Amsterdam on a budget? How to do Amsterdam cheap? Is it possible? The prices in Amsterdam are getting higher every year. That is why I have put together this list of tips and tricks: where to eat, stay and go when you travel to Amsterdam on a budget. Also check out this list of free things to do in Amsterdam. Many events in Amsterdam are free of charge and you can find them on the Amsterdam Events Calendar.
How to do Amsterdam on a budget
Cheap hostels in Amsterdam
Finding a cheap hotel in Amsterdam is difficult. Very difficult. Amsterdam has one of the highest hotel prices of Europe. That is because the city is popular and small. Cheap hostels and hotels in Amsterdam are best sought online with a good search engine like Booking.com.
- Old, but still good is the article in The Guardian that is an overview of popular, cheap hostels in Amsterdam.
- Campings are not always the cheapest way to stay in Amsterdam, but it’s a good place to meet fellow travelers. 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 €156 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. Try Airbnb, Hometogo and Homeaway
Cheap bike rental
Don’t spend any money on public transportation in Amsterdam. Instead rent a bike. Everywhere in Amsterdam you can rent a bike. Prices of bike rental are higher in the center of Amsterdam. Outside the canal belt, bike rental is about €10 per day.
Take the tram
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.
Cheap parking in Amsterdam
If you are coming to Amsterdam by car, remember that parking your car in Amsterdam is very, very expensive. In the center it is also very difficult to find a parking spot unless your hotel offers a garage. Cheap parking in Amsterdam is possible at a park&ride.
READ MORE ABOUT: Car parking in Amsterdam.
Discount passes for Amsterdam
If you want to see many museums and attractions in Amsterdam within a short period of time, you can save some money with a discount pass for Amsterdam.
Visit things for free in Amsterdam
Many events in Amsterdam are free of charge. They are listed on the Amsterdam Calendar of Events. There are also many free art exhibitions at Amsterdam art galleries. The main art and antique gallery street in Amsterdam is Spiegelstraat, near Rijksmuseum.
How to spend your evenings on a budget in Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Last Minute Ticket Shop offers concerts and theatre performances for half price on 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 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. This can easily be a cheap breakfast in Amsterdam. A typical Dutch breakfast is an ‘uitsmijter‘: double eggs on bread with cheese and/or ham. Together with a coffee or tea, this breakfast should not cost more than €10.
Really cheap breakfast in Amsterdam is possible at Holland’s most famous shop: Hema. They serve a pick- and choose breakfast for €2. In the center you can find Hema with a restaurant at Nieuwendijk 174.
Another famous cheap breakfast in Amsterdam is Bakker Bart. Here they offer breakfast (coffee/tea, croissant, bread roll and juice) for €3,75. There is a Bakker Bart in De Pijp neighbourhood (Ferdinand Bol).
Try the following places for a cheap breakfast in Amsterdam that also taste good:
- Omelegg: a popular place and hip place for a range of fried eggs for €4 – €9, at Nieuwebrugsteeg 24 (between Central Station and Red Light District) and at De Pijp (Ferdinand Bolstraat 143).
- B&B Lunchroom Leidsestraat 44 is a classic and good breakfast and lunch place in the center of the city that offers sandwiches and bread rolls.
- A traditional place in the center where you can get typical Dutch styled fried eggs on bread for a good price is Prins Heerlijk (near Central Station, Prins Hendrikkade 57).
Cheap lunch in Amsterdam
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 noodles. Very cheap.
Amsterdam on a budget: Snackbars
- Dutch snack bars, Turkish pizza snack bars or Febo: Snackfood has always been cheap, though not too healthy option for a quick low budget filler. Try patat met mayonaise (french fries with mayonnaise), always a good filler.
- Eaterie at Nieuwmarkt Square: Plein 26. Serves not only traditional Dutch snackfood but also local classics such as a homemade nutritious 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 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.
RECOMMENDED READ: Amsterdam markets
Cheap lunch and dinner in Amsterdam
Thai and Chinese food at Chinatown Amsterdam
On Zeedijk and Nieuwmarkt, an area near the Red Light District you’ll find many Thai and Chinese food restaurants. This is the Amsterdam Chinatown. 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 traveling to Amsterdam on a budget, try this area. There are lots of pizza places for €5, Argentinian grills. The 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. Also, check out the Breeding Spaces of Amsterdam.
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.