Here is a list of 17 free stuff to do in Amsterdam: free activities and interesting places to visit.
Still don’t know what to do?
1. Take the ferry to NDSM
Behind Central Station is the body of water called the IJ. Taking the ferry across the IJ is easy, free and fun and will lead you to the neighbourhood called Amsterdam Noord.
Taking the ferry to NDSM wil take you to a more desolated area where an astonishing underground culture has emerged. This is the place of the old NDSM shipwharf. Two enormous halls offer affordable studios and working spaces for individual artists and craftspeople.
Check out coming festivals, parties and exhibions on NDSM.nl. Take a look around and have drink or eat at nice looking bars IJ-Kantine, the Pancakes Boat and Cafe Noorderlicht.
2. Free boat tour
Of course in this list of free stuff to do in Amsterdam, a boat tour must be part of it. Bring your own drinks, food and smoke you own stuff while enjoying a free boat ride with The St. Nicolaas Boat Club. You will ride in a history open-air tuidervlet. Tips of €10 are expected.
To book your free boat ride you need to sign up at Boom Chicago Comedy Club at Leidseplein.
3. Friday Night Skate
Show off and make new friends at the Friday Night Skate. It starts every Friday, Vondelpark, next to “the round bench” close to the Film museum.
4. Tour a beer brewery
Brewery ‘t IJ is not as well known as the Heineken one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. And every Friday and Sunday at 16.00 they give you a free tour as well. There is a tasting room where the beers, all brewed on the spot and organic can be tried out. And do check out the largest collection of beer bottles in Europe.
5. Open air theatre and music
Each summer the small open air theatre in the Vondelpark brings a nice programme of theatre, music, dance and stand up comedy. The Vondelpark openluchttheater is a remainder from the seventies when the romantic musical chapel nearby the theatre where hippies gathered to hold their ‘happenings’.
Free events from the Open Air Theatre are held from June until September Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
6. Historical paintings of Amsterdam
Hidden away, right in the centre of Amsterdam is a small alley that exhibits 15 huge paintings from the 17th century. The paintings picture portraits of the voluntary city guard from that period. The so called Schuttersgalerij is part of the Amsterdam history museum.
Find the Schuttersgalerij between the Kalverstraat and Begijnhof. Enter at Kalverstraat 92.
A special place and very popular among tourists is the Begijnhof, a haven of peace of tranquillity in the buzzeling centre of the city.
Dating back from the 14th century, Begijnhof comprises several historic buildings and the English Reformed Church.
In a begijnhof or Beguinage (in French), religious women lived to serve God, taking care of the weak and elderly. Different from nuns however, the women did not retire from the world and they could marry and leave the order when they choose to.
Enter at Begijnhof near the square Spui, next to the terrace of the Mexx shop. Left of the entrance is the oldest wooden house of Amsterdam.
8. Free mini guide and map
Need help guiding you trough the old part of Amsterdam? Pick up your free mini guide and map of the The Old Amsterdam Route. Leading you through the former port district, along medieval houses, century-old churches and a special shopping area, this map shows you an interesting walking route with explanations along the way.
Get the free guide at In de Waag, the medieval gate/ castle at Nieuwmarkt.
9. Free diamond tour
At the Amsterdam diamond company Gassan Diamonds you can watch diamond cutters turning rough diamonds into polished stones. The company is located in a former steam-driven diamond factory – Amsterdam has a long history of diamond cutting.
Guided tours at the Amsterdam diamond company are free. Near Waterlooplein.
10. Free concerts, ballet and opera
The concert building (Concertgebouw)opens her doors for all every Wednesday afternoon at 12.30.
You will be treated to a free (gratis) public rehearsal of the royal concert building orchestra (Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest), a ballet or a performance by a new talent.
The so called free Lunchconcert last for half an hour. Be there early to obtain a seat.
11. PechaKucha Night
At PechaKucha Night, all kinds of people present something they are passionate about, with a focus on young designers showing their latest creative projects or work. The format is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds, to make presentations concise and keep things moving at a rapid pace. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. The idea caught on and PechKucha Nights are held all over the world.
Check out Amsterdam editions at http://www.pecha-kucha.org/night/amsterdam.
12. Story telling
The cultural centre Mezrab organises events such as storytelling, exhibitions, dance, music, film (in English or subtitled), documentary and more. Check out the agenda at www.mezrab.nl. All free, donations very welcome.
The centre is found in the Art Cage in the east of Amsterdam. Also serves tea and Iranian soups.
13. Seven countries houses
A remarkable street, where architecture is concerned, is the Roemer Visscherstraat, also known as Seven countries houses (Zevenlandenhuizen).
Lined up are seven houses, each representing the architectural style from a European country: nr. 20 Germany, romantic; nr. 22 France, Loire-castle style; nr. 24 Spain, a Moorish/Granada influenced villa; nr. 26 an Italian Palazzo; nr. 28 Russia, a cathedral with an onion shaped dome; nr. 30, a Dutch house in renaissance style; nr. 30A an English-styled cottage.
All houses were designed by Dutch architect Tjeerd Kuipers in 1894.
The Roemer Visscherstraat is located near the entrance of the Vondelpark.
14. Amsterdam, canals, bridges
Canals, just can’t get enough of them. Walking or biking around the city, taking pictures and just enjoying the sight is definitely worth a mention on this list of free stuff to do in Amsterdam.
Visually very attractive. Standing on one of them, there is a view of no less than 15 bridges. This bridge is called, can’t accuse anyone of being original here, ‘the bridge with the 15 bridges’. At night, they all light up. To be found on the corner of Reguliersgracht/corner of Herengracht.
15. Flower market
Very touristy, but nice is the flower market (bloemenmarkt) located on boats. The old market dates back to the times the flowers and bulbs were actually delivered by boat. Now, cars have taken that job, but the boats remain.
The floating flower market is to be found between Muntplein and Leidsestraat. Hardly any flowers there though. But if you’re looking for a souvenir, there is a large variety to choose from.
16. Cultural park of Wester Gas Factory
Walk or bike down the lovely Haarlemmerstraat to the Westerpark and further down to the Westergasfabriek. This is the former site of a coal processing plant that provided gas to light up the city from the 19th century till the early 60s. The attractive industrial buildings have been renovated and transformed to host restaurants, clubs and a movie theatre. Creative undertakers reside in the historic buildings and in summer and winter festivals, performances and exhibitions take place.
The gas holder (where the gas from the coals was kept) is regularly used for Amsterdam dance festivals and techno raves. If the weather is good, the greens fill up with people who bring their barbecue and children play in the stream.
Check out the calender for upcoming events.
17. City Archives of Amsterdam
The City Archives of Amsterdam is the former municipal archive of the city. The archives of the council, but also of all kinds of churches, hospitals and companies are kept in the beautiful building on Vijzelstraat (near Rembrandtplein).
Much information has been digitalised and put on the website Het geheugen van Nederland (the memory of the Netherlands). Also, over 250.000 photo’s and drawings of Amsterdam are found on the Beeldbank Amsterdam.
A visit to the archives is free.
You can look at 300 pieces in the impressive treasury, watch old historic movies about Amsterdam and its famous inhabitants such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Anne Frank, Johan Cruijff and Theo van Gogh.