Amsterdam is a vibrant and fascinating city, criss-crossed by thousands of canals, beautiful bridges and people whizzing by on their bikes ringing their bell if you happen to be in their lane! Be careful, sometimes it’s more dangerous to be hit by a Dutchman cycling than by a speeding car. The Dutch capital offers so many things to do and see that it is impossible to get bored. But like most European capitals it is not known for being cheap.
What if at some point in your stay, whether you are there on holiday or living, you end up with just a few cents in your pocket? What can you do without spending a penny?
Goguin is here to suggest some things to do for free that will allow you to spend your time without even touching your wallet.
Live music? Just sit down and listen!
If you love music you can enjoy the free concerts that the city offers! For example, every Wednesday at lunchtime you can listen to classical music at Concertgebouw (the third best concert hall in the world) through the public rehearsals of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, as well as other smaller groups that rehearse there. The show starts around 12:30 PM and is very popular among the locals, so it’s better to set your alarm clock and get there early there!
If you love jazz music you should take the opportunity, one Monday per month, to go to Bimhuis Jazz for the Monday Match to enjoy extemporize performances for free.
Finally, if classical and opera music are your thing, then you could try the Muziektheater every Tuesday from 12:30 to 1:00 between September and May. They offer wonderful 30 minutes concerts for free!
Flora, fauna and more!
Whether you are nature lovers or not, you can enjoy this spot to relax within “nature”. We speak of the botanical garden of the University of Vrije, a small oasis consisting of more than 6,000 different types of plants, some of them from other European countries and confiscated by the customs authorities at Schiphol Airport! Also, the botanical garden often hosts workshops and free concerts for the public.
Whether you’re an artist or not, or just like paintings… go to Spui Square!
This artists’ square, in the center of Amsterdam, hosts two particular events. The first is on Fridays and is a book market that allows you to walk among endless stalls and get inspired by the covers of a plethora of books for sale. While on Sunday there is a local art market where artists sell their works at very affordable prices. Who knows, maybe in a few years the artist who sold you his painting might become famous and the painting will be worth a million bucks!
A peaceful little island in the city center… Begijnhof
Just a few meters from the artists’ square there is one of the secret gardens of Amsterdam and one of the oldest houses of the city, entirely built from wood. It’s the perfect place if you want a bit of authenticity, Begijnhof is a peaceful island characterized by a narrow entrance that will suddenly take you from the square into this garden surrounded by old buildings.
It’s ideal for an afternoon reading and relaxing beside the oldest Amsterdam house (number 34)! Also from here you can go to the Gallery of the Civil Guard, a street with paintings from the seventeenth century that is free access for all.
Free markets… if you don’t buy something!
If you are looking for organic and quality food we suggest the daily market called Noordermarkt in the Jordaan neighborhood or if you want to buy fresh fruit and vegetables the Albert Cuyp Markt in De Pijp neighborhood is quite nice. If you are instead looking for unique curios or second-hand clothing you must go to the Waterlooplein flea market!
Last but not least, if you want to learn or improve your skills in gardening go to Bloemenmarkt which is the only floating flower market in the world. Don’t expect many flowers or plants but rather bulbs and seeds, particularly of all colors of tulips! (A note to men readers: the woman who will receive a “homemade” tulip bouquet will definitely be yours!
The timeless magic of a carillon
You only need to be in the right place at the right time if you want to listen to a pop or folk music performance played with an old carillon to have a real Dutch experience!
If so, mark your calendars for the Westerkerk Tower every Tuesday from 12.00 to 13.00, for the Zuiderkerk Tower every Thursday from 10:00 to 11:00, for the Munttoren Tower every Friday from 12.00 to 13.00 and finally the Oudekerk Tower every Saturday from 16:00 to 17:00. Whether you are a child, teenager or adult, we are sure that you will be fascinated by what you will hear!
“Take 1”, look at this!
We are talking about the Dutch Institute for Film, the EYE Film Institute and Museum. Inside the extraordinary building you will find temporary exhibitions that unfortunately have an entrance fee but on the ground floor there is a permanent free film exhibition about cinema. Guests can watch hundreds of movie scenes projected on the wall that can be managed via control panels. The room also has a futuristic cabin with a sofa, if you want to enjoy the movies as you were at home! Also the EYE’s building is a work of art in itself that is worth visiting.
Exhibits and art galleries? Here’s where to go if your wallet is empty
If you think about Amsterdam and its museums, you will definitely think about the famous Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Those museums require an entrance fee but if you have no money and want to satisfy the creative part of yourself, you will find that Amsterdam also has several small and wonderful independent galleries that are totally free! To name a few, The KochxBos, a quasi living room focused on surreal, colorful and kitsch art; Radar, an art and architecture gallery with urban-influenced exhibitions; Galerie Fons Welters, an old industrial space for art installations and various types of exhibitions.
The true city history
If you want to know more about the local history of the city, you should head over to Stadsarchief, a comprehensive Archive of the city of Amsterdam. You will find several original documents related to the city and you will discover some interesting and unique stories such as, a police report about the theft of Anne Frank bicycle or see photographs of John Lennon and Audrey Hepburn. An original and interesting visit, but above all free!
Enjoy the silence and read!
At some point during your stay, after so many bike rides, bike bells to move out of the road, music coming from the coffee shop, you probably want a bit of silence and a little hideout to relax and submerse yourself in a good book. Where is that you ask? At Openbare Bibliotheek, the Central Library of Amsterdam! The property has 9 floors and is a wonderful place that invites even the most ignorant to enjoy culture. Not to mention the view from the top floor is simply spectacular!
After all this non bank breaking secret info, you just need to book your flight and start a new adventure in magical Amsterdam!
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Thi entry is also available in: Italian