The largest city and the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, is famous for its canals, bicycles, and museums. In fact, Amsterdam has more museums per square meter than anywhere else in the world. It is also home to the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh paintings, which is not a surprise as he was Dutch.
More than 14 million people visit the Netherlands each year and Amsterdam is the most popular place to visit. Most of the visitors are European, which is why we wanted to write about Amsterdam.
For some unknown reason, Amsterdam is being overlooked by many North American tourists and it’s time to add it to your travel wish list because Amsterdam is simply wonderful!
Free Amsterdam Activity #1: Walking Tour
Free Walking Tours Amsterdam, offers a free classic city tour on foot (tips are welcomed). Tours depart from the National Monument at Dam Square at 10:30 am 1:30 pm and 6:00 pm. This is a great way to explore the city to get your bearings and to hear about its history and culture.
Free Amsterdam Activity #2: Concerts and Festivals
Spring is the best time to visit Amsterdam because this is when Kings Day takes place. More accurately, it happens on April 27. The festivities of Kings Days include city-wide events for locals and visitors. For more information visit Amsterdam Tourist Info.
Free Amsterdam Activity #3: Canal Admiration
The Canal Belt of Amsterdam became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 and is virtually impossible to miss, during your visit to Amsterdam.
The canals date back to the 17th century, within the old city center, and have been vital to the city’s survival. To find out more about the canal houses and history visit Canal Belt Area.
Free Amsterdam Activity #4: Music Community
The Muziektheater is home to the Dutch National Opera and Ballet. While it can cost an arm and a leg to watch these professionals at work, Tuesdays is a different story.
At 12.30 pm to 1 pm, from September to June, you can experience a free performance in the Boekmanzaal (Boekman room); doors open at 12.15 pm. This is a great treat if you are traveling on a budget.
- Theatre entrance: Amstel 3, Amsterdam
Free Amsterdam Activity #5: Civic Guard Gallery
In Amsterdam’s city center you can visit the Civic Guard Gallery (Schuttersgalerij), which houses 15 huge paintings of the voluntary guards, from the 1600s. It’s part of the Amsterdam Museum, and is free to enter, unlike other parts of the museum.
- Location: Between the Kalverstraat shopping street and Begijnhof. (Kalverstraat 92)
Free Amsterdam Activity #6: Urban Beach
Even though Amsterdam is a landlocked city, you can experience a “beach holiday” while in the city. When the temperature allows it, you’ll have a choice of 3 beaches to spend the day relaxing in the sun, they are:
- Blijburg, Muiderlaan 1001 Amsterdam
- Strand West, Stavangerweg 900 Amsterdam
- Strand Zuid, Europaplein 22
Free Amsterdam Activity #7: Red Light District
Amsterdam is famous for its ‘Red Light District’, also known as “De Wallen”, which is literally filled with fluorescent red lights.
This is obviously not part of the city to include in your itinerary if you are traveling with kids. But culturally and fascinatingly it is part of the city’s history as it is located within the oldest part of the city and has been a growing “attraction” since the 14th century.
Along the Oudezijds Achterburgwal & Oudezijds Voorburgwal, you see sex shops, brothels, gay bars, coffee shops, peepshows, and window prostitutes. Please note: It is prohibited to take photos of the working women. This is a heavily enforced rule!
Free Amsterdam Activity #8: Flower Market
Astonishingly, The Netherlands produces 70% of the Worlds commercial flower output, so visiting a flower market is a no brainer. The most special flower market is rather special as it is a floating flower market. Expect incredible colors and scents as you walk around the many wonderful stalls.
- Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 17:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 17:30.
- Location: Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein.
Free Amsterdam Activity #9: City View Ferry
The free ferry crosses the river IJ (pronounced “eye”) and offers three different routes, and provides epic views of the city of Amsterdam’s waterfront. You don’t need a ticket to board. Which route will you choose?
- Buiksloterweg: The shortest route across the river.
- IJplein: Visits residential and retail areas of Amsterdam.
- NDSM Werf: For the best views take this longer route.
Free Amsterdam Activity #10: Amsterdam Cheese Museum
If you’re a cheese connoisseur the Amsterdam Cheese Museum is an unmissable attraction. You’ll learn about the Dutch cheese-making process, experience a free cheese tasting and see the most expensive cheese slicer in the World. It’s open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and can be found at Prinsengracht 112.
Which attraction will you visit first?
We hope you enjoyed this post, about the free activities available in Amsterdam. It is part of a series, previously we have written about Lisbon, Portugal, London, England and Paris, France. Next time we are sharing the free things to do in Rome, Italy, subscribe now so that you don’t miss it!