The Cheapskate Guide To: Amsterdam

Cheap Amsterdam! It's possible! Tips from a local on cheap food, affordable lodging, and free/cheap activities in Amsterdam. Click through if you're planning a trip to Amsterdam!

Is there such a thing as Cheap Amsterdam? Does this lovely city have a slightly-less expensive side for those of us who don’t want to/can’t drop seven Euro on one crepe?

Yes! A thousand times yes! Today, we’re getting insights from a local on all the best, cheapest things to do, places to stay, and foods to eat in Amsterdam. Read on!

Hello! My name is Eline and I’m a lawyer / blogger / avid cheese & wine consumer with a love for baking cakes and reading random articles. My online home is
Tuk’s Kitchen where you can find recipes and fun links. For the majority of the past 12 years I have lived in Amsterdam and I can honestly say that it is one awesome place to be.

In case you are not already convinced by the city’s looks, Amsterdam’s residents might just win you over. This is the city where summers nights are spent outside drinking until the sky turns dark, where people are chit-chatty and the streets are filled with the most beautiful, quirky creatures on cycles. No wonder all these Dutchies are so incredibly happy!

Cheap Amsterdam! It's possible! Tips from a local on cheap food, affordable lodging, and free/cheap activities in Amsterdam. Click through if you're planning a trip to Amsterdam!

Cheap lodging in Amsterdam

Camping Zeeburg – 14 euros a night for a two-person tent

Zeeburg is a neighborhood of Amsterdam at the Eastern edge of the city, and even though it is officially part of the city, it does feel like you are in a different world. The surroundings are peaceful with loads of water and views of boats passing by. Good news is that Amsterdam Central station is only 10 minutes away by tram (or 20 minutes by cycle). Options are available to book a lodge at this camping site as well, in case you can’t carry your tent with you. 

Stayokay Haarlem – 30 euros a night

A typical hostel, situated in Haarlem. I used to be skeptical about staying outside the city, but considering that Haarlem is only 12 minutes away by train from Amsterdam Central Station, I would give it a shot. Added bonus is that Haarlem is one of the prettiest towns you will come by.

Minimal room – 20 euros a night

Bos & Lommer is an upcoming area of Amsterdam and has solid public transport connections to the city center. As a Dutch cyclist I would easily drive down here, but I’m happy to leave that up to your discretion.

Room in the North of Amsterdam – 25 euros a night

Amsterdam North is starting to feel really hip and a lot of youngsters are moving here. Staying here means that you will use the (free) ferry to cross the lake into the city (I find the ferry and views amazing!). The ferry docks behind central station and runs all-night.

If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Cheap Amsterdam! It's possible! Tips from a local on cheap food, affordable lodging, and free/cheap activities in Amsterdam. Click through if you're planning a trip to Amsterdam!

Cheap food in Amsterdam

A first note: food and drinks are rather expensive in Amsterdam when compared to other European cities. My advice is to make yourself some breakfast and snacks before heading in town. During the day I highly recommend you go to day markets, such as the Ten Kate Markt or the Albert Cuyp Markt, where you will find perfectly affordable options.

Belgian fries with Mayonnaise at Vleminckx– 4 euros

Undeniably the best fries you will find in the country (not kidding, read the reviews), which also explains the line in front of this window.  

Chicken Roti at Albina – 5 euros

At this very authentic Surinam toko, you will be able to enjoy a hearty meal. Just join the locals that are often popping in here to enjoy a plate on their own.

Sandwich warm meat (not kidding that is the name of it;)) at Boer Geert – 3 euros

Boer Geert is probably one of the most popular stands on the Ten Kate Market and for a good reason. They are incredibly friendly and have a dazzling assortment of cheeses from their own farm, cured sausages and freshly made sandwiches.

While you are there, stock up on big pieces of cheese that they are happy to vacuum-pack for you, which doesn’t only mean a bargain compared to the tourist cheese traps, it also means that it will stay good outside the fridge for two months.

Coffee and a cream cheese bagel at Bagels & Beans – 5 euros

An established chain where it is easy to pop in and have a small breakfast.

A plate of freshly made pasta at Spaghetteria – 9 euros

Spaghetteria has recently opened three locations around Amsterdam and is immensely popular. The tables are big and the food is fresh and delicious.

Crossaint and coffee at De Bakkerswinkel – 5 euros

This small chain is extremely hip and you’ll most likely feel at home immediately. The menu is tempting and everything is homemade. A lot of the dishes are a lot more expensive, but it is worth to sit down and enjoy the athmosphere.

A huge sandwich at Singel 404 – 7 euros

Not only will you get an amazing open-faced (huge) sandwich, you are also able to sit down in a canal-side house in the middle of the city. This place gets really crowded around lunch-time, so be either early or prepared to wait in line.

Cheap Amsterdam! It's possible! Tips from a local on cheap food, affordable lodging, and free/cheap activities in Amsterdam. Click through if you're planning a trip to Amsterdam!

Cheap things to do in Amsterdam

Good news is that Amsterdam is practically an open air museum. You will have a great time walking along the canals, watching cycles pass by and enjoy the view of all this water. Less welcome news is that a lot of mainstream sights, such as the big museums, are expensive (as in 15 euros).

Luckily enough, there are a lot of (lesser-known) alternatives:

Begijnenhofje – free

This inner court is situated in the middle of the city center and feels like an oasis of rest, once you (find and) open the heavy big entrance door. It was founded during the Middle Ages, and contains two chapels. The sisters are living in the apartments that are facing the inner court.

A tour of the Wester Church – 7 euros

You climb the stairs of this beautiful church with a guide. The views are breathtaking as you are in the middle of the canal district, and the guide will provide you with loads of information.

Museum van Loon – 9 euros

This canal house is brought back to its original state (18th century) and give a wonderful window into the golden age of trading for the Netherlands.

The introduction video is amazing (some quotes are still a running gag at home), and the garden is perfect to stick around for another hour.

The Amsterdam City Archives – free

Situated in an impressive art-deco building (originally a bank), this is one of the best (partially) free museums in Europe (according to the Guardian). In the huge vaults there is a free exhibition of artifacts.

The Amsterdam Concert Hall – free on Wednesday afternoons

Every Wednesday at 12.30 pm you can attend a concert for free. Make sure that you are there on time as places are limited and there’s usually a huge crowd.

Open-air Theatre in the Vondel Park – free concerts

The largest park in the city hosts an open air theater where really good performances take place in summer. Barbecues and picnics are allowed in the park, so don’t forget to stock up.

Relaxing at Roest Amsterdam – free

A laid-back city place and venue in one where you can enjoy a drink and an easy couple of hours. They often organise events that are free of  charge.

Visiting the Amsterdam Opera or Ballet – half price

Through this ticket shop you can by concert tickets for half the price. It is often still a splurge, but oh so worth it. My personal favorite is the North Sea Jazz club with often an amazing line-up.

Fun links to read in preparation of your travel

Thanks so much for sharing your tips and city, Eline! Dutch readers, do you have anything to add? We’d love to hear your tips, too!

P.S. 7 travel tools I will not shut up about till you buy them + How I traveled for 11 months on $5,000.

photos by Javier M., Hosteling International, wikipedia // cc

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  1. Carly

    This would have been helpful two weeks ago before I spent a week in Amsterdam 😛

    I got a croissant and fruit and/or yogurt from the main Dutch grocery store chain Albert Heijn for about 3 euros for breakfast every day. If you’re staying near a park and there during good weather, that’s definitely better than the 9-ish euros my hotel wanted to charge me for breakfast.

    Also, while not objectively cheap the Museumkaart for 59 euros wound up being worth it for me. Paying for each museum entry individually would have been closer to 90 euros for the ones I went to over 8 days.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Ooooh! Good to know! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Samantha Lee

    Won’t make it to Amsterdam on our Eurotrip this fall (we’re doing Paris, Croatia, and Italy!!), but I’m definitely saving this for next trip. 😉

  3. Indya | TheSmallAdventurer

    This is such a helpful post! I would love to go to Europe one day, and Amsterdam is definitely high up on my list of places I want to visit the most. I’ll have to bookmark this post so I can refer back to it later on ?

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