Amsterdam is an amazing city, with tons of different things to do that suit everyone. With it’s historic buildings that line the winding canals, it’s beautiful parks, and world-renown museums to the red light district and coffeeshops there are tons of things to do here. Many of which are free, and will help keep your travel costs down. If you’re visiting with family, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s many free things here to do that are kid-friendly as well.
Take a Selfie With the I Amsterdam Sign
If you’re looking for a great photo opportunity, then be sure to take a selfie with the I Amsterdam sign. The signs have become quite iconic and are a must-see when visiting Amsterdam. But, due to their popularity, they can get quite crowded, so it’s recommended to arrive early to avoid the crowds.
There’s two iAmsterdam signs on display. One is located outside Schiphol Airport’s main entrance, while the other is located by the A’DAM Lookout Tower at Overhoeksplein.
Here’s some tops on taking photos with the signs:
- Arrive early to avoid the crowds
- Bring a selfie stick or gimbal
- Be respectful to the locals as one sign was removed in 2019 due to “mass tourism” issues.
If you’re going to take a photo with the one by the A’DAM Lookout you could also visit the tower itself; although this isn’t free it is the lookout gives you great views over Amsterdam and you can swing on the tallest swing the world. The A’DAM Lookout is included in the I Amsterdam City Card which gives you discounted entry to museums, art galleries etc. If you plan on visiting several paid attractions, it’s worth considering getting the I Amsterdam City Card.
Go to One of the Free Lunchtime Concerts
If you’re a fan of classical musicthen I highly recommend attending one of the free lunchtime concerts.
Concerts are held once a week, on a Wednesday at The Royal Concertgebouw. This is a great way of enjoying live music from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra or up-and-coming talented musicians without the cost involved in normally seeing these performances.
Schedule and Booking The Concnert
The concerts start at 12:30pm, with the programme being released 1 week in advanced on their website.
There are a limited number of seats available, so it’s recommended to book your free ticket online in advance to ensure you’ll get a spot. You can book tickets for the lunch concert on their website. If you turn up on the day, you may get lucky during the quieter months, but during the summer, they’ll most likely be sold out.
The Royal Concertgebouw advises that visitors should be age 6 or above, and it isn’t really an ideal place to attend with younger children who may cry, get bored, or not enjoy the noises of the instruments.
You can book tickets online for the Lunch concert here.
Visit a Church in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has tons of old churches, with interesting architecture that you can attend during your visit or just enjoy from outside.
One of the best free churches is Zuiderkerk. Zuiderkerk is a beautiful church that was built in 1601, and converted to a Protestant Church during the Reformation.
The church is also located by the Amsterdam Canals, and it’s stunning architecture can add some interest to your photos. Even if you don’t go inside this church, it’s worth taking some photographs of the canals with this church in the background. Especially at night, when the light makes the churches architecture stand out even more.
Zuiderkerk has events taking place throughout the year, although these may not be free. Check out their website for more information. Their website is in Dutch, so you may need to use Google Translate.
If you’d like to attend a church service whilst in Amsterdam, and don’t speak Dutch it’s OK. As there’s plenty of churches that offer English services for different forms of Christianity and also Jews. To find these, I recommend checking out this list here.
See The Sculpture Garden at Westerkerk
Westerkerk is a beautiful church that was built in the 17th century and is located in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. It is one of the most famous churches in Amsterdam and is known for its impressive architecture. The church also has a sculpture garden that is open to the public. The garden is a beautiful place to relax and take in the beauty of the church and its surroundings.
Join a Free Walking Tour
If you’re interested in learning more about Amsterdam’s history and culture, you should consider joining one of the free walking tours available in the city. These tours cover different areas of Amsterdam and are led by knowledgeable guides who can provide you with interesting insights into the city’s past and present.
Note: Although these tours are free, Amsterdam city charges an entertainment tax of €1.55 per person, so you will need to pay this at the start of the tour.
If you’re looking for a tour that covers Amsterdam’s main history over the last 800 years, you could take part in this 2-hour walking tour. This tour visits the more well-known areas such as the Canal, and Royal Palace. You do need to sign up for the tour online, so make sure to do that on their website here.
If you’re interested in learning about how Amsterdam went from being a conservative Christian city to more open-minded with coffee shops, and the red light district you could join this 2-hour alternative tour. Make sure to book online so they know you’ll be going.
If you want to discover Amsterdam’s best food, then you should consider doing this 2-hour food tour. This tour takes you to some of Amsterdam’s best food spots, where you can taste famous Dutch dishes such as poffertjes (mini-pancakes), Gouda cheese, Stroopwafel, and Bitterballen. All the tasters on this tour are free, but the tour company does ask that you pay what you think the tour is worth. To book this tour, visit the tour company’s website and register online. Check availability and book the tour here.
Booking is required, with a maximum of 15 people per group. To learn more and book your walking tour, visit their site here.
Take Part in a Brewery Tour
If you are interested in beer, you should definitely take part in a brewery tour while in Amsterdam.
One of the small breweries that you will be able to find in Amsterdam is Brouwerj. They offer organized tours that are accompanied by an English speaking tour guide, so you don’t need to worry if you cannot speak Dutch. But, keep in mind that free tours are available only on specific days of the week.
You can check the current times of their free tours here.
Take a Free Ferry Boat Trip to NDSM
If you’re on a budget, you could hop on a free ferry boat trip. Whilst this isn’t anywhere near as good an experience as riding in a canal boat, you do get to see a little bit of Amsterdam from the water. The ferries leave from the GVB ferry terminals, which can be found in a few different locations.
The main ferry terminal is located at Amsterdam Centraal Station, and here you can catch the boat to NDSM, Distelweg, Buiksloterweg, and Pontsteiger.
The longest of these is the Amsterdam Centraal to NDSM ferry route, so if you want to try to see as much of the River Ij as possible then you should head to/from NDSM. NDSM is also a fun area to visit and is home to a few art galleries (some may have an entry fee), NDSM Loods and street art that you can enjoy for free.
You can see the NDSM Ferry schedule and ferry routes here.
See the Art Exhibits at NDSM Loods & NDSM Fuse
If you want to see art from some of Amsterdam’s local artists, then I recommend heading to NDSM Loods. The monument is private, but they open to the public from 9am to 6pm daily and entry is free. There may be artists working during your visit so please be sure to respect them and their space.
NDSM Loods holds expos, and other events throughout the year which you can see on their website here (this section is only in Dutch).
Whilst at NDSM Loods you can also visit the nearby NDSM Fuse, which is open from 12pm to 6pm from Thursday to Sunday. NDSM Fuse is an industrial exhibition space that holds exhibitions and other events.
The exhibition space is only accessible by stairs, and doesn’t currently have any wheelchair access. Entry to NDSM Fuse is free but they do ask you to pay what you wish.
Visit Amsterdam’s Floating Flower Market
If you want to immerse yourself in the beauty of flowers, then you should visit Amsterdam’s floating flower market, also known as Bloemenmarkt. This unique market is located on Singel canal, one of the most famous canals in Amsterdam. The market is open from Monday to Saturday, and entry is free.
The Bloemenmarkt has a rich history dating back to 1862, and it is the only floating flower market in the world. Here, you can find a variety of flowers, including tulips, which are synonymous with the Netherlands. In addition to flowers, you can also purchase bulbs and souvenirs, such as wooden shoes, cheese, and other Dutch specialties.
The floating flower market is located at Singel 7, and it is easily accessible from most hotels in the city center. A visit to this market is a must-do activity when in Amsterdam, and it is a great place to take beautiful photos and experience the unique Dutch culture.
Can I bring tulips home with me?
Chances are you can’t. If you’re asking “can I bring back tultips to the UK?” or the USA, or Australia then nope, sadly you can’t. Same goes for most other countries. So before buying anything, check your country’s customs laws before making any purchases.
Although you can’t buy tulips, you can take enjoy seeing them + take photos.
Hang out in the Vondelpark
Amsterdam has a few nice parks, but the best one is Vondelpark. Whether you are a solo traveler or traveling with friends or family, this park is a wonderful place to hang out and relax.
Here are some things you can do while hanging out in Vondelpark:
- Explore the beautiful rose garden: Vondelpark has a stunning rose garden with over 70 different varieties of roses. It’s one of hte most beauitful rose gardens I’ve ever seen and a great place to take a stroll.
- Check out the restaurants and cafes: Vondelpark has a variety of restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat or a drink. The park also has several food trucks that offer different types of food.
- Enjoy a performance at the open-air theater: Vondelpark has an open-air theater that hosts a variety of performances, including music, theater, and dance. It’s a great place to enjoy some entertainment while surrounded by nature.
- Visit nearby museums: Vondelpark is located near Museumplein, which is home to Amsterdam’s most famous museums, including the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, and Van Gogh Museum. While these museums aren’t free, they are definitely worth a visit.
If you’re looking for other parks to explore in Amsterdam, Westerpark and Rembrandtpark are also great options. Westerpark has a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, while Rembrandtpark offers stunning views of the city from its hilltop location.
Visit The Cat boat
If you are a cat lover, then make sure to visit Amsterdam’s Cat Boat. The Cat Boat, which is also known as Pozenboot, is a sort of floating animal sanctuary. Abandoned and stray cats from all corners of Amsterdam are brought here to help ensure they live a better life. During your visit to the Cat Boat, you will be able to make a donation, which can help them provide better living conditions for the cats.
Walk Along the Canals
One of the best free things to do in Amsterdam is to take a stroll along the beautiful canals. These 400-year-old waterways are a Unesco world heritage sight and a must-see for anyone visiting Amsterdam.
The canals were built during the Dutch Golden Age and served as a way to transport goods and people throughout the city. Today, they are lined with beautiful architecture and are a popular spot for tourists to take photos and watch the boats go along the canal.
Reguliersgracht is one of the most picturesque canals in Amsterdam and is lined with beautiful 17th-century houses. I recommend taking a walk along the canal, admiring the archtecture and even taking some photos of the city. If you choose to walk here at night, you’ll see the bridges lit up which makes for some amazing Instagram photos.
You can also sit on one of the benches, and enjoy people watching and the boats sail along the canal. This is definitely one of my faveorite free things to do in Amsterdam, as its gives you that chance to relax and go at your own pace.
Herengracht is one of the most prestigious canals in Amsterdam and is home to many historic and grand mansions. Take a walk along the canal and admire the beautiful architecture.
Visit Amsterdam Central Library
If you’re looking for a free and educational activity in Amsterdam, you should definitely visit the Amsterdam Central Library, also known as OBA Oosterdok. It is Europe’s second-biggest library and is located just east of Amsterdam Central Station.
The library is open daily from 10:00 to 22:00, except on select holidays. You can easily spend a few hours browsing through the extensive collection of books, magazines, and newspapers. The library also has a wide range of digital resources, including e-books, e-magazines, and online databases.
In addition to the vast selection of reading materials, the library also hosts free exhibitions and concerts. Be sure to ask a member of staff what’s going on that day. The top floor on Level 7 has a café-restaurant Babel and a panoramic terrace with excellent south-facing views of the city. Note, the terrace may be inaccessible during bad weather.
NEMO Science Museum Roof Terrace
If you’re looking for a great way to enjoy stunning views of Amsterdam without spending a dime, then the NEMO Science Museum’s rooftop terrace is the perfect spot for you. The museum’s sloping stepped roof offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area, making it an ideal spot to relax and take in the cityscape.
The rooftop terrace is open daily between 10:00 and 17:30, and during school holidays, it’s also open on Mondays. You can enjoy a range of fresh sandwiches, drinks, and hot snacks while taking in the glorious view of Amsterdam at the café located on the terrace.
The NEMO Science Museum’s rooftop terrace is an excellent place to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing. The museum is located in the Museum Haven area, which is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The terrace is a must-visit attraction for anyone looking to enjoy panoramic views of Amsterdam for free.
Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest)
If you’re looking for a free and peaceful place to unwind, the Amsterdamse Bos is definitely worth a visit. This large park is located south of Amsterdam and can easily be reached by taking the Museum Tram.
Once you arrive, you can take a seasonal walk in the woods and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The park contains 150 indigenous species of trees and over 200 species of birds, making it a great place for nature lovers.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also go sailing on the lake or rent a bike and explore the park on two wheels. There are plenty of picnic spots scattered throughout the park, so pack a lunch and make a day of it.
Visit the Rijksmuseum gardens
If you’re looking for a peaceful and free place to relax in Amsterdam, look no further than the Rijksmuseum gardens. Located behind the Rijksmuseum, the gardens offer a beautiful and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The gardens are open daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm and are completely free to enter. You can stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful flowers, trees, and sculptures. There are also plenty of benches and chairs where you can sit and relax.
One of the highlights of the gardens is the restored van Logteren garden house. You can grab a drink and enjoy the tranquil surroundings from this historic building.
See the Charging Bull
If you’re a fan of art and sculptures, you should definitely visit Amsterdam’s Beursplein square to see the Charging Bull. This 2.5 ton bronze sculpture is a beautiful piece of art that is sure to impress you. The Charging Bull is a symbol of strength and power, and it’s a great place to take photos with the bull.
The Charging Bull is located in the heart of Amsterdam, and it’s easily accessible by public transportation. You can take a tram or a bus to the Beursplein square, and the Charging Bull is just a short walk away. When you arrive at the square, you’ll be greeted by the impressive bronze sculpture.
You can pose with the bull and capture the moment on camera. The Charging Bull is also a great place to relax and enjoy the surroundings. You can sit on one of the benches nearby and admire the beauty of the sculpture.
Check out the Albert Cuypmarkt Streetmarket
Albert Cuypmarkt is a vibrant and bustling street market. Located in the heart of De Pijp, this street market is the perfect spot to explore and discover local culture. With over 260 stands, you’ll find everything from fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs.
Albert Cuypmarkt is completely free to explore. You can spend hours wandering through the market, taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling stalls. It’s the perfect place to people-watch and soak up the local atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a unique and free experience in Amsterdam, the Beurspassage is definitely worth a visit. This 19th century passageway connects the Damrak and Nieuwendijk shopping streets and is a beautiful example of Amsterdam’s architectural history.
The Beurspassage is not just a functional passageway, it’s also a work of art. The ceiling is adorned with a colorful, abstract mural created by Dutch artist Arno Coenen and designer Iris Roskam. The mural is a modern interpretation of the Dutch Golden Age and features a variety of images, from tulips to trade ships.
Besides stunning artwork, the Beurspassage is also home to a variety of shops and cafes. You can grab a coffee and people-watch, or browse the unique boutiques and specialty stores.
If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience in Amsterdam, you should definitely check out Oudemanhuispoort. This covered walkway was once frequented by Vincent van Gogh, who sometimes bought books here. Today, it’s home to a large selection of stalls selling second-hand books, historic maps, sheet music, engravings, and interesting old prints and posters.
Halfway through the passage is a large door that gives access to a green courtyard, which nowadays belongs to the University of Amsterdam. The book market has a fascinating history, with Vincent van Gogh sometimes paying for books with portraits due to lack of money.
The Oudemanhuispoort book market is a great place to find unique and interesting souvenirs, as well as to soak up some local history.
Here are some tips for visiting Oudemanhuispoort:
- Bring cash, as some stalls may not accept credit cards.
- Take your time to browse through the different stalls and see what catches your eye.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the vendors questions or negotiate prices.
- Consider visiting on a weekday if possible, as it can get quite crowded on weekends.
See the smallest house in Amsterdam – Singel 7
As you stroll along the Singel canal, you might notice a small house at number 7 that stands out from the grand mansions that line the street. This is the smallest house in Amsterdam, with a facade that measures just over one meter wide. Despite its size, the house expands to a comfortable width of around three meters once you step inside.
But why is this house so narrow? It turns out that the owner of the house built the facade to be as narrow as possible to reduce the amount of tax he had to pay.
In the past, the tax on a house was based on the width of the facade. The owner of Singel 7, therefore, built his facade to be just over one meter wide, even though the house behind it was larger. This allowed him to pay less tax while still enjoying a spacious interior.
The Singel canal itself dates back to 1480 when it was dug to encircle medieval Amsterdam. Over the years, the city expanded beyond the canal to create more room for building houses.
The quayside along the canal became prime real estate during the Dutch Golden Age, attracting the up-and-coming merchant elite who filled the street with grand houses. But, the taxes on these houses were based on the width of the facade, so the merchants had to find ways to reduce their tax burden.
Singel 7 is a fascinating example of how Amsterdam’s narrowest house was built to evade taxes. It’s a unique sight that you won’t want to miss on your tour of Amsterdam’s canals.
Go on a Free Tour of The Red Light District
If you’re interested in exploring the Red Light District and learning about its history and culture, you can join the Red Lights & Dark Amsterdam Free Tour.
It’s a 1.5-hour walking tour that is led by an experienced local guide who will take you through the narrow streets and canals of the oldest district in Amsterdam.
During the tour, you’ll see sights like the Condomerie on the famous Warmoesstraat and learn about the history of sex work in Amsterdam. You’ll also discover how Amsterdam’s liberal drug policies came about and hear about the development of the neighborhood, from the counterculture movement of the 1960s to modern gentrification.
On this walking tour, you’ll not only hear the stories and the history but also get essential information on how to integrate with the locals and have a minimal impact on their way of life.
See The Leidseplein Lizards
If you’re looking for a unique and free experience in Amsterdam, head over to Leidseplein to see the bronze lizards that decorate the square. These sculptures were created by artist and sculptor, Hans Bayens, and were installed in the 1990s.
The lizards are scattered throughout the square, and each one has its own unique pose and expression. Take some time to explore the square and find them all. It’s a fun and quirky way to experience Amsterdam’s art scene without spending any money.
While you’re in the area, take a stroll down Leidsestraat. This street is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, and it’s a great place to people-watch. You’ll see locals and tourists alike, and you might even catch a street performance or two.
If you’re looking for a more immersive art experience, check out the nearby Stedelijk Museum. This modern art museum is free for visitors under 18, and it offers a wide range of contemporary art exhibits.
Go Skateboarding at Zeeburgereiland Skate Park
If you’re a skateboarder looking for a place to hone your skills and have fun without spending a dime, Zeeburgereiland Skate Park is the place to be. Located on Zeeburger Island, this park is the largest concrete-covered skate park in the Netherlands, covering an area of 3885 m2.
The park is open to skateboarders, roller-skaters, and BMXers, so you and your friends can hang out and improve your skills together. And the best part? It’s completely free to the public, so you won’t have to worry about spending any money.
Zeeburgereiland Skate Park offers spaces for beginners, advanced skaters, and BMX riders, so no matter your skill level, you’ll find a spot to skate. The park is designed to accommodate all kinds of riders, so you’ll find plenty of obstacles to challenge yourself and improve your skills.
If you’re interested in checking out the skate park, I recommend watching this video from Skateboard Bruh.
Save money with the iAmsterdam City Card
The iAmsterdam City Card is a quick and easy way of saving some money on your trip to Amsterdam. The card includes access to many of the popular museums, including the Rijksmuseum as well as a canal boat ride and bike hire. You also get discounted entry to some restaurants and concerts. For the duration of the card, you get to use public transport within Amsterdam at no extra cost (the metro, bus, ferry and tram).
After purchasing the card here, you should then install the iAmsterdam app onto your phone so you can get the latest infromation on what the city card includes, opening times, and the latest offers. To make the most of the app, you’ll need the internet so I recommend getting a prepaid sim card from a store or an eSim from Airalo to ensure you can get connected without any problems. Check out my guide to purchasing a prepaid sim card in Amsterdam here.
Buy your iAmsterdam card here or check availability below:
There are so many free things to see in Amsterdam. I hope this guide has helped you plan your trip.