Free things to do in Amsterdam
Even when you’re down to your last penny, you’ll still find plenty to do in Amsterdam! Take a peek at our tips for long days filled with fun and entertainment that won’t cost a thing.
Some museums in Amsterdam (have sections that) you can visit for free! Delve into the city’s rich history at the Amsterdam City Archives: the Amsterdam Treasures collection (fittingly located in the basement Treasury of the building) is free to visit and features various intriguing items drawn from the archives.
The gardens of the Rijksmuseum (and its sculpture garden) are freely accessible daily from 9am to 5pm. It is the ideal place to get a coffee and soak up some sun, read a newspaper or take a stroll around this imposing museum building.
Amsterdam is a real up-and-coming destination for outdoor and urban art. Best of all, it’s all available for anyone to view on the streets. You can take paid street art tours on foot or by bike to view the best works, but you can, of course, also go out on your own for free. Incredible murals can be spotted in various places in Amsterdam, but NDSM wharf, De Jordaan and Spuistraat/Wijdesteeg in the centre are real hotspots. The truly adventurous enter the secret garden of Nicolas Groente & Fruit for the curated exhibition with street art works by Laser 3.14 and the London Police, among others.
Walking and cycling tours
Even if you’re not planning to shop, Amsterdam’s open-air markets are a feast for the senses and offer countless photo opportunities. From organic vegetables and flowers to antiques and second-hand treasures, markets are a great way to get a local perspective. Every Saturday, a market is held in the courtyard garden of H'ART Museum, with local products from Dutch soil.
Behind Central Station, you’ll find several ferries crossing the IJ River, and they’re all completely free! Jump on a boat for the ideal introduction to Amsterdam Noord. The Buiksloterweg stop is best for exploring the EYE Filmmuseum and Tolhuistuin, as well as historic Noord that maintains its village appeal. Or go to NDSM Wharf – a former shipyard filled with artists’ studios, creative workshops and hipper than hip foodie hotspots.
Gardens and parks
Amsterdam’s gardens and parks are open (and free) all year round, with kilometres of well-kept walking paths and plenty of space for a picnic. In the summer months, the Vondelpark puts on performances in their free open-air theatre, and you’ll often find free festivals in parks like Rembrandtpark, Westerpark and Oosterpark as well. Many cultural institutions have some free-to-visit open-air spaces, which are just as impressive as the galleries themselves. Read more about museums with the most beautiful secret gardens.
Classical and jazz concerts
If you know where to look, you can find a free concert nearly every day of the week. The National Opera & Ballet puts on free concerts every Tuesday while the Royal Concertgebouw holds their free lunch concerts on Wednesdays. The Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ serves up free lunch concerts one Tuesday each month and Bimhuis offers at least one free evening concert, workshop or jam session every week. The majority of the upcoming free classical concerts are included in our classical highlights listing.
Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)
Besides curling up and paging through the huge selection of English-language books and magazines, the Amsterdam Public Library near Central Station has tons of other free attractions. There’s a floor filled with kid-sized fun, rotating art exhibitions, weekly readings and occasional concerts. Even if you’re not a book lover, it’s worth a visit for the impressive architecture and views from the top floor.
Every year Amsterdam puts on a huge variety of free festivals and events. The season usually kicks off in mid April and continues through to January – meaning there’s at least one free festival nearly every month of the year! A few of the best free festivals include King’s Day, Pride, Uitmarkt, Open Monument Day Amsterdam, National Windmill Day, National Museum Weekend, Canal Festival, and Amsterdam Light Festival.
Many of Amsterdam’s churches have been repurposed as concert venues, museums and more. But there are still several functioning churches where you can attend a service or admire the interiors during the week for free, including the Westerkerk, Noorderkerk, St. Nicolaaskerk, De Papegaai (H.H. Petrus en Pauluskerk) and Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk. View a full listing of churches and places of worship.
Diamond factory tour
Amsterdam has been known as the 'City of Diamonds' for 400 years. Gassan Diamonds is located in a diamond polishing factory that once ran on steam and you can take a free tour of the building. Look over the shoulder of the diamond cutters as you receive an explanation from the guide about how diamonds are processed. At the end of the tour, you’ll even have the opportunity to buy a world-famous Amsterdam diamond, if you’re wallet allows it that is.
NEMO Roof Terrace
NEMO Science Museum has the largest roof terrace in Amsterdam and boasts beautiful views of the historic city centre. The roof is accessible free of charge via the one hundred and twenty steps or via the elevator in NEMO’s entrance hall. In the summer, there is an interactive watercourse for the children. And (not completely free but still handy) there is a cafe with plenty of space to enjoy a snack and a drink as you take in the beautiful view.
National Tulip Day
The official kick-off for the tulip season in Amsterdam is every January during National Tulip Day. Dutch tulip growers construct a huge garden on Dam Square with around 200,000 tulips where you can pick your own flowers for free in the specially constructed picking garden.
Tucked behind an inconspicuous door on the Spui square, a world of quiet reflection is waiting to be discovered. The Begijnhof is a tranquil courtyard that dates back to the 14th century, once inhabited by religious women who took a vow of chastity. It's still home to a small chapel and an English Reformed church. The door to the garden is only open during the day. The Beguinage is still used as a residence, so visitors are kindly requested to be considerate of the residents.