Amsterdam is not exactly renowned for having loads of free things to do for visitors - normally you have to pay your way, even when 'spending a penny'!
The Dutch tend to be quite a thrifty and commercially-minded lot. So if you are a little strapped for euros then here are a few suggestions on enjoying some of the citys free offerings
If you like visiting museums then purchase a Museum Card for €60 which allows unlimited free entry over 12 months into over 400 Dutch museums including most of the main Amsterdam ones. This card can offer terrific value.
Many museums in Amsterdam give free entry to children - see our guide here on age ranges.
There are a few exhibition venues in Amsterdam that offer free entry:
Schuttersgalerij - This is the "Civic Guards' Gallery" at the Amsterdam Museum on Kalverstraat / St Luciensteeg. This small gallery (below left) is freely open to the public and you can take in some old Dutch Masters portrait paintings plus some more modern artwork. Open daily 1000-1700.
Stadsarchief - The city archive at Vijzelstraat 32 is open to the public and often holds free exhibitions in its main hall. The building dates from the 1920s but was recently renovated - have a look at the impressive glass roof. Open Tue-Fri 1000-1700, weekends 1200-1700.
Max Euwe Centre - Free admission to this chess-themed museum dedicated to Dutch grandmaster Max Euwe. Located on Max Euweplein (between Leidseplein and Vondelpark) where you will find a large outdoor chessboard, usually being played by some enthusiasts. Open Tue-Fri 1000-1600, plus first Saturday of the month.
Multatuli Museum - Museum about 19th century Dutch author Eduard Douwes Dekker who was known as Multatuli (Latin for "I have suffered much"). His novel Max Havelaar is a critical account of Dutch colonial rule over Indonesia. Located at Korsjespoortsteeg 20 (off the Singel canal near Central Station). Free admission, open Tue 1000-1700, Sat-Sun 1200-1700.
EYE Film - Stunning building on the north-bank of the IJ, opposite central station used as a film museum and cinema. The basement holds free exhibitions and includes comfortable pods where you can watch film clips. Get there by taking the free ferry (see below) from central station.
Museum Haven - Next to the green ship-like NEMO Science museum is the open museum harbour - containing around 20 restored ships - many around a hundred years old. The public can freely walk around the harbour front. Museumhaven, Oosterdok 12.
Museumweek - Formerly museum weekend, this annual event is now held over an entire week each April. Many museums in Netherlands open their doors to the public and special activities are organised. The next Museumweeks will run on 18-24 April 2015 / 16-22 April 2016.
W139 - This is a production and exhibition space for contemporary art in Amsterdam. Originally started as an anti-establishment artistic squat in 1979, today it offers artists the opportunity to collaborate on various projects. Visitors can drop by freely, located at Warmoesstraat 139.
OBA Amsterdams Public Library - A great place to hang out on a rainy day. One of Europes biggest public libraries, it has international newspapers and magazines to read, comfy chairs, (paid) internet terminals and a café / panorama terrace with fine views overlooking Amsterdam.
City Beach / Panorama - In the summer months the Nemo Science museum has a panorama terrace on its roof with deckchairs. Admission is free - climb up the stairs on the right-hand side or take the lift from the museum foyer. It's a nice spot to lounge around on a warm day and enjoy views of Museum Haven and surrounds.
Free Walking Tours - Sandeman's New Amsterdam Tours gives free walking tours of the city twice daily. Meet at the National Monument on Dam Square at 1115 and 1315. Alternatively, 360Amsterdam offers free walking tours from outside its office at Dam Good Coffee (near Nieuwe Kerk, Dam Square) - daily at 1100, 1300 and 1500.
Begijnhof - A hidden inner garden courtyard in the centre of Amsterdam, originally a sanctuary for the "Beguines" sisterhood. It features a chapel, a 15th century English church and the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam. Free admission is via the door on Spui or via the Gedempte Beginensloot side street. Silence is requested.
Freebies at Schiphol Airport
Flying from Amsterdam Schiphol? There are a number of free things to do at the airport.
Rijksmuseum Schiphol - There is a small Rijksmuseum gallery between piers E and F on Holland Boulevard - accessible if you are flying from non-Schengen departures. Entrance is free and the gallery is open daily between 0700-2000. The exhibition is changed every few months.
Schiphol library - Near the Rijksmuseum Schiphol you can find the small airport library. Here you can read books in many different languages, use iPads for free web surfing and relax on comfortable seating. Note also that Schiphol has free WiFi.
NEMO Schiphol - The NEMO Science museum also has 6 interactive exhibits at the airport located at the beginning of pier B (Schengen departures) which are free to use.
Free Amsterdam ferries
You can get a free transport map (lijnennetkaart) from the GVB Ticket & Info office at the front of central station.
Free Concerts in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city of arts and culture. Whilst concert tickets are not that cheap (prices start at about €20) it is possible to attend regular free concerts in different venues.
MuziekGebouw aan't IJ - This is a theatre on the IJ waterfront (not far from central station) with striking modern design. It holds a free lunchtime concert once a month (on a Tuesday at 1230) to showcase young classical music talent.
Westerkerk - Church at Prinsengracht 281 near the Anne Frank House which holds free organ concerts every Friday at 1300 between April and October.
Muziektheater - Free lunchtime concert held every Tuesday at 1230. Usually a high quality concert performed by members of either Opera Studio, the Netherlands Opera or the Dutch Philharmonic orchestra.
Vondelpark - Holds free concerts and performances at its open-air theatre podium. The program runs during the summer months (June to August) on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays.
UitMarkt - Amsterdams annual cultural festival held in August. You will find many free performances on stages around the city.
See our What's On in Amsterdam section for more on free concerts.
If you go into an Albert Heijn supermarket branch they often have free filter coffee and tea available for customers. They occasionally have some free cheese and coldcut meats on offer as well.
If you need to visit a toilet/bathroom in Amsterdam it will set you back more than the proverbial penny - anything from 20 cents to 1 euro. Toilets tend to be free inside cafés/restaurant and large hotels.
Also check out Cheap Things To Do in Amsterdam for under 5 euros - includes the 1 euro breakfast, cheap museums, the cheapest bike rental and more...