"What's up with Amsterdam: How to do Amsterdam cheap"

What's up with Amsterdam: How to do Amsterdam cheap

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While it's easy to enjoy a range of free events in Amsterdam during summer, winter means heading indoors and spending money. Here's how to do Amsterdam on a budget.

Amsterdam on a budget? Is it possible? In summer, it is easy. You stay at a cheap camping site where you can take the ingredients you bought in the supermarket and have a picnic, or even start a barbecue, in Vondelpark.

In winter, the biting winds, frozen grass and cold streets will make you flee to the next warm and cosy café, and those visits hurt your wallet real good. So for those people making their way to Amsterdam this winter, here are some ‘how to do Amsterdam cheap' tips.

How to do Amsterdam on a budget

Cheap hostels in Amsterdam

  • Newspaper The Guardian has written a good overview of popular, cheap hostels in Amsterdam.
  • Camping Zeeburg also has lovely cabins and wagonettes, to camp out in some comfort when it rains or snows. Prices are about EUR 60 for two nights and two people.
  • If you plan to go with a group of people, try to rent an apartment in Amsterdam. You can cook (and drink!) at home, which will be one of the major money savers. You can find an apartment for six people for around EUR 400 a night easily looking for short stay or short term apartment rent Amsterdam.

Best cheap things to do in AmsterdamCheap bike rental
Don't spend any money on public transportation, but instead rent a real Dutch, used bike.

At Recycled rentals you'll find cheap bike rental for only EUR 5 a day! You'll blend in easily with the locals, as long as you ride your bike like one of us (don't drive on the pavement, stay on the right whatever you do and don't ring your bell!). Located near Central Station.

Free things to visit in Amsterdam 

  • By the way, the Dutch word for free is gratis. That might come of use.
  • See my list of free things to do in Amsterdam.
  • Free art at many galleries. You'll find classic art galleries at Spiegelstraat, near Leidseplein.

How to spend your evenings on a budget in Amsterdam

Go to the AUB Ticket shop at Leidseplein or to Amsterdam Tourist Office opposite Central Station or to the Public Library at Oosterdokskade in the afternoon.

There you will find a list of last minute tickets for all shows in Amsterdam that same day/night for 50 percent off the price. English speakers will enjoy a night at cabaret shows at Boom Chicago, which almost always has last minute tickets.

Cheap food in Amsterdam

Inexpensive breakfast / lunch in Amsterdam

In Holland, breakfast is the second most important meal of the day. A good breakfast lays the foundation for the day ahead, as we say.

Cheap things to do in AmsterdamA typical Dutch breakfast is an uitsmijter: double eggs on bread with cheese and/or ham. It will fill you up and doesn't cost much if you have it at a typical local Dutch café.

For lunch, try the soup of the day. Soups are very good, inexpensive and keep you warm. Try erwtensoep (pea soup) or groentensoep (vegetable soup).


  • Many lunchrooms focus on serving excellent sandwiches, but they are not cheap. Broodje Bert is a classic and not expensive on Singel 321.
  • Go to a small butcher's shop (slager) or bakery (bakker) and have an inexpensive sandwich (broodje) prepared for you on the spot with the ingredients you choose. Usually cheap and very good quality.
  • At metro station Waterlooplein, De Hapjeshoek prepares lovely Surinam food. Spicy sandwiches, Surinam classic roti and noedels. Very cheap.


  • Dutch snackbars, Turkish pizza snackbars or Febo: Snackfood has always been a cheap, though not exactly healthy, option for a quick low budget filler. Try patat met mayonaise (French fries with mayonnaise), always a good filler.
  • Eaterie at Nieuwmarkt Square, Plein 26: Serves not only traditional Dutch snackfood but also local classics such as a homemade nutritious stamppot (minced potatoes with vegetables), a classic meal in cold Holland winters.
Best cheap things to do in Amsterdam
  • Take away, with a small bar to eat your meal.
  • Maoz is an old fast food chain, serving nutritious vegetarian meals, most importantly, falafel. Falafel consists of fried chick-pea balls served on pita bread. You can add any fresh and pickled vegetables and sauces from the free condiments bar. Falafel arrived from the Middle East, where it is a common form of street or fast food. EUR 4 – EUR 7.

Self service / buffet

The HEMA shop is famous for its cheap buffet. Coffees for a nice price in a warm place. Usually the self-service restaurant is located upstairs or downstairs while there is a small snack-food-take away on ground floor. Baguette with tuna for EUR 2 is not bad, and coffee's less than EUR 2.

Other good self service/buffet restaurants is department store V&D.

Cheap lunch / dinner in Amsterdam

Thai and Chinese food at Chinatown Amsterdam
What's up with Amsterdam: How to do Amsterdam cheapOn the Zeedijk, near the red light district and Nieuwmarkt, you'll find many Thai and Chinese restaurants. The quality is very good and the prices are nice as well. The worse the decoration, the better the food. Try Chicken satay with fries and salad, Dutch-Indo style.

An eetcafé is like a small ‘diner', where they serve simple meals for little but you still have the ambiance and feeling of a restaurant. An example is De Blaffende Vis on Westerstraat (Northern Jordaan).

At many eetcafés and student bars they serve a simple meal for under EUR 10. These meals are called: daghap, dagschotel or dagmenu.

In the centre, near Spui, you'll find a small side street called Voetboogsteeg where you can eat dishes like spare ribs, steaks and the famous chicken satay (chicken on a stick with peanut sauce), all with a large plate of French fries (chips) and a salad for EUR 10 to ERU 15.

The ambiance is very Dutch, with lots of wood. (Try De 3 Carel's or Café De Schutter)

Tourist restaurants
Touristy but cheap are the restaurants at Lange and Korte Leidsedwarsstraat. Lots of pizzas for EUR 5, and Argentinian grills. Most classic is Rimini, which serves probably the cheapest pizza in town.

Best cheap things to do in Amsterdam

Squat restaurants
In many squats, volunteers run very cheap eateries. Usually there is nothing to choose, you eat whatever has been prepared and generally it's vegetarian. In many cases, reservations are in order, so they can prepare sufficient food and not throw away leftovers. Check websites for phone numbers. Prices under EUR 10.

Here's a list:

  • Moya serves food for free every Thursday named ‘eat the rich'. From 8.00pm at Frederik Hendrikstraat 111.
  • Einde van de wereld (End of the World), located on the boat Quo Vadis, Javakade. Wednesdays and Fridays. Prices EUR 7 and EUR 8 (with eco meat).
  • Zaal 100. Serving three-course vegetarian menus from EUR 5 to EUR 8 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Vegan three-course menu for EUR 5 at MKZ, Eerste Schinkelstraat 16, just south of Vondelpark.
  • Thursdays vegan meal for EUR 3 at Molli, Van Ostadestraat 55.
  • De Peper at OT301, located at Overtoom 301, near Leidseplein.



Reprinted with permission of What's up with Amsterdam.

What's up with AmsterdamWhat's up with Amsterdam guides tourists and expats towards the hidden gems of Amsterdam. Find budget friendly things to do and see, check up on upcoming events or get closer to the underground scene of Amsterdam: What's up with Amsterdam keeps you posted.

Photo credit: Leshaines123 (photo 1), AlBakker (photo 2), Tavallai (photo 3), pr1001 (photo 4). 


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