Amsterdam is packed full of free things to do and see! We lived there on a pretty tight budget and there was never a moment without something going on. We’ve listed our top FREE things to do in Amsterdam below.
Visit the UNESCO-listed canal ring
Visit Begijnhof, Amsterdam
Take a free ferry to Amsterdam Noord
Stroll through the famous Albert Cuypmarkt
Go to the floating flower market – Bloemenmarkt
See the famous Red Light District – De Wallen
Visit Amsterdam’s most popular park – Vondelpark
Pay a visit to The Catboat (De Poezenboot) – Canal Ring
See Amsterdam’s narrowest canal house – Singel
Visit the world’s first condom shop – Red Light District (De Wallen)
Explore the city on a free walking tour – Dam Square
See Amsterdam’s biggest church – Westerkerk
1. Visit the UNESCO-listed canal ring
Did you even go to Amsterdam if you don’t get lost amongst the city centre canals?
We took a while to come across this hidden gem but it really is an area of calm and tranquility in amongst the hustle and bustle of the city centre (and most importantly, FREE). If you are tired of the crowded city centre or perhaps just feeling a little cultural, open the big wooden door to find an oasis of peace and history.
Tip: People still live here! So don’t make too much noise.
3. Take a free ferry to Amsterdam Noord
Ferries from behind Centraal Station to Amsterdam Noord are free and there’s lots to see and do! This part of the city is definitely in a resurgent wave at the moment and this is one of the best rediscovered neighbourhoods to explore.
5. Go to the floating flower market – Bloemenmarkt
This is super central, so worth checking out if you’re in this part of town. It’s open daily between 9am and 5pm (sometimes some stalls are closed on a Sunday). Bloemenmarkt is one of the main suppliers of flowers to Amsterdam but it’s not just flowers – stalls feature lots of souvenirs, bulbs, delftware and there’s even a Christmas shop open 365 days of the year!
6. Wander through Amsterdam’s (in)famous red light district (De Wallen).
You’ve probably heard about this area of Amsterdam, and it’s probably all true. From brothels, sex shops and museums to peep shows and bars – the Red Light District has it all! Contrary to what people think, it’s a fun friendly atmosphere too – especially at the weekends. Make sure you go at night – that’s when it comes to life!
If you’re a cat lover, then this house boat is the one for you! De Pozenboot is the only animal sanctuary that actually floats. It’s a refuge for stray or abandoned cats and has been keeping cats safe and dry since 1968!
It’s free to visit, but they do rely on donations to keep going. You can visit between 1pm & 3pm every day except Wednesday and Sunday – but it’s worth keeping an eye on De Pozenboot website for the latest info.
If you were to go inside, you’d probably be able to stand in one spot and reach out to touch either side of the room! It’s city centre and on a canal, so keep an eye out for it when you’re exploring the city.
Fun fact: Back in the day, people would pay for land based on the width of the plot – hence why a lot of the architecture is narrow and tall!
10. Visit the world’s first condom shop ‘Condomerie’ – Red Light District (De Wallen)
Super close to Dam Square and the Red Light District, you will find the world’s first condom shop. Did you know that the Netherlands has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates of the world, together with Sweden and Switzerland?
This free walking tour will show you all the top attractions in Amsterdam and the expert guides can take you places that you can’t visit on a boat-trip or bus! It starts at the National Monument in Dam Square and usually finishes near Anne Frank House, find out full information over on their website.
12. See Amsterdam’s biggest church – Westerkerk (city centre)
Westerkerk church is the biggest in Amsterdam and free to visit (unless you want to go up the tower).
On Tuesdays, you will be able to hear the church bells perform which is a little different from what you would usually expect – it’s often classical compositions but also contemporary at times too like The Beatles!