Amsterdam is without doubt one of the most interesting cities in Europe to visit. Therefore, we’ve made this trip many times and never get bored, the quirkiness finds us something different to visit on each occasion. Well known for its architecture and close-together narrow buildings, it has the iconic, picturesque canals, historic landmarks and ample amounts of art.
From our past visits, we feel we’ve mastered how to have a short stay in this eccentric escape. Our travel guide will look at how to visit on the cheap, where to stay, things to do and where to eat and drink.
How to visit Amsterdam on a budget
Like many of our other European city visits, Amsterdam is very accessible. For instance, getting there from Manchester is no problem at all thanks to cheap flights but as mentioned earlier, visiting Amsterdam on a budget is the priority for us.
This is a trip we love to do on a small budget. Therefore, we’ve completed this trip with many different transportation methods. Most importantly, when flying we always stick to hand luggage. Thankfully, due to our home location and the infrastructure, we are able to get cheap flights. Most recently, we managed to find a £40 flight from Manchester to Amsterdam and fly back from Eindhoven to Amsterdam for £30. This wasn’t too bad as the train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven is cheap and easy. Other times a normal return flight from Amsterdam is fine, but Eindhoven is always the cheapest.
On the other hand, even though we fly each time, that doesn’t have to be the same for you. Amsterdam and central Europe has a great train network making journeys frequent, faster and reasonably cheap. Therefore, flying directly to Amsterdam isn’t a must. You’ll see from our other European journeys that we have been able to city hop very easily and Amsterdam should be no different. We recommend using trainline to check train times and prices. For buses we like to use Omio and Flixbus. For flights comparison we use Skyscanner. Check out some of our city hop destinations here.
Where to stay
Firstly, it’s important to know that staying directly in the centre shouldn’t be a must. Moreover, staying in the centre of Amsterdam can be too expensive for the service which you get. We don’t want to stay in hostels and don’t want to spend lots of money. Our favourite method now is staying nearby the Amsterdam-Sloterdijk train station. We found a lovely hotel called Teleport Hotel on Expedia. A king bedroom was £200 for 3 nights.
It was a gem of a find. It is a quirky place with areas to be sociable. Our room was big and had a very comfortable bed which was what we wanted for this more relaxing city break. Travelling to and from the centre was cheap and straight forward on a train with little stress. It takes around 10 minutes to get to the centre.
When to go and how to get about
As like many other European cities, Amsterdam is really the perfect city break all year round. We usually use our October or February half term breaks to visit, so it has been known to be chilly then but it doesn’t affect your time there. Many bars with outdoor terraces have outdoor heating which makes it a great place to stay outdoors even during the winter. In summer, you can bask around the canals and parks to soak up the atmosphere. If you do plan to come during the summer, you’ll find many scheduled festivals. Amsterdam has an amazing dance festival scene, check them out here.
We find our time here is usually spent walking about. It can seem like a maze at times as the streets all look so similar but it isn’t too hard to find things if you have google maps on your phone. However, if walking isn’t for you then there is lots of public transport you can use. If you’re planning on using lots of trams or buses then you may want to invest in a travel pass so that you can save money and continue visiting Amsterdam on a budget. More information can be found here. If you’re feeling a little more daring and want to join in with everyone else riding bikes, you can hire a bike with more information here.
What to do
If you’re visiting Amsterdam on a budget then you may already have an idea of places you’d like to visit. There’s far too many to list so we will discuss some of our favourites things you can do without spending too much money.
Anne Franke’s house
Anne Franke’s house – you experience this story through a free audio tour, quotes, photos, videos, and original items. It’s very atmospheric and a chance to go back in time and experience how scary life was for this Jewish familt. Be prepared to wait a long time in a queue as this places is very popular. We recommend booking tickets in advance to avoid disappointment of it being too full
Heineken experience – Who doesn’t love beer? You can discover the history of the company, the brewing process, a tasting room. At the end of the tour you can enjoy 2 Heinekens or learn how to draught the perfect Heineken.
Amsterdam Canal boat ride – Synonymous with Amsterdam is the canal system in place. One of the best free things to do in the city is get out and get lost among them. You get to explore the city that started from a fishing village and you can even have a hop on hop off tour to help you get around the city.
Further out the city
The A’Dam lookout tower – This one was a new trip for us. We hadn’t heard much about this place, thankfully we went ahead and booked. It gave a great view point of the city and it had a bar at the top. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then you can pay to go on a swing where you will hover over the edge of the building in a nail-biting experience.
Visit a park
There are many parks located close to the city which provide a perfect time to chill with a friend or take a bit of time for yourself. Why not visit the huge Vondelpark (You can find events to visit in an open-air theatre during the summer). After that, you can check out the quaint Begijnhof, an attractive in the midst of 14th-century cottages.
Visit a museum
Perhaps the most well known museums in Amsterdam are the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh museum features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life and is laid out in chronological order, starting with his earliest works. More information can be found here. The Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh Museum, you’ll be able to see the famous painting “The Night Watch.” More information can be found here.
Other things to do (the adult side)
The adult side
Everyone visiting Amsterdam is aware of the other side that it brings. It really is a place which attracts different types of people. For instance, you’ll find stag and hen do’s, places for people to get high from marijuana in coffeeshops and the red light district for..well you know that part too. Visiting this adult side is still a must for the experience of seeing Amsterdam properly. Above all, remember, it doesn’t mean you have to partake. We’ve found the walks a great laugh because half the people there are intrigued like yourself. In addition, remember that others are there to have laugh and be cringed out too. Besides, this is our Amsterdam on a budget guide and these are cheap/free.
Visiting the red light district (and by that we mean walking past the windows)is definitely an unforgettable experience and one you probably won’t miss if walking the streets in the evening. Make sure you don’t take a photo though, we saw a lady chase someone down the street.
In addition, you’ll find the sex museum an interesting attraction which is located near the first shops by the train station. Furthermore, it’s cheap and definitely entertaining. However, we’d had quite a few drinks though before we went and from what I can remember it seemed more like a haunted house fairground-type experience.
Where to eat/drink
Unfortunately, this is where it can get pricey. You’re looking at around €6 a pint of beer in most places with restaurants charging €60-€70 for a meal with starters and wine. Because of this, we’re focusing on cheaper eateries as part of our Amsterdam on a budget guide.
Consequently, if you’re wanting to keep it cheapish for food then look no further than New York Pizza. Absolutely delicious pizza takeaways which are scattered around Amsterdam. This was our favourite food to snack on because of the juicy taste and value for money.
If you want to go for a more civilised meal then our favourite place was certainly ‘The Grasshopper’. This pub/restaurant stands out from the crowd and is near the canal. Moreover, they have patio heaters outside, allowing us to drink outside during the winter. The food was delightful, with our favourite being the steak Angus burgers, the best burgers that we’ve had.
Away from the centre, our other favourite places to eat were:
Sherpa restaurant – Sensational, affordable Indian food. One of our favourite Indians that we’ve had abroad.
Ashoka – Another nice Indian, this food was much spicier here though.
Krua Thai Classic Restaurant – Delicious Thai food in the center of Amsterdam.
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