Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Europe. However, it can also be one of the most expensive places to visit as a backpacker working on a tight budget. With some planning and smart choices, you can experience all that Amsterdam has to offer without breaking the bank. In this post, I’ll share my top tips for saving money in Amsterdam as a backpacker.
Your accommodations will likely be one of your biggest expenses in Amsterdam. To save money on lodging, consider booking a hostel instead of a hotel. Amsterdam has many excellent hostels located right in the city center that offer dorm beds for around 20-30 euros per night. Be sure to book in advance during peak season to get the best rates. You can also save a few euros per night by booking private rooms instead of dorms.
Public transportation is very convenient and affordable in Amsterdam. Purchase a multi-day “OV chipkaart” transit pass loaded with travel credit instead of paying for individual rides. Day passes start at around 7.50 euros for unlimited bus, tram, and metro access within city limits. The pass will save you money versus paying per ride, which costs around 3 euros each way on buses and trams. Consider renting a bike to get around—cycling is a core part of Amsterdam’s culture and a scenic way to explore the canals.
Guided Tours in Amsterdam
Instead of paying for expensive walking tours, opt for free walking tours offered by local volunteers. Sites like New Europe Tours and Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours offer informative 3-hour walks through the city at no cost—though tips are appreciated. You’ll learn the history and an insider’s perspective from knowledgeable guides. For a more in-depth look at museums, consider booking Guided Tours in Amsterdam from one of the many tour companies. These typically cost 15-30 euros and allow you to skip lines and get explanations from guides.
Food and Drink
Amsterdam is known for its amazing food scene, but restaurant meals can add up quickly. Some budget-friendly dining options include picnic lunches from Albert Heijn supermarkets, budget-friendly Indonesian rijsttafel spreads, and late-night fries and snacks from street vendors. Drink coffee and tea from the many affordable coffee shops instead of pricey café lattes. And enjoy happy hour drink specials at bars in the late afternoon and early evening.
Take advantage of Amsterdam’s many free activities to fill your days without spending money. Wander through the beautiful Vondelpark or relax along the canals. Check out street performances and live music. Visit museums on their free admission days, which are typically once a week. The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum all have free entry once per week.
Amsterdam makes a convenient base for day trips to other Dutch cities like Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, Utrecht and Rotterdam via affordable regional trains. Book day passes on the ov-chipkaart for unlimited travel. Day trips break up your time in Amsterdam and offer new perspectives on Dutch culture—all without needing overnight accommodations elsewhere. You may also opt for guided tours in Amsterdam to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Now that you have some tips on frugal activities, here are a few top hostel options in Amsterdam that offer dorm beds and private rooms for very reasonable rates:
- The Flying Pig Downtown Hostel – Centrally located hostel in a charming building with a lively common area and rooftop bar. Dorm beds from 20 euros.
- StayOkay Zeeburg – Huge hostel located a short tram ride from the city center with free breakfast and bike rentals. Dorm beds from 22 euros.
- Hotel Résidence Le Coin – Budget hotel just off Rembrandtplein with small but clean private rooms and a friendly vibe. Rooms from 50 euros.
- Cocomama Hostel – Funky hostel near Waterlooplein with female dorms, a kitchen, and activities like walking tours. Dorm beds from 25 euros.
- Shelter City – Eco-friendly hostel in a former squat with a relaxed atmosphere. Dorm beds from 22 euros.
I hope these tips help you experience all the magic of Amsterdam without breaking the bank!