8 Free Things to do in Amsterdam
Making the most of your time in Amsterdam doesn’t need to cost a fortune. In fact, there are many things you can do here for free *queue sigh of relief*. Yes, I did pay an unspeakable amount for a slice of apple pie when I first got here and was horrified to see that even toilets cost money! But it is possible to avoid the tourist traps and explore the city on a student budget. Why not try out some of these free things to do in Amsterdam next time you’re wondering what to do?
Visit Amsterdam Noord. Shock horror, Amsterdam stretches beyond Centraal Station. Amsterdam Noord is considered a very hip and cool area, full of interesting street art and things to explore. There’s a free ferry that will take you across the water, departing from right next to Amsterdam Centraal station. It runs every ten minutes and you can bring your bike onboard. Just a short walk away, you can find a lovely park, where there are free gigs and edgy music markets. You could also bring your bike and cycle out into the countryside (see below).
Image credit: Koen Smilde; iamamsterdam.com
Go to a concert at Oosterkerk. In the east of Amsterdam, you can find Oosterkerk (or East-Church) which puts on free classical concerts almost every week. The musicians are always incredibly talented and I really recommend going along! It’s a really calm environment and the church acoustics are brilliant. You can sign up here: https://www.oosterkerk-amsterdam.nl/event/vrijdagmiddagconcert-bailmerduo/
Image credit: www. oosterkerk-amsterdam.nl
Do a park crawl… don’t forget Sarphatipark! We’re really spoiled for parks here, so why not spend some time visiting them? Some of my favorites are Amstelpark, Beatrixpark, and Sarphatipark. The latter park has a wonderful sensory garden (Groen Gemaal) at its entrance; they even have a plant that smells exactly like coca-cola. The woman who runs it also said that they do a plant swap scheme, where you can bring along a plant and trade it for one of theirs. I will be back for the Cola plant one day :)
As a bonus, some of the parks have small farms at the entrance, so you could stroke a goat whilst you’re there. The parks look particularly nice in Autumn with all the leaves turning orange, and it’s always nice to get outside (when it’s not raining!).
Image credit: wikimediacommons
Visit Botanical Gardens, Vrije Universiteit. Literally right next to campus is a botanical garden, owned by the VU. It’s completely free and if you like nature, this is definitely worth a visit!
Image credit: amsterdamtips.com
Go to Foodhallen. Foodhallen can be found in the Oud-West of Amsterdam. It’s a nice place to sit and study/ meet up with a friend and chill out. Lots of food stalls are set up in this space, which are really tasty and offer a huge variety of cuisine. However, if you want to spend nothing, you could just ask for tap water and enjoy the vibes. My camera does not do it justice.
Het Concert Gebouw study sessions. If there’s anything good to have come out of Covid, it is this. The National Concert Hall in Amsterdam opened its doors to students to come and study whilst their orchestras rehearsed. This was found to be really beneficial for concentration and allowed students to experience free classical music. You can still sit in and listen to the rehearsals of orchestras whilst studying. It's free although there is a booking fee- it sells out fast!
Image credit: Milagro Estkar/ Het Concert Gebouw
On a sunny day…. Cycle to Zandvoort Beach
This is possibly not the most suited to the harsh Dutch climate in October. However, if you’re feeling particularly hardy, why not cycle out to the beach? The route is remarkably flat (that’s the Netherlands for you!) and scenic too. At the end, there is a lovely sandy beach. If you fancy something a little wilder, Bloemendaal beach is just along from Zandvoort and often has big-name DJs at the beach bars and big beach parties.
For route inspiration, see this blog: https://torbjornzetterlund.com/bike-ride-north-sea-beach-near-amsterdam/
Image credit: discoverholland.com
Too Good To Go
I highly recommend downloading the app ‘Too Good To Go’. On here, food that cannot be served the next day is given away for very cheap prices, both from restaurants, supermarkets, and bakeries. The name quite literally embodies the function of the app. All you have to do is order on the app and turn up to collect the food. Big restaurants such as Wagamama are members of this app too so you’re guaranteed to get something tasty. It’s a great hack if you’re on a budget.
Image credit: Toogoodtogo.org