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Amsterdam on a Budget: Is It Possible?

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Amsterdam is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world. That begs the question: Is Amsterdam on a budget a possibility?

When I visited for the first time, planning and on-the-ground expenses were both more than I usually spend on travel. But, they were not as expensive as I expected.

Read on to see how Amsterdam fares on accommodation prices, food and drink, transport, and sightseeing activities!

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Costs of Accommodation

Finding an affordable place to stay (that wasn’t an absolute dump) was the most stressful aspect of planning my few days in Amsterdam.

I wasn’t in the city solo, so that made private rooms a little more affordable. But, it still didn’t feel cheap!

After days of searching, building a spreadsheet, searching throughout the city and on its outskirts, and trying to figure something out, I came across Amsterdam Hotelboat on Hostelworld.

This place had private rooms with shared bathrooms, was a unique accommodation, and included free breakfast!

Did it feel like a budget hotelboat? Yes. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my stay here!

It was clean, the staff was really friendly, and the boat in itself was such a cool place to stay.

On the flip side, the rooms were teeny-tiny, and you could hear everything. So, if you stay here, do so with a friend you don’t mind sharing tight quarters with, and bring earplugs! I slept like a baby.

Amsterdam on a Budget: Amsterdam Hotelboat

Other Options for Accommodation

We had a budget of about $100 per night total to spend on accommodations. Airbnb does have some listings within that price range, but they stay booked. It’s worth checking out, though!

You can get $40 off your first stay through my link!

If all the Airbnb listings left are out of your budget, then check Booking.com for hotels. If you’re wanting to stay in a hotel on a budget, then Booking is probably your best chance. Destiney and I found several options there, but none of them were better than Amsterdam Hotelboat for us.

We ended up finding the best price for our preferences on Hostelworld. Out of all the hostels and hotels listed, Amsterdam Hotelboat was by far the best deal at $120 per night, and offered the most in return.

Costs of Transportation

I saved the most on transportation while in Amsterdam. Because it is a very walkable city, I didn’t use public transit, taxis, Uber, or bikes.

But, if that is not an option for you, or if you’d prefer not to walk, then there are several options.

Public transit within the city includes tram, bus, and metro. You can buy a day pass for 8 euros, or pay per ride at 3.20 euros.

There are also tons of bike rental companies if you’re interested in seeing the city like a local!

I’d recommend asking your Airbnb host, or the staff at your hotel or hostel about companies they love. Our hotel boat offered bike rentals, so that’s an option. It’s nice to be able to pick up and return the bike from where you’re staying!

Lastly, there is a free ferry connecting central Amsterdam with the northern part of the city. I do recommend spending time in Amsterdam-Noord, because it is quieter and more local.

You can take this ferry from Amsterdam Centraal train station. There’s no need for tickets, or advance bookings. It’s super easy, and provides for a great excursion!

Costs of Food and Drink

No lie, food and drink can get expensive in Amsterdam. But, it doesn’t have to. I saved in some areas, and splurged in others.

You know how much I love trying new vegan and veg-friendly restaurants when I travel, so I just had to spend a little extra on food. But, one of the best meals I had was falafel from a fast food restaurant with low prices.

If you’re really pressed for cash, then go to a local grocery store and buy ingredients to cook. If cooking isn’t an option, I’ve also bought pre-made meals from stores that were both delicious and cheap!

I save already by drinking water instead of soda with my meals, and I rarely drink alcohol. Because I went to the Heineken Experience, I got two beers included in the ticket price. So, budget-wise, that is a good deal on drinks.

Amsterdam on a Budget: Vegan Plate

Costs of Sightseeing and Activities

All my days in Amsterdam were full, and all were days I learned something new. We had activities planned for two of the four days, and left everything else to chance.

Two of our experiences were on the expensive side, at 19 and 21 euros. However, not all experiences in Amsterdam are expensive.

I chose to spend more on the Van Gogh Museum, and managed to save on visiting Anne Frank House.

Some of the best sightseeing I got to do was on foot. Destiney and I walked everywhere, saw the winding streets, visited the Jewish Quarter, and took a free ferry to north Amsterdam for a quiet morning. All of these experiences were 100% free, and very enjoyable!

Heineken Brewery

Amsterdam on a Budget?

After my experience there, I definitely would not consider Amsterdam to be a budget destination. However, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be done on a tight budget! All it takes is some flexibility and careful planning.

I recommend that you allot the largest amount of your budget to accommodations, and save money on other aspects of your trip. Museums and other sightseeing activities can be done for a more affordable price. For example, a visit to Anne Frank House is only 10.80 euros.

Food and drink is not cheap, but you can skimp on a few meals by getting delicious falafel at a fast food joint or go to the grocery store to buy ingredients and pre-made meals.

Transport is the easiest area of your budget where you can save. Amsterdam is a small city, so walk if you are able! I didn’t spend a penny on transportation within Amsterdam the entire time I was there.

. . .

As you can see, Amsterdam on a budget is a reality, as long as you plan in advance and choose carefully where you’ll splurge.

What are you most excited to see and do in Amsterdam?

I hope you enjoy your time there–and that your wallet does, too!

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Background: houses in Amsterdam
Text: How to budget for traveling to Amsterdam

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7 Comments

  1. I’m a serious budgeter when I have to be! And when I was in Amsterdam backpacking that was definitely the case! It’s true that with a little planning, your money can go a long way!

  2. Francesca says:

    I feel like any city can be affordable if you want it to be. It’s all about going at the right time. The Anne Frank House is definitely worth factoring into the budget. I also agree with you about most of the spending going to accommodations!

    1. I completely agree! A friend that visited Amsterdam before I did quoted outrageous prices for everything, but that wasn’t the case when I went.

  3. I also found Amsterdam to be pretty expensive!! But it’s great to know that there are options for budget travel – will def keep this in mind for next time!!

    1. Amsterdam certainly makes a budget traveler get creative! I did end up spending more than I would have in a budget destination, but I spent less than I expected I would.

  4. Great tips! Amsterdam has been on my bucket list for quite a while now. I hope I can make there it very soon 🙂

    1. I hope you can, too! Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in Europe.

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