Are you going to Amsterdam for a few days and don't want to spend a lot of money?
We propose up to 10 plans for you to squeeze the 1000 x 1000 experience without spending a penny… are you up for it?
1. Visit galleries
The Van Gogh museum may be a must-see in Amsterdam (albeit very crowded and expensive), but the city's contemporary art scene is found in the small independent galleries, much more accessible to budget travelers. We can spend an afternoon on a bicycle visiting some of the most outstanding ones, such as Radar, an art and architecture gallery that has exhibitions of generally urban inspiration; the Galerie Fons Welters, a huge industrial space filled with installations and futuristic concept art; and KochxBos, focused on surreal, colorful and kitsch artwork. All three are in or around the quiet and scenic area of the Jordaan.
2. The Condomerie
La Condomerie is the world's first condom specialty store, a treasure trove of latex art that has helped keep the city's famous red light district safe and secure since 1987. The colorful shop on Warmoesstraat - one of the oldest streets in the city - displays an astonishing collection of rubbers, as well as novel hand-painted colorful condoms shaped like chickens, frogs and even Big Ben. It also has a small "condom museum" (currently closed for renovations).
The Dutch take design very seriously and Droog - a conceptual design studio created in the 90s - remains one of the forerunners of Dutch design. His Amsterdam store and showroom is a must see for anyone interested in the modernist.
4. The EYE film museum
Although temporary events at the EYE Film Museum require admission, in the basement visitors can delve into the world of cinema thanks to a free permanent exhibition. The Panorama room surrounds visitors with around 100 movie scenes and videos projected onto the walls and navigable through seven control panels.
5. Stroll through the markets
Amsterdam has plenty of markets, each with its own character, like the Albert Cuyp Markt in De Pijp, great for grocery shopping; the Noordermarkt farmers market in the Jordaan, where we can satisfy ourselves just by sampling the samples of organic food that are for sale; the Waterlooplein Market, where we will find everything from antiques to vintage suits and piles of old key boxes, photographs and camera parts; and Bloemenmarkt, a unique floating flower market filled with tulips. For something more contemporary, head to Moderne Hippies, a recent addition to the city's list of markets.
6. The City Archive
The permanent exhibition of the Stadsarchief, Amsterdam City Archive, is an ideal place to learn about the history of the city through the unusual and quirky “treasures” in its collection. Among the items it houses are a sympathetic 1942 police report about the theft of Anne Frank's motorcycle, and photographs of such artists as John Lennon and Audrey Hepburn. The collection is housed inside a majestic mosaic vault located in the basement of the Bazel building, a former bank that stands out for its impressive geometric brick designed by ADN van Gendt.
7. Use the ferry to cross the IJ
Enjoying the views from the water is always a pleasant experience in a city like Amsterdam. If we want to take a free boat trip we can get on one of the ferries that cross the IJ, the coast of Amsterdam, and explore the Amsterdam-Noord. We can combine it with a bicycle trip through the countryside and the historic villages of the area, or we can drop by the NDSM Wharf, a shipyard converted into a center for cultural and creative entrepreneurs. Ferries leave every few minutes from behind Centraal Station.
8. Free jazz and classical music concerts
Wednesday noon performances at the Concertegebouw have long been an institution. Some of the performances are public rehearsals, which means we could savor a sample from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, while others are smaller chamber music ensembles, made up of young musicians. For those looking for something more upbeat, the Bimhuis jazz venue offers one free night a month, called “Monday Match,” in which dancers and musicians collaborate in an impromptu performance. Around 10pm a DJ takes over until midnight.
The huge Vondelpark will always be the quintessential place to relax, have a picnic and watch the flocks of birds that live there, but Begijnhof offers an alternative haven of tranquility in this already fairly quiet town. It is a small square, surrounded by historical buildings, with a quiet garden; the inner courtyard dates from the early 14th century and can be accessed through a narrow corridor. It is an excellent place to read a book, relax or admire the architecture. From Begijnhof we can reach the Civic Guards Gallery (also free), a covered street, managed by the Amsterdam Historical Museum, where 15 gigantic paintings from the 17th century are exhibited.
10. Botanical Garden of the University of Vrije
More than 6,000 species of plants grow in this small botanical garden owned by the University of Vrije. Among its many functions, the garden serves as a refuge for rare and endangered plants intercepted by the Schipol airport customs service. Concerts and workshops are also held in this charming garden.