In Amsterdam, it is very easy to spend a fortune on shopping, hotels, restaurants or sightseeing, but the city is also full of free possibilities: from a visit along the canal belt (an open-air museum that costs nothing), to concerts and theater or gardens full of tulips in which nothing is charged to watch.
Take a deep breath as you stroll along the Bloemenmarkt (Singel, between the Muntplein and Koningsplein), where red tulips, yellow daffodils, and purple lilies form a spectacular mosaic of colors against the backdrop of the canal. You have to pay for a bouquet of flowers, but it’s free to smell them.
2. The ring of channels Amsterdam has more canals than Venice. It is a luxury to explore these waterways that are a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; walking through them is like being in an open-air museum, free, and with a coffee or a brewery every few meters.
The existence of the most impressive courtyard garden in Amsterdam is not exactly a secret, but it conveys the wonderful feeling of being one, transporting the traveler to the 14th century with its gardens, its medieval church and its silence. Large groups are not allowed.
4. NDSM Werf
Behind Central Station, a free shuttle sets sail for the NDSM Werf, an abandoned shipyard turned into the vanguard of the arts community. Take a look at the garbage recycling sculptures, the graffiti artists roaming the streets, and the giant wooden heads (Tiki) that guard everything.
5. Hollandsche Manege (Riding School)
Softly lit by the sun and smelling of horses, this riding school (Vondelstraat 140) impresses even non-riders with its magnificent neoclassical architecture. There is an elegant café from which we can contemplate the majestic trot of the horses.
6. Cannabis College
This non-profit center educates the visitor about Amsterdam’s favorite herb. You can chat with the staff about the rules of the coffee shop, see products made with hemp or try a vaporizer
7. Visit to the Gassan Diamond factory
Even if we don’t have a euro to spend on diamonds, we can join a 1-hour tour of this factory and see the jewelry cutters and polishers in action.
8. EYE Film Institute Although films and exhibitions on the main floor are not free, the interactive exhibition on Dutch cinema in the basement is. To get to this bright cultural center, take the free ferry from the ‘Buiksloterweg’ behind Centraal Station
9. Stadsarchief (Municipal Archive)
You never know what treasures can be discovered in these archives (Vijzelstraat 32). The holdings rotate periodically, but can be found from a police report on the theft of Anne Frank’s bicycle in 1942, to photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the bed of the Hilton hotel in 1969, or a 1625 map of the city.
10. Amsterdam Architecture Foundation
ARCAM (Prins Hendrikkade 600) is the Dutch acronym for this institution that organizes exhibitions on uber-cool urban design. The staff also encourages you to take advantage of the site’s free resources, such as digital guides to learn about the architecture along tram routes.
11. Albert Cuypmarkt
To get a feel for the real Amsterdam, take a stroll through the largest street market, Albert Cuypstraat. The Dutch, Moroccans, Indonesians or Caribbeans argue about shiny fabrics, cheeses, bike locks, socks or herring sandwiches.
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