How to explore Amsterdam on a budget in 3 days


Amsterdam. The city where anything goes, anyone can be who they want to be and where there are more bikes than people. Its buildings are beautiful and the people are amazingly friendly. I love it! My 3 days in Amsterdam on a budget were fantastic and I can’t wait to return!

The Ultimate guide to spending 3 days in Amsterdam on a Budget

Having a winter break around Christmas just makes me feel so festive. And to be honest, I’m disappointed with myself for not making it over there earlier in life. From the UK it’s a tiny 40-minute flight. I’ve honestly spent longer getting to work which is just crazy! There is so much to do in just 3 days in Amsterdam, I know I could have spent months here and still be eating and drinking my way around, but a few days here are still fantastic.

Here’s my guide to seeing the main sites in 3 days in Amsterdam and my daily Amsterdam budget to help you plan your trip.

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Getting there and around Amsterdam

Trains from Schipol airport run to Central Station every hour, cost just $5 one-way and the journey take less than 20 minutes. Tickets for this journey can be bought online in advance, or from the main ticket office or the ticket machines inside the airport itself. Heading to the main office might be easier as the machines only accept coins or bank cards but not notes.

Once you’re in Amsterdam is incredibly easy to walk around and there’s a fantastic and inexpensive bus and tram system. The trams have a number of tickets available that are active for a different time length. You can buy a one hour ticket for €2.90 on the tram but If you are going to travel round entirely on public transport I would recommend getting a disposable OV chip card that is valid for 24 hours up to 7 days as this is the best way to see loads of Amsterdam in 3 days. A 24 hour card is €7.50 and is literally valid for 24 hours from when you bought it. Don’t forget to touch in and out on the trams or buses using the pads by the doors.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a way to blend in with the locals, hire a bike and explore the city using the cycle paths.

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Where to stay in Amsterdam on a budget

If you’re looking for a fun hotel in Amsterdam then you should definitely check out the quirky Hotel Not Hotel. I stayed here during my trip and it’s excellent location, friendly atmosphere and affordability make it a fantastic base for visiting Amsterdam on a budget. You can read my review here and check availability below.

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Day 1

Breakfast: Grab a yummy croissant from a bakery for a quick breakfast and walk with it. This city is just too good to miss!  €2

Morning: Book yourself onto a free walking tour with Sandemans. I do these wherever I go and they’re a brilliant way to see the sights and talk to a local for tips. The tours really are free, they just ask for tips of a value you deem suitable. It starts in Dam Square and you get shown loads of highlights in the area. I would suggest €15 per person to be a good tip.

Afternoon: Grab lunch in one of the many cafes or coffee shops. The Bulldog cafe is right in the heart of the red light district and is a tribute to the founders of the area. Remember that weed is kinda legalised here so expect to see quite a lot of that going around! A comforting toasted Panini with chips and a drink will cost you around €10

Talking of the red light district, the girls here are working day and night. I would recommend seeing the area in the daytime and at night just to see the difference. There are girls from all sorts of backgrounds working for all sorts of reasons. Sex workers are completely legal in Amsterdam and the girls all work for themselves. Just make sure you respect them and don’t take photos! If you want to know a bit more about the Red Light District then check out this site.

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Dinner: head out for a traditional Dutch meal at one of the many restaurants. One thing that Amsterdam has is an abundance of places to eat and drink! A typical traditional meal is called Stamppot, which is basically sausage and mash but it’s delicious! I would highly recommend Cafe Sonneveld for a delicious and budget-friendly dinner. It has a friendly a cosy atmosphere and a load of beers to choose from and is a short walk away from Anne Frank House. €15 for the meal and a beer

Looking to visit Amsterdam for a long weekend? It's an amazing city to explore any time of the year. Find out how to visit Amsterdam on a budget here.

The delicious traditional Stammpot from the cosy Sonneveld Cafe.

Night: Head into Centrum to explore the crazy nightlife. There are about 17484893476 bars and cafes to head to and just make sure you look above and below your eyesight as there are places hidden everywhere. Also, the locals are dressed pretty casually for nights out so don’t worry about what you’re wearing! Cost of drinks varies from anything from €3 for a beer to €13 for a cocktail or a mixer. Oh BTW if you like Gin then you’ll be pleased to hear they serve it in glasses the size of your head. No crappy tiny servings here!

Amsterdam daily budget

€52 for the food and walking tour. The evening is up to you!

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Day 2

Morning: Visit The Anne Frank House. This house wasn’t at all how I imagined it would be but I cannot recommend this enough. The story of how Anne, her family and friends hid here for so long is just mind-blowing and incredibly sad, but it is not something that can be ignored! Tickets are ONLY available on the official website and I would recommend trying to book in advance. You will need to choose a time and be there for that slot. If you don’t want to get a ticket, entrance is only available after 3.30pm and you’ll probably be queuing for miles. BUT I was told on the free walking tour that there are often tickets held back that become available each morning for that day so check that out (I told you these walking tours were bloody handy!) Cost of tickets are €9 per adult.

Anne Frank's House where 8 people hid in the secret annex for 2 years

Looking to visit Amsterdam for a long weekend? It’s an amazing city to explore any time of the year. Find out how to visit Amsterdam on a budget here.

Afternoon: Take a walk around the beautiful Vondelpark and stop for a chill out at Het Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Tea House) with its large veranda overlooking the park. There are also loooads of dog walkers here so if you’re a big dog fan (like me) then this is great! A lovely creamy Cappuccino here is just €2.50

Museumplein is just a little bit further on form Vondelpark which is where you will find the famous IAmsterdam sign. It’s busy but you should be able to get some fun pictures of this. There are always people climbing on top of the letters so do what you fancy! In the winter there is also a skating rink if you fancy.

Museumplein isn’t called this for the sake of it. It is home to the newly refurbished Rijks Museum (Museum of Amsterdam) and the Van Gough Museum. Tickets are 17.50 for adults for the Rijks and  €17 for adults for Van Gough and both are free for under 18s.

the VERY busy Iamsterdam sign at Museumplein

Looking to visit Amsterdam for a long weekend? It’s an amazing city to explore any time of the year. Find out how to visit Amsterdam on a budget here.

Evening: During the winter, Amsterdam hosts a fab Light Festival from the beginning of December through to January. There are 2 routes- a walking one and a canal one. Now no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a canal trip, so why not take a night canal boat ride to see the displays! I actually booked a ticket for this from Sandemans (they offer a number of other paid tours) for €22 and you get free hot chocolate and mulled wine. You can also take your own booze on there as well! The tour starts from just in front of Centrum Station which is a proper gem to see.

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Dinner: Head over to China Town which is right next to Nieuwmarkt and the Red Light District for some delicious food. Amsterdam is a very diverse and multicultural city so you’ll find a variety of Asian restaurants here (not just Chinese). I had a massive meal and drink here for just €14

Night: The Jordaan neighbourhood is where all the locals are at. It was originally where the working class lived but it has since evolved to be full of artsy and boutique shops, bars and restaurants, but without being obnoxious about it. The great thing about Amsterdam is that everyone is welcome everywhere, no matter where you’re from.

Amsterdam daily budget

€82 (if you were to visit both museums) per adult plus whatever you drink in the evenings  

 ••Sooo I didn’t actually visit the Rijks or the Van Gough Museum, simply because I think they are quite expensive. I think the outside of the Rijks Museum is beautiful enough anyway. By missing these I saved myself €34.50 so the day could be done a lot cheaper!••

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Day 3

Morning: Catch the free ferry from behind Amsterdam Central over to Amsterdam-Noord. Here you will find another, far less busy IAmsterdam sign, the Eye Film Institute and Pekmarkt, along with a number of other fantastic places to visit. It has a very different feel to the rest of the city as it looks like it’s still being built. The things to do are quite spread out, so you can always hire a bike to get around easier and join in with the locals. I look forward to seeing how this neighbourhood changes over the next few years!

Afternoon: Hit the shops in The Nine Streets right in the heart of the Canal District. There are loads of boutiques, bars and cafes to enjoy. It’s a great place to pick up a souvenir that’s unique and not from a standard souvenir shop.

No trip to the Netherlands would be complete without some tulips so a visit to the Flower Market, or Bloemenmarkt, is a must. Somehow I didn’t know this, but this flower market was floating, and it is actually the world’s only floating flower market. Even in the winter, the stalls are beautifully colourful and lively.

Dinner/Evening: So you may be wondering why this has all been lumped together, but let me tell you, spending a whole evening at Foodhallen is easily done! This was honestly my favourite place to eat and drink during my time in Amsterdam. It is Amsterdam’s first indoor food market and it just works SO well. There are loads of different foods from around the world and a bunch of bars to get drinks from. If you haven’t already had one by now, you need to try some Bitterballen from De Ballen Bar, some Dim Sum from Viet View and a huge sharing bread from Maza.  Basically, I ate myself into a food coma and washed it down with masses of Gin and Beer. But this is what Foodhallen is all about! it’s busy and lively and loads of fun. P.s. There is also a photo booth inside which I got a bit obsessed with!

Amsterdam daily budget

This is a bit more difficult as it completely depends on what you buy when shopping and how much you eat and drink. When I went over to Noord, I didn’t spend anything. I just enjoyed the neighbourhood and its architecture. in Foodhallen, Beers start from as little as €2.75 for Heineken and Gins are from €11. I grazed on a number of food stalls and probably spent €7 per stall for a snack-sized portion just to try things.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Leave a comment with your favourite things to do!

Looking for a great budget friendly winter get-away? Look no further than beautiful Amsterdam! Find out what this city has to offer here
Looking for a great budget friendly winter get-away? Look no further than beautiful Amsterdam! Find out what this city has to offer here

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