Visiting Amsterdam is easily doable with a tight budget eventhough Amsterdam is considered an expensive city. There are many cheap ways to get into the city, as bus companies like Flixbus offer cheap tickets from a lot of cities throughout Europe. Visit Omio to find the cheapest travel deal to Amsterdam from your city.
Places to stay
Finding a cheap place to stay will be a somewhat bigger challenge. The average price for a hotel is kinda steep, compared to most European capitals. Luckily there are a lot of cheap alternatives, since there are numerous hostels within the city.
Flying Pig Downtown is a very popular hostel located in the heart of the city, close to the Central Station and The Wallen area. This hostel has a very friendly and helpful staff and offer free WiFi and a guest kitchen. Prices start from around 20 euros a night.
The Cocorama Hostel won a couple of award for best hostel and is located close by the popular tourist attraction the Heineken Experience. Cocomama offers express check-in and check-out, non-smoking rooms, a shared lounge, a shared kitchen, free WiFi throughout the property and a garden with a terrace. Prices start from around 30 euros a night.
One of the most famous and oldest hostels is the Hans Brinker Hostel. Located at The Kerkstraat it’s only a 5 minute walk away from the famous Leidsche Plein square, one of Amsterdam’s hotspots for experiencing the city’s nightlife. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the spacious common area. There is also a bar and an underground club, which is open every night until late. Prices start from around 30 euros a night.
The world famous coffeeshop The Bulldog also runs a hostel next to the coffeeshop. This fact alone makes it ofcourse a very popular hostel but next to that it’s basically also a really great hostel. Located right near the action of The Wallen, the red light district of Amsterdam. And if you feel like having a good burger, right next door is the excellent Burger Zaken burgerjoint. The hostel offers dorm and private rooms all with free Wifi. Prices for dorm rooms start from 28 euros a night.
Another popular hostel is the rather new CityHub Amsterdam which is right next to De Hallen, a cultural center dedicated to art and film. The Hostel is not right in the most touristic part, but in a popular area for locals. There’s a tram stop a 2 minute walk away that gets you in the centre within no-time. It doesn not offer dorm rooms but guests will stay in a private sleeping cabin with a king size double bed. The shared bathroom facilities include a rain shower and CityHub Amsterdam features free WiFi throughout the property. Prices for a hub start from around 65 euros a night.
Most of the tourist attractions are in the historic centre and a lot of interesting stuff is just a small walk away. If you do not feel like walking that much you can get day passes for public transport for only €8.50. You can find more info on the website of the GVB, which operates most of the public transport in Amsterdam. The day pass will give you access to busses, trams and subway for 24 hours.
Ofcourse you can also do what the Dutchies do and just ride a bike. There are a couple of companies that rent bikes and you can rent a bike for 24 hours for as cheap as 13 euros. Amsterdam is very bicycle-friendly and pretty much every street has a designated bike lane. Just look out for trams and those pesky tourists crossing the street all of a sudden! I wouldn’t advise on getting a taxi, because in The Netherlands getting a taxi can be very expensive. That’s also the reason why you don’t see them as much as in other tourist destinations.
Things to do with a tight budget
Amsterdam is a great place to just wander through and experience the historic centre with its beautiful stepped gable houses. Most of them were built by wealthy merchants during the 17th century and display the grandeur this city had back in those days. But also narrow streets and alleys with almost doll like houses give this city a cosy and romantic atmosphere, that is best soaked up by just walking.
If you’d like to see the city’s highlights with a guide, Sandeman offers a free tip-based tour. It takes about three hours and takes you to a lot of the hotspots. Guruwalk is another organisation that offers tip-based walking tours. A list of all the tours can be found here.
Venice of the North is another nickname of the city and therefore offers many canal cruises. One of the cheapest canal cruises is this one, operated by Lovers. The cruise takes about an hour and costs €14 for adults and only €8 for children 4-13. For children younger than 4 years old entrance is free.
If you are here with children, or just like animals in general, there are a couple of very well maintained petting zoos throughout Amsterdam. Entrance is free of charge for all of them.
Where to eat with a tight budget?
Amsterdam has a couple of great parks where a lot of locals like to kick back on sunny days. Entrance is free ofcourse and in most of the parks you’re allowed to have a picnic. To get your food and drinks for your picnic visit one of the open-air markets or one of the cheaper supermarkets like Dirk van de Broek, Vomar or Aldi. Albert Heijn is the most prominent supermarket but also a relative expensive one. If you do go to Albert Heijn, look for the Bonus offers and when paying ask the cashier if he or she has a Bonus card for you. That can save you a lot of money. When buying food at the market, go there at the end of the day. Prices will sometimes drop dramatically at the end of the day.
A good place for a cheap breakfast is Hema, a Dutch chain of variety stores. You can purchase a breakfast (baguette roll with omelette, croissant and jam plus a cup of filter coffee or tea) for just €2.
If you stay at a hostel, ask them for other options. They often do know where to get the best food for the smallest price!
Purchase an Amsterdam City Card which gives you free entrance or discount on public transport, attractions, tours, restaurants and venues!