Cheap Amsterdam: How To Keep Amsterdam Travel Cheap
This page gives you some tips for cheap Amsterdam travel: low cost
accommodation, cheap ways to get there and get around, cheaper food
options and discount museum access.
Tip! Get the I amsterdam City Card.
- Pay a one time fee
- Free public transport
- Free entrance to top attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt's House
- Many discounts within the city
- The pass is valid for up to 3 days
Get the I amsterdam City Card here!
Cheap Amsterdam Accommodation
A low-cost option is a (youth) hostel. Most will be around 25 euro a
night, and you'll have to search hard to find anything below 20 euros a
night. Be aware that some hostels typically cater to party people and
pot heads. If you like quiet places, consider a Christian youth hostel.
- Houseboats are a typical Amsterdam way to live, and you can rent
them often at mild prices. Don't mix them up with cruise boats -
houseboats are smaller boats that have a fixed (and registered) spot in
one of the canals. They're used as homes for up to 2 people.
- If you're staying for a longer time (e.g. one month or longer), it
can pay off to find an apartment to rent. Get yourself a bike, and
you're almost a full Amsterdammer. A tip: onderhuur (meaning
renting a place from somebody who also rents it) is usually not allowed,
but widely practised. It's an easy way to temporarily rent something
without complicated restrictions or paperwork. If you get caught by the
owners, you'll have to leave the house immediately.
Amsterdam Discount Cards
There are three Amsterdam discount cards which may save you hundreds of euros. Get yourself the appropriate card:
- The Iamsterdam Card (formerly the Amsterdam Pass) caters to foreign
visitors. You buy a card for 24, 48 or 72 hours and in this time slot
you have free access to all but a few Amsterdam museums, free use of
trams, subway and buses in Amsterdam (but not trains) and discounts at
- The Museumkaart (Museum Card) is best if you're staying for a longer
time. For a flat annual fee, you have free access to practically all
- The CJP card (Cultural Youth Pass) is only for people up to 30
years. For a flat annual fee, you get (often considerable) discounts on
museum and concert tickets, movies, CDs, books, clothes, magazine
Finding Cheap Amsterdam Flights
Check my other pages for low-cost flights:
Cheap Amsterdam Transport
- A cheap (and fast) way to get around town is by bicycle: around 10
euros/day plus discounts for extensions, at MacBike (Central Station) or
Yellow Bike (Nieuwezijds Kolk 29, 3 minutes walking from the Central
Station). This is of course the authentic Amsterdam experience! If
you're staying for 1-2 weeks or more, it pays off to buy a cheap bike.
All the Amsterdam attractions are located within the old city centre and
this is really quite small.
- The second cheapest option is public transportation: tram, metro and
bus (in that order). It's cheap, fast and during the days there's a
tram or metro every 10 minutes on most lines. As we wrote, the I
Amsterdam Card gives free access to public transportation in Amsterdam
(but not trains). If you don't have that, you need a PT smart card (OV chipkaart, which has now fully replaced the old blue or pink paper tickets or strippenkaarten).
Buy a disposable smart card, valid for one hour, inside trams or buses
(but not inside the metro!). Or buy disposable smart cards for longer
time slots (up to 168 hour, or a full week) on Amsterdam train or subway
- There are a few bicycle taxis (rikshas) in the city centre (Dam Square and elsewhere) - they're fun and inexpensive.
- Don't use cars within Amsterdam, or taxis. Parking space for cars is
expensive (up to 4 euro/hour), and taxis are too. For travel between
the city centre and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, take the train. For a
couple of euros, the train brings you right below Schiphol's departure
hall in 20-25 minutes. Also take trains (and additionally public buses)
for visiting the region around Amsterdam. The Dutch railway system isn't
expensive and it's very efficient.
Cheap Amsterdam Food
- If you don't like cheap restaurants, you can also buy delicious
ready made sandwiches or prepared dinners for less than cafeteria prices
at some luxurious Albert Heijn grocery shops (i.e. at the Central
Station or near the Dam Square).
- With main courses starting at 5 euros, you can eat lunch (if they're
open already) or dinner at many Surinamese, Chinese, Thai or Indonesian
places. They're fun for people watching, since they are frequented by
all kinds of people, students, artists, etc. Try for example Kam Yin at
Warmoesstraat 6 or the quite famous Nam Kee at Zeedijk 111.
- The University of Amsterdam (UvA) has two cheap restaurants (the
Atrium at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237 and the Agora at the Roetersstraat
complex) that are accessible to everyone - although there's an extra
discount for UvA students. Main courses start from 5 euros. You can have
lunch and dinner here in a nice intellectual, typically Amsterdam
- For very cheap groceries, go to any Aldi supermarket.
Cheap Amsterdam Lounging & Internet
- Many bigger Amsterdam cafés (grand cafes like Cafe De Jaren, Cafe
Dantzig, Cafe Luxembourg...) have reading tables with a score of the
latest quality newspapers and magazines. For the price of a cup of
coffee, you can spend many nice reading and lounging hours here.
- Some public libraries ('Openbare Bibliotheken') also have a reading
corner with cheap coffee and even more newspapers and magazines. Their
other advantage is that many also have cheap or free internet access.
The best place is the Central Library (Centrale Bibliotheek) a few
hundred meters east of the Central Station.