Amsterdam on a budget? Is it possible? In summer, it is easy. You stay at a cheap camping where you can take the ingredients that you bought in the supermarket and get a pick-nick or even barbecue in Vondelpark. Print out the list of free things to do in Amsterdam, that you so easily found on this website, check out the Amsterdam events calender 20178 and you’re all set to go.
In winter, the biting winds, the frozen grass and cold streets will make you flee to the next warm and cosy café, and those visits hurt your wallet. So for those people making their way to Amsterdam this winter, here are tips and tricks, where to eat and where to go if you travel to Amsterdam on a budget.
How to do Amsterdam on a budget
Cheap hostels in Amsterdam
- Newspaper The Guardian has written a good overview of popular, cheap hostels in Amsterdam.
- Campings like Camping Zeeburg also has lovely cabins and wagonettes, to camp out in some comfort even when it rains or snows. Prices are about €60 for two nights and 2 persons.
- If you plan to go with a group of people, try to rent an apartment in Amsterdam. You can cook (and drink!) at home, which will be one of the major money savers. You can find an apartment for 6 people for around €400 a night easily looking for short stay or short term apartment rent Amsterdam.
Cheap bike rental
Don’t spend any money on public transportation, but instead rent a real Dutch, used bike. At Recycled rentals you’ll find cheap bike rental for only €5 a day! You’ll blend in easily with the locals, as long as you ride your bike like one of us (don’t drive on the pavement, stay on the right whatever you do and don’t ring your bell!). Near Central Station.
Take the tram, use a discount card and park long term on a budget
The tram is your friend when it comes to public transport in Amsterdam. Be sure to get yourself an OV-chipcard when you want to see more of Amsterdam than just the city centre. Car parking in Amsterdam is really expensive. Try to get a budget option when you need to park long term, for example with Parclick. It’s always good to check out the discount Amsterdam City Passes. Some of them give you a 24-hour free transport pass. Learn how to use the card wisely to make the most out of it.
Visit things for free in Amsterdam
- By the way, the Dutch word for free is gratis. That might come of use.
- See my list of free things to do in Amsterdam.
- Free art at many galleries. You’ll find classic art galleries at Spiegelstraat, near Leidseplein.
How to spend your evenings on a budget in Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Last Minute Ticket Shop offers concerts and theatre performance for half price in the same day. Go to the website after 10 am, choose a show and pay by credit card. The website is in Dutch unfortunately, but it’s not difficult to work out. English speakers will enjoy a night at cabaret shows at Boom Chicago, which almost always has last minute tickets.
Cheap food in Amsterdam
Cheap breakfast or cheap lunch in Amsterdam
In Holland, breakfast is the second most important meal of the day. A good breakfast lays the foundation for the day ahead, as we say. A typical Dutch breakfast is an ‘uitsmijter’: double eggs on bread with cheese and/or ham. It will fill you up and doesn’t cost much if you have it at a typical local Dutch café.
For lunch, try the soup of the day. Soups are very good, inexpensive and keep you warm. Try ‘erwtensoep’ or ‘snert’ (peasoup) or ‘groentensoep’ (vegetable soup).
- Many lunchrooms focus on serving excellent sandwiches, but they are not cheap. Broodje Bert is a classic and not expensive on Singel 321.
- Go to a small Butchershop (slager) or bakery (bakker) and have an inexpensive sandwich (broodje) prepared for you on the spot with the ingredients you choose. Usually cheap and very good quality.
- At metro station Waterlooplein, De Hapjeshoek prepares lovely Surinam food. Spicy sandwiches, Surinam classic roti and noedels. Very cheap.
Amsterdam on a budget: Snackbars
- Dutch snackbars, Turkish pizza snackbars or Febo: Snackfood has always been a cheap, though not too healthy option for a quick low budget filler. Try patat met mayonaise (french fries with mayonaise), always a good filler.
- Eaterie at Nieuwmarkt Square: Plein 26. Serves not only traditional Dutch snackfood but also local classics such as a homemade nutricious stamppot (minced potatoes with vegetables), a classic meal in cold Holland winters.
Take away, with a small bar to eat your meal.
- Maoz is an old fast food chain, serving nutritious vegetarian meals, most importantly, falafel. Falafel consists of a fried chick-pea balls served on pita bread. You can add any fresh and pickled vegetables and sauces from the free condiments bar. Falafel arrived from the Middle East, where it is a common form of street or fast food. €4 – €7.
Self service /buffet
The HEMA shop is famous for its cheap buffet. Coffees for a nice price in a warm place. Usually the self service restaurant is located upstairs or downstairs while there is a small snack-food-take away on ground floor. Baguette with tuna for €2, not bad and coffee for less than €2.
Cheap lunch and diner in Amsterdam
Thai and chinese food at Chinatown Amsterdam
On the Zeedijk, also known as the Amsterdam Chinatown, near the red light district and Nieuwmarkt, you’ll find many Thai and Chinese food restaurants. The quality is very good and the prices are nice as well. If you are visiting Amsterdam on a budget, remember: the worse the decoration, the better the food.
An eetcafé is like a small ‘diner’, where they serve simple meals for little but you still have the ambiance and feeling of a restaurant. For example De Blaffende Vis on Westerstraat (Northern part of Jordaan Quarter).
At many ‘eetcafés and student bars they serve a simple meal for under €10. These meals are called: ‘daghap’, ‘dagschotel’ or ‘dagmenu’.
In the centre, near Spui, you’ll find a small side street called Voetboogsteeg where you can eat dishes like spare ribs, steaks and the famous chicken sateh (chicken on a stick with peanut sauce), all with a large plate of French fries (chips) and a salad for €10 to €15.
The ambiance is very Dutch, with lots of wood. (Try ‘De 3 Carel’s’ or ‘Café De Schutter’)
Touristy, but cheap are the restaurants at Lange and Korte Leidsedwarsstraat. If you are travelling to Amsterdam on a budget, try put this street. There are lots of pizza’s for €5, Argentinian grills. Most classic is Rimini, that serves probably the cheapest pizza in town.
Amsterdam on a budget: (ex) Squat restaurants
In many squats and former squats, volunteers run cheap eateries. Usually there is a fixed menu for that day. Generally it’s vegetarian. In most cases, reservations are necessary so they can prepare sufficient food and not throw away leftovers. Check websites for phone numbers. Prices under €10.
Here’s a list:
- Moya serves food for free every Thursday named ‘Eat the rich’. From 20.00 at Frederik Hendrikstraat 111 .
- Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen is a short bike ride away from Westerpark. Every day of the week they serve a 3-course meal for 8 euros, with mostly biological cooking on Monday and Wednesday.
- Einde van de wereld (End of the World), located on the boat Quo Vadis, Javakade. Wednesday and Friday. Prices €7 and €8 (with eco meat).
- Zaal 100. Serving 3-course vegetarian menu €8 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
- Vegan 3-course menu at €5 at MKZ, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Eerste Schinkelstraat 16, just south of Vondelpark.
- Thursdays vegan meal for €3 at Molli, Van Ostadestraat 55.
- De Peper at OT301, located at Overtoom 301, near Leidseplein. Good food, if you are in Amsterdam on a budget.