19 x The Best Free Things To Do in Amsterdam

Want to know the best places to visit in Amsterdam for free? Living and visiting Amsterdam can be expensive, so we'd love to give you all the insights into free activities in the city!

Discovering the charm of Amsterdam doesn’t always have to come with a price tag. As locals we know that there is enough free stuff to do in Amsterdam such as visiting the gardens of a world-famous museum, enjoy festivals, visit the city’s largest rooftop, join free walking tours and more. 

1. Visit the Gardens of the World Famous Rijksmuseum

Open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM | Museumstraat 1

What many people don’t know is that you can actually visit the gardens of the Rijksmuseum for free! The gardens provide a great escape from the busy crowds and are perfectly maintained. Within the garden, you will discover numerous art pieces, beautiful plants and flowers, comfortable benches to take a seat and of course stunning views of the museum. Many locals along with us enjoy bringing a coffee to go and a good book to relax right in the heart of Amsterdam.


As a local I often have my morning coffee here in peace ☕️🌿 #amsterdamguide #amsterdamtips #amsterdamlocal #thingstodoamsterdam #free @Amsterdam

♬ Originalton – ˚₊‧ 🎧 ‧₊˚

If you’d like to visit the museum itself, you can get your tickets here. Be sure to book in advance, ideally about three weeks prior, especially during the high season.

2. Visit the Oudemanhuispoort Book Market 

Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM (best day to visit: Saturday)  | Oudemanhuispoort 3

Literally a haven for book enthusiasts. This book market is held in the charming courtyard of the Oudemanhuispoort (Old Man’s House Gate), attracting both locals and visitors with its great vibe. Here, you’ll discover amazing secondhand books, ranging from vintage editions to contemporary reads. Besides that you will also find beautiful paintings and other art pieces. 

What makes this place unique besides its aesthetics is its history. During the Golden Age, the Oudemanhuispoort area was known for hosting various markets including a fish market and a secondhand goods market. It’s an ideal spot to wander around and enjoy the little courtyard. However, if you’re looking to purchase some art and books it will of course come with a cost :). 


In this 400 year old passage you will find a very cute book market. I love to wander around here! And of course the books itself are not free😜 #amsterdamguide #amsterdamtips #amsterdamlocal #thingstodoamsterdam #bookmarket

♬ origineel geluid – WelikeAmsterdam

3. Swinging Views

Piet Heinkade 1

Overlooking the IJ river, the swings in front of Bimhuis offer a cool experience. Each swing comes equipped with a speaker. The harder you swing, the louder or differently the sound plays. When people swing at the same time, their movements create a musical piece together. It’s especially nice during sunset! 

Swinging chairs with a view of Amsterdam
© Muziekgebouw.nl

4. Enjoy One of the Yearly Festivals

Amsterdam is a city that loves to celebrate, and guess what? Many of them you can join for free! 

  • One of the most colorful is the Pride festival, where everyone comes together to celebrate love and diversity. We always celebrate this the first weekend of August.
  • Then there’s King’s Day (Koningsdag), a big orange party to celebrate the king’s birthday. It’s always on April 27. We’ve made a list for you about mistakes you don’t want to make on Kings Day.
  • Open Monument Day (Open Monumentendag) is another special time when you can explore historical places for free. It’s always in September.
  •  If you’re into music the Canal Festival (Grachtenfestival) is awesome, with concerts along the canals. Always in August.
  • In December there is the famous Amsterdam Light Festival, where the city sparkles with beautiful lights during the winter. Artists make amazing light artworks that you can see when you take a walk (or a boat ride, but that’s not free of course).
  • The Prinsengracht Concert is a very popular event among locals. It’s a concert held on a big floating stage on the Prinsengracht canal. You can listen to great music while chilling by the water or finding a cozy spot along the canal. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy some tunes and the lovely atmosphere of the city, especially during the summer. It’s always in August. 

5. Enjoy 360° City Views From the Biggest Rooftop in Amsterdam

Open daily between 10 AM and 5:30 PM | Oosterdok 2

The rooftop terrace at Nemo offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Before you can enjoy the scenery you need to conquer 120 steps, but it’s worth it! Besides the stunning view you can also explore interesting science exhibits, find plenty of comfortable seating and during the summer they host free concerts. Additionally, there’s a café where you can enjoy tasty food and drinks.


Do you believe me if I tell you that this is the best rooftop in the city and it’s free? ✨🫶🏼 #amsterdamtips #amsterdamlocal #thingstodoamsterdam #amsterdamguide #free

♬ origineel geluid – WelikeAmsterdam

6. Take a Dive at the Best Swimming Spots in Amsterdam City Center

During the summer this is one of our favorite activities around the city. Bring along your favorite drinks and snacks as locals and visitors gather to soak up the summer vibes. Some of our favorite spots:

  • Marineterrein: You’ll find a spacious pier where you can hang out and swim. The presence of a large replica of a ship of the Dutch East India Company makes it even better. In summer it’s very crowded with locals playing music and having fun.
  • Amstel: Swimming in the Amstel is one of the best experiences! Right in front of Café Hesp on the Weesperzijde, you’ll discover a green stretch where many people gather to swim. There are also small steps to help you get out of the water.
  • In front of Hotel Boat & Co: They’ve constructed amazing wooden decks and even built in loungers. You can paddleboard, swim and sunbathe with steps available to help you exit the water. It’s a fantastic spot!
  • Bogortuin: Located on Java Island, this is a true gem—a huge green stretch close to Amsterdam Central Station. You just need to cross a big bridge to get here. 
  • Park Somerlust: Expect many many locals, lots of music, creating an almost party vibe, and easy access to the water. This place is great for a younger audience in their twenties.

📍Marineterrein, it’s my fav😍. It’s so pretty with the VOC ship. It’s one of the best places to swim because you can swim safely without paying attention to sailing boats. Everyone brings it’s booze and has fun🥂🫶🏼 #amsterdamguide #amsterdamtips #amsterdamlocal #thingstodoamsterdam

♬ original sound – 🎧🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

NOTE >> Swimming in the city is only allowed in designated areas, especially in open water where many boats are present. Make sure to only swim in these designated areas. Otherwise, you might receive a fine. Also, always take your trash with you to keep the places clean and nice for everyone to enjoy.

7. Free Books at the Street Bookshelves

Throughout the city there are special shelves on the streets filled with free books. You can pick any book you like and take it home to read. What’s even cooler is that if you have a book you don’t want anymore, you can leave it there for someone else to enjoy. It’s a fun way for everyone to have access to great books! So keep an eye out for bookshelves on the streets of Amsterdam. 

Free books to read in the streets of Amsterdam

8. Scenic City Views Free Ferry Ride

Wait, what! Are ferries in Amsterdam free? Yes, they definitely are. Hop on one of the city’s free ferry rides for amazing scenic views of the iconic Amsterdam skyline. The ferry services connect various parts of the city. One of the must-try routes is the ferry to the North side of the city, where you can explore the vibrant NDSM wharf. 

The ferry departs every 30 minutes (45 and 15) from Amsterdam Central Station and every 15 minutes during rush hours. Board ferry F4, located on the far left (when facing backward to Amsterdam Central station) named NDSM.

View of Amsterdam from the ferry ride

9. Seeing Flamingos at Artisplein

Open daily from 7 AM until 11 PM | Plantage Middenlaan 41 

Picture this: a little oasis in the heart of Amsterdam East where you can enjoy the company of flamingos for free! It’s the perfect spot to unwind. Bring some nice drinks & snacks or simply enjoy a good book. It’s a local favorite and also very high on our own list of favorite places around the city. 


Truly a hidden gem👀. Did you know? #amsterdamtips #amsterdamlocal #thingstodoamsterdam #amsterdamguide #free

♬ wash – favsoundds

10. Visit the City Archives and Their Special Treasure Room

Open from Tuesday to Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM in the weekends from 12 PM | Vijzelstraat 32

Explore Amsterdam’s history at the City Archives situated in a former bank. Upon entering the building, you can already explore some exhibitions. However, what we truly enjoy is visiting the treasure room! It’s situated in the former bank safe, you can still see the massive doors as you enter. Here you’ll discover a collection of old city maps, important documents, unique photos and much more. Each thing in the room has a story and helps us understand how Amsterdam has changed over time. 


We’ve got another free, fun and unique thing to do in Amsterdam for you🫶🏼💎 #amsterdamtips #amsterdamlocal #amsterdamguide #thingstodoamsterdam #free

♬ original sound – YellowStraps

11. Visit a Concert at Bimhuis

Open daily | Piet Heinkade 3

Located along the IJ, Bimhuis is a well-known jazz venue and music hall. It’s a key hub for jazz and improvised music in the Netherlands, offering an impressive array of programs that span from traditional jazz to avant-garde and experimental sounds. Every week you can enjoy free concerts! Check out their website for the latest schedule.

The Bimhuis in Amsterdam
© Bimhuis.nl

12. Go For a Friday Night Skate Through the City 

Friday Night Skate is a fantastic way to experience the city’s energy while enjoying an evening of skating. Held every Friday night this community event attracts skaters of all levels. The route takes you through iconic spots like canals and vibrant neighborhoods and covers around 20 KM. Check their website for the latest updates about the route and starting point.

13. Check Out the Street Art Scene at NDSM – Amsterdam North

This former shipyard has transformed into an open canvas for street art and graffiti, making it a dynamic and colorful area to discover. Immerse yourself in the artistic atmosphere and witness the creativity that adorns the walls of this unique Amsterdam neighborhood. Hop on the free ferry for a ride to NDSM Wharf.

14. Enjoy Music, Parties and Acts at Vondelpark Open Air Theater 

Open between June and September every weekend| Vondelpark 5A

This is actually one of the best free tips we have during the months of June to September each year. We absolutely love spending our weekends at the Vondelpark Open Air Theater, situated in the iconic Vondelpark. Every weekend, from Friday to Sunday, there are music shows, performances, dance parties, and various cultural events. Check their schedule for upcoming shows and enjoy!

They come around with a donation box and we think it’s a nice way to acknowledge the hard work they put into the performances. 

Concert at the open air theater in the Vondelpark of Amsterdam
© Vondeltheater

15. Go For a Live Music Session at Lotti’s Sunday Live

Every Sunday from 3:30 PM | Herengracht 255

Lotti’s, inside the Hoxton Hotel, hosts a live music session every sunday from 3:30 PM! They feature new artists every week making it a great way to spend your Sunday afternoon. Be there a bit early because when it’s full it’s full.

The Hoxton Hotel in Amsterdam
© Hoxton Hotel

16. Amsterdam Itself is One Big Open Air Museum 

Even as locals we continue our weekly tradition of exploring new corners and streets! The city itself is one big museum offering endless exploration. As you walk around through the beautiful streets you’ll see iconic landmarks, amazing architecture, picturesque canals and the coziest neighborhoods filled with art galleries, boutiques, and cafes. We’ve put together the ultimate neighborhood guide, so be sure to check it out for more exploration around the city.

Townhouse on the canal of Amsterdam

17. Visit the Hidden Courtyards Throughout the City

Throughout the city we have a  lot of secret hidden courtyards (hofjes), which are actually free to visit. Imagine peaceful courtyards surrounded by small houses and beautiful gardens. Famous ones include the Begijnhof, but there are also less-known ones like the Karthuizerhof, Claes Claeszhofje and Van Brienen hofje. Exploring these hofjes is a great way to experience the city’s history and calmness.

Courtyard in Amsterdam

TIP >> At certain courtyards, you may need to pass through a closed door, which will be unlocked during their opening times. Please maintain silence when entering these courtyards, as they are residential areas for locals.

18. Free Walking Tours Amsterdam

Did you know that Amsterdam, just like many other cities, offers free walking tours? The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who know a lot about the city and its history. From the Red Light District to the Jordaan neighborhood, it’s a great way to get a first (or better) impression of the city. If you enjoyed the tour you can leave a tip at the end of course! Here you’ll find one of the organizations that hosts free walking tours.

19. Visit Expositions at De Melkweg

Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11 AM until 7 PM | Marnixstraat 409

The Melkweg is a creative venue that not only hosts live music acts and parties but also provides a platform for emerging artists to showcase their art. The range includes artwork, photography and visual displays. The exhibitions change regularly.

Front entrance of the Melkweg in Amsterdam
© Melkweg

If you enjoyed our local guide to the best free things to do in the city, you may also like our article about the 13 x Places to Add to Your Low-Budget Amsterdam Itinerary and the Best and Most Beautiful Streets You Want to Visit in Amsterdam

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