Amsterdam for the Frugal Traveler

Amsterdam is a small city that is rich in art, history and culture. It also happens to be one of the most sophisticated cities in Europe and is very trendy. It has more canals than Venice, Italy and these 400 year old waterways are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amsterdam is considered an expensive city to visit, but there are hostels, vacation rentals and budget hotels in Amsterdam that offer affordable accommodation. Some ways to save money while visiting this picturesque city are:

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• Buy an OV-chipkaart for public transportation. It can be used for every type of transportation and gives automatic discounts to children under 12 years and seniors over 65 years. With this pass, you’ll pay less for each ride than if you buy a disposable ticket.

• Other cards that will save you money if you want to visit the numerous museums are the Iamsterdam Card or the Museum Card. The Iamsterdam card gives you free transportation and free entrance to more than 40 galleries and museums. It also gives you a free canal cruise as well as other things. The museum card is valid for one year and gives discounted entrance fees to every museum in the country. 

• There are many free activities besides strolling along the canals and enjoying a sidewalk café. There is the Amsterdam Light Festival during the winter that offers spectacular light sculptures in public places around the city.

• Amsterdam is host to many free concerts throughout the year as well as films, theater and parades to attend. 

• Bicycling is one of the best ways to see Amsterdam. Considered the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, the paths, signals, signs and traffic lights are designed for cyclists. There are places to rent bikes all over the city. Just make sure you learn about the rules and follow them even if the locals don’t.

Save on Food and Drink

A vacation rental offers the cheapest option for food because you can cook most of your own meals. When you want to go to a restaurant, avoid the tourist areas and try the smaller streets. There are fewer people and many inexpensive restaurants that have great food. 

• If the weather permits, you can pack a picnic lunch and visit Vondelpark or Westerpark where the scenery is beautiful, and there are lots of like-minded people having a great time. 

• Street food is a good and cheap option in Amsterdam. You can get good, cheap pizza, chips, fruit salads and much more. If you are strolling around the city, keep a look out for restaurants that have posted discount offers for certain items on the menu. 

• For beer and wine, the smaller pubs are cheaper. They are usually rustic and not modern. Several hostels have their own pubs. Hostels offer some of the cheapest accommodation. Some have private rooms with shared bathrooms and some have dorms. 

One surprising perk in Amsterdam is renting a canal boat. If the cost is shared among three or four people, it is negligible and having your own boat is great fun. You can cruise the canals, bring food, drink and even smoke if you want. A vacation in Amsterdam need not break your vacation budget. You can enjoy this extraordinary city and still save money with a little advanced planning and the right accommodation.

This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a complete travel platform that allows you to do everything from comparing charter flights and train rides, to finding the best resort hotels and Airbnb rentals.

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