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.
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.
Photo 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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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.