Free Things To Do in Amsterdam
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Located southwest of the city center, the 116-acre Vondelpark is the favorite leafy retreat of just about everyone. Not only is it the largest city park in Amsterdam, it's also one of the most revered in all of the Netherlands. Most recent travelers said they enjoyed people-watching and picnicking at the park, but other reviewers recommend avoiding a late-night visit as the park can be a little frightening once the sun sets. During the day, though, the park is filled with couples, families and friends, and is definitely worth a visit.
Ponds, fields and playgrounds are connected by winding paths, which also run by an open-air theater, a rollerblade rental, a rose garden, several cafes and a range of statues and sculptures. Open dawn to dusk, you can take trams 1, 2 or 5 to the Leidseplein, and you'll have just a quick two-minute walk to reach the park's entrance. The park is free to visit.
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If you love history, culture and food, then you'll want to save time for a stroll or a guided tour through Amsterdam's Jordaan area. Located a few blocks west of the city's main train station and bordered by the Brouwersgracht, Prinsengracht, Leidsegracht and Lijnbaansgracht canals, this scenic neighborhood is packed with eateries, specialty shops, bars and art galleries. Plus, you'll find the Anne Frank House and the Nine Little Streets just east of the Jordaan's eastern perimeter.
Travelers highly recommend walking around the Jordaan, adding that its cool vibe, beautiful setting and top-notch cafes and restaurants more than justify a visit. Don't forget to bring your camera, since visitors say the area offers ample photo opportunities. For a more in-depth look at the neighborhood's food scene, consider signing up for Eating Amsterdam Food Tours' Jordaan Food Tour. Or, visit on a Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to enjoy the Jordaan's Biologische Noordermarkt (a market with vendors selling baked goods, local cheeses, crepes and more).
- #6View all PhotosfreeLeidseplein#6 in Amsterdam0.5 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/Area, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/Area, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're looking for a tamer alternative to Amsterdam's Red Light District, Leidseplein or Leiden Square, may be for you. The center of Amsterdam's entertainment scene, Leidseplein sits southwest of the city center and is filled with nightclubs, movie theaters, concert venues, casinos and, of course, some coffee shops. For the performing arts, the Melkweg (Milky Way) concert hall and the Stadsschouwburg city theater are of particular note.
Leidseplein is the place to be if you enjoy mixing with the masses. If crowds aren't your thing, you should steer clear of this area – definitely don't book a hotel or hostel here – or maybe head to the nearby Vondelpark instead. Travelers were also pleasantly surprised by the quantity and variety of restaurants huddled in the neighborhood, though they do warn of high prices at the bars.
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De Negen Straatjes, or the Nine Little Streets, are exactly that – nine streets that run between the Prinsengracht and Singel canals and are lined with shops and boutiques. (For your orientation, the Singel is the first main canal that wraps around the city center.) Vintage clothing shops nestle alongside accessories stores and interior design boutiques, and hours vary by store.
Recent travelers called the area a lovely place to stroll and said it was less touristy than other parts of the city. Though you'll likely rub elbows with plenty of other travelers, you'll also encounter your fair share of locals.
- #9View all PhotosfreeDe Pijp#9 in Amsterdam1.2 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
De Pijp, which is also called the Latin Quarter, is known for its 19th-century architecture and its collision of different cultures. Here, you'll find ethnic restaurants, eclectic shops and the tranquil Sarphatipark. The Heineken Experience sits on the northern edge of the neighborhood. Travelers say that De Pijp feels less touristy and more like authentic Amsterdam. They also call it the heart of the city for young people thanks to its beatnik vibe and trendy eateries.
You'll also find the famous street market, Albert Cuyp Market, here Mondays through Saturdays. To start wandering, you might want to find Gerard Douplein square on your Amsterdam map, hitting a cafe and starting your meanderings from there. You can also take either the 3, 4, 12, 16 or 24 tram to reach this happenin' neighborhood, or just walk about a mile south of the city center. Several of the city's top guided tours also stop in the neighborhood.
- #12View all Photos#12 in Amsterdam6.8 miles to city centerFree, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND6.8 miles to city centerFree, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Measuring more than 6 feet tall and 77-plus feet wide, the red-and-white "I amsterdam" sign is a prime place for a photo op. You'll find the main set of letters situated inside Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; however, multiple versions are typically on display throughout the city.
Although some previous visitors were disappointed that the main sign no longer sits in front of the Rijksmuseum, many enjoyed snapping pics of the smaller version at the airport. An additional set of letters appears at various events throughout the year, so if you plan on attending a large festival while in town, look around to see if the sign is on-site. You can also spot the letters while jogging the track by Sloterplas lake, but some characters in this set lie flat, so it's not ideal for photographing.
- #22View all PhotosfreeZandvoort#22 in Amsterdam15.5 miles to city centerBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND15.5 miles to city centerBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
You probably knew about Amsterdam's canals, but what about its beach? Just about 20 miles west of the city center is a place called Zandvoort, a strip of sand that borders the North Sea. Experts say Zandvoort is at its best in the summertime, though recent visitors say a trip here in the offseason is also worthwhile since it lacks the summertime crowds.
Along with its wide shoreline, Zandvoort also boasts a variety of trendy beach clubs, including the popular Tijn Akersloot and Safari Lounge. When you've had your fill of the beach, explore the town – a recommendation from past visitors.
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