Free things to do in Amsterdam

By Janette

Marketeer and social media expert who just "happens" to speak Chinese fluently. Moved to the capital one year ago and shares her Amsterdam discoveries with you.

September 4, 2019

When coming to Amsterdam, you want to get the most of it the few days that you are here. And who says having a good time has to be expensive? Of course, you can do one of the many (free) walking tours. But there are so much more hidden gems in the City of Diamonds that don’t cost a dime. That is why I created a top 10 list of free things to do in Amsterdam. Visit one (or more) of these “instagrammable” spots in Amsterdam.

1. Free guided Diamond Tour

tour at royal coster diamonds

Okay, so maybe this one is kind of an open door. But did you know we offer free guided tours through our diamond polishing factory in more than 35 languages? Royal Coster Diamonds is the oldest diamond polishing factory in the world. Our guides take you on a trip through the mystical world of diamonds. They tell you stories about our rich heritage. They explain the way to evaluate a diamond and show you some amazing stones.

Book a free guided tour

2. Amsterdam’s nature

vondelpark overview

Earlier, I already wrote about the Vondelpark in the heart of Amsterdam. The park is an inspiration for photographers, painters, poets, and many other artist. And when you walk around, you immediately see why. The English landscape makes you think you are in the middle of a forest instead of a city park. The iconic bridges between the ponds and river banks make the Vondelpark truly picturesque.

If you are looking for a larger place to walk, you can go to the Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos). This (landscaped) forest is four times as large as Central Park in New York. The forest has small pools, biking trails and a river. It is such a beautiful place that some couples even decide to get married here.

Show Amsterdamse Bos on the map

3. The Magere Brug

skinny bridge in amsterdam

Go to the Magere Brug, or “Skinny Bridge”. This bridge is also known as the Amsterdam Kissing Bridge. It is a small white double drawbridge over the Amstel River that runs through the city. The stems from 1672 and is one of the most beautiful bridges in Amsterdam. There are many stories about how and why this small bridge was built. But all stories have the same message: a message of love. A kiss on (or under) the bridge means a love that lasts forever. It is therefore also a very popular spot to pop the big question.

Plan route to The Magere Brug

4. Flower Market

Stop and smell the roses at the famous floating flower market in the city center. The flower market, or “Bloemenmarkt” in Dutch, is the only floating market in the world. The market stalls are actually on boats, lying in the canals. This stems from the time when people supplied flowers by water from outside the city. It may not look like it today, but the market actually quite old since it exists since 1862. At the market, you can of course buy flowers and flower bulbs to take home. But it is also spectacular to just see and smell all these colorful plants.

Navigate to the flower market

5. NDSM Wharf

Perhaps not entirely in the city center, but still a nice one of the free things to do in Amsterdam. Besides, Amsterdam North is definitely worth a visit! In particular the NDSM wharf. Take a free ferry to the NDSM wharf from Amsterdam Central station (it runs every 30 minutes) and get a great view over the city. But don’t go back just yet! The industrial harbor itself is quite interesting as well. Over the years, the abandoned shipyard turned into an avant-garde arts community. Explore the many art projects like (junk) sculptures, the giant tiki head and some nice graffiti art. At the NDSM are often festivals or other parties, so it’s worth checking the agenda before heading to the wharf.

Plan route to the NDSM Wharf

6. Westergasfabriek

For those who enjoy culture in all its splendor, visit the Westergasfabriek. The historical site, built in 1880 as a gas factory, is transformed into a cultural village in the heart of Amsterdam. From music and hospitality to theater and performance. And from film and photography to art and dance events. This place celebrates creativity, diversity and freedom. Did you plan your visit on the Sunday of the month? Then you’re in for a treat! There is a big (free!) market with lots of art, fashion & design, funky products, drinks and bites and live music. Discover Amsterdam like the locals at this cultural hotspot.

Go to Westergasfabriek

7. Albert Cuypmarkt

Feel like a true Dutchy at the largest local market in the Netherlands. There are fabrics, cheeses, small supplies, fruits, spices, cosmetics, socks, fish and many Dutch snacks and dishes. The goods are not free, but it is a treat to windows-shop and explore all the traditional Dutch goods. The area around the market is also a nice place to visit. This area is called “the Pijp”. It used to be a residential area but is now a true hotspot.

Go to the Albert Cuyp Market

8. Schuttersgallerij

One place that definitely deserves a spot on our list of free things to do in Amsterdam is the Schuttersgallerij. Here you gaze upon an impressive Civic Guard gallery. You can find the gallery on Kalverstraat / St. Luciensteeg in the city center. The gallery is in a small passageway, so if you do not know what to look for, it is easy to miss. But isn’t that what makes it so charming? The gallery features a combination of Old Dutch Master portrait paintings and some modern artwork. It is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM and is freely accessible.

Explore the Schuttersgallerij

9. Windmill De Gooyer

What is a visit to Amsterdam without seeing an authentical windmill? Fortunately, you don’t have to go to the countryside to spot them. The tallest wooden windmill of the Netherlands is simply inside the center of Amsterdam. Windmill ‘De Gooyer’ is a flour mill from 1725. It is not possible to take a visit inside the mill. But it is still a nice landmark to spot. A nice bonus is the local brewery that is next to it. “Brouwerij ‘t IJ” brews a selection of beers as well as seasonal and special occasion beers, all certified organic. However, note that the tour through the brewery is not free of charge.

Navigate to Windmill De Gooyer

10. Take a picture with Royal Miffy

man and woman taking selfie in Amsterdam

The last item on this list of free things to do in Amsterdam is at our front door. Here you can take a picture with the statue of “Royal Miffy”. This Miffy (Dutch: Nijnje) is truly a Dutch tribute. It is a unique combination of two subjects that are both characteristic for the Netherlands: Miffy and diamonds. The Dutch bunny is famous all over the world. And for centuries, people come to Amsterdam for the most beautiful diamonds. That is why Amsterdam’s nickname is “the City of Diamonds”. Therefore, this mosaic sparkling statue is a true representation of a Dutch legacy. But it also makes for a great sparkling picture. And hey, since you are here now anyway. How about that free guided diamond tour? 😉

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