By Scott Roane
Wherever you are in the world, recent headlines have been dominated by rising food prices, rising inflation and fuel prices on the up. It’s enough to put anyone off taking a well deserved break. But there is good news. In my opinion many of the best things to do in Amsterdam are absolutely free, or cost very little. Of course there are the obvious red-light district (where you can look for free!), the UNESCO-protected canal belt, the Vondelpark and the famous markets, but there’s a lot more too. You just have to know where to look for them. And to be honest, many of these free things will bring you a little bit closer to real life in Amsterdam.
- Free internet and WiFi in the Public Library (Openbaar bibliotheek) near to central station. While you’re there, take a trip up to the cafe, La Place, on the 7th floor for a magnificent view of Amsterdam. This is a great place at sunset..
- Visit the Amsterdam Manege in the Vondelpark. It’s a working stables right in the middle of the city and the architecture is spectacular – modelled on the famous Viennese Riding School
- Behind central station there are four different ferries, three of which you can ride for free. The far left ferry signed to NDSM Werf takes about 10 minutes to the far shore, and travels to the west of Amsterdam up the river Ij. Along the way you’ll see a lot of new architecture including the space age Film Museum which will open early 2012. Once you’re landed, enjoy the peace and quiet with a Dutch Coffee Verkeerd (typical Dutch latte-style coffee) at either Noorderlicht, on board the wooden clipper Pollux or at the IJKantine. Anther option is to take the 30-min ferry ride (on the far right) to the KNSM Island (around Euro 1 return). This too passes some of the modern architectural gems of Amsterdam, such as the MuziekGebouw Music Hall.
- Sign up for a canal trip on a restored historic canal boat run by the St Nicolaas Boat Club . It’s free, but it would be nice if you could support them with a donation. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis.
- The Schuttersgallerij, part of the Amsterdam Historical Museum, displays 15 enormous life-size portraits of civic guards from the 17th Century on the walls of the street between Kalverstraat and Begijinhof. Possibly the only place where you would find priceless artworks casually hung on a street. They are however protected by glass.
Check back next month for more free things to do in Amsterdam!