This is the ultimate guide to free things to do in Amsterdam, Holland (2022 edition). Note, attractions/events are closed until at least 25 January 2022.
Now we all know Amsterdam can be a rather expensive place at times. Visit one of the city’s major attractions and you can pay upwards of 25 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 to 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. With our specially curated 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, you will hopefully find a good number of 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
1. Free 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 #8).
2. Amsterdam Central Library (OBA Oosterdok)
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 10 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 viewing terrace. Address is Oosterdokskade 143, open daily 1400-2200 (Mon), 0800-2200 (Tue-Fri), 1000-2000 (Sat-Sun).
3. NEMO Science Museum Roof Terrace
The NEMO Science Museum has a panorama terrace on its roof with seating, a café-restaurant and interactive installation on renewable energy. Admission is free – climb up the stairs on the eastern 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 (#46), the eastern docklands area and surrounds. Address is Oosterdok 2, open 1000-1730 (Tue-Sun).
4. Artisplein at Artis Zoo
Artisplein is a public space at Artis Zoo which is freely open to the public, accessible daily 0700-2330. With moveable chairs, beautiful trees, a water fountain and views of the flamingo pond and Dutch polder aviary, it is a lovely place to sit. Artis can be found at Plantage Kerklaan 38-40 just east of the centre. Also see the Artis dinosaur sculptures (#50).
5. Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief)
The Amsterdam city archives holds an impressive collection of historic documents. It regularly holds free exhibitions in its main hall and 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 and you can visit the underground treasury room which used to be a bank vault. Located at Vijzelstraat 32, open 1000-1700 (Tue-Fri ), 1200-1700 (Sat-Sun).
6. Rijksmuseum Gardens
The gated Rijksmuseum Gardens at Museumplein are freely accessible to the public daily between 0900-1800 and 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. In 2022 this will be Barbara Hepworth (running 27 May to 23 Oct 2022).
7. NDSM Wharf
As suggested at #1, 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 the spectacular STRAAT Museum (street art and graffiti) opened in 2020 which has the Anne Frank mural on its facade (see #70).
8. Zuiderkerk view from Groenburgwal Canal
One of the most beautiful canal views in Amsterdam can be found on the Staalmeestersbrug bridge at the Groenburgwal canal. Looking northward you get a fine reflective panorama of the Zuiderkerk church tower. The bridge and tower view was immortalised by French impressionist Claude Monet in 1874 – although the painting is now exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the US.
9. Skinny 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.
The Begijnhof is 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 entrance at the Gedempte Beginensloot side street. Silence is requested. Open 1100-1600 (Mon-Fri).
|The Iamsterdam City Card (1-5 days) offers free entry and discounts to numerous Amsterdam attractions and also includes a free transport pass and bike rental as well. It costs €65 to €135 but with careful planning you could make significant savings. You can order the Iamsterdam City Card online here|
Now lets check out the best of the rest which Amsterdam has to offer for free. They are not in any particular order though we have tried to select a wide range of sights and activities that appeal to different interests.
91 More Free Things To Do in Amsterdam…
11. Tracking down the Iamsterdam Sign
In 2018, the iconic Iamsterdam sign was removed from Museumplein at the request of the city council. This used to be the unofficial selfie capital of Amsterdam where hoards of visitors could climb the 2m tall, 24m wide living sculpture. All is not lost, one still remains at Amsterdam Schiphol airport (arrivals) and a mobile version makes an occasional appearance around the city.
12. Melkweg EXPO Photo Exhibition
Melkweg is a popular music and arts venue located near Leidseplein. Around the corner, the Milk Café at Marnixstraat 409 has a gallery open to the public which hosts a contemporary photo exhibition every month. Entrance to Melkweg EXPO is free, the atmosphere is informal and the opening hours are 1200-1900 (Tue-Sun).
13. The Cat 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 always welcome. At Singel 38.G, open only 1300-1500 (Tue/Fri/Sat). Note, the boat has a small capacity and visitors may have to wait a while to get on board.
14. Cannabis College
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.
15. ARCAM Amsterdam Architecture Centre
Architecture Centre Amsterdam (ARCAM) is the city’s institute 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 1300–1700 (Tue–Sun).
16. Albert 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 0900-1700 (Mon-Sat). Also see Dappermarkt (#67).
17. Max Euwe Centre (Chess Museum)
Free admission to this chess-themed museum dedicated to former Dutch grandmaster Max Euwe (1901-1981). It’s located on Max Euweplein (between Leidseplein and Vondelpark) where you will also find a large outdoor chessboard, often being played by some enthusiasts. Open 1000-1600 (Tue-Fri), translation of exhibition panels is available online.
18. Sea Level Indicator in City Hall
Much of the Netherlands (including Amsterdam) lies below sea level and is 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. At Amsterdam City Hall (Amstel 1) there is a large tube display and exhibit showing current water levels at the ports of Ijmuiden and Vlissingen; also shown is the level during the disastrous flood of 1953. Although public entry has been temporarily restricted you can still get a glimpse through the windows.
You can also find a NAP stone on Dam Square (#27) which covers a bolt marking the official sea level reference point.
19. Scheltema Bookshop
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 mainly 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 1000-1900. Also see Waterstones (#33) and ABC (#77).
Entrepotdok is a canal and street in the north Plantage district of Amsterdam. It was a former dock area and customs facility full of old warehouses constructed in the 18th and 19th century. The buildings are now fashionable apartments and offices although in the 1990s some were occupied by squatters. The landmark Entrepotdok crane dates from 1951 was used for loading and unloading ships. A grand gateway entrance (Poort van het Entrepotdok) is located at Kadijksplein round the corner. If you gaze across the water you may catch sight of elephants and giraffes at Artis Zoo!
21. James Bond House and Reguliersgracht
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 apartment of Tiffany Case played by Jill St John. This building can be found at Reguliersgracht 36 – not far from Rembrandtplein (#52) – 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 Reguliersgracht canal is well worth a stroll itself for beautiful bridges and houses.
22. EYE Film
This stunning white building on the north-bank of the IJ, opposite central station is a film museum and cinema. It’s worth crossing the water to take a close-up look at this architectural centrepiece of Amsterdam’s northern waterfront. Hop on the free GVB ferry (#1).
23. Sunday Market
Sunday Market is a funky free market event in Amsterdam held every first Sunday of the month at Westergas 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. Westergas is at Haarlemmerweg in west Amsterdam.
24. De Nieuwe Ooster Cemetery
De Nieuwe Ooster is a large arboretum park with a monumental cemetery located in the south of the city. It is 33 hectares in size and contains 28,000 burial plots and 500 species of trees. You can freely wander about and admire the trees and the wide variety of graves. The Dutch Funeral Museum (Tot Zover) is located at the entrance of the park. Location is Kruislaan 126.
25. Fietsflat (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.
26. Red-Light District
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 1200-1700 (Wed/Fri/Sat) with free entry and has historical displays and information about the area. In the church square there is 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.
27. Dam Square audio tour
Dam Square is Amsterdam’s principal square located in the heart of the city and features the Nieuwe Kerk church and Royal Palace. A Discover Dam Square (Ontdek de Dam) bronze sculpture (2021) can be found on the eastern side and features the main buildings on the square. There is an informative free audio tour about the history of 15 buildings on Dam Square available here. Also see Dam Square view (#69).
28. Java Island architecture
Java Island (Java-eiland) is a peninsula on the river IJ on the north-eastern side of Amsterdam where ships used to depart to Indonesia. In the 1990s Java-eiland and adjacent KNSM-eiland were converted to residential areas as part of Amsterdam’s Eastern Harbour District. The area features very quirky modern architecture, particularly on the 4 canal streets which cut through the island. The area can be reached by crossing the Jan Schaeferbrug bridge.
29. National Holocaust Memorial of Names
The National Holocaust Memorial of Names (Nationaal Holocaust Namenmonument) is a new monument which pays tribute to 102,000 Dutch victims of the Holocaust. Unveiled in 2021, it is a series of brick walls and stainless steel panels placed at different angles which from above forms Hebrew letters meaning “in remembrance of”. Each brick carries the name and age of a victim. The location is at Weesperstraat (near the Hoftuin garden by the rear of the Hermitage Museum). Also see Auschwitz Monument (#53).
30. Picasso Sculpture at Vondelpark
Did you know there is a sculpture in Vondelpark designed by Pablo Picasso? It is called Figure découpée L’Oiseau (‘Cut-out figure of the bird’) although many think it looks more like a fish. The white concrete sculpture was placed in 1965 to commemorate Vondelpark’s centenary. It was actually a collaboration between Picasso and Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar. It can be found in the middle of the park on the southern side.
31. Around 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 450m² 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.
33. Waterstones Bookshop
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 Kalverstraat 152 near Spui. Open daily: 1000-1830 (Mon/Tue/Wed), 1000-2000 (Thu), 1000-1900 (Fri/Sat), 1100-1830 (Sun). Also see Scheltema (#19) and ABC (#77).
34. De Gooyer Windmill 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. Also see Funenpark (#48).
35. St Nicholas Basilica
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 1200-1500 (Mon/Sat), 1100-1600 (Tue-Fri). Also see Krijtburg church (#99).
36. Mahatma Gandhi Plantsoen
This is a small community garden located on Plantage Kerklaan next to Artis Zoo, not far from Entrepotdok (#20). The garden contains a few sculptures and a couple of benches. Due to the poor soil quality the garden uses innovative composting techniques to grow vegetables and other plants. It is a pleasant place to spend some moments surrounded by greenery.
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. Also see Westerkerk (#68).
38. Museum Market
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 1000-1800, free admission.
39. Narrow 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.
OCSAM is the Open Space Contemporary Art Museum located in the multi-cultural Bijlmer district of Amsterdam. It describes itself as a museum for art, fashion, design, craftsmanship and development. It normally offers free entry to exhibitions and is located at Bijlmerplein 110-111 (Amsterdamse Poort). It is open 1000-1800 (Tue-Fri), 1000-1700 (Sat).
41. Anne 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 bronze Anne Frank statue which is located on the Westermarkt square, close to the Anne Frank house. The statue dates from 1977 and was made by Dutch sculptor Mari Andriessen. Also see the Anne Frank mural (#70).
42. Diamond 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 or store visit. Gassan Diamonds has a 1 hour tour at its large headquarters at Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173-175. Coster Diamonds also offers free tours in 35 languages at its office at Paulus Potterstraat 2-6 near Museumplein. Both tours run daily between 0900-1700.
43. The Violinist Statue
The Stopera is the building shared by Amsterdam’s City Hall and Dutch National Opera & Ballet. 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 (supposedly) secretly placed in 1991 with an inscription. Located at Amstel 3, access the foyer or look through the window.
44. Pure Markt
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 1100-1700.
45. Huis 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 1330-1730 (Mon-Fri), 1330-1700 (Sat).
46. Museum Haven
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.
47. View 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.
Funenpark is a car-free residential area near the eastern harbour district of Amsterdam. It comprises 16 flat blocks set in a quirky communal park surrounded by lawn and crazy paving stones. It is worth a look around if you are interested in 21st century urban architecture. You also get good views of the nearby De Gooyer windmill (#34).
49. Haarlemmerpoort City Gate
Haarlemmerpoort is an old city gate of Amsterdam constructed in 1840. It was sited at the terminus of the Amsterdam-Haarlem train line, the first railway in the Netherlands. The neo-classical structure can be found at the end of the trendy Haarlemerdijk street, just beyond the Haarlemmerplein square. Over the years it was also a fire station and then a police station. It is now has some residential apartments and is also used as a hospitality space.
50. Peek at Dinosaur Sculptures at Artis
If you walk down the Plantage Middenlaan you can get a peek (over the fence) of the dinosaur sculptures at Artis Zoo. The Stegosaurus and Allosaurus were created in the 1950s by Artis reptile house keeper Boudewijn Bollee. On your right you will also see the old Aquarium building. See also Artisplein (#4).
|Want to save money on Amsterdam transport? |
The GVB day tickets (1-7 days) offer unlimited travel on GVB trams, buses and the metro in Amsterdam from just €5.30 per day. You can buy GVB day tickets online here
51. Flower Market
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 perhaps have a wander around the 15 floating stalls selling tulip bulbs and all manner of souvenirs. Note that most of the real flower sellers have left. Open daily 0900-1730 (Mon-Sat) and 1130-1730 (Sun).
52. Rembrandt Square
Rembrandtplein is one of Amsterdam’s main squares named after the painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). Rembrandt Square has plenty of public bench spaces where you can sit and relax for a while. There is a large iron statue of Rembrandt himself which dates from 1852. The Reguliersgracht canal (#21) is a short walk away.
53. Auschwitz 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. Also see Holocaust Memorial of Names (#29).
54. Cuyperspassage 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.
55. Sarphati Park
Sarphati Park is a small, intimate urban park located in the De Pijp neighbourhood of the city close to the Albert Cuyp market (#16). 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. Also see the Green Goblin House (#87).
56. Organic 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.
57. Olympic Stadium
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 may stroll inside as well. The address is Olympisch Stadion 2. Also see Johan Cruijff ArenA (#84).
58. Framer Framed
Framer Framed calls itself a platform for contemporary art, visual culture, critical theory & practice. It presents regular exhibitions at its home in eastern Amsterdam using both emerging and established international curators and artists. Entrance is free though donations are welcome. Open 1200-1800 (Tue-Sun), address is Oranje-Vrijstaatkade 71.
59. Play Garland at Oosterpark
At beautiful Oosterpark in Amsterdam there is an 88 metre long meandering play garland (speelslinger) which was placed in 2016. The colourful rollercoaster-type walkway goes up and down quite steeply in parts and finally ends in an enclosed slide. This is brilliant fun for kids aged 4-8 but can also be enjoyed by all ages!
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 (#26) and not far from Dam Square. Open 1100-1800 (Mon-Sat).
61. Hermitage Museum Courtyard
Whilst the Hermitage museum charges a rather hefty entrance fee to see its various exhibitions, you are free to enter the peaceful courtyard. Opened in 2009, it was designed by landscape architect Michael van Gessel and contains 3 ancient chestnut trees and 4 wingnut trees. You can also head through the main foyer and have a wander around the back garden area as well. Address is Amstel 51, open 1000-1700 (Wed-Sun).
62. Zeedijk Temple
Take a walk around Amsterdam’s Chinatown area close to Central Station. At Zeedijk 106-118 you will find the Fo Guand Shan He Hua (lotus flower) Buddhist Temple which is open for visitors. Built in traditional Chinese style and opened in 2000 it is thought to be the largest temple in Europe. You can go up the stairs to see the shrines and offerings being made. Open 1200-1700 (Tue-Sat), 1000-1700 (Sun).
63. Children’s Farm in De Pijp
The Kinderboerderij de Pijp is a children’s petting zoo located in the De Pijp district of Amsterdam. It has been open since 1983. It has a good assortment of animals (including rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys, ponies, pigs and birds) and is set in a leafy garden with its own bee hives. Entrance is free and it is open 1100-1645 (Mon-Fri) and 1200-1645 (Sat-Sun). The address is Lizzy Ansinghstraat 82.
64. Zuidas Botanic Gardens
For those with green fingers, Zuidas Botanic Garden (Botanische Tuin Zuidas) is a small botanical gardens in the Zuid area of Amsterdam. Set up in 1967, the 1 hectare garden houses over 6,000 species of plants. This includes a significant cactus collection, 40 large trees, an orangery, a Penjing and bonsai section and various Australian shrubs. The gardens are open 0900-1700 (Mon-Fri) and entrance is free. The address is Van der Boechorststraat 8.
65. Mass 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.
66. Amsterdam 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 (#10). At Dam Square (#27) there is one of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) and another depicting the city of of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
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, 1000-1700 (Mon-Sat). Also see Albert Cuyp Market (#16).
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 and a 42 bell carillon. Visitors are welcome into the church and free lunchtime concerts are hosted every Friday between April and October. Open 1100-1500 (Mon, Thu-Sat).
69. Dam 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 1000-2000. Also see Dam Square audio tour (#27).
70. Anne Frank Mural
At NDSM-wharf (#7) you can find the Anne Frank mural on the Lasloods wharf building which now houses the STRAAT street-art museum. The mural was painted in 2016 by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra and was originally 240m², apparently requiring 450 aerosol cans and 35 liters of paint to complete. The mural size has since been reduced slightly at the bottom to fit in the museum windows. Its title Let Me Be Myself emphasizes the importance of fully respecting everyone’s identity, perhaps an important theme as ever in today’s fractured society. See also Anne Frank statue (#41).
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. KontraPong, a ping-pong event is held outside regularly, usually on Thursday evenings. It is hidden away at Vondelpark 8a under the Vondelbrug bridge near the western entrance of the park.
72. Amsterdam 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. Most are green metal structures but the brick and stone one at Oudezijds Voorburgwal 195-197 is actually a public monument. The city has been (very) slowly introducing a few retractable toilets for women as well.
73. Friday 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 the Phanos Clubhouse at Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium (#57) at 1930. Please check in advance that the event will go ahead. Also see Friday Night Skate (#89).
74. Museumplein and Triangular 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 triangular incline for an elevated view of the square on one side and Concertgebouw across the Van Baerlestraat road.
75. Amsterdam 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 apartments 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 Het Schip (paid admission) would shed more light.
76. SPUI25 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.
77. ABC Bookshop
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 events. Address is Spui 12, open daily: 1100-1800 (Sun-Wed), 1100-1900 (Thu-Sat). Also see Scheltema (#19) and Waterstones (#33).
78. Amsterdam Hofjes (Secret Garden Courtyards)
Hofjes are almshouses made up of apartments 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 (#10), 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.
79. Waterlooplein 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 0930-1800 (Mon-Sat).
80. IJjburg Beach
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 last tram stop it’s a short walk down the Pampuslaan to IJburg beach. There is currently a temporary beach as the area is being renovated.
81. Albert Heijn Supermarket – Free Coffee
Albert Heijn is the main supermarket chain in the Netherlands and has dozens of stores in Amsterdam. It offers free filter coffee and tea for customers at some of its larger stores. It used to have free cheese and cold-cut nibbles as well though these seem to have disappeared in the post-2020 era. See supermarkets in Amsterdam
82. Rijksmuseum Schiphol
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. Also see Schiphol Panorama Terrace (#100).
83. Oosterkerk 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).
84. Johan Cruijff 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. The Johan Cruijff ArenA stadium (formerly Amsterdam ArenA) 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 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.
85. Flevopark 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.
86. Amsterdamse Bos
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 and also has an organic goat farm (#101), a rowing lake and many other activities on offer.
87. Green Goblin House
If you find yourself walking down Ceintuurbaan in the De Pijp district near the Amstel river, you might catch a glimpse of 2 mysterious green goblins playing with a ball. These are sitting on the roof of the house at number 251-255. The neo-gothic style building was designed by Dutch architect A.C. Boerma and was built in 1884. It is known locally as the Huis met de Kabouters.
88. The Charging Bull at Beursplein
Charging Bull is a 2.5 ton bronze sculpture in Amsterdam’s Beursplein square by Arturo Di Modica. It was placed in 2012 and is similar to a work in the financial district of New York by the same artist. Beursplein 5 is the home of Euronext, the international exchange alliance. The building (from 1913) used to be the open-outcry floor of firstly the stock exchange and then the Amsterdam options exchange.
89. Friday 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. Note, please check beforehand that the event is running. Also see Friday Night Run (#73).
90. The Leidseplein Lizards
In front of the City Theater Cinema complex at Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen (just off Leidseplein) can be found 40 life-size bronze lizard and iguana sculptures. The lizards have been lounging about here on the walls and grass since 1994 and were designed by local artist Hans van Houwelingen.
91. Sloterpark and Sloterplas
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. The Sloterplas lake is actually bigger in size than Vondelpark and has a 6km walking trail around it.
92. Skatepark at Zeeburg Island
Skatepark Zeeburgereiland at the Urban Sport Zone is the biggest skate park in the Netherlands. The park opened in 2020 and is almost 4,000m² and offers dynamic runs for all levels. It has an array of bowls, pools, roll-ins, ramps, ledges etc with some funky tiling decor. It is located about 5km east of the city centre on Zeeburger Island. Take tram 26 to Zuiderzeeweg and the address is Eef Kamerbeekstraat 43.
93. Python Bridge
The Python Bridge (Pythonbrug) is a striking undulating red footbridge in the Eastern harbour area of Amsterdam connecting the Borneo Island and Sporenburg peninsulas. It was designed by the West8 architecture group who also did the nearby sister Low bridge (Lage brug). Both bridges span just over 90m. The area is around 4km from the centre – take tram 26 to sop Rietlandpark and walk a few hundred metres.
94. Maze at Amstel Park
Amstel Park is a large public park in the south of city not far from Amsterdam RAI station which was set up for the Floriade exhibition of 1972. This gem of a park has has a free quadrangular maze (north-western side) surrounded by water with a total hedge length of 330m. It also offers a host of sights and activities including a large children’s playground, petting zoo, beautifully landscaped gardens, an Orangery and a mini-train (at charge).
95. Art Deco Murals at Amstel Station
Amstel station was opened in 1939 for the then new Amsterdam-Utrecht railway line. In the main hall there are 2 transport-themed murals which were designed by visual artist Peter Alma (1886-1969). The murals are 9m high and 20m wide and are grandly titled “The global significance of the railway system, and its technical progress“. The eastern mural shows the development of the steam engine including pioneers such as Watt and Stephenson. The western mural features more modern locomotives and world scenes. A renovation of the station hall and murals has recently been completed.
96. “Free” Walking Tours
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, 360 Amsterdam, Strawberry Tours) which offer “free walking tours” departing regularly from Dam Square. It’s up to you whether you participate in such tours – remember you will be expected to leave a tip and also pay the city tax of €1.50.
97. Conservatorium 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 (#2). Check the calendar here.
Oudemanhuispoort is a covered passageway that links the Oudezijds Achterburgwal and Kloveniersburgwal canals. The atmospheric passageway hosts second-hand book stalls selling books and prints and leads to a beautiful hidden courtyard. The main courtyard building has a rich and varied history – it has seen use as a hospital, old people’s home, art academy and museum. Today it is part of the University of Amsterdam Humanities faculty. There are plans to renovate the building from the end of 2021. Open 0900-1700 (Mon-Sat).
99. Krijtburg Church
Krijtburg Church (St Francis Xavier) is a Roman Catholic church found on the Singel canal in the centre of Amsterdam. The neo-Gothic building was built between 1881 and 1883 and has a lavish interior. Visiting hours are limited to 1300-1700 on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. A free leaflet gives you a self-guided tour of the church. Also see St Nicholas Basilica (#35).
100. Amsterdam Schiphol Panorama Terrace
Amsterdam Schiphol airport has a large panorama terrace 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 accessible from the stairs or escalator at Departures 1 (desk row 1). Free entry, open daily 0700-1700 (Temporarily closed). Also see Rijksmuseum Schiphol (#82).
101. Geitenboerderij De Ridammerhoeve (Goat Farm)
The Ridammerhoeve is an organic goat farm located in the Amsterdamse Bos (#86) 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 a playground area, an organic café and a farm shop on site. The address is Nieuwe Meerlaan 4 in Amstelveen. Open 1000-1700 (Wed-Mon); in winter (Nov to Feb) it is also closed Mondays.
Phew, we made it! 101 free things to do in Amsterdam coming in at over 7,500 words and 50 photos. We do hope you find it useful and that you can save some money on your visit.
© AmsterdamTips.com – All Rights Reserved – This is a long list which has taken a lot of work to produce. We try to keep information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, however things can always change beyond our control. Please check entry requirements before you visit a venue or event.
NOTES – Some changes have been made to the previous edition. We have had to remove the Amsterdam Gallery @Amsterdam Museum / Maritime Museum Courtyard Glass Roof / W139 as they are now only open to paid visitors. We also removed the free lunchtime concerts at National Opera & Ballet / Bimhuis / Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ / Concertgebouw as they have been frequently not running or are charging for a ticket. The Dutch Central Bank (DNB) Visitors Centre is removed as it is closed under renovation. We also removed festival events, Gaasperpark and Lloyd Hotel Cultural Embassy.
The 2021-22 edition was published at amsterdamtips.com/free-things-amsterdam on 11 November 2021. Our original ‘Free Things To Do in Amsterdam’ article was first published in 2008.