Jetsetter – 42 THINGS TO DO FOR FREE IN AMSTERDAM

With its blockbuster museums, cutting-edge design and a Michelin-starred restaurant for every month of the year, the Dutch capital can be heavy on the wallet. Amsterdam local Mark Smith gives us his top tips for exploring the city free of charge.

1
See awesome art

The legendary Rijksmuseum garden is always a safe bet if you want to catch monumental art, and sculptural works in the garden are always free. To celebrate the 60th birthday of Holland’s most famous cartoon export, Nijntje (the adorable bunny known as Miffy outside the Netherlands), the garden currently features two giant customized versions of the rabbit by Dutch artists Rob Scholte and Irma Boom. They’re part of a wider (and also free) Miffy Art Parade throughout the city and beyond. On the wide, Hendrik Berlage–designed avenues of the monied residential districts to the south of Amsterdam, the biannual ArtZuid sculpture trail features striking works by eminent sculptors including Tony Cragg and Frank Stella.

2
Listen to music

Keep your ear to the ground and you can find a free gig practically every day of the year in Amsterdam. The Dutch National Opera & Ballet puts on free concerts at 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday, while Het Concertgebouw holds its free lunch shows at the same hour on Wednesdays. In De Pijp, the Badcuyp jazz venue has a number of gratis concerts every week, including Sunday Night Jazz. The Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ features free lunch concerts one Tuesday each month, and the neighboring, jazz-focused Bimhuis offers at least one free evening jam session or show per week. Jazz fans should also check out Jazz Café Alto, which hosts intimate get togethers every day of the week from local musicians like the famed Dutch saxophonist Hans Dulfer

3
Check out the views

With elm-lined canals and more bridges than Venice, Amsterdam has no shortage of free vantage points from which to observe its never-ending program of water-based festivities. Every summer the city hosts Canal Pride, the world’s only floating parade, with brightly colored boats and wild events like the Drag Queen Olympics; for the best view, head to the the banks of the Prinsengracht. In mid- to late August, the Grachtenfestival comes to town. The classical music extravaganza culminates in a free-for-all concert performed on platforms on the waters of the Prinsengracht. The spectacle at the heart of the SAIL Amsterdam event is the arrival of the tall ships, which you can see (for free!) from the roof of the ship-shaped, Renzo Piano–designed Nemo children’s science museum.

4
Ogle diamonds

Amsterdam has a long history as a trading and polishing center for the jewel trade, and both of Amsterdam’s most famous bling factories, Coster and Gassan, offer tours of its sparkling buildings for free. Naturally, both places encourage you to exit through the gift shop. Time to make your excuses and leave.

5
Play games

Named for Holland’s first and only world chess champion, the Max Euweplein, with its giant chessboard and amphitheater terrace, is a meeting point for serious players. Should you fail to snag a board there, kill some time with a visit to the little-known but no less free Max Euwe Centrum chess museum. Or decamp to the city’s other alfresco playing field, which is under the trees in front of the Tropenmuseum. In the Westerpark racket sports are the thing. The tennis courts at Big Ali tennis club are free to the public daily until 1 p.m. and whenever lessons aren’t in session. There’s also a gratis ping-pong table.

6
Take a dip

Unless you’re participating in the annual Amsterdam City Swim event, avoid a dip in the canals at all cost. Come summertime, Amsterdam’s outlying green spaces offer numerous opportunities for dippers and divers to swim in nature. Among the finest examples are the Stootersplas lake in Het Twiske, the natural recreation area to the north of Amsterdam, and the amazing Nieuwe Meer, whose banks are filled with beer-sipping sunbathers and adorable cattle.

7
Go museum-hopping

Although many of Amsterdam’s big name cultural institutions require an entrance fee, some have areas that can be accessed free of charge. At the striking, shark-like EYE Film Museum don’t miss the ground-floor “EYE pods” (which tell the story of filmmaking in the Netherlands and farther afield). Similarly, the Schuttersgalerij (Civic Guards’ Gallery) of the Amsterdam Museum is an impressive alleyway lined with art depicting the city’s historical elite, from merchants to soccer players. Spend an afternoon exploring Stadsarchief (City Archive), which chronicles Amsterdam’s evolution via remarkable photographs, documents, and early film footage.

8
Sample good eats

Tempting morsels of cheese, bread and meat dot the aisles of the many branches of gourmet supermarkets Marqt. Although it may look like an upscale café, Property Of… is actually the European flagship store for the Singaporean men’s bag brand. Everyone who works there is a trained barista and will happily offer you a free coffee, whether you’re browsing or just blagging. A less glamorous way of getting caffeinated gratis is to hit up one of branches of the national grocery chain Albert Heijn, which offer complimentary paper cups of house-brand but good coffee. If you happen to be in the Oud-West district, try the one on Jan Pieter Heijestraat.

8
Sample good eats

Tempting morsels of cheese, bread and meat dot the aisles of the many branches of gourmet supermarkets Marqt. Although it may look like an upscale café, Property Of… is actually the European flagship store for the Singaporean men’s bag brand. Everyone who works there is a trained barista and will happily offer you a free coffee, whether you’re browsing or just blagging. A less glamorous way of getting caffeinated gratis is to hit up one of branches of the national grocery chain Albert Heijn, which offer complimentary paper cups of house-brand but good coffee. If you happen to be in the Oud-West district, try the one on Jan Pieter Heijestraat.

9
Explore neighborhoods

The GVB ferry from behind Central Station take passengers, bikes, dogs and the occasional lazy seagull across the waters of the IJ over to Amsterdam Noord for free. Once you arrive at Buiksloterweg, speak to the charming staff members at the Tourist Information Point; they’ll be happy to arm you with free maps of bike tours for in and around the up-and-coming district. Back on the more traveled side of the water, the red-shirted crew at Sandeman’s Tours offers an excellent three-hour walking jaunt throughout the city. Friday Night Skate, which has been a proud Amsterdam tradition since 1997, is a weekly procession of in-line skaters of all skill levels, who rock-and-roll their way across tarmac, cobblestones and pavement. Just bring your own skates.

These and other things to do for free:
http://www.jetsetter.com/feature/42-things-to-do-for-free-in-Amsterdam?nm=splashMagazine

1 Comments

  1. Great article, thanks! Maybe http://www.pubcrawlsamsterdam.com is a nice addition to the list? This website has all kinds of pub crawls in Amsterdam that are free of charge.

    Cheers, Michiel

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