Saturday, October 22, 2016

21 Totally Free Things I Did in Amsterdam

Ah, Amsterdam! The world capital of canals and bridges. It has long been a top destination on travelers’ bucket list and it is not hard to figure out why. Being a budget traveler, my mission was to experience as much as I could without spending a dime in Amsterdam. There are probably 100 more free Amsterdam attractions that you can enjoy but here is what I manage to do in my short weekend escape last July. Come explore with me!  

1. Enjoy a Gratis Boat Trip across IJ

The free Amsterdam Public Transport ferry departing from De Ruijterkade port just behind the Centraal Station takes you across the river IJ to Amsterdam-Noord. From the ferry, you’ll be able to take some incredible pictures of the city from the water. 
There are 3 different routes to choose from:
– “Buiksloterweg” – shortest route (runs every 6 minutes)
– “IJplein” – access to the residential area  (runs every 10 minutes)
– “NDSM Werf” – the longest and most scenic route ( runs every 30 minutes)


2. Sniff the Tulips at the Floating Flower Market

Bloemenmarkt—this famous flower market floats on the Singel Canal and it never runs out of beautiful flowers. The market starts operating on 9am on Weekdays and Saturday, only opens at 11 on Sunday. 


3.  Visit the Civic Guard Gallery

Hidden away in between Kalverstraat shopping street and Begijnhof, Schuttersgalerij if the free part of Amsterdam Museum. It houses 15 portraits of the voluntary city guard from 17 century. 

4. Walkabout with Sandeman’s New Europe Free Tour.

Sandman’s New Europe tour is the prisoner of the free walking tour in Europe. According to my many personal experiences across Europe, I am 100 percent certain that your guide will be a passionate knowledgeable local and I guarantee you that a day with them is a day well-spent! This well-organized tour works on a tip-only basis. I forgot about the departure time (please check with your hostel receptionist, I am sure they know ) and it starts from the National Monument at Dam Square.


5. Chill out at SkyLounge Amsterdam

Checking in to Hilton Double Tree may be steep for the pocket but it doesn't cost anything checking out its SkyLounge!  Our Easyrider Guide, Alon recommended this place to us during our day trip to Giethoorn and we were thrilled to see the unobstructed view of the Amsterdam old city from the top!

6.  Enjoy a (Romantic) Picnic in Vondelpark.

Dubbed the “green lung” of Amsterdam, Vondelpark is the people’s park located right in the heart of the city. Go fill up your picnic basket in nearby grocery stores and come here to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle with a mixed crowd of all ages.


7.  Roam around the 400-years-old UNESCO Heritage Site— Canal Belt

The canal belt (Grachtengordel) built in the 17th Century was only added as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. 


8.  Meow on Cat Boat (Poezenboot)

One should never miss if they call themselves “Cat lovers”.  ‘Poezenboot’ is a houseboat dedicated to… cats! Note that it is closed on Wednesday and Sunday! 


9.  Escape to the secret courtyard, Begijnhof

There lies a tranquil courtyard once you walk through a brown heavy wooden door right off the Amsterdam Center (Spui Square). The Begijnhof is served as a hidden oasis for one to wind down and escape the hustle and hustle of the city. When visiting this place, you are expected to keep quiet and respect the current residence of the place. 


10. Marvel at The Narrowest House in the World

On the Singel no.7, the narrowest house in the world can be found. The width of the building is only one meter. I just don’t understand this...is there anyone living inside? 


11.  Take the obligatory Picture With the I Amsterdam Sign

Leaving Amsterdam without a photo at the I Amsterdam sign is just wrong. The sign has long become an iconic symbol of Amsterdam and the most famous sign is located in Museumplein, right in front of the Rijksmuseum. 

12.  Discover Amsterdam City Archives

Step back in time to discover Amsterdam history at Stadsarchief (City Archives). The free exhibition is house to some quirky treasures including a police report dating back to 1942 regarding the theft of Anne Frank's bike. 


13. Don’t tell Mum about the Red Light District. 

Lined with sex shops, gay bars, peep shows and cannabis shops, the ‘Red Light District’ is not somewhere I can roam around with my Asian parents… Nope, definitely not their cup of tea. I can almost hear them screaming “Aiye, why you bring us here” right into my ears. The most unforgettable sight has to be the window prostitutes under the typical fluorescent red lights. I am glad my travel partner was a cool open-minded girl.

14. Understand the Homomonument

I have long heard about the story of the pink triangle and its significance to the gay community, so it is quite interesting to see a monument inspired by it projecting out over the Keizersgracht canal.

15. Enjoy the Amsterdam canals and bridges

Canals and bridges after more canals and bridges…. Honestly after a while, they started to look all the same but it didn’t stop me from photographing all of them! There is a particular bridge called ‘the bridge with the 15 bridges’ situated at the corner of Reguliersgracht/corner of Herengracht. It is a hotspot due to its panoramic view of Amsterdam canal belt, including a view of no less than 15 bridges. 


16. Visit the Albert Cuyp Markt to Get a Feel for the ‘Real’ Amsterdam

The ‘Albert Cuypmarkt’ is my favorite attraction in Amsterdam. Situated in the historical neighborhood De Pijp, Albert Cuyp Markt is the place to go if you are up for a taste of the “Real” Amsterdam. And not to forget all those mouthwatering street food. If you are there, try eating a raw herring with the traditional way— by holding on to its tail. 


17. Free food tasting in Sunday Market Amsterdam.

We were blessed to be able to visit Amsterdam on the first Sunday of July when the Sunday Market was on. It was fun to browse the stalls looking for free food and drink tastings. 


18. Cheese Tasting til You are Done with Cheese. 

Most cheese shops in Amsterdam offer free tasting. Amsterdam Cheese Museum gives out samples of every single cheese available in the shops plus a free museum access to round up the visit! We couldn’t be happier that day.  


19. Window shopping in Organic Farmer’s Market.

On Saturday, the Noordermarkt in the Jordaan neighborhood will be buzzing with Energy all thanks to the weekly Organic farmer's market. The market will start at 9am and closes at about 4pm, selling everything from fruits to vegetables to cheese!


20. Dance on the Skinny Bridge

Dance, because... why not? ;) I still don’t understand why is it called the “Skinny” bridge but this beautiful white drawbridge spreading across the river Amstel is an architecture masterpiece dating back to 1672. It is said to be the most photographed bridge of Amsterdam. 


21. Explore Street Art in Amsterdam.

Street Art is taking over the world by storm, literally! Unlike the street art back in Malaysia which is closer to everyday life, street art in Amsterdam takes the form of graffiti, showcasing a lot of energy and freestyle creativity. 


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Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. 
Want to share more free activities in Amsterdam? Let me know by commenting below!

1 comment:

Uli said...

Great tips! I've researched about free things to do in Amsterdam before I went there, but I didn't know about half of everything you pointed out :( Now I feel like visiting Amsterdam again to experience more things to do ;)
P.S. About Sandeman tours, I met good and not so good guides during their free tours, probably always depends on luck :)