When I tell people I'm flirting with 30, they tell me I look like I'm in college and I have the energy of a pre-adolescent. Well, that's good because did you know there are 195 countries in this world? My goal is to travel to as many countries as my age. My current count? 14. Yikes. Better get jetsettin'! Read More

Let's Get Social!
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Travel Hacks I Love

Live in Luxury Pads for Free

Get $40 AirBnb Travel Credit

budget travel blogger to inspire and inform your inner wanderlust

Budget Travel Guide: Amsterdam, NL

October 11, 2016.happynfull.0 Likes.7 Comments
Budget Travel Guide for Amsterdam – Things to Do and Places to Eat

You know what I love about Europe? The cheap transportation to and from one neighboring country to another. As our housesit in Nottingham was winding down, Chris and I thought long and hard about where to go next during our two weeks we had open before our next housesit in the south of France. Actually, we didn’t think too hard. Our one rule is that we avoid backtracking as much as possible, so looking at the map, our options were Paris for two weeks or Amsterdam for 1 week followed by Paris for another week. A quick Skyscanner search later, we booked flights for $51 and some change. That price is equivalent to 4 curry meals in London! Score.

Budget Travel Guide - Amsterdam

Hundreds of picturesque, romantic, and beautiful canals all throughout the city.

A 70-minute flight later, I was dazed as I heard “Van harte welkom om Amsterdam.”  (Translation: “Welcome to Amsterdam.”) For weeks, I had been bugging Chris, “England is nice and all, but I don’t really feel like I’m lost. I want to feel lost! I want to be in a city where I can’t get by with English and I struggle to even ask for the bill.” Well, complain and ye shall receive… slowly but surely. Amsterdam was a great transition as the city center spoke English very well, but the further you went out, the more Dutch you heard. You had better bust out your Google translator as the signs will bring your speed read test score down for sure.

Budget Things to Do in Amsterdam

Buying train tickets in Amsterdam. If you don't have a card to load, you need to find the machines with the arrow icon at the top in blue. Luckily, you can choose English as a language on the touchscreen (UK flag).

Amsterdam is an incredible city with a special place in my heart. This liberal city has a special synergy jiving around, along with beautiful aesthetics everywhere. I enjoyed a week filled with picturesque canals at every corner, taking photos of the countless bicycles that were perfectly parked against these hundreds of bridges, traditional Dutch cheeses and foods, visiting neighborhoods outside of the city center, and everything in the city center including the famous Red Light District and coffeeshops.

Whichever direction you decide to explore, you will find events popping up such as a pop-up party at a retail store called Baskets, where they enticed people to come in by placing free ice cold Heineken out front. Or a Banksy and Andy Warhol exhibition at the new Moco Museum, which left me with a new profound respect and admiration for street artists, okay, maybe just Banksy. Or the many markets selling fresh produce and various fashion pieces and trinkets block after block.

Budget Travel Guide - Things to Do in Amsterdam

My favorite Banksy piece. Really great exhibition that gives you a deeper level of understanding Banksy.

I would budget a week to explore, because there is really so much to do. However, if you are visiting Amsterdam for a limited time, I would recommend these budget things to do and eat on your bucket list.

Budget Things to Do in Amsterdam

Sanderman’s Walking Tour
As with every city, join this walking tour early on in your trip to get a good lay of the land. Our tour guide was helpful in explaining the history behind the city’s evolving liberal views, demonstrating why there are pulleys at the top of every home and why the homes are crooked, and showing us fun viewpoints such as the most narrow house. The great thing about Amsterdam is many of the main attractions such as the Anne Frank House, Museums, Red Light District, etc. are neighboring within a 20-minute walking radius. While these tours are free, tipping is highly encouraged and suggested to be around 5-15 euros per person.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District
Regardless of your views on prostitution, this district must be experienced. No, I don’t mean experience a prostitute. I mean walk around both during the day and at night to see the interesting shift in atmosphere. Try to keep an open mind as Amsterdam has legalized prostitution in 2000, and it’s one of the only cities in the world that has this type of set up. I wrote about my first impressions and observations here if you want to read more on what to expect.

The Bulldog (Coffeeshop)
Coffeeshops are popular amongst tourist because the legalization of marijuana hasn’t spread very far. Even in the United States, states like Washington and Colorado allow you to purchase marijuana, but they don’t allow you to smoke inside of them. Amsterdam’s coffeeshops must have adopted a theme or two from Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks), as Schultz envisioned a coffeeshop to be a place beyond just getting a coffee. Starbucks is a community. A place where people can come, sit, relax, and mingle while enjoying their coffee. Coffeeshops in Amsterdam follow this model. Oh, but if you want coffee like a Starbucks, you need to find a cafe, not a coffeeshop. Confusing, I know.

Budget Things to Do in Amsterdam

Coffeeshop where you can buy and smoke various strains of marijuana - they are everywhere throughout Amsterdam

The Dutchman’s cheese game is strong. It’s amazing how many cheese shops and cheese carts are around this city. Name a cheese, they probably got it. These are really fun to walk in as many have samples of various cheese laying out. I haven’t been to a Costco since traveling abroad, but I equivocate this to Costco’s warehouse if it were full of cheese. Samples galore!!

Budget Things to Do in Amsterdam

Cheeseshops are everywhere in Amsterdam and the variety is astonishing!

iAmsterdam signs
Before visiting Amsterdam, I have seen countless photos of people taking a photo in front of the infamous Amsterdam sign. I have to say, after visiting the one in front of the Rijksmuseum (the most popular one), it’s quite underwhelming. The sign itself is cool, the thousands of people trying to get a picture with it, not so much. That’s why I was thrilled to learn that there is more than one!! This site gives you a great breakdown of where to find the other less popular signs – but signs nonetheless!

Openbare Bibliotheek (Library)
Possibly the most beautiful library I have ever stepped foot in. The interior is really neat, with white interiors, white bookcases, white ornamental structures hanging from the ceiling. Not impressed? Well then take the escalators to the 7th floor because there’s a decently priced restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, along with free views of the city, overlooking the water. Now are you impressed?


SkyLounge DoubleTree by Hilton
Hilton has prime real estate with an amazing view of the city. The drinks here are very pricey, but you can go up to check it out without buying anything, though it’s a really cool ambiance and you’re going to want a drink. We came on Friday night and there was a DJ out on the back patio. The place was crowded as it is a very happening spot with cool lounge areas and floor to ceiling glass windows.

On a sunny day, I want nothing more than to lay out in the grass with a book, while eating cheese from the cheeseshops! This park is very large, and makes for good people watching, strolling, walking around with hot dog or ice cream from the cart vendors. Bring a blanket, a drink, and relax!

Budget Things to Do in Amsterdam

A tree in Vondelpark

As the largest museum housing some Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and many other notable painters, this is the museum to go to if you’re going to have to choose one! Amsterdam houses many great museums including museums dedicated solely to Van Gogh and Rembrandt, but this one is 17.50 Euros and has the largest and most diverse collection. Don’t forget to check out the old library… I died and went to book heaven.

Lovers Canal Cruises
So, this wasn’t as romantic as I thought it sounded. Imagine being in a boat, filled with 40 or so other people, and sitting directly across from another couple with a table in between you. It’s kind of uncomfortable as they snuggle and kiss each other. Chris and I are not much for PDA, so if you go, be sure to arrive early so you can pick and choose which area to sit in. There is a guided tour that you plug your headphones into and it will tell you about certain sites along the way. I would say worth checking out but don’t expect romance! It was about 1-hour long, so be sure to go around the sunset hour so you can see both day and night views. If you purchase from Tours & Tickets with another attraction (we picked the Rijksmuseum) they give you 3 Euros off the total of the two attractions. The cost of the boat tour alone is 16 Euros.

Budget Places to Eat in Amsterdam

Budget things to eat in Amsterdam

Follow the arrow to the Foodhallen

Foodhallen – Indoor Food Market
This is a really neat gourmet cultural food court with ample seating so all of your friends with different tastebuds can all splits and reconvene with foods from all around the world. Speaking of around the world, hello, Netherlands! I decided to get the sampler of Bitterballen from De Ballenbar, and I’m so glad I did. This board was filled with deep fried balls of Dutch goodness and I was very happy and full! Can you say truffle?

Traditional Dutch Food - Budget Things to Eat in Amsterdam

Traditional Dutch Food Bitterballen sampler. So delicious and cute!

Burger Bar – Multiple locations. Decently priced and fresh ingredients, I ordered the portobello mushroom with a sunny side egg on top. Yummy!
Fou Fow Ramen – Miso Ramen was legit. Very flavorful broth. Also in a neat neighborhood to walk off the ramen afterwards!
Pancake Bakery – Famous for huge pancakes, you can get savory or sweet flavors.
Haesje Claes – Traditional Dutch food. It wasn’t exactly budget being 20 Euros for a Stamppotten plate, but the portion sizes were good. Plus the ambiance was really neat inside as it has a very traditional interior.
Geheim Van de Smidt – Cute patio cafe to grab a coffee or wine and snack to eat, centrally located near the Red Light District
De Laaste Kriumel – Cute cafe with yummy pastries and savory quiches. Everything in the window will make you drool.

Amsterdam Things to Do on a Budget

Amsterdam, we most certainly loved you and everything you had to offer. We will see each other again soon!

Comments (7)

  • Starr . October 11, 2016 . Reply

    I love this post! Amsterdam is still on my list of places to visit but I didn’t really have any clue where to start. Now I do 🙂

    • (Author) happynfull . October 11, 2016 . Reply

      Yesssss!! Starr, you must go visit!! Let me know if you have questions when you finally book your ticket. You will l-l-l-love it! 🙂

  • danielle . October 11, 2016 . Reply

    <3<3<3 !!!

    • (Author) happynfull . October 12, 2016 . Reply

      Full hearts back at ya, Danielle! 🙂

  • vinneve . October 11, 2016 . Reply

    Your blog is beautiful and lots to see and read about places. Thanks for your time checking out my blog and will do the same for sure 🙂 Cheers!

  • Valeria . May 9, 2017 . Reply

    Hi Emily
    I have a pinterest file full of Holland pins as we,my husband and 2 almost adolescent kids 🙂 will travel there this July..and your pin was by far the most helpful one!

    Thank you for sharing!

    • (Author) happynfull . May 9, 2017 . Reply

      Aw Valeria ! Thank you so much for the kind words. Glad it was a helpful guide. You and the family will have a blast!!!!

Add comment

All right reserved by Happynfull