Free things to do and see in Amsterdam
You don't want to spend a whole lot of money during your city trip, but still want to see a lot and do even more in Amsterdam? Fortunately, there's plenty of fun activities that won't cost you a dime. We have the best free festivals, routes, museums, audiotours and sights at a glance.
Plenty of museums have sections which are free to visit. For example, the Civic Guards Gallery, which is part of the Amsterdam Museum. It offers an impressive collection of both historic and contemporary portraits of the Dutch nobility. Or take a look at the Treasury (the vault of the former Dutch Trading Company) in the City Archives of Amsterdam. It was declared by The Guardian as one of the ten best free museums (sections) in Europe.
Also the gardens of the Rijksmuseum are freely accessible to the public every day. This sculpture garden is a new city park, and an extension of the museum where visitors can relax. Furthermore, you can get a free tour of the Gassan diamond factory. You can see how diamonds are cut from their raw form into beautiful jewelry.
One of the most beautiful attractions in Amsterdam is a canal cruise. If you don't want to spend any money, but still want to take a boat, you can take the free ferry behind the Central Station so you can briefly go through the old harbor. From the ferries you have a beautiful view of the skyline of Amsterdam, and the modern buildings.
In Amsterdam you can go to free concerts, events or festivals almost every day. For years, on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm, the free lunch concert takes places in the Large or Small Hall of the Koninklijk Concertgebouw (Royal Concert Hall). The Music theater features a free concert every Tuesday at 12:30 pm. Jazz lovers can indulge themselves for free in the Badcuyp every Sunday during Sunday Night Jazz sessions. The Bimhuis organizes at least one free concert, workshop or jam session a week.
In the summer time, the city comes to life with culture and entertainment. On the Leidseplein and the Dam Square you'll often encounter a street theater. It is no surprise that Amsterdam is a magnet for buskers and street performers, some of whom are surprisingly good. While you are walking in the streets of the old town, you often see street musicians, small bands or even small orchestras. The Vondelpark during the weekend, and the Leidseplein during the evenings are the places to be for many of these concerts.
The festival season starts in April and ends around January, which means that there is always something to do in every month of that period. The largest annual free street party is on King's Day in April, with live performances all over the city and many orange square celebrations. The Holland Festival runs throughout June. The popular free Open Air Theater in the Vondelpark takes place in July. Other examples of free festivals are Gay Pride, the Uitmarkt and the Amsterdam Heritage Day, the Canal Festival, Roots Open Air and the Amsterdam Light Festival.
Below are three different free audio tours to listen in the open air and watching at sights in the center of Amsterdam
- Dam audiotour; takes ca. 2 hours.
During this free audiotour you'll find out about the origins of the Dam square, but also about its architecture through the centuries – from the Royal Palace to Hotel Krasnapolsky.
- Rokin audiotour; takes ca. 2 hours.
An architecture guide takes you on a trip along Rokin and tells you the stories behind 15 remarkable buildings and projects – from the Royal Industrieele Groote Club to Hotel De L'Europe.
- Nes audiotour; takes ca. 1,5 hours.
On this free audiotour, you'll hear a lot about convents, theatres and tobacco, but also about the neverending transformation of one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam.
Below are three different routes for viewing the best and also free sight seeings on the canals of Amsterdam.
- Old city center route (1275 - 1600)
One of the oldest and most beautiful parts of Amsterdam. Despite its shady reputation, you will find historical long winding cobbled streets with quintessential 14th century architecture, such as the Gothic Oude Kerk (Old Church).
- Western canal route (1600 - 1660)
The area counts many atmospheric streets. The Golden Age intertwines with the Middle Ages.
- Southern canal route (1660 - 1700)
The southern canal belt offers a magnificent view of the Amstel on the east side. From the quay you have a beautiful view of the Hermitage and the 'Magere Brug' (Skinny Bridge).