23 Best Free Things To Do In Amsterdam (From A Local!)

By Samantha Karen. This guide to Amsterdam’s free attractions includes affiliate links to trusted partners!

Looking for the best free things to do in Amsterdam for a budget-friendly getaway in the Netherlands?

Then you’re in the right place!

As a resident of Amsterdam I have searched long and far for all the top free things to do in Amsterdam and today I want to share them with you.

Amsterdam is a city full of fun experiences, from cultural activities to visiting historic sites to natural attractions and beyond.

The problem? Many of the top Amsterdam attractions cost money, which can quickly add up.

Luckily, Amsterdam is a city full of surprises, and one of these is all the free activities—which also include some of the city’s top things to do, allowing you to enjoy the best of Amsterdam on a budget.

If you are looking to save money on your trip to Amsterdam be sure to add some of these free things to do to your itinerary. Or if you are on a tight budget create a whole itinerary around free activities.

Honestly, Amsterdam is such an amazing city that simply sitting along a canal and soaking in the unique buzzing atmosphere is enjoyable!

⏳ Short on time? My top recommendations for visiting Amsterdam on a budget include:

🏨 Hotel: The Flying Pig Downtown & Ibis Styles Amsterdam Central Station. You can also view other accommodation options here.

💸 Save Money: These Amsterdam City Passes help you save money on attractions & transportation

📍Recommended Excursions: Along with free Amsterdadm walking tours, a few top-rated inexpensive tours include:
Amsterdam Canal Cruise with Live Guide & Onboard Bar
Amsterdam Highlights Bike Tour with Optional Canal Cruise
Anne Frank Guided Walking Tour through Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter

🏥 Travel Insurance: SafetyWing (budget-friendly) & World Nomads (more comprehensive)

📞 Staying Connected: Airalo eSIM

Free Resources For Your Amsterdam Itinerary

But first, before we go over the best free things to do in Amsterdam, I invite you to grab Jessie’s free Ultimate Travel Planning Kit—which includes 40+ travel resources from printables to quizzes to itineraries—all meant to help you explore the world beyond the guidebook!

Some highlights of the kit include:

  • Free “Where Should You Travel Next?” personality quiz
  • Travel budget calculators to help you save money
  • Pre-plotted Google Maps for 45+ destinations
  • Printable travel journal with writing prompts
  • Packing lists for different types of trips
  • And more!

Once you’ve grabbed your copy, keep reading for tips on visiting Amsterdam on a budget.

Best Free Things To Do In Amsterdam

1. Spend a day in the park

Warm sunny days are rare in Amsterdam so when they come around the parks in the city are packed with people.

Amsterdam parks offer a welcome escape from the concrete and brick that make up the city. Both locals and tourists alike flock to these greenspaces to walk, bike, and picnic.

The atmosphere is always relaxed and peaceful, offering the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s natural beauty.

And while the social atmosphere of the local parks is perfect for those traveling alone, it is an ideal place for a romantic date in Amsterdam for all the couples visiting the city.

The top parks to visit in Amsterdam are:

Vondelpark. This is the biggest and most popular park in Amsterdam. During summer, you will find this park packed with people picnicking with friends, sunbathing, working out, and everything else. Additionally, if you’re looking for free things to do in Amsterdam with kids, this park has an amazing playground.

Westerpark. This huge park in Amsterdam is not as popular among tourists, but is beloved by locals. It’s a great option if you’re looking to explore a lesser-known part of the city.

Oosterpark. This is an underrated park located in Amsterdam Oost that is truly stunning with lots of trees. Barbecuing is allowed, and you’ll see lots of people jogging, biking, and walking their dogs.

pond and trees in the free to visit Vondelpark in Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you’re wondering what to do in Amsterdam for free, Vondelpark should be at the top of your list. Photo via Samantha Karen.

2. Attend free concerts in Amsterdam

Something that will likely be music to your ears: there are numerous places in Amsterdam to enjoy a free concert.

For instance, the Royal Concert Hall (Concertgebouw) hosts free weekly lunchtime concerts in their Recital Hall.

Additionally, the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre hosts free concerts during the summer months.

3. Explore the Jordaan

One of the best free things to see in Amsterdam is the city itself. It’s made up of 160 canals connected by quaint cobblestone streets lined with unique houses unlike anything else in this world—especially in the Jordaan.

This neighborhood located just beside the city center is one of the top places to visit in Amsterdam for free as it’s full of the most charming streets and beautiful canals.

Simply wander while admiring Amsterdam and its enchanting vibes. Be sure to walk around the famous De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets)—a charming sub-neighborhood comprised of nine streets featuring cute cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

Bonus: This is one of the more popular free things to do in Amsterdam at night too!

people walking in and out of the boutiques along 9 Streets in Amsterdam
The trendy shops of 9 Streets help make visiting one of the top cool free things to do in Amsterdam—as long as you stick with window shopping! Photo via Samantha Karen.

4. Window shop at a street market

Street markets are in abundance in Amsterdam. In almost every area of the city, there is a unique street market open to walk around.

All the best street markets are outdoors and on warm days strolling around them is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam for free.

Not only do you get to see unique Dutch clothing and trinkets, but you can also smell the scent of fresh stroopwafels, flowers, and fries.

If window shopping at a street market sounds like the activity for you, I recommend checking out:

  • Albert Cuyp Market
  • Westerstraat Market
  • IJ-Hallen Flea Market

Just be sure to check the hours and days they are open as times vary.

5. Admire Westerkerk Church

Within the Jordaan area of Amsterdam sits a stunning church called Westerkerk. It is located directly beside the Anne Frank House, and the bells that ring from it are the same as those she heard while she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis during WWII, when Germany occupied the city.

The church itself towers within a small square and is beautiful from every angle. It is well worth it to walk to the stunning church to admire it for free.

The Amstel Canal and the View of Westerkerk Church in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Visit Westerkerk Church or take in views of it along the Amstel Canal. Photo: Γιώργος Παγούδης via Pexels.

6. Visit the Red Light District

The Red Light District (De Wallen) is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. It is not something for everyone and has a pretty seedy reputation, but it is more like an attraction than anything else. The best thing about this infamous area is that visiting and exploring the streets costs nothing.

For anyone wondering, the Red Light District is an old area of Amsterdam famous for its legal position and sex-orientated business. Here you will find the “Red Light Windows” which are glass doors lit up by red lights with women inside them.

There are around 300 cabins that are rented for people to legally obtain sexual services. It is a pretty bizarre concept to most, which is why it is so heavily trafficked by tourists.

Many people prefer to visit the Red Light District in the evening when the neon lights are more vivid and the atmosphere is more lively.

Important: if visiting the Red Light District, please be respectful. Remain polite, avoid taking photos of the women in the windows, and avoid shouting as people also live in this area.

7. Go on a free walking tour of Amsterdam

Free walking tours are a great way to learn about Amsterdam, immerse yourself in local history and culture, and hear stories that go beyond surface-level facts.

But, where do you actually book free walking tours in Amsterdam? One of the more popular options is Free Tours By Foot Amsterdam, who offer a variety of complimentary experiences—from a History & Culture City Centre Tour to one focused on the Jewish Quarter, WWII & Anne Frank.

Book a walking tour is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam for free to learn and enjoy the city in the best way possible.

Note that while the tours are free, you’re expected to give a tip to your guide for their hard work.

traveler see the famous canals with boats on them on a free walking tour of Amsterdam
See the sights and local canals on a free walking tour of Amsterdam. Photo via Samantha Karen.

8. See a windmill at Brouwerij ‘t IJ

You can’t visit Amsterdam and not see an authentic Dutch windmill. Seeing a windmill is an Amsterdam bucket list item that everyone must check off.

There are areas nearby Amsterdam with windmills in abundance; however, getting to those costs money.

If you want to see a Dutch windmill for free without leaving Amsterdam, then a visit to Brouwerij ‘t IJ is in order.

This is a local brewery located located under a huge windmill. Even if you’re not a big beer drinker, the windmill itself is worth a visit.

9. Enjoy the atmosphere of Museumplein

Museumplein is one of the most popular areas in Amsterdam, mainly due to the fact that many of the city’s top museums and attractions are here, but also for its stunning views of the impressive building facades.

The whole area supplies beauty from all directions and is the ideal place to visit and walk around. Here you can view the beautiful Rijksmuseum (which is free to enter if you’re under 18), eat at one of the food stands, or sit on the greenspace.

On warm days, the lawn at Museumplein is packed with people having picnics and playing sports with friends. It’s a lot of fun and offers a wonderful atmosphere free of charge!

exterior of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rijksmuseum. Photo via Samantha Karen.

10. Explore the Rijksmuseum Gardens

Also in Museumplein is Rijksmuseum Gardens, one of the most beloved free attractions in Amsterdam.

The gardens are the perfect calm oasis where you can admire nature and art. There are also some sculptures in the gardens, like the famous giant spiders and a surprising fountain.

As the gardens are outdoors, you can escape the crowds of the indoor Rijksmuseum and spend time enjoying art in the fresh air.

11. Find the Begijnhof

The Begijnhof is Amsterdam’s “secret” spot right in the heart of the city. Just off the main Kalverstraat shopping street in the city center, it’s a hidden courtyard with a peaceful atmosphere and historic houses dating from the early 14th century.

One of the city’s hofjes (almshouses), it was originally created to be a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived as a community and took vows of chastity.

Today, one of the main attractions is seeing the oldest surviving house in Amsterdam, Begijnhof 34 or Houten Huys (wooden house), built around 1425. You’ll also find the English Reformed Church (Engelsekerk) in the center.

historic homes within the Begijnhof in Amsterdam
Visit the Begijnhof for historic homes and a peaceful atmosphere free of charge. Photo: Mathias Reding via Pexels.

12. Visit the Pozenboot

The Pozenboot is a unique free thing to do in Amsterdam that is ideal for cat lovers!

Simply put, it’s a cat sanctuary that houses cats and other animals for adoption. The fact that it’s located on a houseboat on the canals of Amsterdam makes it unique and fun to visit.

If you love cats and want to make some furry Dutch friends, head here to hang out and play with the animals.

13. Sample Dutch cheese

Cheese and the Dutch go hand in hand. In Amsterdam, you will find delicious cheese shops all around the city—like the popular Henri Willig and Dutch Delicacy.

Or, you can visit the Amsterdam Cheese Museum for free samples and some delicious education.

The best part is going inside and sampling some of the unique flavors is completely free! Prepare to smell and sample obscure flavors too like pesto, beer, and more.

shelves full of Dutch cheeses that are free to sample in Amsterdam
You’ll find many opportunities to enjoy free cheese samples in Amsterdam. Photo: foto-augenblick via Pexels.

14. Watch the boats from the canals

Amsterdam is a unique city with numerous canals and constant boats sailing through them. The most beautiful canals are the ones that make up the Canal Ring, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

These are Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Singel, and Keizersgracht, and are some of the oldest and most famous in the city.

Finding a spot to sit along one of these canals and watching the boats sail by is a magical experience, especially if you are visiting Amsterdam in October when the leaves are golden and the trees lining the canals are changing color.

🛥 While we’re talking about the best free things to do in Amsterdam, if you’re up for adding a few budget-friendly experiences, an Amsterdam canal tour is a lot of fun and there are many options for under $30!

15. Walk over Magere Brug

Magere Brug is one of Amsterdam’s most famous bridges.

Although the city is made up of tons of bridges, there are a few that stand out amongst the masses. Magere Brug crosses the huge Amstel River and looks quite different from the others.

It is wooden and completely white, giving it a unique look. It is also full of lights that illuminate Amsterdam at night, which adds an even more enchanting feel.

Not only is the bridge beautiful to look at, but it also has a unique story attached to it. Legend says if you kiss your lover on top of the bridge or while sailing on a boat under it, your love will last forever.

If you are visiting the city with a partner this is one of the best free things in Amsterdam to help ensure you stay together forever.

The Magere Brug is beautiful when lit up at night. Photo: Matheus Bertelli / Pexels.

16. Explore nature in Amsterdamse Bos

Amsterdamse Bos, also known as the Amsterdam Forest, is the perfect free attraction for exploring a more natural side of the city.

In terms of size, it is three times bigger than Central Park in NYC and one of the largest parks in Europe!

This park is full of trees, greenspace, a lake, and various species of birds. And for those who enjoy hiking, there are numerous trails to explore.

One top pick is the 2.9-mile Bostheater Trail, which begins at a theater in a forest and takes you through woods and meadows for lovely views.

17. Enjoy the entertainment at Dam Square

Dam Square is Amsterdam’s largest and most lively square. It is where you can find the Royal Palace, Madame Tussauds, and more—plus it is only a short walk from Central Station.

Here you’ll find one of the most fun free things to do in Amsterdam, as the huge square features beautiful architecture and is always full of street performers keeping you entertained free of charge (though do consider leaving a tip!).

facade of the Amsterdam Royal Palace in Dam Square
See the giant Royal Palace in Dam Square when visiting Amsterdam. Photo: frank2016wang / Pixabay.

18. Indulge at the Tony Chocolonely Super Store

The Tony Chocolonely Super Store is one of Amsterdam’s greatest finds and visiting is 100% free.

Located just three minutes from Central Station, Tony Chocolonely is a chocolate brand created and produced in the Netherlands where you can savor free samples of their delicious chocolate bar options—like salted caramel, pretzel, lemon, and more.

19. Walk around Bloemenmarkt

The Netherlands produces about 90% of the world’s tulips, so it’s no surprise that Amsterdam is known for these beautiful flowers.

While there are tulips all around Amsterdam, the best place to get your fix is at the Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market.

Here you will find various souvenir shops with tulip items, fresh tulip bulbs, and more. It is not free if you buy something, but walking around and enjoying the bright colors and the bustling atmosphere is 100% complimentary.

florist shops along the canal-front Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam with tall skinny buildings in the background
Enjoy beautiful flowers at the canalside Bloemenmarkt. Photo: merna rakha / Pexels.

20. Go swimming in Sloterplas

Sloterplas is a relaxing and calming area outside the city center of Amsterdam. It is a huge park with an expansive lake that is perfect for exploring and seeing a more local and non-touristy side of the city.

Surprisingly, Amsterdam does have quite a few beaches, and this is one of the top options for anyone looking to relax and swim.

21. Explore Amsterdam’s NDSM Wharf

Hop on a free ferry from behind Amsterdam Central Station and in less than 20 minutes you’ll be in one of the most diverse and interesting parts of the city, NDSM Wharf.

A former shipyard sitting on the River IJ in Amsterdam Noord, today it’s a hip cultural hub featuring street art, warehouses-turned-galleries, creative businesses, cool cafes, vegan restaurants, and more.

While there is much to enjoy here, definitely don’t miss the free-to-explore NDSM Loods, where you can visit the studios of 250 artists.

🏨 Pro tip: If you don’t mind staying outside the city center and using the ferry, NDSM offers some great budget-friendly accommodations. Click here to view NDSM area hotels from $89!

22. Attend the Amsterdam Light Festival

Looking for free things to do in Amsterdam in winter? If you’re visiting the city between November and January, you can attend the Amsterdam Light Festival.

This annual event showcases various artworks around the city made by local and international artists. These exhibits are unique and thought-provoking, with a new theme each year.

While a budget-friendly Amsterdam Light Festival cruise is a fun option, the best way to admire these exhibitions for free is by walking the event’s designated route. This way you can see the show at your own pace and enjoy one of Amsterdam’s best winter activities.

colorful exhibit against a building facade at the free to attend Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam Light Festival exhibit. Photo: Eliens / Pixabay.

23. Visit free Amsterdam museums

There are numerous free museums in Amsterdam offering the chance to educate yourself on local art, history, and culture without spending a dime.

Explore art, fashion, design, and craftsmanship at the Open Space Contemporary Art Museum (OSCAM), learn municipal history and interesting stories about Amsterdam at the Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief), and immerse yourself in local gemstone heritage on a free tour of the GASSAN Diamond Factory.

Free Attractions In Amsterdam Map

To help you explore on a budget, here is a Google map of the above-mentioned free places in Amsterdam:

map of Amsterdam's free attractions

You can also click here for the interactive version of the map.

Budget-Friendly Places To Stay In Amsterdam

If you are visiting Amsterdam on a budget, here are some great accommodation options that are also centrally located:

The Flying Pig Downtown. This party hostel is known for its social atmosphere and late-night parties—perfect for those traveling solo in Amsterdam. In terms of accommodation, they offer a mix of dorms as well as private rooms.

You can also use this map to check out accommodation and prices. It’s currently set to Amsterdam-Centrum, which is one of the most popular areas to stay in Amsterdam; however, you can easily change the location if you prefer something else:

When To Visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a great year-round travel destination. All seasons have their pros and cons of visiting.

The summer months are great for warmer weather; however, it is much busier and prices are higher than in the off season.

Visiting in the shoulder seasons (April through May and September through October) are best for lower prices, fewer people, and non-peak prices.

Visiting Amsterdam On A Budget: FAQ

Now that we’ve gone over the top free activities in Amsterdam, let’s answer some frequently asked questions:

Q) What is there to do in Amsterdam for free?

A few of the top free things to do in Amsterdam include relaxing in Vondelpark, strolling the Rijksmuseum Gardens, and taking a free walking tour of the city. Keep in mind, Amsterdam is beautiful, so simply wandering without a plan can also be a fun activity.

Q) Does Amsterdam have free museums?

Yes, a few free Amsterdam museums include the Rijksmuseum Gardens, Open Space Contemporary Art Museum, Amsterdam City Archives, and GASSAN Diamond Factory.

Q) Is Amsterdam walkable?

Yes, Amsterdam is a very walkable city and many people enjoy getting around on foot or by bike.

facade of Small Talk Coffee Corner in Amsterdam with people walking and biking by
It’s easy to get around Amsterdam on foot or by bike. Photo via Samantha Karen.

Q) What is Amsterdam best known for?

A few things Amsterdam is known for include its many canals, delicious Dutch cheeses, colorful tulips, and excellent bike infrastructure.

Q) What are the best free things to do in Amsterdam at night?

At night, you can enjoy walking around the Red Light District, crossing the Magere Brug bridge when it’s lit up, and enjoying the vibes while walking around the Jordaan neighborhood.

Q) Can you drink the tap water in Amsterdam?

Yes, the tap water is safe to drink in Amsterdam. Plus, there are many drinking fountains located around the city.

Free Things To Do In Amsterdam: Final Thoughts

As you can see there, are loads of amazing free things to do in Amsterdam.

A visit to Amsterdam consisting of only free things to do is still an amazing experience and can lead to a budget-friendly getaway that will you allow you to save up for a future return trip—because you’ll undoubtedly want to come back again and again.

What best free things to do in Amsterdam would you add to this list?

About The Author

Samantha Karen is the owner and author of the travel blog Sam Sees World, a travel blog dedicated to sharing the world’s most beautiful and unique travel destinations. As a full-time traveler, she has lived in Amsterdam and has visited over 50 countries with more on the way. You can follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.