Top 5 Free Things to do on Vacation in Amsterdam

Canals, bicycles, and captivating architecture—Amsterdam makes you think of many things, and “cheap” isn't one of them. The capital of the Netherlands is a regular on lists of the most expensive European cities. However, with a little local knowledge, it can be easier than you think to find free things to do in Amsterdam.

If you fancy a visit to this famous Dutch city that won’t break the bank, see our selection of five of the best free things to do in Amsterdam:

1. Take a tour of the Gassan Diamond Factory

Over 400 years ago, Sephardic Jews fleeing persecution arrived in Amsterdam and brought with them one of their key trades—the cutting and polishing of diamonds. The city has been known as the “City of Diamonds” ever since.

The Gassan Diamond Factory is one of about a dozen diamond factories in Amsterdam today, and it offers a free tour in which you can learn about the history of diamonds, watch the cutters and polishers in action, and browse its showroom of pricy souvenirs. Diamond jewelry not included.

2. Join Amsterdam’s best walking tour

If you want to take a free walking tour in Amsterdam, Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours is your best bet. Knowledgeable guides will take you on a three-hour jaunt around some of Amsterdam’s most famous sites, including Anne Frank House, the Jewish Cultural District and the Dutch East India Company, delving into the history of each site with fascinating stories along the way.

While the tour is free, you might want to tip your guide. Tours leave from the National Monument several times a day.

Want to create your own walking tour? From strolling through the picturesque Jordaan district to exploring the vibrant street art in the NDSM wharf area, the city offers a plethora of cost-free activities on foot. Take a leisurely walk or bike ride along the historic canals, soaking in the charming atmosphere without spending a dime.

3. Discover the secret Begijnhof courtyard

Finding this hidden gem takes a little detective work. You’re looking for a wooden door on the north side of Spui square in the centre of Amsterdam.

This humble entrance hides a beautiful collection of 14th-century houses—including the oldest house in Amsterdam—and a couple of churches arranged around a central garden.

For most of its history, the Begijnhof was home to a group of Catholic nuns until the last of the sisterhood died in 1971. Today, it remains one of the most beautiful and peaceful locations in the city.

4. Free museums in Amsterdam

The city is home to numerous free-entry museums on certain days, providing an opportunity to delve into its rich cultural heritage at no cost.

One of the best ways to learn about the history of the Dutch capital is to delve into its archives. The Treasury exhibition and the Screening Room are free and feature a regularly rotating collection of fascinating historical letters, documents, photos and videos that offer an intriguing window into the city's past and one of the best free things to do in Amsterdam.

Other free museums include Melkweg Expo, the Mouse House, and the Open Space Contemporary Art Museum.

5. Stroll along the Bridge of 15 Bridges

The crossing of the Reguliersgracht and the Herengracht is the best place from which to appreciate Amsterdam’s famous canals and bridges.

Stand with your back to the Thorbeckeplein and you’ll see a row of six bridges, with another six to your left and two more to your right. Including the one you’re standing on, you can see a total of 15 bridges from one spot.

That’s pretty cool during the day. But go at night, and the beautiful bridge illuminations make for one of Amsterdam’s most stunning views.


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