Seriously, if there’s just one city you visit this year, or next year, or the year after, then make it Amsterdam. I’ve just got back from my 3rd trip to this glorious European capital, after a 10 year hiatus, and am delighted to say I found it even better than I remember. You know those places you revisit after holding them fondly in your memory for a long period of time … and they fail to live up to your expectations. Well Amsterdam was the opposite of that.
The unofficial centre of the city, visiting Dam Square is definitely one of the top 10 free things to do in Amsterdam. With some very regal-looking buildings around, which are beautifully illuminated at night, this is a great spot to wander around and take in the views, especially after dark.
Another great free thing to do in Amsterdam at night is to experience the infamous Red Light District. No longer just a seedy area, this part of the city has ironically evolved into the city’s major tourist hub. Girls in windows aside, there is a great atmosphere throughout these cobbled streets, with plenty of places to stop for a drink amidst all the hussle and bustle. Many free walking tours in Amsterdam can give you more information about this area as well as its history – here’s my pick of the bunch.
If green spaces are more your thing, then heading to Vondelpark, one of Amsterdam’s oldest and most popular parks, is a super free thing to do in the city. Take a picnic and relax under a shady tree like we did, or check out the park’s fantastic schedule of free performances. From contemporary dance to children’s theatre, this place is a hit with locals and tourists alike.
Another favourite green space for the Dutch locals here, is Amsterdam Bos – a huge park set further out from the city centre. Catching public transport or cycling here will definitely get you off the beaten tourist track and give you a great, authentic glimpse of how Amsterdammers spend their spare time, especially during the summer.
Bloemenmarkt, the city’s most famous flower market is definitely one of the best free things to do in Amsterdam. Tulips are, of course, Holland’s most famous flower, but they only bloom during the Spring. If you visit Amsterdam outside of this, there’s tons of other beautiful blooms you can see, smell or buy at this great canalside location too.
And if canals are your thing, then it’s hard to top the picturesque ones of Amsterdam’s Jordaan district. South of Rozengracht, where my favourites lay, there are many beautiful examples complete with colourful flower boxes, stylish vintage bikes and quaint front doors. So, if you want to snap some gorgeous Amsterdam pictures, then this is definitely a top spot to head for.