I set myself a £100 challenge for weekend trips around Europe. The whole lot, all in, to see a new city abroad. Ok, I admit, I secretly wanted to prove to my friends that ‘I wasn’t lucky I could travel so much’ but simply, I just wanted to make it happen so much
This post is pretty old, for a new Guide to Amsterdam <– Follow that link!
So, what did it get me on a weekend in Amsterdam…
Amsterdam on a Budget
Flights / Transport £35 + £7.50
I will spend a good hour or so on SkyScanner before I book a flight. I am also pretty lucky with my job working in Hospitality that I am not always tied to Weekends. Being December and last minute it turned out the cheapest option was to fly with BA using my air miles, £35 later and I was on route from City airport. (At the time of writing you can get mid-week flights for £40 return with easyJet this December)
Return train journey to the airport was £7.50
Accommodation £5 (A Bottle of wine) + Conversation
Two nights staying in this city just before Christmas is not the cheapest, nor did I want to
endure experience the typical Amsterdam backpacking scene. Couchsurfing was relatively new to me so I signed up and gave it a shot. At the last hour I secured a great host and was lucky enough to get to explore the city through their eyes on a guided tour as well as enjoy a comfy bed in a local neighbourhood. The cost of a bottle of wine was a priceless exchange.
Food & Drink – £19
Gourmet dining and budget travel don’t exactly go hand in hand. If you are happy to toss out the fancy restaurants and pick up a burger from a vending machine then this is your city.
Street food became my subsistence, but when you have the streets of Amsterdam as your ‘dining room’ you really can’t complain. From German hotdogs and the local Oliebollen pastry treats (It was after all Christmas market time!) to vending machine burgers you can get snacks on the go for as dirt cheap as they are healthy.
One little splurge was to try ‘The Best Apple Pie in Amsterdam’ at Winkel 43 – Which, quite possibly, was the best apple pie in the world! Pull up a stool here, get out the cold and watch the world go by in an apple and whipped cream crazed heaven.
You can still manage to get a coffee every morning and beer each night in budget. If you are as lucky as I was you could enjoy a taste bud popping meal cooked by your couchsurf host.
Sightseeing – £0
The best thing about European capitals is A) Nearly every where you look is a ‘Sight’ and B) Exploring on foot is always a winner!
From those famous canals to wandering past those dancers in the Red Light District you can explore and adore Amsterdam without spending a penny. Get searching behind closed doors for secret squares and slices of history or leisurely stroll through the flower markets.
I was lucky enough to get a great guided tour by my host but the Free Amsterdam walking tour would have surely been on my list if not.
Another freebie is the ferry from the back of the train station which will take you to Amsterdam Noord to explore the small villages and lush greenery it has to offer.
Alternatively, hire a bike and really get to see Amsterdam from a locals perspective.
Museums – £20
Amsterdam comes with Museums a plenty, with heaps of unique ones as well as the more famous Anne Frank museum. I picked my two cash wisely:
Our Lord in the Attic museum £7
My host recommended heading to the Red Light District to visit one of the cities more unusual museums. Housed in the attics of some normal looking canal houses sits a rather extraordinary church. Built in the Reformation when Catholics were not allowed to host public services this secret religious spot is a rather remarkable discovery to explore and learn the history that made it be.
A trip to Amsterdam without visiting the Rijksmuseum for me is crazy. One of the top 20 most visited museums in the world there is enough art spanning the ages here to fill a whole day if you wish. (Plus, right behind it you can get the obligatory photo with the Iamsterdam letters)
With over 50 museums in Amsterdam you can take your pick to suit you, kindly listed out here by Amsterdam.info
Sure, I may have missed out on the ‘coffee shops’ and some of the more ‘interesting’ nightlife, but if it’s the choice of budget travel over no travel I know which one I would pick.