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Amsterdam’s big-ticket attractions can come with a hefty price tag, but, as savvy locals know, there are always affordable alternatives. Can’t stretch to the must-see exhibitions at the Rijksmuseum? Go gallery-hopping in the Jordaan’s cobbled streets, where venues like LangArt and Galerie Ron Mandos set the cultural agenda. For dinner, head to the buzzing Foodhallen, which serves up free gigs and DJ sets alongside stellar, wallet-friendly street-food eats. From a quaint Canal Ring café to Amsterdam Noord’s creative hubs, our two-day itinerary sweeps through the ‘Dam’s best budget haunts.

Here’s what to do, where to eat and how to shop in Amsterdam for less.

Day 1

  • Take a free walking tour

    For a local’s perspective on the city, sign up for a two-hour jaunt with Free Walking Tours Amsterdam. Its clued-up guides do a sterling job, whether you’re sampling stroopwafel on the food tour, or exploring the Red Light District. To get your bearings, book the ‘classic’ walk, which interweaves tales of the city’s Golden Age with some of its biggest sights.Tours are free, but budget for a tip.

  • Feast on kroketten at Pâtisserie Holtkamp

    Vijzelgracht 15, 1017 HM

    Once you’ve toured Dam Square, head south to this art-deco bakery. Its crisp-crumbed croquettes have a diehard following. The Dutch royal family and Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi are reportedly fans. They’re filled with veal ragout, cheese or North Sea shrimps, and available to take away for a few euros apiece. For dessert try a glossy fruit tartlet, or a scrumptious slab of Dutch apple cake.

  • Hit the vintage shops in De Pijp

    Work off lunch with a mooch around De Pijp, a favourite vintage hunting-ground for locals. At Penny Lane, spotless Burberry trenches share the rails with retro 60s frocks, while Marbles Vintage always has a matchless stash of denim. At nearby Kilo Shop, prices are determined by weight and colour-coded labels – an unconventional system that yields some genuine bargains.

  • Go Dutch at the Pantry

    Leidsekruisstraat 21, 1017 RE

    For dinner, stroll towards Leidseplein via the Prinsengracht canal. Little has changed in decades: the Pantry’s kitsch but cosy, with painted panelling, fringed lampshades and blue-and-white Delft plates. Its hearty three-course menus of homespun Dutch cuisine are good value, and always hit the spot. Try thick, sausage-laced pea soup and meatball-topped hutspot, a comforting carrot and potato mash served with lashings of gravy.

  • Have breakfast at De Laatste Kruimel

    Langebrugsteeg 4, 1012 GB

    This tiny café-bakery couldn’t be more inviting, with a window full of resplendent cakes and neatly stacked brownies. Inside, it’s resolutely simple and homey: think handwritten menus, a busy open kitchen, and tables made from wooden pallets. Breakfast options run from pastel de nata to flaky viennoiseries. The hybrid ‘French toast croissant’, unsurprisingly, deserves its cult following.

  • Take the free ferry to NDSM Wharf

    Ferry Terminal, Central Station, 1011 AA 

    After breakfast, head to Amsterdam Centraal and hop on a free ferry to Amsterdam Noord. The 906 crosses direct to NDSM Wharf, a soaring former shipyard turned emerging cultural hub. It’s home to a cluster of restaurants and bars, along with some mind-expanding street art. Summer brings alfresco film screenings and festivals; time your visit for the monthly IJ-hallen fleamarket, a joyous free-for-all.

  • Drop by Pllek for lunch

    TT Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB

    Set in a waterfront warehouse, extended with shipping containers, Pllek encapsulates Amsterdam Noord’s can-do, creative vibe. Thronged on summer evenings, it’s a laid-back restaurant and bar, whose organic lunch menu might include falafel flatbread or pumpkin dal. Service can be slow, but the setting makes amends: there are glorious river views year-round, and a sandy urban beach for sunny days.

  • Cycle over to Oedipus Brewing

    Gedempt Hamerkanaal 85, 1021 KP

    If you’ve brought a bike over on the ferry, this craft brewery’s well worth a detour. Its colourful taproom – open Thursday to Sunday – is lined with unusual beers, from mango-spiked pale ale to seasonal smoked porters. If you’re feeling peckish, there are upscale snacks from The Beer Chief: share a portion of twice-cooked cheesy fries, or sample its zingy kimchi burger.

Day 2

  • Have breakfast at De Laatste Kruimel

    Langebrugsteeg 4, 1012 GB

    This tiny café-bakery couldn’t be more inviting, with a window full of resplendent cakes and neatly stacked brownies. Inside, it’s resolutely simple and homey: think handwritten menus, a busy open kitchen, and tables made from wooden pallets. Breakfast options run from pastel de nata to flaky viennoiseries. The hybrid ‘French toast croissant’, unsurprisingly, deserves its cult following.

  • Take the free ferry to NDSM Wharf

    Ferry Terminal, Central Station, 1011 AA 

    After breakfast, head to Amsterdam Centraal and hop on a free ferry to Amsterdam Noord. The 906 crosses direct to NDSM Wharf, a soaring former shipyard turned emerging cultural hub. It’s home to a cluster of restaurants and bars, along with some mind-expanding street art. Summer brings alfresco film screenings and festivals; time your visit for the monthly IJ-hallen fleamarket, a joyous free-for-all.

  • Drop by Pllek for lunch

    TT Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB

    Set in a waterfront warehouse, extended with shipping containers, Pllek encapsulates Amsterdam Noord’s can-do, creative vibe. Thronged on summer evenings, it’s a laid-back restaurant and bar, whose organic lunch menu might include falafel flatbread or pumpkin dal. Service can be slow, but the setting makes amends: there are glorious river views year-round, and a sandy urban beach for sunny days.

  • Cycle over to Oedipus Brewing

    Gedempt Hamerkanaal 85, 1021 KP

    If you’ve brought a bike over on the ferry, this craft brewery’s well worth a detour. Its colourful taproom – open Thursday to Sunday – is lined with unusual beers, from mango-spiked pale ale to seasonal smoked porters. If you’re feeling peckish, there are upscale snacks from The Beer Chief: share a portion of twice-cooked cheesy fries, or sample its zingy kimchi burger.

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