making venture (so do support it), but you can totally wander in and try some nibbles of almost all of its cheeses for free.


15. Free festivals!

Try out King’s Day, Gay Pride, the Uitmarkt, the Canal Festival, National Tulip Day, Sail (every 5 years) and the Amsterdam Light Festival (depending on the time of year).

16. Pose inside the Night Watch

Okay, it’s a replica in statues, but that makes it even cooler. They’re found on Rembrandtplein, of course.

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17. Hang out on the central library roof terrace

Best views in the city? Probably. (But also try the ones out from the NEMO rooftop terrace across the water to be sure.)

18. Diamond tours

Both Gassan and Coster offer free factory tours. The latter also has a whole diamond museum (which is “free” if you have a museum card).

19. The Architecture Museum

ARCAM is an exhibition and information centre. All the exhibits are free, and there are always at least a few a year (like the houseboat exhibition) that are worth checking out.

20. Ride the ferry

Step on the south side of the IJ at Centraal Station or to the west or east and explore Noord, Amsterdam’s final frontier. Bring a bike.

21. See a Picasso

It’s not really a masterpiece, but it’s just sitting out in the open in Vondelpark.

22. Interact with Dutch film history

There’s a paid part of the EYE film museum, and then there’s the Panorama collection.


23. Walk through the Red Light District

If you don’t purchase any services (or drinks), it’s 100% free. In addition to just being damn pretty, the people-watching is unparalleled.

Rosse buurt

24. Play AND learn about chess

Not only is the giant chess board on Max Euweplein free to play, the museum dedicated to the chess player the square is named after is free, too.

25. New Year’s Eve fireworks

No matter where you stand in the city, you will see some.

26. Get to know the Father of Fair Trade

Also known as the Dutch Dickens, explore the story of writer and activist Multatuli in his former home for free. Well, donation-based, at least.

27. Pet cats, lots of cats

The Poezenboot floating cat sanctuary is free to visit, and Kopjes cat cafe is barely more. Or just reach out and scratch your local pub’s mouser mascot.

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28. Check out the zoo giraffes

You don’t actually need to pay to see them, and there are a few more animals you can see from outside the fence of Artis as well.

29. Watch some open-air theatre and dance

The Vondelpark Theater puts on all different kinds of free shows all summer long.


30. Watch some storytelling and comedy

These nights are becoming popular around town, but Mezrab still rules this scene.

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