As Grey World Nomads we are on a tight budget of an average of forty Euros a day, which restricts us to watch our costs especially in popular tourist spots like Amsterdam. Nevertheless we enjoyed our stay and got to see, what we wanted to explore. Here are some tips, how you can visit Amsterdam on a shoestring:
How to get there
Trains are quite expensive in the Netherlands. Nevertheless the best way to travel to Amsterdam is by train as parking is hugely expensive. If you have a car with you, then drive to a P+R Parking. They offer very cheap parking and include a train ticket within a certain region. Check http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/plan-your-trip/getting-around/parking/park-and-ride
If you are traveling as a couple, hostels are not always the cheapest option as they charge almost always by person and not per room. To enjoy the city you want to stay as close as possible to the city centre, so you won’t need public transport and don’t loose too much time for the transfer to and from your boarding. To stay in the city centre is normally very expensive, even if you stay in a dodgy hotel, where you have to plod your luggage up to the seventh floor without lift and you may have to share your bathroom.
Try to find accommodation on one of the homepages, which offer shared or private apartments or houseboats as for example www.airbnb.com. We slept in a simple boat in a safe and clean harbour just behind the central station. That was not the cheapest option, but we wanted a different experience. Further you may find accommodation at another traveller’s home on www.couchsurfing.com. Other tips to find cheap accommodation you find on http://travelbug.co/2015/06/26/house-sitting_and_house-swop/
Street food in the Netherlands is great and cheap. Get yourself a sandwich with fresh fish at one of the stands or you eat “uit de muur”, which literally means to eat your meal out of the wall. To picture that, if you’ve never seen it, you must think of little window-doors in a wall, which expose delicious crokets or bitterball (dutch speciality) etc. After you slip a coin in the slot, you can swing the door open and take your food. Easy, cheap and enjoyable! We also discovered a few shops, which sold fresh orange juice just for a buck a glass. Delicious!
Museums and guided tours are usually expensive. With a City Pass it gets cheaper and public transport is included. More information you can get in the tourist centre just next to the central station or online on http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/plan-your-trip/visitor-information-centres
There is a city tour in Amsterdam, which is for free (except a booking fee and tip). See http://www.newamsterdamtours.com/daily-tours/new-amsterdam.html
We hired the cheapest bicycles for 24 hours for 9.75 Euros plus insurance just opposite of the tourist information centre http://www.macbike.nl/
Be aware that it may be a good idea to hire a bicycle with handbrakes instead of back pedal brakes, even if it’s a bit more expensive. Thousands of bicycles, people walking and cars zoom around you, so you may be happy to be able to brake well and as you are used to it …
There are plenty spots to hire bicycles, also such, which are not as bright red as the ones of MacBike, which show from far that you are a tourist.
We went on several ferries to explore the harbour of Amsterdam and its surroundings. They are for free and you can take the bicycle with. An interesting place with several restaurants in containers and other attractions was the ”Pllek”. You get there with the second ferry from left, if you look from the central station to the harbour.
Ask the locals
If you want to know, where you get the best value for money looking for a good meal in a restaurant or a coffee shop, which doesn’t charge special tourist prices, ask the locals, where they go. You will be able to get the better deals in a less crowded environment.
How long should you stay?
To get more than just a quick impression of Amsterdam you need more than a day, maybe three or four. Especially, if you’d like to take a guided tour and you want to visit museums. We will be certainly back, before we leave the Netherlands.