How to visit Amsterdam for £200

As you may have already seen, Ami and I recently visited Amsterdam. We chose the Dutch capital predominantly because it's so affordable. As much as we both would have loved a trip to Paris, since Ami is a student and I'm in a weird unemployed-before-studying limbo, we don't exactly have the funds to visit the more expensive destinations. We set ourselves a budget of £200 for flights and accommodation but, remarkably, we pretty much managed to keep our entire trip below this figure. If you're looking for a super affordable European city break, Amsterdam is the one! Here's how we did it...

How to visit Amsterdam cheaply on a budget
FLIGHTS

Our return flights with EasyJet cost £73 each. We booked 33 days in advance and used SkyScanner to find the cheapest flights. I completely rely on SkyScanner as it compares all of the different airlines going to the same destination and sorts them by price lowest- highest. EasyJet isn't the best of airlines, admittedly- I find their planes to be very warm and the seats are pretty squished together- but the flight is around 45 minutes long so it's a very small sacrifice! EasyJet has a tendency to upsell everything but ignore this for the basic rate. We didn't check in any bags, and instead took everything with us as hand luggage in little cabin cases, and didn't waste funds on speedy boarding. After all, we're all going to land in Amsterdam at the same time, so why pay money just to sit on a cramped, stuffy plane for even longer? I did choose to pay a little extra on selecting our own seats since I'm afraid of flying so like to have a) a window seat, b) a seat near the back and c) a row number that I deem "lucky". This cost £5.99 each and it's worth it for my ease of mind. 

Of course, it goes without saying that it helps to be flexible with your dates. We tried a few different combinations to find the cheapest possible. The same goes for flight times- early morning and evening flights are much cheaper than those in the middle of the day. If you can only fly out at lunchtime on a Friday in the middle of the summer holidays, it's going to be much more expensive. 

HOSTEL

This is possibly my proudest achievement ever- our accommodation for two nights was a total of £32 each. Yep- £16 per night. So what's the catch? Was the place disgustingly filthy? Was it out in the sticks? Did we have to sleep inside a brothel? No, no and no. Since we only needed somewhere to rest our heads overnight, we decided on a hostel rather than a hotel. On Hostelworld, I searched for hostels in Amsterdam and sorted the results by distance, then looked for the cheapest one. Of course rating and the images come into play too but neither of us were very fussy. When we discovered the bargain Bob's Youth Hostel, just a 5 minute walk from the central station and at £16 a night for an en-suite room sharing with six others, we took the plunge. The reviews pretty much all mentioned that it was dirty and the staff was rude but, thankfully, we didn't find this at all. Yes, there was some mould on the ceiling of the (huge) shower room but the bedrooms were clean, the sheets were fresh and the staff were helpful. The only problem I find with cheap hostels in Amsterdam is that, on both occasions, I've been placed in the fourth floor and there are no lifts. Dragging a case up four flights of incredibly steep, winding stairs is not fun and the wifi doesn't reach that high. However, if you're looking for a decent, basic place to stay right in the city centre with incredible transport links, this is the one!

TRANSPORT

Although Amsterdam is famous for its cycling, the tram network is really efficient. The trams are regular and routes run through the city with stops at every destination. For 12.50 euros, you can buy a 72-hour pass which will allow you unlimited travel on all of the city's trams. It's easy to buy these- just find the little ticket machine at any tram stop and follow the instructions. You can also buy them from the guard seated in the middle of the tram, if you prefer. Getting to and from the airport is also really easy. There are several trains per hour between Schipol Airport and Centraal Station. The journey takes around 15 minutes and costs a little over 4 euros (just above £3), with tickets available from the bright yellow machines in the station concourse.

FOOD & DRINK

I'm not one of those bloggers who can sniff out the most perfect, Instagrammable gluten-free vegan traditional cake shop from a mile away. As much as I wish I could be, I don't have the skill, patience or whatever else it takes to locate these places. Instead, I am all for cheap and cheerful. This might include McDonald's. Yes, I know it's not exactly throwing myself into local culture but it does save money. A standard meal will cost about 7 euros (£5.50-ish). If you want something a bit different, Wok to Walk is a fantastic noodle place with branches dotted through the city. Again, it's an international chain, but a huge plate of filling noodles with a can of Coke costs less than 10 euros (around £8). As a non-drinker, I'm all about the Diet Coke in pubs, which tends to cost around 2.50 euros (£2). 

THINGS TO DO

Since we were on a budget, we made it our mission to find activities that were very cheap, if not free. On the first night, we walked along the canals towards the red light district which is an undeniably interesting place to visit! We did spend 18 euros visiting the Heineken Museum the next day (16 euros if you buy tickets online in advance) which admittedly pushed the budget up, but our highlight was pedalling down the canals on a pedalo or, as they're known here, a Canal Bike. It costs 8 euros- £6.50 ish- per person for an hour (plus a 20 euro deposit but you get that back on your return) and is a really fun, relaxed way to see the beautiful architecture. The weather we had was absolutely wonderful and, after a dodgy start that saw us travelling in circles, we (by which I mean Ami) soon perfected the art of steering without hitting other people's boats. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we did it a second time on our last day! In total, we each spent 34 euros (£27) on attractions and activities over the whole three days. Not bad, right? If you have a lot planned, you can buy an Amsterdam Card which gives you free public transport, free entry to most attractions and one free Canal Bike session. The price differs depending on the timeframe you want but starts at 55 euros (£43) for 24 hours and is well worth checking to see if it saves you money.

TOTAL

All in all, with flights, accommodation, transport, food & drink and activities, I spent around £180. This figure was increased due to the inordinate amount of souvenirs I like to buy (yes, it is necessary to buy at least two Miffy-themed items, thank you very much) and a rather extravagant meal at the Hard Rock Cafe on our first evening but these are frivolities that could easily have been done away with if I'd been on a stricter budget. 

I'd love to know some other cities that are possible to visit with a £200 budget. Maybe I'll make it a series! Let me know if you have any suggestions for destinations to visit on the cheap.

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10 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to visit Amsterdam so these tips were really useful to read!

    http://57-days.blogspot.co.uk/

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  2. What an amazing budget trip! I'm looking to go to Amsterdam in the winter when I'm back in Europe, thanks for all the tips.

    <a href="http://www.hattieconstance.com”>Hattie</a> xx

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  3. Love this post! Very informative as myself and a friend are planning a trip to Amsterdam right now so lots of good advice :D xx

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  4. Great post! You've definitely inspired me to head to Amsterdam soon, as I've been wanting to go for ages! Budapest is another really cheap city break, and is probably my favourite city I have ever visited!

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  5. Thank you so much for posting this. Im planning on going in October and has no idea about the Amsterdamn card. What a great tip!

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  6. It's one of my goals to visit Amsterdam someday. This article was super useful! Thank you for sharing these pieces of advice! I find them very useful.

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  7. Amazing! I recently went to Amsterdam and did a few of the same activities as you. You can definitely see most of the city on a budget. Here is one of my posts about Amsterdam: http://bit.ly/28IuLSx

    Holly xx

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  8. Amsterdam is my all time favourite place. Me and my other half visit at least several times a year (working towards the big move... it's scary!). One of the things that is great about it as a trip is just how well you can do it on a budget.
    I'd also note that you can usually get an airbnb in Dam for similar prices to a hostel (really!) and then you can cook for yourself too which is not only super nice but is also healthy and cheap :)

    Alice | http://whiskeyjars.blogspot.co.uk

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  9. I went to Amsterdam last year - luckily, I got the travel (by coach HAHAHA) and accommodation from a partner my company works with, but it's amazing how easily you can do things for free. I 'd totally recommend a boat tour and the Canal Bike sounds super fun!

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  10. Ooh, yep this is definitely doable! I've always wanted to visit Amsterdam, and I really appreciate all these little tips! Somewhere else I'd love to visit is Norway and to see more of Finland (but the cities and not the bears this time...)

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I read all comments and appreciate every single one, even if I can't always reply. If you have a question or need a reply, feel free to tweet me @BeckyBedbug- I always reply to tweets!