The Netherlands largest city and capital is Amsterdam and many of the worlds top 500 companies are headquartered in Amsterdam. The city’s main attraction has to be its many cannabis shops, which draw millions of international visitors annually. However Amsterdam does have some other fabulous attractions worth mentioning such as the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and its red-light district. Here are some examples of affordable ways to enjoy Amsterdam, even though many people are simply drawn to Amsterdam because of curiosity in its drug policy concerning the open sale of all forms of cannabis.
1. If you travel to Amsterdam they have this IAMsterdam Card, which can be purchased to be used within 24, 48 or 72 hours. The largest card price will run you about 64 dollars. The card gives you access to free public transportation, a lot of the museums, and many other attractions. Over 30 places are totally free. Not to mention over 20 discounts at many other places, including restaurants.
2. Vondelpark is a beautiful park with scenic footpaths and waterways. There are always entertainers that will amuse you throughout the park, such as jugglers, mimes and palm readers. During the months of June, July and August you can find open air, free concerts to enjoy. There is a theater and a small amphitheater in the center of the park.
3. The Red Light District is famous because it is where the ladies of the evening conduct their business. However at night, the district comes alive with tourists and those that prey on tourists, but it is safe as long as your careful and stick to busy well lighted main streets. There are brothels everywhere, novelty shops and theaters. Pictures are strictly forbidden and if you do take one, your camera will most likely be snatched by someone and thrown into a canal.
4. At the large floating Bloemenmarkt “Flower Market”. The flowers are displayed on houseboats and other than than fresh ones, you can buy bulbs and sacks of seeds available for export directly to your home garden in America. The best thing for me is at least you don’t have to buy anything to enjoy the market, just enjoy the fragrances as they drift in the air and watch the people. Everyone adores flowers.
5. The Muziektheater and the Concertgebouw have free rehearsal concerts most weeks around noon.
6. The ferries crossing between Centraal Station and Amsterdam-Noord are free, its a short harbor cruise but when you get off you can walk along the canal.
7. The Amsterdam Arts Adventure has a wide range of festivals and events going on in Amsterdam from June through August. Most events are free, but all are reasonable.
8. If you visit between the months of November and March the hotels can be 25 percent cheaper because that is the off season of the year. Hostels make for good lodging if you are up for sharing bathrooms. There are a ton of hostels in the Amsterdam area, I guess because it is a known place for the younger crowd to travel to. Respectfully though lodging isn’t that much of an issue anytime of the year, if you do your research and call ahead for discounts and specials.
9. Rent a bike The cheapest bikes have the old fashioned pedal brakes (hence easy to master) and it is easy to find places to rent from all over Amsterdam.
10. Eateries are everywhere and as with other places in Europe I highly recommend traveling the area a bit like one of their own and eating where the locals eat vs. eating in pricey tourist spots. Grab some light things, not only is it cheaper, but who needs the sit down expensive meals when you can grab some of the local snatch and grab lunch areas and make the most of a few little things. I would rather walk around and go through the stores, grab some jams, bakery bread and munch.
11. Amsterdam has a vast array of second hand stores, the open air markets are diverse and just exploring them is a good way to get to know the people and experience all that Amsterdam has to offer. It is a great way to spend the entire day having fun cheaply.
I can honestly say that traveling to Amsterdam was a great trip by train when I was in Germany. We went there from Frankfurt and I think the train ride was about 4 hours each way back and forth. I remember we didn’t stay long and a whole bunch of us went, so it was a real blast seeing the sites and enjoying the weekend break we had away from the military. I’m not sure on cost but I think it was in the range of what now is about 120 euros each way or approximately 300 dollars round trip. I know they have discounts, so I know at different times you can get it for different rates. You just have to do your homework on the net. You can get rail tickets at Rail Europe, “www.raileurope.co.uk”.
Have fun, stay out of trouble and remember you are only visiting, so mind your manners.
References include: Amsterdamlogue.com and Amsterdam-advisor.com