Top 10: Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam

Like A Local Guide • 13 Sep, 2013

Amsterdam is famous for its canals, beautiful houses, so-called coffee shops and Red Light District, but there’s plenty more to this liberal city than most visitors realise. Rick, our local ambassador in the Dutch capital, shares 10 delightful things to do and see for free.

1. Discover the secret courtyard of Begijnhof

Hidden behind a heavy wooden door on Spui Square you’ll find the magical Begijnhof court that dates back to the Middle Ages. You can inhale history and culture here; just don’t make too much noise as the area is kind of private.

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2. Learn about Amsterdam’s past at the Stadsarchief

This is something for true history buffs. The Stadsarchief (Amsterdam City Archives) introduces the history of Amsterdam to its visitors through different exhibitions. Entry to the basement is free while other exhibitions cost money, though the building itself is worth a look.

Stadsarchief_AmsterdamPhoto credit: Museum Amsterdam

3. Enjoy a sunny day at the Blijburg beach

Despite the fact that Amsterdam isn’t located by the sea, the Dutch have still managed to create a beach. Blijburg is situated on the artificial island of IJburg. Besides swimming and sunbathing, you can attend beach parties here.

9304298148_c667f6c5eb_kPhoto credit: Franklin Heijnen

4. Take some time to relax at the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam

The OBA (Amsterdam Public Library) is much more than your usual library, offering spectacular views of the city from the top floor. In addition, you can sometimes enjoy piano music here.

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5. Get lost in the world of film at the EYE Film Instituut Nederland

EYE Film Institute Netherlands comprises four cinemas, a film lab, a 1200-square-metre exhibition room and the biggest film library in the Netherlands. Although only the basement section is free of charge, housing a permanent exhibition, the building itself is a modern architectural masterpiece worth seeing.

8185684966_449649cd1f_bPhoto credit: Artur Salisz

6. Chill out at Vondelpark

Located in the heart of Amsterdam, Vondelpark offers a quick escape from the city’s hustle and noise. Here you’ll see a mixed crowd of all ages sunbathing, playing ball games and simply relaxing.

7. Get active at Amsterdamse Bos

Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) is another Dutch artificial invention. Forest is a misleading name though; the area includes jogging and biking trails, small pools and a river.

2131014205_c196831774_oPhoto credit: Sjors & Jennifer

8. Practice your bargaining skills at Sunday Market Amsterdam

Every Sunday a market is held somewhere in Amsterdam and the locations always change. Besides free food and drink tastings, these markets are perfect places to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

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9. Bike or walk around the Noord area

Noord is actually a whole neighbourhood in Amsterdam and there are parts of it that must be seen. Nieuwendammerdijk and Schellingwouderdijk are streets that were originally built as dikes – I’m sure you haven’t seen anything like them before. The best part is that you can take the ferry to Noord for free.

3564136078_e7cf08ea61_bPhoto credit: Kevin Gessner

10. See a mix of cultures at Oosterpark

With the Indian neighbourhood and the East district just around the corner, Oosterpark demonstrates how multicultural Amsterdam really is. In addition to the interesting mix of people, here you’ll find the famous De Schreeuw (The Shout) statue, which was placed in honour of director and writer Theo Van Gogh.

6074574867_95345023b7_bPhoto credit: Marc van Woudenberg
Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.

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    Thanks for finally talking about >Top 10: Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam | Travel Tips from Real Locals – Like A Local Guide <Liked it!
    Teresita • Apr 08, 2016 • Reply
    If you like jazz, checkout the new jazz agenda for Amsterdam: https://jazzamsterdam.info/ You can easily select all free gigs - quite a lot actually!
    Corné • Mar 03, 2016 • Reply
    Or join a tour with freewalkingtoursAmsterdam.com Great way to know the city!
    tim lunshof • Feb 13, 2016 • Reply
    Nice Article ! I hope I can do it all, when I go there :D
    Emmanuel Alburo • Dec 16, 2015 • Reply
    Hi there, you can walk pub crawls in Amsterdam that are free of charge via www.pubcrawlsamsterdam.com. Might be a nice addition to the list? Cheers, Michiel
    Pub Crawls Amsterdam • Oct 06, 2015 • Reply
    excellent article! with many places in Amsterdam I didn't know existed, just like this article, although #6 may be a little shocking http://www.reformatt.com/15-hidden-secrets-amsterdam thanks again for sharing your advise on Amsterdam, and I hope to go there soon again too :)
    matt • Jun 09, 2015 • Reply
    Walk with me around Amsterdam's historic old districts and learn the story of this great and vibrant city. Discover how it all started- from a simple swamp harbour in the 1200’s, to ‘the Golden Age’ in the 1600’s when Amsterdam became the most important city in Europe. To experience all there is to see, you can meet me at the monument in Dam Square. The tour is tip based so everyone can join! Also check the website: FreewalkingtoursAmsterdam.com
    Tim Lunshof • Mar 12, 2015 • Reply
    […] the markets first thing. However, one must-see for any newbie to Amsterdam is that of Bloemenmarkt. The flower stalls are simply beautiful, and the aromas of the blooms fill the street. There markets are happening places within Dutch […]
    Awesome Amsterdam on a Budget: Eating Out, the Dutch Way - The Wine Sleuth • Mar 02, 2015 • Reply
    I also wrote a list of things to do in Amsterdam, based on my experience in the city. I would love to hear your thoughts! http://weeklyzeal.com/2015/02/22/20-things-to-do-in-amsterdam/
    Kristin Leigh • Feb 24, 2015 • Reply
    […] 10: Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam – Like a Local [Click!]Sep 13, 2013 – Our local editor Rick has suggested a list of 10 free things to do in […]
    [ things to do in amsterdam attractions ] Bestest Web Pages | (KoreanNetizen) • Feb 01, 2015 • Reply
    […] you are visiting this popular Dutch city this winter, you may want some tips and suggestions to enjoy your time in Amsterdam away from its well-trodden path of city-centre ‘adult’ museums – and a larger number of […]
    Bright Lights for Winter nights - Amsterdam's Best Sights this Winter - • Jan 16, 2015 • Reply
    Thank you for sharing your list, Johnny!
    Kris Härsing • Dec 03, 2014 • Reply
    Great list! (Although the library is a bit too relaxed for me:P). I've got a top 50 of things to do in Amsterdam myself right here: http://www.netherlands-tourism.com/things-amsterdam-ultimate-top-50/ Might be fun to check out:P
    Johnny • Dec 03, 2014 • Reply
    Amsterdo shares the best guide to theatres and concert venue halls in Amsterdam. Keep in touch to get latest updates about Shows in Amsterdam Theatres.
    Theatres In Amsterdam • Nov 28, 2014 • Reply
    I found this cool map shows all the different areas in Amsterdam and gives a "local" review of each area. http://cityspotmaps.com/amsterdam.html It's really good if you want some quick help in choosing an area to spend a day or evening exploring.
    Hanny • Oct 29, 2014 • Reply
    Arthur, I parked my car in Amsterdam thanks to your comment! I went to mobypark and booked a private garage for a good price and good location. The owner of the garage super friendly, she even invite me dinner and I go to know a bit better the Dutch culture. The sharing economy not only is more sustainable but also connects people! In case somebody else is interested here the link to find parking: http://www.mobypark.com/en/?ca2 Thanks Arthur.
    Jorgen • Aug 07, 2014 • Reply
    Another great new thing to do is to download the app of weareonaboat - http://www.weareonaboat.com/ - an app where you can join other people's boats for free. Amsterdam in general became a city of sharing, from airbnb over car sharing (e.g. snappcar) to parking sharing (e.g. mobypark), there are many new companies / apps that make life in this city cheaper and more social!
    Arthur • Jul 22, 2014 • Reply
    […] quite prepared for it when tens of thousands of people came to check out the blog post about Top Free Things to Do in Amsterdam after I Amsterdam shared it with their followers on Facebook. Here are some mentions that we got […]
    What they said about Like A Local in May | Travel Tips From Real Locals – Like A Local Guide • Jun 02, 2014 • Reply
    A walk through the magical Vliegenbos park admiring the bright green parrots and smelling the lovely wet green vegetation. A visit to the awe inspiring eternal flame and Museum in the Stadsschouwberg in Ost remembering all those Jews who were deported from there. Equally as moving as Anne Frank house but without the tourists. Just silence and dignity and a power one can almost reach out and touch.
    beverly • May 19, 2014 • Reply
    What about our famous SINGEL, the Flowermarket and Touristic place to be. Do you need something to bring home: this is THE place. And of course The Albert Cuyp Market, 6 days a week, during shopping hours. Maybe these are the normal toruistic things to do, but do not forget them! The Anne Frank Museum and do a dinner cruise in the evening, so special in the darkness with all the lighted canals!
    Marga • May 19, 2014 • Reply
    Don't forget that we also give free tours in exchange for a review or a tweet in Nieuw-West Amsterdam.
    Anna • May 19, 2014 • Reply
    Don't forget about Amstelpark - nice and quiet park with a couple of interesting places (art exhibitions, japanese garden, mini-golf, small Zoo) and a beautiful windmill-house at the end which is the most pictoresque of all windmills in Amsterdam you can find (great place for a picture)
    arek • May 19, 2014 • Reply
    A must for your next trip to Amsterdam: book cultural tours and art experiences with Musement! You'll get interesting insider knowledge and skip the line for many museums and attractions, saving more time to explore the city http://www.musement.com/en/amsterdam
    Musement • May 13, 2014 • Reply
    Don't forget to mention Pechakucha nights in Amsterdam. It's great! Read more here: http://www.dreameurotrip.com/10-things-to-do-in-amsterdam-for-free/
    DJ Yabis • Mar 23, 2014 • Reply
    Turn the list around, because re-prioritizing the named places reveals you more of the spirit of the diverse Amsterdam. Go to the east, visit local Surinamese bars and Maroccan shops, the parks are calmer and cleaner. Visit Studio-K - a student-run bar/cinema, OT301 - a former squat place and film-institute with their own live performances of non-mainstream bands and movie-screenings with a cheap bar offering variety of beverages, Mezrab - local international community hosting music and story-telling nights, Joe's Garage - another squat place with a volunteer-based kitchen and a bar catering for people living around, Dappermarkt - the cheapest, everyday running and one of the most appreciated markets in town, eat Turkish Pizza and Kapsalon - cheapest and most-filling fast food in western Europe, the list could go on. Even if all of them are not free, they are well worth the experience. Ask for more if interested :)
    Edgar • Sep 13, 2013 • Reply
    Agree with many of the tips above, but instead of Oosterpark I would definitely choose Westerpark. They have a really cool industrial and creative area there - definitely check it out. Vondelpark is nice, but also a lot of tourists. For the rest just bike around areas such as the Pijp, Jordaan, Negen straatjes. Buy a bottle of wine and sit next to a channel with some locals. Even better - charm some locals with a boat, give them some wine, and they might ask you to join them. Also, on Leidseplein you can get last minute reduced tickets to all kinds of cultural events. Check it out!
    Mike • Sep 13, 2013 • Reply
    Having just a few days in Amsterdam, I did run through the touristy main sights, but I also got a bit of time to wonder away from all of that. Noord is a specially nice quiet district, the bike-route is a good idea! Plus, riding a ferry just is a must in Amsterdam, and you need to do that to get there. The Sunday market was a bit of a let-down, though, but then again.. most markets are, all the time, everywhere. I usually use markets to buy uncommon souvenirs - old memorabilia etc. but I couldn't find any of that. It did have the regular market stuff, tohugh: foods, ugly t-shirts, all that. I'd probably add Amsterdam Free Tour into this list as well.. because.. well, its for free. and its fun.
    Ann • Sep 13, 2013 • Reply