2 December 2017

Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam on a budget (& Where to stay)


After many months of "are we actually going?" and "do I have enough money to go?" it was finally decided that my friend and I would take a four day trip to Amsterdam. We also arranged to meet two other friends in Amsterdam who were inter-railing at the time. As most of us were poor students, luxury hotels and fancy dinners were pretty much completely off the table. But in spite of being broke, we managed to have the best time. So without further ado, these are my top 10 things to do in Amsterdam on a budget (& where to stay). 


The Meninger Hostel (City West) 



From the outside this place looks, well... pretty dodge to be frank. It's true it kind of looks like a run down car park or old hotel from the outside but, looks aside, this place was actually perfect! The interior is modern, colourful and has an upbeat vibe. Not to mention, the rooms were almost as good as a hotel! Super clean, tidy and had everything you needed (they even provided towels!). We were in a room of seven which consisted of 2 bunk beds, a double bed and a single. There was a small sink and modern shower. As we were saving, this mostly meant cooking in the communal kitchen area, which was spacious and mostly clean. The only real problem we had was that one of the cooking rings was broken but hey, it's a hostel you can't have everything. 

The Hostel is literally right next door to the Sloterdijk train station, which connects directly to the airport and city. We mostly to the bus to the centre (20 mins) but there are also tram and metro links in the station. At 22 euros a night, it wasn't necessarily the cheapest hostel, but definitely was the best value for money. 





The first thing I learnt in Amsterdam was book Anne Frank tickets WELL in advance. I actually can't say this enough. It was something I had been dreaming about seeing for years, but because we didn't know just how popular it is, we ended up missing out. I know several people who have been and have said it was one of the most eye opening museums they've been to. The last time I looked it was booked up for months, so I might even suggest booking your trip around available slots... 

After a certain time it is possible to queue for tickets, but I wouldn't recommend it. When we went to queue it spanned almost 2 blocks and was over 2 hours wait! 




Amsterdam is well known for it's beautiful canals, and honestly the best way to see them is either by bike or boat. I would highy recommend pedal boats as it's not only super fun (and also kind of adrenaline rushy when you realise you're going backwards up a one way canal) but also on the cheaper side. Some boat companies offer longer rides and even food & drinks, but these can be up to 50 euros! We used a company called Stromma which has 3 location points in Amsterdam and is very affordable. There are however many different hire companies along the canal, so I wouldn't worry too much about booking in advance. 


3. Biking 

As I mentioned before, biking is the other great way to see Amsterdam. Amsterdam is made for bikes, in fact instead of looking for cars when you cross the road, it's probably more likely you'll be looking for bikes. Being as clumsy as I am, it's actually a miracle I made it back alive without being run over by a bike. I can't actually remember where exactly we hired our biked from, but there are tons of bike rental places around. I don't think a trip to Amsterdam would be complete without renting bikes (+ think of all the lovely insta ops!) 



4. Van Gogh Museum & the Amsterdam sign



As we were on a budget and a pretty tight time schedule, we ended up picking just one museum. By recommendation from my dutch neighbours (who lived in Amsterdam most of their lives), we ended up going to the Van Gogh museum and it was definitely worth it. I'm usually not big into art museums, I personally prefer the natural history or science ones, but I was definitely taken by this. It was quite magical to see paintings I had only ever seen in movies and books in real life. I would recommend buying tickets online as the queue for buying at the door is usually massive. 

Right outside of the museum is a space called 'Museumplein' which houses the famous red Amsterdam sign. This is obviously a must see, however just be aware that it is always crowded. I went there thinking I could get the perfect photo and ended up with one including about 16 kids, a dog and every type of tourist known to man.  


5. Vondelpark 

While I wouldn't spend the whole day exploring the park, it is a lovely picnic stop. It's located a bit outside of the centre so I would recommend buying food at a shop before heading out, but otherwise it's perfect for a calm lunch. Unfortunately we ended up going while it was raining, which probably wasn't the best time to go but, believe it or not, huddling under a tree eating soggy sandwiches can actually be quite fun in Amsterdam. Needless to say, it's probably better to check the weather forecast first and, you know, not be an idiot... 



6. De 9 Straatjes 

Although this is on my list, you're technically not going to be able to avoid 'De 9 straatjes.' It's located in the centre and consists of 9 beautiful shopping streets. It's the perfect place to buy little gifts and quirky cards. Honestly, one of the prettiest places I've ever shopped before and well worth a visit. 



7. Red light district 

I don't think you can really go to Amsterdam and not go here. Curiosity isn't a sin, if you want to go just go. I actually found it really interesting and quite overwhelming to see this in real life. It's one of those things that you imagine, but never really understand the extent to which it occurs until you visit. It's safe to say visiting once was definitely enough for me. 





This is completely random but if you want somewhere fun to go before you go out in the evening (if you go out) then I would recommend GlowGolf. It's basically just a really trippy version of mini golf, where you get to wear very attractive 3D glasses and pretend to be a great golfer. 





Hands down the best place to eat out. On one of our final days we treated ourselves to dinner out at Market 33. It's kind of like a posher Camden Market, with loads of different food stalls and one giant eating area. It's always packed out so be prepared to wait around for a table to free up or to share one with others. 



10. Cheeeeese!

I'm a huge fan of cheese. I live in France how could I not be? So when I realised that Amsterdam is actually famous for cheese too I was over the (cheese) moon and whats more, you can get it 100% free. Every cheese shop has loads of little samples, and with there being a cheese shop every 100m you can practically eat enough to suffice for lunch. I actually remember spending one lunchtime going into every cheese shop we saw just to sample all the different flavours of cheese. Now that I think about it, maybe the free cheese was the real reason our trip was so budget friendly. Other than the fact it was free, it was also delicious. They had everything from siracha to pepper flavoured, it was pretty impressive. 

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave them below.

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28 comments so far

  1. Ahhh I completely fell in love with this post. I went to Amsterdam for the first time in October for my 22nd birthday and it's now one of my favourites cities. Reading this post brought back such lovely memories of the place so thank you!

    Holly x
    adailydoseofholly.com

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    1. ah I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! I think it's probably one of my favourite cities too! x

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  2. We are starting to think about our next trip with our friends and Amsterdam is most definitely on the top of the list! I went there but I was quite little and don't remember it all... But I'm definitely going to be coming back to this list if we do decide to go there!
    Lucie, xx

    http://thefrenchpier.blogspot.com/

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    1. Yesss you should definitely go, there's so much to do and it's tons of fun! xx

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  3. These are some great tips! I loved Amsterdam when I visited two years ago, it's so pretty and the food is pretty amazing. Especially the cheese fries and pancakes! x

    amerzwithlove.com

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    1. ahh the pancakes I totally forgot! Amsterdam definitely has some of the best breakfast places x

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  4. Amsterdam is my favorite place out of all the places I have visited. It’s the most beautiful city and super easy to get around. The city is pretty expensive though, for a beer could cost you almost 10euros.
    My favorite thing in Amsterdam were the canals. They’re so beautiful, and I loved riding on those little duck boat things.

    Kelly
    http://www.thiswayandthatway.com

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    1. Yeah it can be expensive! The canals were beautiful I swear it made everything feel more calm, not to mention the fact that you could literally take a postcard-esque photo anywhere x

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  5. I've been longing to visit Amsterdam for a while, but I've never really known what great things there are to do. Your list has definitely given me plenty of ideas; I've made sure to make a note of some of my favourites! x

    Lizzie | lizziegines.co.uk

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    1. oo you should definitely go! There are tons of things to do and it's so beautiful x

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm heading to Amsterdam in March so this has came in handy x

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    1. ahh I'm jealous, you're going to have so much fun! x

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  7. Amsterdam looks wonderful. It's definitely on my travel list.

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    1. It was stunning! You should definitely go if you get the chance x

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  8. We've been to Amsterdam twice.. such a wonderful city..

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  9. I absolutely LOVED Amsterdam when I went last year, such a beautiful place although I did almost get run over by cyclists on a few occasions! I had the best time at the Heineken museum and obviously the Dutch pancakes!

    Beth x

    isthisseattaken.net

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    1. ahaha I know the bikes are so dangerous! Sounds like you had an amazing time though! x

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  10. Your photography is absolutely stunning! <3 I loved Amsterdam when I visited. Ha ha, yes the sign was always crowded. The red light district was interesting. I also enjoyed The Heineken Museum and we got the train to see Edam and the windmills. Fantastic trip, your blog makes me want to go back! xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

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    1. aw i'm glad you like it! oo we didn't have time to get the train to see Edam and the Windmills, but I'm definitely going to put that on my list for next time! xx

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  11. Very interesting ! I would love to go to Amsterdam !
    https://bookslipsticksandtravels.wordpress.com

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    1. You should definitely go if you get the chance!

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  12. i'll 100% be referring to this as me and my BF really want to visit!

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  13. Ahhh I almost booked a trip to Amsterdam for Christmas, but I went for Krakow instead! It was such a hard decision, however now I know all of your recommendations, I will absolutely be booking a trip here in the new year x

    Sally.
    www.sallymorganmoore.com

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    1. Well tbh Krakow sounds amazing too! You should definitely go though, it's so worth it! x

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  14. This is a great post! I love Amsterdam and have been about 4 times! This city keeps bringing me back. I love the budget-friendly ideas!
    Eb x
    www.eboniivoryblog.com

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  15. What a comprehensive, useful and well-written post! I also pinned a couple of photos. I'm considering visiting Amsterdam in the spring and will be sure to check out your post a few times as I work on the itinerary. Thanks for this! - LoriKemi || www.lorikemi.com

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