This is the ultimate guide to free things to do in Amsterdam, Holland.
Now we all know Amsterdam can be a rather expensive place at times. Visit one of the city’s major museums and you will pay up to 20 euros per person. That’s not exactly small change.
And in the Netherlands you are expected to spend your proverbial penny quite literally. Yes, going the bathroom here is rarely free when you are out and about! The Dutch have a great trading history and are generally quite commercially-minded and thrifty to boot as well.
What this means for visitors is that costs can quickly mount up, especially for a family or a group.
That’s where we come in. Everyone loves a freebie and we have spent years criss-crossing the city on the hunt for free things to do. By following our special AmsterdamTips.com guide you can explore Amsterdam without breaking the bank.
The following list contains 101 free things to see, do and visit in Amsterdam. Whether you are on a serious cheapskate budget or just want to save a little money here and there, this list could be for you.
So for now put away your purse or wallet and read on. By looking at Amsterdam from a different angle, hopefully you will find a number of (great) things to do to keep yourself occupied and amused. As a bonus we will even mention where to spend your precious penny for free!
Our journey starts out with the top 10 free things followed by the rest. Enjoy!
Top 10 Free Things To Do in Amsterdam
1Free GVB Amsterdam Ferries
Jump on one of the free blue and white GVB ferries which operate from the back of Amsterdam Central station. No tickets are required. Hop across the IJ river to Buiksloterweg (Amsterdam North) where you will find EYE Film and the A’DAM Toren building. Better still take the 15 minute trip to the quirky NDSM-wharf area (see 30).
2Civic Guards’ Gallery (Schuttersgalerij)
This is a small gallery passageway at Amsterdam Museum on Kalverstraat / St Luciensteeg which is freely accessible to the public. Here one can take in a few old Dutch Masters portrait paintings as well as some more modern artwork. The gallery is open daily 1000-1700.
3Concertgebouw Free Lunchtime Concert
The renowned Royal Concertgebouw holds a free classical lunchtime concert on occasional Wednesdays at 1230 in either its small hall (kleine zaal) or large hall (grote zaal) between September and June. For small hall concerts, free tickets must be collected from the ticket desk in advance. See our what’s on in Amsterdam section for concert dates. Address is Concertgebouwplein 10.
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, the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam and some beautiful gable stones. Free admission is via the door on Spui or via the Gedempte Beginensloot side street. Silence is requested.
5Amsterdam Central Library (Centrale OBA)
Libraries are great places to hangout, especially for cheapskate connoisseurs. Amsterdam Central Library is Europe’s 2nd biggest and is located in the docklands development east of Central Station. Spread over 9 levels, you can browse books, international newspapers and magazines, visit the children’s library, see exhibitions, chill out in a comfy chair or visit the top floor café and terrace (see 49). Address is Oosterdokskade 143, open daily 1000-2200.
Vondelpark is the green heart of Amsterdam, a large public park which comes alive during the long summer days. With 4 cafés, children’s playgrounds and paddling pool, art sculptures including Picasso’s The Bird, a rose garden and monumental trees. The open air theatre (openluchttheater) hosts free concerts in the summer months every Friday to Sunday. Also see Vondelbunker (71).
This stunning white building on the north-bank of the IJ, opposite central station is a film museum and cinema. The basement is home to the free Panorama exhibition which displays items marking significant moments in cinema history. It also includes comfortable pods where you can watch film clips. EYE Film exhibition is open daily 1000-1900.
8Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief)
The Amsterdam city archives holds an impressive collection of historic documents. It regularly holds free exhibitions in its main hall or exhibition rooms. It also hosts a free information point which details all UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Netherlands. The building dates from the 1920s. Located at Vijzelstraat 32, open Tue-Fri 1000-1700, weekends 1200-1700.
9NEMO Roof Terrace
The NEMO Science Museum has a panorama terrace on its roof with seating, café-restaurant and interactive installations. Admission is free – climb up the stairs on the right-hand side or take the lift from the museum’s central hall. It’s a pleasant spot to lounge around on a warm day and enjoy views of Museum Haven (50), the eastern docklands area and surrounds. Address is Oosterdok 2, open Tue-Sun 1000-1730.
Artisplein is a public space at Royal Artis Zoo which is freely open to the public, accessible daily 0700-2330. With moveable chairs, beautiful trees, a water table fountain and views of the flamingo pond and Dutch polder aviary, it is a lovely place to sit.
Now lets check out the best of the rest which Amsterdam has to offer for free…
91 More Free Things To Do in Amsterdam
11Iamsterdam Sign at Museumplein (and elsewhere)
The iconic Iamsterdam sign has been with us since 2004. Located behind the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein it is now the unofficial selfie capital of Amsterdam. At over 2m tall and around 24m wide this living sculpture is often caressed and climbed by hoards of visitors. Go early to avoid the crowds. Another sign can be found at Amsterdam Schiphol airport and a third mobile version tours the city.
12Melkweg Photo Exhibition
Melkweg is a popular music and arts venue located near Leidseplein. Around the corner, the Melkweg Café at Marnixstraat 409 has a gallery open to the public which hosts an interesting monthly photo exhibition. Entrance is free and the opening hours are Wed-Sun 1200-2100.
13Cat Boat (Poezenboot)
If you are a cat lover then you should make a visit to the Poezenboot, a floating sanctuary for stray and abandoned cats on an Amsterdam houseboat. Entrance is free although donations are welcome. At Singel 38.G, open Mon-Tue/Thu-Sat 1300-1500.
The non-profit Cannabis College offers information and advice to the public on all aspects of cannabis and hemp plants including recreational, medicinal and industrial usage. Its basement holds an organic, fully flowering public cannabis garden. Free to visit and located at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 124, it is open daily 1100-1900.
15Max Euwe Centre (Chess Museum)
Free admission to this chess-themed museum dedicated to former Dutch grandmaster Max Euwe (1901-1981). Located on Max Euweplein (between Leidseplein and Vondelpark) where you will also find a large outdoor chessboard, usually being played by some enthusiasts. Open Tue-Fri 1200-1600, plus first Saturday of the month.
Amsterdam is compact and you can easily get around town on foot and see the main sights. There are a number of outfits (such as Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours and 360 Amsterdam) which offer “free walking tours” departing regularly from Dam Square, although some locals have complained about large groups of congregating tourists. It’s up to you whether you participate in such tours and remember you will be expected to leave a tip. Alternatively, there are a few free walking tour apps you can download to your phone.
17ARCAM Amsterdam Architecture Centre
Architecture Centre Amsterdam (ARCAM) is the city’s centre for architecture, urban design and landscape architecture. The visitor’s centre is freely open to the public. It includes temporary exhibitions, a chronological display of Amsterdam’s architectural history and a variety of models, books and maps to browse. This strikingly compact building is located at Prins Hendrikkade 600 and is open Tue–Sun 1300–1700.
18Albert Cuyp Market
The largest street market in the Netherlands with around 260 market stalls selling all sorts of food and non-food items. Located in the trendy and colourful De Pijp neighbourhood, the market is frequented by visitors as well as local residents. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is friendly. It runs along the Albert Cuypstraat and is open Mon-Sat 0900-1700.
19Sea Level Indicator in City Hall
Amsterdam and much of the Netherlands lie below sea level and are protected from the sea by dunes and dikes. The Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP) or Amsterdam Ordnance Datum is an important water level reference measurement which is used all over Europe. There is a free NAP exhibition at the visitors centre at Amsterdam City Hall. The large tubes show current water levels at the ports of Ijmuiden and Vlissingen; also shown is the level during the disastrous flood of 1953. Located at Amstel 1, open Mon-Fri 0900-1800.
Like libraries, bookstores can be great places to enjoy and pass away some time. The 5-floor Scheltema at Rokin 9 (near Dam Square) happens to be the biggest bookstore in the Netherlands. Whilst catering to the local Dutch market, it has a fair collection of English books. It has plenty of comfy seating, a small café and hosts regular author events and cooking demonstrations. Open daily: Sun/Mon 1100-2000, Tue/Wed/Sat 1000-2000, Thu/Fri 1000-2100.
21James Bond House
The James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971) was filmed partly in Amsterdam. In the film Bond (Sean Connery) memorably pays a visit to the 3rd floor appartment of Tiffany Case played by Jill St John. This building can be found at Reguliersstraat 36 – not far from Rembrandtplein – and you are free to admire the canal house from the outside only. This was the last official outing for Connery playing Bond although he returned in 1983 in the unofficial Thunderball-remake Never Say Never Again.
The gated Rijksmuseum Gardens are freely accessible to the public daily between 0900-1800, you don’t need a Rijksmuseum ticket to enter. The gardens are a pleasant haven in the summer months with the shady spots under the big tree particularly in demand. The pristine manicured gardens have seats, benches and a playful water fountain. Each year (normally June to October) there is a temporary sculpture exhibition from a noted artist.
23Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)
Amsterdam is a city of over 1,250 bridges and the most famous is the Magere Brug or skinny bridge. This wooden drawbridge spans the Amstel river at Kerkstraat between the Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals. The bridge originates from the 17th century although was completely rebuilt in 1871 and 1934 with the last major renovation in 1969. Only cyclists and pedestrians can cross the bridge. For maximum charm factor come here at night to see the bridge illuminated by 1,000 light bulbs.
24Maritime Museum Courtyard Glass Roof
The National Maritime Museum (Scheepvaart Museum) in Amsterdam has an impressive inner courtyard with a spectacular glass roof. The roof consists of some 1,200 glass pieces and the pattern was inspired by compass roses from old nautical maps. Perhaps reminiscent to the British Museum’s Great Court in London, the Maritime Museum courtyard is freely open to the public, daily 0900-1700.
Sunday Market is a funky free market event in Amsterdam held every first Sunday of the month at Westergasfabriek between 1200-1800. The stalls are a mix of food, fashion, art, design and kids stuff with some live music thrown in. If you are in town it’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
26National Opera & Ballet Free Lunchtime Concert
The Dutch National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam holds a free lunchtime concert nearly every Tuesday during the arts season (roughly September to June). These are held in the building foyer with the doors opening at 1215 and the shows running 1230-1300. Concerts are given by members of the Chorus of Dutch National Opera, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra or the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. The venue is at Amstel 3 near Waterlooplein.
Whether you wish to visit Amsterdam’s infamous Red-Light District is up to to you. The area (known as De Wallen) is a haven of red-lit prostitute windows, coffeeshops, peep shows etc attracting a raucous crowd of revellers, party groups and a few shady characters. If visiting do keep your wits about you and watch out for pickpockets. Near the Oudekerk church at Enge Kerksteeg 3 you will find the Prostitute Information Center (PIC). It’s open Wed-Sat 1200-1700 (free entry) with historical displays and information about the area. There are also a couple of red-light related sculptures in the church square. Belle, a bronze statue of a prostitute in a doorway was initiated by PIC and on which is inscribed ‘Respect sex workers all over the world’. There is also a bronze bust (pun intended) of a hand touching a breast embedded into the paving stones and donated to the city by an anonymous artist.
The Multatuli House is the birthplace of 19th century Dutch author Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887) whose novel Max Havelaar was a critical account of Dutch colonial rule over Indonesia. Multatuli (“I have suffered much” in Latin) was the author’s pen name. The Multatuli Museum at Korsjespoortsteeg 20 off the Singel canal near Central Station features his furniture, library and regular exhibitions. With free admission, it is open Tue 1000-1700, Wed-Sun 1200-1700.
29Fietsflat (Multi-Storey Bike Parking)
Cycling is deeply ingrained into the Dutch psyche and Amsterdam is home to nearly 900,000 bikes. Just outside of Central Station you will find the fietsflat, a 3-storey cycle parking facility which can hold up to 2,500 bikes. You are free to walk up the ramps to get your artistic fill of Amsterdam cycling photo opportunities.
Hop on the free 15 minute ferry to NSDM-wharf, a former shipyard wharf area in north-west Amsterdam with a completely different vibe to the centre of Amsterdam. The shipyards themselves closed in the 1980s and the abandoned warehouses became a haven for artists, squatters and skaters. The area has been undergoing significant regeneration and is now used for festivals, a monthly flea market, exhibitions, offices and soon the world’s largest street art museum.
31Around Europe in 7 Houses (Zevenlandenhuizen)
To mark the Antwerp’s Universal Exhibition in 1894, Dutch architect Tjeerd Kuipers (1857-1942) constructed 7 adjoining houses each with its own European architectural style at the Roemer Visscherstraat, a quiet street near Vondelpark. Take a free amble around Europe with a German Romantic house (no. 20), a French Loire chateau (22), a southern Spanish-Moorish villa (24), an Italian Palazzo (26), a Russian cathedral-like house (28), a Dutch Renaissance house (30) and an English cottage (32).
The Beurspassage is a beautiful passageway which links Damrak to Nieuwendijk and opened in 2016 following the renovation of the surrounding buildings which includes C&A and Primark stores. Beurspassage has been stunningly decorated by noted local artists with the theme “Amsterdam primordial soup” (Amsterdam Oersoep) – this is a homage to Amsterdam’s canals and how life originated from water. Admire the 450 m² glass mosaic curved ceiling, the cycled theme chandeliers, wall tiles and the Italian made Terrazzo floor. The addresses are Damrak 70/80 and Nieuwendijk 196.
33Windmill De Gooyer and Brewery ‘t IJ
If you want to see an authentic Dutch windmill in Amsterdam then head east (a good 20-30 minutes walk or take the tram/bus) to Funenkade and Zeeburgerstraat. At just under 27m tall, De Gooyer is the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands and has been standing there since 1814, although the original construction dates back to the 16th century. Next-door is the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a brewery in a former municipal bathhouse which offers a wide selection of craft beers.
This British book chain has a large store in Amsterdam with 4 floors and an excellent selection of titles from the UK. The top 2 floors have some comfy seating to browse and chill out, however there is no café. Located at at 152 Kalverstraat near Spui. Open daily: Mon/Sat 1000-1830, Tue/Wed/Fri 0930-1830, Thurs 0930-2100, Sun 1100-1830.
35St Nicholas Church
Opposite Amsterdam Central Station at Prins Hendrikkade 73 is the St Nicholas Basilica, a large catholic church completed in 1887. You are free to enter the imposing building which has a 58m high dome, impressive interior and stained glass windows. A mass is held Mon-Sat at 1230, in English on Tuesdays. Standard opening hours are Mon/Sat 1200-1500, Tue-Fri 1100-1600.
36Dam Square Street Entertainers
Dam Square is the historic and often crowded central square of Amsterdam featuring the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). You often find international street performers, mime artists, the occasional protesters and plenty of hungry pigeons vying for a good spot. Once again, be wary of pickpockets. For a view also see 69.
37Bimhuis Jazz Free Workshops and Sessions
Amsterdam’s premier jazz venue offers free evening concerts and workshop sessions. The monthly Monday Match (usually the first Monday of the month at 2030) involves a musician and dancer teaming up for an on-the-spot improvisational performance. Each Tuesday night sees a “Workshop and Session” where musicians can freely participate in an impro skills workshop (2000) followed by a session in the café at 2200. There is free admission to any (non-participating) visitors who just want to watch. The location is Piet Heinkade 3.
The world’s first and largest monument dedicated to homosexuality and remembrance is found at Westermarkt square in Amsterdam. It commemorates LGBT people who lost their life in World War 2 and also the general persecution and oppression of people because of their sexuality. The monument takes the form of a large triangle (36m sides) and at each point lies a smaller triangle (10m long) made of pink granite. Nearby is the Pink Point info kiosk staffed by volunteers which offers information and advice to LGBT visitors to Amsterdam.
Museum Market is a monthly market on Museumplein generally held every third Sunday of the month. The main focus is quality arts, crafts and design, jewellery, textiles, accessories and some good food and music to boot. Runs 1200-1800, free admission.
40Narrowest Houses in Amsterdam
There are a number of very narrow houses in Amsterdam’s historic inner centre. During the 17th century home owners were taxed according to the canal-side width of their building. The houses at Singel 7 and Singel 166 have incredibly narrow facades (around 1m wide) at the back – however they are much wider at the front. The smallest self-contained house is located at Oude Hoogstraat 22 with dimensions of 2.02m wide and 5m deep. Dating from 1738 it is now a tea/ceramics boutique with tiny upstairs tea-room.
41Anne Frank Statue
The tragic story of Anne Frank through her diary has touched the hearts of millions of people worldwide. The Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht is one of Amsterdam’s most visited museums. You can also pay homage at the Anne Frank statue which is located on the Westermarkt square, close to the Anne Frank house. See 70 about the Anne Frank mural.
42Diamond Factory Tours
For the past 400 years, the cutting, polishing and selling of diamonds have featured prominently in Amsterdam. There are 2 diamond companies which offer free tours of its facilities although do expect some sort of sales pitch. Gassan Diamonds has a 40 minute tour available in 27 languages daily between 0900-1700 at its large headquarters at Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173 – 175. Coster Diamonds also offers free tours at its office at Paulus Potterstraat 2-6 (near Museumplein).
43The Violinist Statue
The Stopera is the building shared by Amsterdam’s City Hall and Dutch National Opera & Ballet (26). In the foyer of the building you will find a ground-breaking statue of a violinist literally piercing the marble floor tiles. Known locally as De Violist (The Violinist), it was created by an anonymous artist and secretly placed in 1991 with an inscription. At Amstel 3, open Mon-Fri 1200-1800, Sat-Sun 1200-1500.
44Huis De Pinto
This is a library and cultural centre in a 17th century building at St. Antoniesbreestraat 69, not far from Nieuwmarkt in the heart of Amsterdam. You are free to access the reading room which has beautiful painted ceilings. There is a book exchange facility and often a small exhibition going on as well. Open Mon-Fri 1030-1730, Sat 1300-1700.
Hollandsche Schouwburg is an old theatre in Amsterdam’s Plantage district which is now the National Holocaust Memorial. During World War 2 the theatre was used as a deportation centre where Jews reported before being taken to Dutch transit camps (Vught or Westerbork) and finally to Germany. There is an exhibition on the first floor and an outdoor monument where the main auditorium used to be. At Plantage Middenlaan 24, open daily 1100-1700. Free admission but donations welcome.
W139 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 in daily 1200-1800, donations are welcome. The address is Warmoesstraat 139, hence the name W139.
47View of Willet Holthuysen House Garden
Willet-Holthuysen is a grand canal house and garden in Amsterdam dating from the 17th century which is now a museum open to the public. To enter the house and garden you need to pay admission at the museum entrance on Herengracht 605. The 18th century garden is designed in the French classical style and you can get a free peek from the fence at Amstelstraat, near Rembrandtplein.
Pure Markt is a regular Sunday market event in Amsterdam. Enthusiastic and passionate stall-holders offer high-quality artisan food and drink where you can sample both Dutch and ethnic cuisine. You can also browse non-food items from designer to vintage. Entrance is free and the locations are Amstelpark (2nd Sunday of the month, April to October), Park Frankendael (last Sunday each month, March to December) and the occasional market at Amsterdamse Bos. Runs 1100-1800.
49Panorama Terrace at Amsterdam Central Library
Do you want a free panorama of Amsterdam? If you are at Amsterdam Central Library (5) then go up to Level 7 which houses a café-restaurant. Head out to the Jo Coenen Terrace (named after the building architect) and enjoy a sweeping southward panorama of the city. You get a great view of the nearby ship-like NEMO Science museum and you can also pick out plenty of features from the city skyline. Address is Oosterdokskade 143.
Next to the NEMO Science museum you will find moored around 20 boats dating from the early 20th century. The Vereniging Museumhaven (Harbour Museum Society) undertakes restoration and maintenance of these historic vessels. You can walk around and browse the plaques which give details about each boat. The address is Oosterdok 12.
Amsterdam’s world famous flower market (bloemenmarkt) can be found on the Singel canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein. If you are in full-tourist mode then have a wander around the 15 floating stalls for tulip bulbs, flowers, plants and all manner of souvenirs. Open daily Mon-Sat 0900-1730 and Sun 1130-1730.
Rembrandtplein is one of Amsterdam’s main squares named after the painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). Unlike Dam Square and Leidseplein, Rembrandt Square has some public bench space where you can sit and relax for a while. There is a large iron statue of Rembrandt himself which dates from 1852. This is surrounded by bronze figures from Rembrandt’s most famous painting The Night Watch which is on display in the Rijksmuseum.
53Auschwitz Monument in Wertheim Park
Wertheim Park in the Jewish Plantage district of the city features a small, understated monument to the victims of Auschwitz created by the Dutch artist Jan Wolkers (1925-2007). The installation consists of 6 broken glass mirrors on top of ashes from Auschwitz and a glass plaque inscribed Nooit Meer Auschwitz (Never Again). Every last Sunday in January a silent procession takes place to mark the liberation of the camp.
54Cuyperspassage Foot/Cycle Tunnel
The Cuyperspassage is a foot and cycle tunnel at the western side of Amsterdam Central Station which connects the city to the IJ ferry port. Opened in 2015, the tunnel is 10m wide, 3m high and has a total length of 110 metres with a cycle lane and raised footpath. It’s worth a wander to see the 80,000 glazed Delft Blue tiles adorning the pedestrian side featuring Dutch maritime scenes.
Sarphati Park is a small, intimate urban park located in the De Pijp neighbourhood of the city close to the Albert Cuyp market (18). It’s a fine spot to relax, picnic and watch the world go by. It also offers table tennis tables (bring your own bats and ball), an exercise area, playground and pond. The park was named after doctor and philanthropist Samuel Sarphati (1813-1866) and a monument/fountain stands in his honour. The park is off Ceintuurbaan.
56Organic Farmer’s Market
A farmer’s market is held every Saturday 0900-1600 at Noordermarkt, the picturesque square of the Noorderkerk church in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district. You can find food producers and specialists selling a wide variety of sustainable and organic (bio) products – fruit and vegetables, meats, cheese, fish, bread and more. There is a friendly atmosphere and you might get some free nibbles as well.
If you love visiting historic sporting sites then the Olympic Stadium in the south of Amsterdam could be worth a visit. The stadium was built in the Amsterdam-School style of architecture and hosted the 1928 Olympic Games. The adjacent Marathon tower was used for lighting the Olympic flame. The stadium is still in use as an athletics venue and held the European Athletics Championships in 2016. You are free to explore the outside of the stadium and on some days you can get a peak inside as well. The address is Olympisch Stadion 2. Also see Amsterdam ArenA (98).
58Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ Free Lunchtime Concert
Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, a classical and contemporary music venue on the banks of the river IJ hosts a free monthly concert during the arts season. Featuring young student musicians, the concerts are held in the grote zaal (main theatre) on Thursday lunchtime at 1230. The address is Piet Heinkade 1. Once again head to our what’s on in Amsterdam section for exact concert dates.
59Friday Night Skate
If you enjoy inline skating there is a free 20km organised group skate departing from Vondelpark Pavillion every Friday night at 2030, weather permitting. You must be a reasonably skilled skater and the organisers recommend using helmet, wrist, elbow and knee protection, so take care! Get to the gathering point at around 2000.
The Condomerie Het Gulden Vlies (The Golden Fleece) is a quirky shop dedicated to the selling of condoms, many for decorative purposes only. Opened in 1987 as the world’s first condom specialty store, the location is at Warmoesstraat 141 on the edge of the Red-Light district (27) and not far from Dam Square. Open daily, Mon/Wed-Sat 1100-2100, Tue 1100-1800, Sun 1300-1800.
61Hermitage Museum Courtyard
Whilst the Hermitage museum charges a rather hefty entrance fee to see its various exhibitions, you are free to enter the peaceful if somewhat sparse courtyard. You can also head through the main foyer and have a wander around the back garden area as well. Amstel 51.
Take a walk around Amsterdam’s Chinatown area close to Central Station. At Zeedijk 106-118 you will find the He Hua Buddhist Temple which is open for visitors. Built in traditional Chinese style and opened in 2000, you can go up the stairs to see the shrines and offerings being made. Open Tue-Sat 1200-1700, Sun 1000-1700.
If you enjoy window shopping then have a wander around the Negen Straatjes area, Haarlemmerstraat/Haarlemmerdijk or Utrechtsestraat. Here you will find an array of independent stores and hip boutiques. If you like antiques then visit the area around Spiegelgracht.
64Dutch Central Bank (DNB) Visitors Centre
The Dutch Central Bank has a visitors centre at Sarphatistraat 1, across from the bank’s main headquarters. This includes interactive displays about the central bank’s economic role in society. It is open Mon-Fri 0900-1700 with free entry, you must be at least 16 years old to visit. The bank also offers tours by appointment.
65Mass in the Attic (Op Solder Museum Secret Church)
The Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic”) is a unique hidden 17th century Catholic church in the attic of 3 adjacent houses. It is now the highlight of the Op Solder museum. Every first Sunday of the month (except July-September) there is a free mass in the church attic held in Dutch. Doors open at 1030 and the mass starts at 1100. The address is Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38.
66Amsterdam Building Gable Stones
Walking around Amsterdam you will often see decorative gable stones (gevelstenen) carved into the facades of many buildings. There are thought to be 850 such gable stones in Amsterdam. You can see many around the Jordaan district. There are a number of religious-themed stones at the Begijnhof (4). Or peer up at the one of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) at the ABN-Amro bank on Dam Square.
The Dappermarkt is a large street market in the working class Amsterdam Oost (east Amsterdam) district with around 250 stalls. It has a lively atmosphere with many multicultural sellers including those from the well established Turkish, Moroccan and Suriname communities. Prices for goods are on the cheap side – so head here if you’re on a budget. At Dapperstraat, Mon-Sat 1000-1700.
The Westerkerk is a large reformed church on Westermarkt square in Amsterdam. Built during the 17th century in renaissance style, it houses a magnificent organ. Visitors are welcome into the church and free lunchtime concerts are hosted every Friday between April and October. Open Mon-Fri 1000-1500, also open Sat 1000-1500 (Apr-Nov). Additionally, there is a free concert played from its 42 bell carillon every Tuesday at 1200.
69Dam Square View from Peek & Cloppenburg
Want a good viewpoint of Dam Square? You may have seen the famous round panoramic window at Madame Tussauds. Well you can get pretty much the same view for free at the Peek & Cloppenburg clothing store next door, from the men’s department at the top floor. Please note, this is not an official lookout so please don’t head in there en masse! At Dam 20, open daily Sun/Mon 1200-1800, Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 1000-1800, Thu 1000-2100.
70Amsterdam Street Art
Amsterdam has long been renowned for street art and graffiti. Spuistraat used to be the main haven in the centre however the squatters are long gone and only a few alleyways have some art left. You can see graffiti at the large bridge in Flevopark (94). The up-coming Amsterdam Noord area is becoming well known for street art; NDSM-wharf (30) also plans a Street Art Museum and has a large Anne Frank mural on show.
The Vondelbunker is a unique venue in Amsterdam, a former bomb shelter offering a diverse program of counter-culture arts, music gigs and events. Run by volunteers, entrance to the Vondelbunker is free though you might have a challenge finding the front door. It is hidden away under a bridge near the western entrance to Vondelpark (6).
72Friday Night Run
If you love jogging and want to hook up with some fellow runners then check out the monthly 1 hour Friday Night Run. Held every 2nd Friday of each month, the meeting point is Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium at 1930.
73Amsterdam Urinals (and Spending a Penny)
As we mentioned in the intro, many cafés and bars in Amsterdam will charge you for using the toilet (wc) up to 1 euro. You will also pay up at Amsterdam Central station and Dutch stores like the HEMA. So where can you spend your proverbial penny for free? In the centre, the internationally-owned De Bijenkorf department store has free toilets available. You can also pop into the bigger hotels around town. For gents who get caught short on the street there are around 35 urinals. The city has been slowly introducing a few for women as well.
74Museumplein and Lookout Incline
Museumplein is a large grass square surrounded by some of Amsterdam’s most prominent museums – Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk and the MOCO Museum. On a summer’s day it’s a good spot for a picnic or lazing in the sun. Climb up the incline for an elevated view of the square on one side and Concertgebouw (3) across the road.
75Amsterdam School of Architecture Public Housing
In the Spaarndammerplantsoen district of north-west Amsterdam can be found Het Schip (The Ship), a monumental public housing block of appartments commissioned by a socialist housing association. Completed in 1921, the complex was designed by Michel de Klerk (1884-1923) and is a renowned example from the Amsterdam School of architecture. You are free to walk around the area (people still live here) although taking a tour and visiting the museum (paid admission) would shed more light.
76Spui25 Free Lectures
Spui25 is an academic-cultural forum run by the University of Amsterdam where academics, writers, journalists, critics and creatives take part in regular presentations and discussions. You can sign up to attend an event for free, location is at Spui 25-27 in the centre of Amsterdam.
American Book Center (ABC) is a large independent bookstore on Spui square. Spread over 3 levels it offers a huge selection of American and British titles. Although it lacks comfy seating it is a great place for bookworms and holds regular readings and open-mike events. Address is Spui 12, open daily: Mon 1200-2000, Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 1000-2000, Thu 1000-2100, Sun 1100-1830.
78Amsterdam Hofjes (Secret Garden Courtyards)
Hofjes are almshouses made up of appartments surrounding an inner courtyard. Built in the 17th century by wealthy philanthropists, they offered housing for poor widows and single women. The most well known is the Begijnhof (4), however there are around 30 hofjes in Amsterdam, many located in the historic Jordaan area. A fine example is the Karthuizer Hofje at Karthuizerstraat 89. Generally you are free to enter the courtyards to look around although you must respect the silence of the surroundings.
79Waterlooplein Flea Market
Waterlooplein square is host to a large flea market where you can find a whole host of curious items. From designer bags and T-shirts, second-hand clothes, books, music, arts and crafts. To the more eclectic stuff like military helmets, badges and uniforms…and quite a lot of old junk! Open Mon-Sat 0930-1800.
80Conservatorium van Amsterdam Concerts
The Conservatorium van Amsterdam (University of the Arts) often holds free concerts (mainly classical or jazz) at one of its 4 halls at its modern faculty building at Oosterdokskade 151, next-door to the main Amsterdam Library (5). Concerts are also given at other locations around Amsterdam such as the library itself, Bands & Bites at Foodhallen (Bellamyplein 51) and Lounge Sessions at the Conservatorium Hotel (Van Baerlestraat 27). Check the calendar here.
81Albert Heijn Supermarket – Free Coffee, Nibbles
Albert Heijn is the main supermarket chain in the Netherlands and has dozens of stores in Amsterdam. They offer free filter coffee and tea for customers and sometimes have some cheese or cold cut nibbles available as well. Stores in the inner centre include Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 226 (off Dam Square), Prins Hendrikkade 20 (opposite Central Station), Koningsplein 4 (Flower Market area) and Van Baerlestraat 33a (Museumplein).
82Lloyd Hotel Cultural Embassy
The Lloyd Hotel holds the occasional free concert or exhibition as part of its Cultural Embassy. Address is Oostelijke Handelskade 34, around 2km east of Amsterdam Central Station.
83Oosterkerk Free Concerts
The 17th century Oosterkerk former church building at Kleine Wittenburgerstraat 1 to the east of Amsterdam holds 2-3 classical concerts every month. Entrance is free although donations are welcome. Check out the agenda here (Dutch).
The following free events are part of big Amsterdam festivals which run on an annual basis, so you need to be in town at the time.
The largest cultural festival in the Netherlands taking place in Amsterdam over a single weekend (24-26 Aug 2018) marking the start of the new Dutch cultural season. With 300 performances across 25 stages, entrance is free to all.
85Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade
The world famous annual gay cultural event held over a week at the end of July/beginning of August. The highlight is the spectacular free canal parade (4 Aug 2018) around the Prinsengracht canal and Amstel which attracts large crowds.
86Roots Open Air Concert
Amsterdam Roots Festival (2-8 July 2018) is a well-established international music and circus festival held in the summer. The Roots Open Air is a free concert at Oosterpark featuring music, food and stalls.
87Prinsengracht Concert (Grachten Festival)
The Grachten Festival is a classical music canal festival held in mid-August each year. The highlight is the free Prinsengracht Concert (18 Aug 2018) at the pontoon of the Pulitzer Hotel.
88Amsterdam’s Open Air Film Festivals
Amsterdam has 2 free open-air film festivals with free entrance. Pluk-de Nacht (Seize the Night) is held in mid-August at Het Stenen Hoofd shows a variety of unreleased international films, animations and documentaries. West Beach film festival is held in September at Noordzijde 41, a spectacular waterside location.
89Amsterdam Heritage Days
Open Monument dag (Amsterdam Heritage Days) is an annual event in September (next: 8-9 Sep 2018) where around 60 buildings and monuments in Amsterdam and the surrounding area open their doors to the public. Visitors require a special entrance ticket which is free but due to high demand is assigned by a public lottery a few weeks beforehand.
King’s Day is one of the world’s biggest open air street parties. Held every year on April 27th to celebrate the King’s birthday, up to 800,000 visitors cram into Amsterdam and go completlely orange-crazy. One of the main highlights is the citywide free market where people set up stalls and sell pretty much anything, from vintage to old tat.
Free things to do in Amsterdam a bit further afield from the centre. You may need to get hold of a bike or check Amsterdam public transport ticket options…
91VU Botanical Gardens
For those with green fingers, the small botanical gardens at the VU (Amsterdam Free University) in the Zuidas district houses over 6,000 species of plants. This includes a significant cactus collection and a Chinese miniature landscape garden. The gardens are open Mon-Fri 0900-1700 and entrance is free. The address is Van der Boechorststraat 8.
If the weather is warm and you like the beach atmosphere then hop on to tram 26 and head over to the Ijburg artificial island. From the tram stop it’s a short walk down the Pampuslaan to Blijburg, Amsterdam’s only city beach where you can sunbathe, take a dip or have a drink or snack.
The Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) is a very large park located south of Amsterdam in Amstelveen covering some 1,000 hectares. To put its size in context, that’s 21 Vondelparks or 3x the size of New York Central Park! It has a free visitors centre at the Boswinkel, an organic goat farm (101), a rowing lake and many other activities on offer.
94Flevopark (and Graffiti Bridge)
Flevopark is a large public park on the eastern fringes of Amsterdam. It includes a large Jewish cemetery, outdoor swimming, a lake with bird habitat zones, a gin distillery and tennis courts. For fans of street art then head towards the Zuiderzeeweg bridge where you can find some cutting edge graffiti.
There are 10 Dutch masterpiece paintings on show at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The exhibition is located on Holland Boulevard between Lounges 2 and 3. This is past security in the non-Schengen zone and is freely accessible for departing and transfer passengers.
96Amsterdam Schiphol Panorama Deck
Amsterdam Schiphol airport has a large panorama deck which offers some excellent views of the airport aprons and runways. There is an old Fokker 100 KLM aircraft on display as well. It is located on the 3rd floor of the public side between arrivals 1 and 2. Free entry, open daily 0900-1700 (Nov-Mar), 0700-2000 (Apr-Oct).
Gaasperpark is a beautiful park in the south-east area of Amsterdam, a wonderful place for a quiet stroll. The park has quite a natural feel with a lake, woodland and a few secluded areas. It also includes a nudist beach for those inclined. Take the metro to Gaasperplas.
98Amsterdam ArenA Stadium, Ajax Training
Sport fans can make the journey to Bijlmer-Arena to visit the home of AFC Ajax, the most successful Dutch football team. Amsterdam ArenA stadium was built in 1996 and has a capacity of 52,000 seats. You can freely stroll around the perimeter although you have to pay for a guided tour inside. During the season you can sometimes freely watch an open Ajax training session at the nearby De Toekomst complex. Training starts at 1030 and lasts 90 minutes though note some sessions are closed to the public.
Sloterpark is one of the largest public parks in Amsterdam located in the Nieuw-West area of the city. With a large lake, swimming pool, animal petting zoo and frisbee golf course there’s plenty to do. It’s a great place to relax and escape the busy city centre.
This is an anatomical museum with a unique and somewhat spooky collection of anatomical specimens, embryos, bones, skulls and skeletons. Entrance is free though not recommended for those with a sensitive disposition! Open Mon-Fri 1000-1700, located at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC), Meibergdreef 15 near Holendrecht station.
101Geitenboerderij De Ridammerhoeve (Goat Farm)
The Ridammerhoeve is an organic goat farm located in the Amsterdamse Bos which welcomes visitors. It is a wonderful place for kids to enjoy. Entrance is free and you can see goats, lambs, chickens, pigs, cows and horses as well as various farming activities. There is an organic café and farm shop on site. The address is Nieuwe Meerlaan 4 in Amstelveen.
Phew, we made it! 101 free things to do in Amsterdam coming in at nearly 7,000 words, that’s a long list. We hope you find it useful and can save yourself a few euros, dollars, pounds, bitcoins, seashells or whatever your preferred currency is. Also feel free to spread the word and share this guide with others, we always appreciate it!
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