Thursday, 19 May 2016

Amsterdam on a budget

City breaks are notoriously difficult to pull off when you only have limited funds, but that doesn't mean it's not doable! Last week I headed to the Dutch canal city of Amsterdam for a 4 night break with eight of my friends, and it's safe to say our funds were fairly limited.

To save on initial expenses we got our return flights via Easyjet for £50 a piece and stayed in an ibis Budget hotel just outside the city. The hotel wasn't glamorous, but it was clean, comfy and convenient. And our big savings didn't stop there. I thought I'd share my top tips for enjoying yourself here without breaking the bank.




Hit the streets

Amsterdam's beautiful canals and many different neighborhoods make for great wandering. We admittedly did spend a fair amount of our walking time getting lost, as unfortunately our guide map was a bit out of date, so maybe hit Google Maps up if you're trying to find something specific! Walking is a great way to save on transport, however the many trams and bus services are also affordable.




Pre-book popular attractions (and seek out free ones)

Our trip was very relaxed and more about drinks and suspicious brownies than it was museums and galleries (although the Sex Museum was a head turner and I'm now scarred for life), so I'll definitely return to Amsterdam just me and Mat to explore popular attractions like the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum by ourselves. We did notice a lot of queues for the likes of the Anne Frank and Rembrandt houses, which are open to the public but as a result unbelievably popular. For these I'd advise pre-booking tickets online. Be careful to go directly though the attraction and not a third party seller or you could end up paying a hiked up price.There are plenty of free things to do too that cater for all tastes.

One attraction that we all really loved was the Heineken Experience. for a mere €14 we were there for about two and a half hours and it was much more than just a brewery tour. On arrival you're given a bracelet with two tokens attached, which to our delight could be exchanged for beers at various points on the tour, and in the brewery itself staff were on hand to tell us all about how the famous lager is brewed.

There are tonnes of things to do within the building, from pulling and bottling your own pints to playing PS4 and testing out the power of your rugby tackle, plus (of course) a gift shop. We also sampled an exclusive new brew that's yet to launch here in the UK and it was delish.



Seek out a cheap beverage

If, like many, you're visiting Amsterdam for a bit of a knees up, you'll probably get a shock when it comes to the beer prices. They can be in excess of €7-8 per glass and the metric system gets you slightly less bang for your buck per milliliter, too. By being a bit more adventurous with our bar choices, keeping off the beaten track we found some more reasonably priced places. Our favourite was Wonder Bar, which is a very relaxed, cosy place we returned to three times. We also hit up a Lidl and a few mini-marts during our stay as the weather was so nice we were able to sit outside.

I have to admit that doing somewhere like this on a budget really had me worried before we arrived, but we ended up discovering that, being the relaxed, chilled city that it is, Amsterdam is relatively friendly to the tighter purse strings!

Are you planning to visit any time soon?
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