Amsterdam might not be the cheapest city in Europe. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune to see it. Take a look at my pick of a top 10 free things to do in Amsterdam.
Free ferry ride
Go to the Central station (Amsterdam Centraal) and take one of the ferries which cross the IJ canal. There are 3 routes and 2 of them are short, lasting about a minute or two, but the third one takes around 10 minutes. It will take you to the NDSM wharf.
Yes, it doesn’t sound attractive but actually, the area is quite interesting. Enjoy the free ride and when you are about to arrive, do not miss the Soviet Zulu submarine. That’s probably something you didn’t expect to see in Amsterdam. There are several nice cafes and restaurants around. Pllek is my favourite and it’s worth a visit.
The free exposition at EYE Film Institute
Take the free ferry to the Buiksloterweg just on the other side of the IJ canal. That white futuristic building is EYE Film Institute. Go inside and on the -1 floor you will find a small exposition related to movie making. There is a dark room where you can play and watch small parts of old movies. Quite an experience, I must say!
Relax on the top of the NEMO
The rooftop of NEMO Science Center is actually a huge terrace with lots of plants and waterfalls. You can sit on a chair and relax while enjoying the view. It’s a lovely place to spend some time, especially in the summer. However, if there is even a slight glimpse of the sun in the sky, expect that place to be fully crowded with Dutch people.
The old ships
Just next to NEMO you will find lots of old ships docked. That’s the Museumhaven or the Museum Harbor. There you can see ships aged 50 years or more. Take a walk around. It’s absolutely free.
Visit the library
OBA (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) or the Central Library of Amsterdam is located just opposite the NEMO. Don’t think that going inside and checking the library is wired. It’s modern and cool place to hang up. Anyway, if you are not a bookworm, just go on the top floor. There is a restaurant called La Place with a terrace and a breathtaking view of Amsterdam.
Visit the flamingos at the zoo
Artis zoo is truly amazing but even if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee there is still a chance to take a glance at some of the animals. There is a wonderful cafe called De Plantage with a small square in front of it. From that square, you can observe some birds including the flamingos. It’s not much, but hey – it’s free.
Try the typical Dutch cheese at Amsterdam Cheese Museum
The admission at Amsterdam Cheese Museum is free and you can try hundreds of different kinds of cheese. In case you like some type of cheese, of course, you can buy it. The fun doesn’t stop here. Be adventurous, you can dress like a Dutch farmer and ask someone to take some photos of you.
When walking around the city don’t miss to step into some of the cheese stores. They can be found everywhere and usually offer samples of cheese, stroopwafels – traditional Dutch waffles, different types of mustard and jams. Yummy.
Oh, you are gonna love this. A free tour in a diamond company called Gassan Diamonds. Have you ever heard about the “Amsterdam cut”? Do you want to learn more about the process of polishing? You are going to see everything. At the end of the tour, you’ll be a diamond expert. Guaranteed.
The Civic Guard Gallery
As part of the Amsterdam Museum, the Civic Guard Gallery offers a small free exposition. It includes paintings of the wealthiest citizens of Amsterdam who were part of the Civic Guard. Each citizen had to pay a huge amount of money to assure his presence on the painting. There are also modern portraits of famous Dutch athletes and even ordinary people.
When you finish with all the pictures, take a look at the floor. You’ll see a long carpet representing the 179 nationalities living in Amsterdam. Cool, right. Try to find where your nationality represented on the carpet.
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Do you have any other ideas what to do for free in Amsterdam?