Amsterdam Tips - Insider City Guide for Tourists & Expats
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Amsterdam can be an expensive city, however there are plenty of things which can be done on a budget. In this article we list 39 ideas for cheap things to do in Amsterdam for either under 5 euros or 5-10 euros.
We’ll consider museums, transport options, city views and various other activities.
Museum Card (Museumkaart) – This card costs €60 (bear with us) but allows unlimited entry into over 400 museums in the Netherlands. For non-residents the card is valid for 31 days. Dutch residents who register the card get 12 months validity.
The Museumkaart allows you to enter many of the major museums in Amsterdam for free without having to queue up for tickets. This includes the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage and Stedelijk which all normally charge €15-€20 entrance.
So if you visit can visit 10+ museums with the card, you would effectively be getting entry for €5 or less, each time. The card is highly recommended if you are here for more than a few days.
Houseboat Museum – Explore an authentic Amsterdam houseboat at Prinsengracht 296K – walk westwards from Spui. €4.50, open Tue-Sun 1000-1700.
Electric Ladyland – A unique museum showing fluorescent lighting art. At Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5 in the Jordaan. €5, open Tue-Sat 1300-1800.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum – This is a small shop in the Jordaan district (at Prinsengracht 116) rebranded as a museum. It has displays on the history of the tulip. At €5 entry, perhaps a litlle steep for some unless you have a real interest in tulips. Open daily 1000-1800.
HEMA Breakfast – Fed up with expensive hotel breakfasts? Head over to Dutch chain HEMA where you can purchase a breakfast (baguette roll with omelette, croissant and jam plus a cup of filter coffee or tea) for just €2. Valid between 0900 and 1000, located at Nieuwendijk 174-176 (near Dam Square) or at the Kalvatoren shopping centre (near Muntplein). It also has a cheap coffee and cake deal after 1600.
Have a picnic in the park – On a sunny day take a picnic with you to one of Amsterdam’s parks or open spaces. For example, there is a large underground Albert Heijn supermarket on Van Baerlestraat at Museumplein where you can pick up supplies – bread, cheese and a small bottle of wine can be had for around €5 – and take it to nearby Vondelpark or sit down on the grass at Museumplein. A wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon…
Drink with a view – There are a few café/bars/restaurants where you can get a drink whilst admiring a panorama of Amsterdam. You could check out the terrace at Amsterdam Central Library, Café Blue° at the top of the Kalvatoren shopping centre, DAK restaurant on the roof of Nemo Science Museum, Canvas in the Volkshotel in east Amsterdam or the (more expensive) Skylounge bar of the Doubletree Hotel near Central Station.
Eat a raw herring – Forget the junk food chains. For a couple of euros you can get yourself an authentic Dutch delicacy – a raw (cured) herring covered with chopped onions. The taste is surprisingly good and it is packed with healthy oils. Available for sale at street fish stalls all over the city including at the Albert Cuyp street market.
Transport ride – A 1 hour single ticket for a GVB Amsterdam metro, bus or tram ride costs €3. Head to the GVB ticket office outside Central Station, grab a free transport map (lijnennetkaart) and see where you would like to go.
Historical tram ride – Every Sunday (Easter to end of October) you can take a ride on one of the city’s historic old trams. The line starts at the Tram Museum depot at Haarlemmermeerstation in south-west Amsterdam roughly between the Olympic stadium and Vondelpark. The line is some 7km long and travels south through the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam forest), Amstelveen and on to the village of Bovenkerk. The trams run between 1100 and 1700 and the full journey takes around 30 minutes. A single ride costs €3, a return is €5.
Art-deco swim – Go for a swim at the art-deco Zuiderbad building (Hobbemastraat 26, close to Rijksmuseum in the heart of the city). The pool is open daily and entrance is €3.75.
Cineville Pass (residents only) – Cinneville is an alliance of 42 art-house cinemas in 20 cities/towns around the Netherlands. It offers an unlimited monthly ticket (minimum subscription 4 months, Dutch bank account required) called the Cinevillepas for just €19.95 per month. Watch a couple of films a week and you are paying less than €3 per film.
Cheap Things To Do in Amsterdam: €5 to €10
The following museums in Amsterdam have an entry fee between €5 and €10:
Allard Pierson Museum/Bijzondere Collecties – The city’s archaeological museum with a fine collection from ancient civilisations. At Oude Turfmarkt 127 in the centre. Amsterdam Pipe Museum – A museum dedicated to smoking pipes and paraphernalia, located at Prinsengracht 488. Anne Frank House – One of Amsterdam’s most important and well visited museums. House at Prinsengracht 263-267 where Anne Frank and family hid during WW2, where she wrote her famous diary. Essential to pre-book online. Biblical Museum – A religious-themed museum in the historic Cromhout houses in Amsterdam, Herengracht 366-368. Cat Cabinet – A quirky museum with a unique collection of cat-related art. Herengracht 497. Diamond Museum – This museum from Coster Diamonds will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about diamonds, Paulus Potterstraat 8 near Museumplein. Dutch Equestrian School Museum at the Hollandsche Manege – The oldest riding school in the Netherlands set in a beautiful neo-classical building at Vondelstraat 140. Erotic Museum – For those inclined, the erotic-themed museum is at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 54 in Amsterdam’s red light district. Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum – A museum dedicated to the cannabis plant at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148. Huis Marseille – A contemporary photography museum at Keizersgracht 401. Koninklijk Paleis – The imposing Royal Palce on Dam Square is open to the public, worthy of a visit to see the impressive Citizen’s Hall (Burgerzaal). Museum Van Loon – An Amsterdam canal-side merchant house and garden at Keizersgracht 672. Museum Willet-Holthuysen – Another grand canal merchant house and garden at Herengracht 605. Museumyard ‘t Kromhout – This working shipyard museum (of interest to enthusiasts) is involved in renovating old boats and engines. Only open Tuesdays, at Hoogtekadijk 147. Oudekerk – An historic old church in Amsterdam which hosts regular exhibitions, at Oudekerksplein 23. Pianola Museum – Small museum in the Jordaan with a collection of automated pianos, at Westerstraat 106. Torture Museum – Museum in the centre of Amsterdam at Singel 449 which exhibits past instruments of torture. Uitvaart Museum Tot Zover – Funeral museum which highlights how the Dutch approach death, at Kruislaan 124.
More ideas for things to see and do in Amsterdam for €5 to €10:
24 Hour GVB Transport Ticket – For €7.50 you can buy a GVB day ticket and ride Amsterdam’s trams, metro and buses for 24 hours. For example, explore modern architecture at the island of IJburg (tram 26); visit the Flevopark (trams 7/14); have a look at the Amsterdam ArenA Stadium (metro 54) or old Olympic Stadium (tram 16). Book a ticket online here, pick-up in Amsterdam.
Waterland Day Ticket – You can explore the Waterland area just north of Amsterdam which include historic fishing villages and picturesque green polders. A Waterland day ticket costs €10 and you can hop-on and hop-off the EBS buses all day.
Zaanse Schans – You can go and see the windmills and village at Zaanse Schans, some 15km north of Amsterdam. A day return train ticket from Amsterdam Central to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans will set you back €7.40 including €1 disposable ticket surcharge.
Bike Rental – Go local and get on your bike, it’s a great way to explore the city. A day’s bike rental should come in just under €10.
Hortus Botanicus – If you love plants why not visit one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Admission €9.50, Plantage Middenlaan 2a.
Church Panorama – If you are fit enough then you can climb to the top of the Westerkerk and Ouderkerk church towers. Giving great views of Amsterdam, tours cost €8 and are available April-October.
Ice Skating – The Dutch are crazy about ice skating. The Jaap Eden IJsbaan is an outdoor 400m ice rink open October-March, entrance costs €7.20. At Watergraafsmeer in east Amsterdam, the address is Radioweg 64.
Pedal Boats – If you want to discover Amsterdam’s canals under your own steam then rent a pedalo. A 1 hour rental costs €9 per person from Stromma (locations: Stadhouderskade 520, Leidsebosje 2 and Prinsengracht 279).
Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer Flower Auction – For something a bit different outside of Amsterdam, visit the largest plant and flower trading centre in the world. Located at Aalsmeer (not far from Amsterdam Schiphol airport), admission to the flower auction and visitor’s centre costs €7.50 and starts from 0700 Mon-Fri. You will need to get there, either by car (free parking on site) or take Connexxion bus 357 from Amsterdam Central.
There you go, that’s 39 ideas for cheap things to do in Amsterdam. If you are on a budget it’s good to mix and match a range of activities. Yes, you can always do a few of the more expensive-but-essential ‘must-see’ things in Amsterdam. But by adding in some of the free or cheaper activities you can keep your total costs down.
This is the ultimate guide to free things to do in Amsterdam, Holland.
Now we all know Amsterdam can be a rather expensive place at times. Visit one of the city’s major museums and you will pay up to 20 euros per person. That’s not exactly small change.
And in the Netherlands you are expected to spend your proverbial penny quite literally. Yes, going the bathroom here is rarely free when you are out and about! The Dutch have a great trading history and are generally quite commercially-minded and thrifty to boot as well.
What this means for visitors is that costs can quickly mount up, especially for a family or a group.
That’s where we come in. Everyone loves a freebie and we have spent years criss-crossing the city on the hunt for free things to do. By following our special AmsterdamTips.com guide you can explore Amsterdam without breaking the bank.
The following list contains 101 free things to see, do and visit in Amsterdam. Whether you are on a serious cheapskate budget or just want to save a little money here and there, this list could be for you.
So for now put away your purse or wallet and read on. By looking at Amsterdam from a different angle, hopefully you will find a number of (great) things to do to keep yourself occupied and amused. As a bonus we will even mention where to spend your precious penny for free!
Our journey starts out with the top 10 free things followed by the rest. Enjoy!
Top 10 Free Things To Do in Amsterdam
Free GVB Amsterdam Ferries
Jump on one of the free blue and white GVB ferries which operate from the back of Amsterdam Central station. No tickets are required. Hop across the IJ river to Buiksloterweg (Amsterdam North) where you will find EYE Film and the A’DAM Toren building. Better still take the 15 minute trip to the quirky NDSM-wharf area (see 30).
Civic Guards’ Gallery (Schuttersgalerij)
This is a small gallery passageway at Amsterdam Museum on Kalverstraat / St Luciensteeg which is freely accessible to the public. Here one can take in a few old Dutch Masters portrait paintings as well as some more modern artwork. The gallery is open daily 1000-1700.
Concertgebouw Free Lunchtime Concert
The renowned Royal Concertgebouw holds a free classical lunchtime concert on occasional Wednesdays at 1230 in either its small hall (kleine zaal) or large hall (grote zaal) between September and June. For small hall concerts, free tickets must be collected from the ticket desk in advance. See our what’s on in Amsterdam section for concert dates. Address is Concertgebouwplein 10.
A hidden inner garden courtyard in the centre of Amsterdam, originally a sanctuary for the Beguines sisterhood. It features a chapel, a 15th century English church, the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam and some beautiful gable stones. Free admission is via the door on Spui or via the Gedempte Beginensloot side street. Silence is requested.
Amsterdam Central Library (Centrale OBA)
Libraries are great places to hangout, especially for cheapskate connoisseurs. Amsterdam Central Library is Europe’s 2nd biggest and is located in the docklands development east of Central Station. Spread over 9 levels, you can browse books, international newspapers and magazines, visit the children’s library, see exhibitions, chill out in a comfy chair or visit the top floor café and terrace (see 49). Address is Oosterdokskade 143, open daily 1000-2200.
Vondelpark is the green heart of Amsterdam, a large public park which comes alive during the long summer days. With 4 cafés, children’s playgrounds and paddling pool, art sculptures including Picasso’s The Bird, a rose garden and monumental trees. The open air theatre (openluchttheater) hosts free concerts in the summer months every Friday to Sunday. Also see Vondelbunker (71).
This stunning white building on the north-bank of the IJ, opposite central station is a film museum and cinema. The basement is home to the free Panorama exhibition which displays items marking significant moments in cinema history. It also includes comfortable pods where you can watch film clips. EYE Film exhibition is open daily 1000-1900.
Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief)
The Amsterdam city archives holds an impressive collection of historic documents. It regularly holds free exhibitions in its main hall or exhibition rooms. It also hosts a free information point which details all UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Netherlands. The building dates from the 1920s. Located at Vijzelstraat 32, open Tue-Fri 1000-1700, weekends 1200-1700.
NEMO Roof Terrace
The NEMO Science Museum has a panorama terrace on its roof with seating, café-restaurant and interactive installations. Admission is free – climb up the stairs on the right-hand side or take the lift from the museum’s central hall. It’s a pleasant spot to lounge around on a warm day and enjoy views of Museum Haven (50), the eastern docklands area and surrounds. Address is Oosterdok 2, open Tue-Sun 1000-1730.
Artisplein is a public space at Royal Artis Zoo which is freely open to the public, accessible daily 0700-2330. With moveable chairs, beautiful trees, a water table fountain and views of the flamingo pond and Dutch polder aviary, it is a lovely place to sit.
Now lets check out the best of the rest which Amsterdam has to offer for free…
91 More Free Things To Do in Amsterdam
Iamsterdam Sign at Museumplein (and elsewhere)
The iconic Iamsterdam sign has been with us since 2004. Located behind the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein it is now the unofficial selfie capital of Amsterdam. At over 2m tall and around 24m wide this living sculpture is often caressed and climbed by hoards of visitors. Go early to avoid the crowds. Another sign can be found at Amsterdam Schiphol airport and a third mobile version tours the city.
Melkweg Photo Exhibition
Melkweg is a popular music and arts venue located near Leidseplein. Around the corner, the Melkweg Café at Marnixstraat 409 has a gallery open to the public which hosts an interesting monthly photo exhibition. Entrance is free and the opening hours are Wed-Sun 1200-2100.
Cat Boat (Poezenboot)
If you are a cat lover then you should make a visit to the Poezenboot, a floating sanctuary for stray and abandoned cats on an Amsterdam houseboat. Entrance is free although donations are welcome. At Singel 38.G, open Mon-Tue/Thu-Sat 1300-1500.
The non-profit Cannabis College offers information and advice to the public on all aspects of cannabis and hemp plants including recreational, medicinal and industrial usage. Its basement holds an organic, fully flowering public cannabis garden. Free to visit and located at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 124, it is open daily 1100-1900.
Max Euwe Centre (Chess Museum)
Free admission to this chess-themed museum dedicated to former Dutch grandmaster Max Euwe (1901-1981). Located on Max Euweplein (between Leidseplein and Vondelpark) where you will also find a large outdoor chessboard, usually being played by some enthusiasts. Open Tue-Fri 1200-1600, plus first Saturday of the month.
Amsterdam is compact and you can easily get around town on foot and see the main sights. There are a number of outfits (such as Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours and 360 Amsterdam) which offer “free walking tours” departing regularly from Dam Square, although some locals have complained about large groups of congregating tourists. It’s up to you whether you participate in such tours and remember you will be expected to leave a tip. Alternatively, there are a few free walking tour apps you can download to your phone.
ARCAM Amsterdam Architecture Centre
Architecture Centre Amsterdam (ARCAM) is the city’s centre for architecture, urban design and landscape architecture. The visitor’s centre is freely open to the public. It includes temporary exhibitions, a chronological display of Amsterdam’s architectural history and a variety of models, books and maps to browse. This strikingly compact building is located at Prins Hendrikkade 600 and is open Tue–Sun 1300–1700.
Albert Cuyp Market
The largest street market in the Netherlands with around 260 market stalls selling all sorts of food and non-food items. Located in the trendy and colourful De Pijp neighbourhood, the market is frequented by visitors as well as local residents. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is friendly. It runs along the Albert Cuypstraat and is open Mon-Sat 0900-1700.
Sea Level Indicator in City Hall
Amsterdam and much of the Netherlands lie below sea level and are protected from the sea by dunes and dikes. The Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP) or Amsterdam Ordnance Datum is an important water level reference measurement which is used all over Europe. There is a free NAP exhibition at the visitors centre at Amsterdam City Hall. The large tubes show current water levels at the ports of Ijmuiden and Vlissingen; also shown is the level during the disastrous flood of 1953. Located at Amstel 1, open Mon-Fri 0900-1800.
Like libraries, bookstores can be great places to enjoy and pass away some time. The 5-floor Scheltema at Rokin 9 (near Dam Square) happens to be the biggest bookstore in the Netherlands. Whilst catering to the local Dutch market, it has a fair collection of English books. It has plenty of comfy seating, a small café and hosts regular author events and cooking demonstrations. Open daily: Sun/Mon 1100-2000, Tue/Wed/Sat 1000-2000, Thu/Fri 1000-2100.
James Bond House
The James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971) was filmed partly in Amsterdam. In the film Bond (Sean Connery) memorably pays a visit to the 3rd floor appartment of Tiffany Case played by Jill St John. This building can be found at Reguliersstraat 36 – not far from Rembrandtplein – and you are free to admire the canal house from the outside only. This was the last official outing for Connery playing Bond although he returned in 1983 in the unofficial Thunderball-remake Never Say Never Again.
The gated Rijksmuseum Gardens are freely accessible to the public daily between 0900-1800, you don’t need a Rijksmuseum ticket to enter. The gardens are a pleasant haven in the summer months with the shady spots under the big tree particularly in demand. The pristine manicured gardens have seats, benches and a playful water fountain. Each year (normally June to October) there is a temporary sculpture exhibition from a noted artist.
Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)
Amsterdam is a city of over 1,250 bridges and the most famous is the Magere Brug or skinny bridge. This wooden drawbridge spans the Amstel river at Kerkstraat between the Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals. The bridge originates from the 17th century although was completely rebuilt in 1871 and 1934 with the last major renovation in 1969. Only cyclists and pedestrians can cross the bridge. For maximum charm factor come here at night to see the bridge illuminated by 1,000 light bulbs.
Maritime Museum Courtyard Glass Roof
The National Maritime Museum (Scheepvaart Museum) in Amsterdam has an impressive inner courtyard with a spectacular glass roof. The roof consists of some 1,200 glass pieces and the pattern was inspired by compass roses from old nautical maps. Perhaps reminiscent to the British Museum’s Great Court in London, the Maritime Museum courtyard is freely open to the public, daily 0900-1700.
Sunday Market is a funky free market event in Amsterdam held every first Sunday of the month at Westergasfabriek between 1200-1800. The stalls are a mix of food, fashion, art, design and kids stuff with some live music thrown in. If you are in town it’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
National Opera & Ballet Free Lunchtime Concert
The Dutch National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam holds a free lunchtime concert nearly every Tuesday during the arts season (roughly September to June). These are held in the building foyer with the doors opening at 1215 and the shows running 1230-1300. Concerts are given by members of the Chorus of Dutch National Opera, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra or the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. The venue is at Amstel 3 near Waterlooplein.
Whether you wish to visit Amsterdam’s infamous Red-Light District is up to to you. The area (known as De Wallen) is a haven of red-lit prostitute windows, coffeeshops, peep shows etc attracting a raucous crowd of revellers, party groups and a few shady characters. If visiting do keep your wits about you and watch out for pickpockets. Near the Oudekerk church at Enge Kerksteeg 3 you will find the Prostitute Information Center (PIC). It’s open Wed-Sat 1200-1700 (free entry) with historical displays and information about the area. There are also a couple of red-light related sculptures in the church square. Belle, a bronze statue of a prostitute in a doorway was initiated by PIC and on which is inscribed ‘Respect sex workers all over the world’. There is also a bronze bust (pun intended) of a hand touching a breast embedded into the paving stones and donated to the city by an anonymous artist.
The Multatuli House is the birthplace of 19th century Dutch author Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887) whose novel Max Havelaar was a critical account of Dutch colonial rule over Indonesia. Multatuli (“I have suffered much” in Latin) was the author’s pen name. The Multatuli Museum at Korsjespoortsteeg 20 off the Singel canal near Central Station features his furniture, library and regular exhibitions. With free admission, it is open Tue 1000-1700, Wed-Sun 1200-1700.
Fietsflat (Multi-Storey Bike Parking)
Cycling is deeply ingrained into the Dutch psyche and Amsterdam is home to nearly 900,000 bikes. Just outside of Central Station you will find the fietsflat, a 3-storey cycle parking facility which can hold up to 2,500 bikes. You are free to walk up the ramps to get your artistic fill of Amsterdam cycling photo opportunities.
Hop on the free 15 minute ferry to NSDM-wharf, a former shipyard wharf area in north-west Amsterdam with a completely different vibe to the centre of Amsterdam. The shipyards themselves closed in the 1980s and the abandoned warehouses became a haven for artists, squatters and skaters. The area has been undergoing significant regeneration and is now used for festivals, a monthly flea market, exhibitions, offices and soon the world’s largest street art museum.
Around Europe in 7 Houses (Zevenlandenhuizen)
To mark the Antwerp’s Universal Exhibition in 1894, Dutch architect Tjeerd Kuipers (1857-1942) constructed 7 adjoining houses each with its own European architectural style at the Roemer Visscherstraat, a quiet street near Vondelpark. Take a free amble around Europe with a German Romantic house (no. 20), a French Loire chateau (22), a southern Spanish-Moorish villa (24), an Italian Palazzo (26), a Russian cathedral-like house (28), a Dutch Renaissance house (30) and an English cottage (32).
The Beurspassage is a beautiful passageway which links Damrak to Nieuwendijk and opened in 2016 following the renovation of the surrounding buildings which includes C&A and Primark stores. Beurspassage has been stunningly decorated by noted local artists with the theme “Amsterdam primordial soup” (Amsterdam Oersoep) – this is a homage to Amsterdam’s canals and how life originated from water. Admire the 450 m² glass mosaic curved ceiling, the cycled theme chandeliers, wall tiles and the Italian made Terrazzo floor. The addresses are Damrak 70/80 and Nieuwendijk 196.
Windmill De Gooyer and Brewery ‘t IJ
If you want to see an authentic Dutch windmill in Amsterdam then head east (a good 20-30 minutes walk or take the tram/bus) to Funenkade and Zeeburgerstraat. At just under 27m tall, De Gooyer is the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands and has been standing there since 1814, although the original construction dates back to the 16th century. Next-door is the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a brewery in a former municipal bathhouse which offers a wide selection of craft beers.
This British book chain has a large store in Amsterdam with 4 floors and an excellent selection of titles from the UK. The top 2 floors have some comfy seating to browse and chill out, however there is no café. Located at at 152 Kalverstraat near Spui. Open daily: Mon/Sat 1000-1830, Tue/Wed/Fri 0930-1830, Thurs 0930-2100, Sun 1100-1830.
St Nicholas Church
Opposite Amsterdam Central Station at Prins Hendrikkade 73 is the St Nicholas Basilica, a large catholic church completed in 1887. You are free to enter the imposing building which has a 58m high dome, impressive interior and stained glass windows. A mass is held Mon-Sat at 1230, in English on Tuesdays. Standard opening hours are Mon/Sat 1200-1500, Tue-Fri 1100-1600.
Dam Square Street Entertainers
Dam Square is the historic and often crowded central square of Amsterdam featuring the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). You often find international street performers, mime artists, the occasional protesters and plenty of hungry pigeons vying for a good spot. Once again, be wary of pickpockets. For a view also see 69.
Bimhuis Jazz Free Workshops and Sessions
Amsterdam’s premier jazz venue offers free evening concerts and workshop sessions. The monthly Monday Match (usually the first Monday of the month at 2030) involves a musician and dancer teaming up for an on-the-spot improvisational performance. Each Tuesday night sees a “Workshop and Session” where musicians can freely participate in an impro skills workshop (2000) followed by a session in the café at 2200. There is free admission to any (non-participating) visitors who just want to watch. The location is Piet Heinkade 3.
The world’s first and largest monument dedicated to homosexuality and remembrance is found at Westermarkt square in Amsterdam. It commemorates LGBT people who lost their life in World War 2 and also the general persecution and oppression of people because of their sexuality. The monument takes the form of a large triangle (36m sides) and at each point lies a smaller triangle (10m long) made of pink granite. Nearby is the Pink Point info kiosk staffed by volunteers which offers information and advice to LGBT visitors to Amsterdam.
Museum Market is a monthly market on Museumplein generally held every third Sunday of the month. The main focus is quality arts, crafts and design, jewellery, textiles, accessories and some good food and music to boot. Runs 1200-1800, free admission.
Narrowest Houses in Amsterdam
There are a number of very narrow houses in Amsterdam’s historic inner centre. During the 17th century home owners were taxed according to the canal-side width of their building. The houses at Singel 7 and Singel 166 have incredibly narrow facades (around 1m wide) at the back – however they are much wider at the front. The smallest self-contained house is located at Oude Hoogstraat 22 with dimensions of 2.02m wide and 5m deep. Dating from 1738 it is now a tea/ceramics boutique with tiny upstairs tea-room.
Anne Frank Statue
The tragic story of Anne Frank through her diary has touched the hearts of millions of people worldwide. The Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht is one of Amsterdam’s most visited museums. You can also pay homage at the Anne Frank statue which is located on the Westermarkt square, close to the Anne Frank house. See 70 about the Anne Frank mural.
Diamond Factory Tours
For the past 400 years, the cutting, polishing and selling of diamonds have featured prominently in Amsterdam. There are 2 diamond companies which offer free tours of its facilities although do expect some sort of sales pitch. Gassan Diamonds has a 40 minute tour available in 27 languages daily between 0900-1700 at its large headquarters at Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173 – 175. Coster Diamonds..
The Centrale OBA (Amsterdam’s Central Library) is located in the eastern docklands area not far from Central Station. OBA stands for Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, a network of 26 public libraries around the city.
At 28,000m² spread over 9 levels, Amsterdam Central Library is the 2nd largest public library in Europe* and currently attracts around 1.5 million visitors per year. It is a super place to spend a couple of hours, especially if it’s cold or raining outside – which in Amsterdam happens quite regularly!
The building was designed by noted Dutch architect Jo Coenen and was opened on 7th July 2007, moving from its former location on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht canal.
As of 2017-18, the Central Library has been undergoing significant renovation to make further improvements but remains open to the public.
In this overview of the Centrale OBA we will discuss the various facilities available, how to join the library and its location/opening hours.
Looking for a place to sit down? There are about 1,000 seats spread all over the Central Library building, from workplaces with computers to comfy seating on the upper floors.
On the ground floor/mezzanine levels you will find the newly opened OBA Café plus the periodicals section. Although mainly Dutch there is a reasonable selection of international newspapers and magazines.
The bottom floor houses the impressive children’s library with rounded book cases, funky seating and play areas. There are a few English children’s books available. Don’t miss the Mouse Mansion (Het Muizenhuis) doll house, an amazingly intricate 3m tall sculpture which inspired a book series.
The Central Library’s upper levels contain the collection of books, CDs, DVDs as follows:
Level 2 – Literature / Comics
Level 3 – Travel / History
Level 4 – Art / Music
Level 5 – Health / Nature
Level 6 – Business / Philosophy
But there’s more to Amsterdam Central Library than its catalogue of books and music. There is a theatre with 260 seats, a children’s theatre, broadcasting studios, exhibition rooms and a study centre. For those who tinkle the ivories well there is a public piano in the main foyer on the ground floor.
There are often free exhibitions and concerts at the library so ask a member of staff what’s going on that day.
The top floor on Level 7 has a café-restaurant (no longer a La Place) and a panoramic terrace with excellent south-facing views of the city. You can also get good views from the windows on Levels 5 and 6.
Toilets can be found on the ground floor and 7th floor. There is also a Vapiano restaurant (pasta and pizza) within the building, access is from a separate entrance outside.
WiFi is available though do note, the Centrale OBA now charges non-members €1 for 30 minutes internet access. Furthermore, OBA no longer accepts payment by cash.
How can you join Amsterdam Library? Firstly you need to be a Dutch resident or at least have an address somewhere in the Netherlands. Libraries in the Netherlands generally work on a subscription model and Amsterdam OBA has various membership options:
OBA PC membership costs €12 per year and allows up to 3 hours per day for computer use and internet at the Central Library (1 hour at other OBA locations). One can also access the PressReader platform with over 6,000 publications from 100 countries in 60+ languages.
OBA Basic Membership costs €32 per year and allows 50 borrowings annually, up to 10 at any one time plus PC access as above.
OBA Total Membership costs €42 per year and allows unlimited borrowings, up to 10 at any one time plus PC access as above.
OBA Junior Membership is free for those aged 0-18 and allows unlimited borrowings, up to 5 items at any one time plus the standard PC access.
It is possible to join at any of the OBA libraries in Amsterdam. You should bring a form of identification and proof of address. You can also join online (Dutch only) but you would still need to visit a library to activate your membership card.
How to get to Amsterdam Central Library – The library is located at the Oosterdokseiland development, around 500m east of Amsterdam Central Station. It is very easy to reach on foot – from the cityside of Central Station head east following signs to Oosterdok. Cross the road and walk past the large DoubleTree Hilton hotel and you soon arrive at the Centrale OBA.
The library is just opposite the Sea Garden floating Chinese restaurant and next-door to the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (University of the Arts faculty). The green ship-like NEMO Science Museum can be seen a bit further on.
There is an underground bike parking facility outside the library with space for 1,000 bicycles. If coming by car there is the large Oosterdok Parking garage at Oosterdoksstraat 150 (1011 DK Amsterdam) which has nearly 1,400 parking spots.
In summary if you need a place to read, study, research, relax, check your email or just escape the elements, the Amsterdam Central Library is a welcome place to hang-out.
OBA Central Library, Oosterdokskade 143, 1011 DL Amsterdam Opening Hours: Daily 1000-2200, only closed on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, King’s Day, Pentecost and Christmas Day. T:+31(0)20-5230900
* Library of Birmingham vs Amsterdam Central Library: The largest public library in Europe is the UK’s Library of Birmingham (opened 2013) which at 10 levels and 31,000m² is a little larger than Amsterdam. Ironically it was designed Mecanoo, a Dutch architecture firm based in Delft. Its construction cost was £189million, more than double that of Amsterdam’s €80million. It should be noted that the Library of Birmingham is only open 40 hours per week whereas Amsterdam Central Library is open 84 hours per week.
Looking for a cheap haircut in Amsterdam? As you may know, hair salons in Amsterdam are not particularly well-renowned for offering really cheap haircut deals – unlike many places around the world.
What you will find is many high-end barbers, hairdressers and hair stylists that can charge a significant sum for a cut! As an example, well known Dutch hairdresser chain Cosmo Hairstyling now charges over €30 for its standard wash and cut.
This article is written for those of you on a tighter budget. We will look at 8 places around the city which can offer a reasonably cheap haircut. Now in Amsterdam this generally means from around €14, although you can get a haircut for as low as €5 by being a hair model – as we will explain further below.
Our first port of call is the De Pijp district just south of Amsterdam’s inner centre. Here you will find a number of budget hairdressing salons and barbers clustered around the area which can get you a cheap and decent haircut in Amsterdam.
List of 8 Cheap Hair Salons in Amsterdam
1. Nederlandse Kappersakademie
The Nederlanse Kappersakademie (Dutch Hairdressing Academy) is a hair training school which has locations in Amsterdam, Amersfoort, Den Haag and Rotterdam. The Amsterdam outlet is on Weteringschans next door to the Albert Heijn supermarket near Weteringcircuit.
The Nederlandse Kappersakademie offers cut-price haircuts to the public which gives students a chance to practice on clients. A supervisor is always on hand to offer advice and provide quality control of each cut.
The basic price for a men’s or women’s haircut is €13.95.
For women a cut and blow-dry is €16.50; for men a beard trim is €7.20. Other services include head massage (€4.95), manicure (€8) and colour treatments (from €37.75).
Personal experience: I had no appointment. You go to the reception and give your name. I was called after about 10 minutes waiting and brought into the cutting room. This was very busy with about 15-20 people getting cuts (the place seems popular with locals – from female students, young business men to old ladies). The men’s haircut took quite a long time – at least an hour, as the student was a little inexperienced but did include a wash and head massage. The cut was fine in the end and was finished off up by the supervisor.
Nederlandse Kappersakademie, Weteringschans 167
Open 0900-1630 (Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri), 0900-1900 (Thu), 0900-1500 (Sat).
T: +31(0)20 626 3430
2. Herenkapsalon L. Visser
This is a traditional men’s barber on Ferdinand Bolstraat just opposite the tram stop by the Heineken Brewery. It’s a family business which has been running since 1938. It charges €14.50 for a standard dry cut (no hair wash) and you can walk in without an appointment.
Personal experience: I have had a few cuts here, they take good care and all-in-all a decent job. The seating area is hidden away around the corner so it’s difficult to see how many clients are waiting. The only minor criticism was the smell of cigarette smoke lingering from the staff area at the back.
Herenkapsalon L. Visser, Ferdinand Bolstraat 4
Open Tue-Fri 0900-1715, Sat 0900-1630. Note, closed Monday.
T: +31(0)20 671 2640
3. Pieter Bas Kapsalon
Further down the Ferdinand Bolstraat not far from Albert Cuyp markt is the Pieter Bas salon, an institution in De Pijp which has been offering cheap haircuts for men and women in Amsterdam for over 20 years. No appointment is required. A dry cut (no wash) costs €14.50.
Personal experience: Pieter Bas always seems quite busy and they generally have 4 or 5 staff cutting hair. Clientele is a real mix from around the neighbourhood plus the occasional passing tourist. Sometimes I have had to wait up to 30 minutes to get a cut.
Quality of the cuts has varied somewhat (from excellent to ok) depending on staff member – but they are very quick and are used to English speakers.
Pieter Bas, Ferdinand Bolstraat 50
Open 1000-1800 (Mon), 0930-1800 (Tue-Fri) and 1000-1700 (Sat).
T: +31(0)20 671 3107
Pieter Bas has another 4 salons in the Amsterdam area. Locations are at Van Woustraat 88 (De Pijp), Overtoom 554 (closed Mondays), Joop van Weezelhof 28 (Slotermeer, west Amsterdam, closed Mondays) and Reigersbos 143 (south-east Amsterdam).
There are also 2 salons in Amstelveen at Kostverlorenhof 152 and van der Hooplaan 166.
4. Kapsalon Straal
Kapsalon Straal is another independent budget hairdresser in De Pijp located on the Ceintuurbaan close to van Woustraat. It offers men’s cuts for €13 and women’s cuts for €15. We have had no cuts here so can’t comment further.
BrainWash is a large chain of budget hairdresser’s originally from the south of the Netherlands. It has expanded into the north of the country and now has some 200 salons. It has 5 franchises in Amsterdam including Ceintuurbaan (De Pijp), Rijnstraat (Rivierenbuurt), Overtoom (near Leidseplein) and east Amsterdam. The other location is in Amsterdam North (Mosveld 119).
Brainwash offer haircuts with no appointment necessary and charges a fixed rate of €17.50 for a wash, cut and dry. Colour treatments start at €22.50. Brainwash has excellent opening hours, open for business until 9pm during weekdays.
Personal experience: I have had a few cuts at BrainWash. It is popular so I had to wait a good while. It feels a bit more modern than some of the traditional Amsterdam barber’s, although the bright orange decor reminds of Easyjet, the budget airline! Perhaps this would be a reasonable budget option for women.
Ceintuurbaan 188-190/Overtoom 64/Rijnstraat 25/Land van Cocagneplein 42
Open 0900-2100 (Mon-Fri) and 0800-1800 (Sat).
Outside of De Pijp we list 2 other budget hairdressers in Amsterdam:
6. Kapsalon Bianco
This is located on the Rozengracht near the tram stop just before the Lijnbaansgracht canal. It is 5 minutes walk from Westermarkt.
Bianco charges €14 (men) and €16 (women) for a dry haircut. A wash+cut costs €15 and €19, respectively. We have no experience so can’t comment further.
Kapsalon Bianco, Rozengracht 214-B
Open 0900-1900 Mon-Sat; late night closing at 2100 on Thursdays.
T: +31(0)20 422 8625
7. De Knipstudio
This is a budget hair salon based in Amsterdam Oost (east Amsterdam).
For men it charges €10 for a standard dry cut and €12 for a wash and cut. Women pay €11 for a standard dry cut, €13 for a wash and cut and €26 for a wash, cut and blow dry.
Again, we have no personal experience so can’t comment any further.
De Knipstudio, Insulindeweg 519
Open 0930-1900 Mon-Sat for men; 0930-1800 Mon-Sat for women
T: +31(0)20 370 6938
Finally, a very cheap cut is available at the B-Academy, another hairdressing training school which is located in south-east Amsterdam. It charges €5 for a cut and €9 for colour treatments (perhaps this is the cheapest hair cut in Amsterdam). Cuts can take 2-4 hours.
However to become a “hair model” you need to go through various hoops – filling in a detailed form online (Dutch) and uploading a photo.
B-Academy, Keienbergweg 63
T: +31(0)20 312 2060.
Dutch hair-dressing glossary
heren – men dames – women haar – hair kapper – hairdresser/barber herenkapper – barber kapsalon – hair salon/barber’s (don’t confuse with the fast food snack of the same name!) knippen – cut wassen – wash drogen – dry föhnen – blow dry permanenten – perm kleuren – colour goedkope kapper – cheap hairdresser (zonder) afspraak – (without) appointment
Do you have any tips on cheap haircuts in Amsterdam? Drop us a line here
A few times per year, Dutch chemist chain Kruidvat offers its Trein Dagkaart (train day ticket) which allows unlimited travel for 1 person on the entire Dutch rail network for one Saturday or Sunday. Costing just €13.99 this ticket is valid for a period of about 3 months and remains one of the great travel bargains of the Netherlands!
Note, the latest Kruidvat day ticket offer has been changed from a disposable OV-chip card to an e-ticket – we think this is a shame as it requires jumping through more hoops by having to register the ticket online and printing it out.
In contrast, the OV-chip cards were ready for immediate use. Personally we won’t be buying any more unless they go back to the OV-chip versions!
The ticket is valid for 2nd class travel on NS Dutch Railways plus all other domestic Dutch train companies – Arriva, Breng, Connexxion, Syntus and Veolia. Travel is also allowed on Intercity Direct and ICE International trains with the appropriate domestic supplement; it is NOT valid on the Thalys service.
An e-ticket has a barcode which can be scanned to open the station barrier gates. You can only use the ticket on a single day during a weekend.
Latest Kruidvat Train Ticket Dates
The current Kruidvat train day tickets are valid for 1 day’s travel on a Saturday or Sunday between 22 July and 22 October 2017. These are on sale only between 17-30 July 2017.
Ticket vouchers can be bought at any Kruidvat store or online at kruidvat.nl. For online purchases there is a maximum of 8 tickets per client with payment only possible by iDeal (Dutch bank transfer). The voucher is delivered via email.
Interesting Dutch train day ticket itineraries
The best use of these tickets is to take long trips and/or make multiple stopovers during your travel day. An obvious use is to head out to some outlying Dutch cities such as Maastricht, Middelburg or Groningen. A standard return ticket from Amsterdam to these cities would normally cost around 50 euros, so the savings can be significant. Examples are:
Amsterdam-Maastricht-Valkenburg, with possible stopovers in Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven or Roermond.
Amsterdam-Groningen-Leeuwarden and on to the Friesian coastal villages of Hindeloopen and Stavoren.
Amsterdam-Middelberg/Vlissingen with stops in Breda, Dordrecht, Rotterdam etc.
If you have a child aged 4-11 travelling with you they can purchase a standard Rail Runner ticket at the station for €2.50 which is also valid the whole day. Children aged 0-3 travel free.
Do beware that rail maintenance is often planned over the weekend so check your route at the NS site before travel.
If you are not able to buy this time but want more info on rail travel in the Netherlands then see our Dutch train tickets guide
Kruidvat Stores in Amsterdam
Kruidvat is a chemist chain with stores in most towns and cities of the Netherlands. There are 26 Kruidvat stores in the Amsterdam area including the following around the centre and beyond:
Nieuwendijk 160 (near Dam Square)
Jodenbreestraat 96B (near Waterlooplein)
Regulierbreestraat 22 (near Rembrandtplein)
Bilderdijkstraat 73-87 (west Amsterdam)
Van Limburg-Stirumstraat 58 (Westerpark area)
Ferdinand Bolstraat 33-39 (de Pijp)
Ferdinand Bolstraat 125-127 (de Pijp)
van Woustraat 98-102 (de Pijp)
Dapperplein 62 (east Amsterdam)
Kinkerstraat 244 (west Amsterdam)
Jan Van Galenstraat 114h (west Amsterdam)
Rijnstraat 53-55-57 (Rivierenbuurt)
Maasstraat 46-48 (Rivierenbuurt)
A number of Dutch retail stores occasionally offer deals on day tickets for unlimited travel on NS trains. In this article we will keep up-to-date on the latest rail offers available over-the-counter from various Dutch stores.
Here is a summary of the NS train day tickets (NS dagkaartjes) regularly on offer. Bear in mind that sales periods are short and the tickets are often unavailable. You will note that each store has slightly different travel validity restrictions for its tickets.
NS Day Ticket (valid on weekends only, e-ticket). Usual price €13.99. Last sale period: 17 – 30 Jul 2017. Last travel validity: 22 Jul – 22 Oct 2017. For a full explanation see our article Kruidvat NS day tickets
Blokker (houseware store)
NS Day Ticket (valid off-peak on weekdays, anytime at weekends, OV-chip card). Price €14.50. Last sale period: 24 Apr – 7 May 2017. Travel validity: 24 Apr – 4 Jun 2017. See below for more info.
Albert Heijn (supermarket)
NS Day Ticket (valid off-peak on weekdays, anytime at weekends, e-ticket). Price €19. Last sale expired: 1 Oct 2017. Last travel validity: 18 Sep – 26 Nov 2017. Includes a free take-away coffee and wrap at AH To Go stores.
HEMA (general store)
NS Day Return (valid after 0900 on weekdays with no evening restrictions, anytime at weekends, e-ticket). Usual price €19. Includes HEMA drink and snack. Last sale expired: 25 Sep 2016. Last travel validity: 5 Sep – 20 Nov 2016.
NS Day Ticket for 2 (1 “super dal” ticket – valid only after 1100 – plus 1 Meereiskaart travel together ticket valid with the superdal ticket, OV-chip cards). Price €19.90 for 2 tickets or €9.95 per person. Last sale period: 2-15 Oct 2017. Last travel validity: 2 Oct – 10 Dec 2017.
How To Use the NS Day Tickets
All the tickets above are valid on the entire Dutch rail network including NS and other operators: Arriva, Breng, Connexxion, Syntus and Veolia. Domestic rail travel is also valid on Intercity Direct (Schiphol-Rotterdam) and ICE International trains (Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem) as long as you purchase the appropriate supplements. No travel is permitted on the Thalys trains.
For OV-chip card tickets, you must always check-in and check-out at the card readers for every segment of your trip when you leave the station. The card is simply activated on the day you travel by checking-in for the first time.
E-tickets are personal and need to be printed out with your name and date-of-birth. You need to bring accompanying ID. With e-tickets you do not check-in or out but you can use the special barcode to open gates if required (an increasing number of Dutch stations are using closed barriers).
Blokker NS Day Tickets
Household retail chain Blokker offers a 1 day off-peak ticket (Dal Vrij Dagkaart) a few times per year which costs around €15. These are available over-the-counter and are in the form of an OV-chip smart card. The Kruidvat and Blokker tickets are the most popular offers and can sell out quickly.
The Blokker NS tickets are valid during off-peak hours on weekdays and anytime at weekends – unlike the Kruidvat tickets which are only valid over the weekends. This means you cannot check-in during the peak hours of 0630-0900 and 1600-1830 Monday to Friday. However you can travel during the peak hours if you have checked-in before 0630 or 1600.
There are around 600 Blokker stores in the Netherlands. Locations in Amsterdam include:
Primark’s new flagship store in Amsterdam opened on 1st December 2016, after about 3 years of building work in the former C&A complex. The location of Primark Amsterdam is at Damrak 77, opposite Beursplein and very close to Dam Square. It is a 5-10 minute walk from Amsterdam Central station.
Primark is a discount clothes store from Ireland which has become very popular in the UK and internationally with around 300 stores worldwide. Primark has been present in the Netherlands for a number of years but previously lacked an Amsterdam store.
At 8,800m² in floor space spread over 8 floors, the Primark Amsterdam store is now the largest Primark in the Netherlands.
Multiple entrances are on Damrak, the parallel Nieuwendijk street and the beautifully renovated Beurspassage which connects both streets.
Opening times of Primark Amsterdam: 0900-2100 Mon-Sat, 1100-1900 Sun.
Primark shares the building with the C&A store.
Primark stores near Amsterdam
There are 2 Primark stores a short distance from Amsterdam and accessible using public transport.
Primark Zaandam – Zaandam is just a 12 minute train ride north of Amsterdam. The Primark store is at Ankersmidplein 7, Zaandam. It’s just a short walk across from Zaandam station. Open daily: Mon (1100-1900); Tue/Wed/Fri (0900-1900); Thu (0900-2100); Sat (0900-1800); Sun (1000-1700).
From Amsterdam Central station there are up to 8 trains per hour to Zaandam and a day return costs €5.40 (2016 price) + €1 for a disposable ticket. For more on how to buy a Dutch train ticket see here.
Primark Hoofddorp – Hoofdorp town is just 5 minutes by train west of Amsterdam Schiphol airport or just over 20 minutes from Amsterdam Central. From Hoofddorp station you then need to walk about 15 minutes to the main shopping area.
The store address is Winkelcentrum Markthof, Marktplein 254, Hoofddorp. Open: Mon (1100-1800); Tue/Wed/Thu/Sat (0900-1800); Fri (0900-2100); Sun (1200-1800).
Other Primark stores in Netherlands
With the Amsterdam store included, there are a total of 16 Primark stores in the Netherlands. Here is a complete listing of all locations of Primark shops in the Netherlands:
From what we can see, Primark’s low price fashion model seems to be doing well in the thrifty Dutch market. The stores are busy (especially at weekends) attracting large variety of shoppers from native Dutch to those from immigrant communities as well as visitors and tourists.
Amsterdam airport offers a “Schiphol Behind the Scenes” tour for visitors which gives a glimpse into the working life of the airport. This is our independent review of the Schiphol tour…
The Behind The Scenes tour (run by Lovers) is made by a specially customised coach and takes about 1 hour – you are transported around the perimeter of the airport to the eastern side and then come back again.
You stay on the bus for the entire tour – you do not get out at any point. There are 7 on-board 24″ video screens that show the live GPS position of the bus. These play short films (Dutch with English subtitles) about the various passing points of interest and some historical anecdotes.
The tour takes you past a number of features around Amsterdam Schiphol airport. This includes the private jet terminal, the Fokker hangar, KLM operations centre, KLM engine maintenance and hangars, the engine noise testing facility, the fire station, the snow fleet, bird control, the justice centre and the former air traffic control tower.
There are some good panoramic views of the airport and runways and you may see some planes taking off and landing. Obviously photography can be a little compromised by being on the bus – at least try to get a window seat if taking photos.
The Schiphol Behind The Scenes tour costs €15.50 for adults or €7.75 for children aged 4-12. A family ticket is €35 (2 adults + 2 children).
Tickets can be purchased at the Planes@Plaza store at Schiphol Plaza or online. Note that for security reasons, everyone aged 13 or over will need to show ID to take part in the tour. You should “check-in” at the Planes@Plaza store at least 20 minutes before departure. The driver will ask you to confirm your date of birth (in front of the group, which some may find a little awkward).
You then board the bus which leaves from platform 15 just outside the terminal. Please note, there are no toilets on-board the bus.
Tours run all year round Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday). Departure times are 1100, 1300 and 1430.
We found the tour to be enjoyable with well produced video clips and a chance to see some of the working aspects of the airport you don’t normally get to see. It is certainly a must for any aviation enthusiasts.
The tour is aimed at all visitors to Schiphol and is popular with locals, especially during the school holidays. On the tour we took all the passengers were Dutch. For transfer passengers, do note that you must clear immigration to get to the tour departure point.