Amsterdam is a dream destination in Europe. It is a city known for its canals, bicycles, coffee shops, and cultural events of all kinds throughout the year. Amsterdam is also home to more than one famous museum.
But the city is so popular these days that some believe that the prices to be beyond their budget. Surely a city with such a reputation means it is in high demand and can ask for top dollar? It can, and in many cases it does.
But is Amsterdam expensive? Is it possible to visit on a budget, by using a bit of research and a few smart decisions? Why yes… Yes, it is!
You’re in luck because we’ve gone and done a whole bunch of research for you. Read on to find out how you can visit Amsterdam – “the Venice of the North” – for a lot less than you might think.
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- So, How Much Does a Trip to Amsterdam Cost on Average?
- Cost of Flights to Amsterdam
- Price of Accommodation in Amsterdam
- Cost of Transport in Amsterdam
- The Cost of Food in Amsterdam
- Price of Alcohol in Amsterdam
- Cost of Attractions in Amsterdam
- Additional Costs of Travel in Amsterdam
- Some Final Tips for Saving Money in Amsterdam
- So is Amsterdam Expensive, in Fact?
So, How Much Does a Trip to Amsterdam Cost on Average?
Let’s take a look at what you can expect. Here are the major travel costs in Amsterdam that we’ll touch on:
- Flights from a few major centers
- Various types of accommodation in Amsterdam
- Transport in and around the city
- Food and drink
We’ll also account for some extras like the typical tourist attractions like museum entrance fees and tours.
Bear in mind that we’ll be estimating the cost of a trip to Amsterdam based on research and experience, and the exact amounts may vary – especially depending on the season. It is also worth noting that the Netherlands uses the Euro and the exchange rate is around $1.15 USD at the time of writing. To make things easier, we’ll list all the prices we estimate in US Dollars.
In the table below, there’s a basic summary of what you might expect prices in Amsterdam to be, on a daily average, when visiting for 3 days.
3 Days in Amsterdam Trip Costs
|Expenses||Estimated Daily Cost||Estimated Total Cost|
|Total (excluding airfare)||$64-625||$192-1875|
ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $80-970 USD for a round-trip ticket
If you’re traveling from overseas, the best way to get to the Netherlands is by airplane, and flights can be expensive! That said, a relatively cheap price for a flight to Amsterdam might come down to a question of timing and skill.
We all know that flight prices to any destination can vary considerably by each carrier. All major airports in big cities also have their own “cheapest” time of the year to fly. Most (basically all) international flights will arrive at the main airport, Amsterdam Schiphol.
Furthermore, here are some average costs of a round trip ticket to Amsterdam from a few major international airports:
- New York to AMS: 300-500 USD
- London to AMS: 60-80 GBP
- Sydney to AMS: 950-1100 AUD
- Vancouver to AMS: 730-1250 CAD
Remember though: these prices are always subject to change.
There are a number of ways you can make sure you get the best possible price. If you have the time and know-how, you can check for special deals, error fares, and “best time to fly to Amsterdam” approaches in order to spend less.
ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $20-200/day
A significant part of your Amsterdam trip costs will be accommodation. Hostels in Amsterdam center are known for being expensive, averaging around $185 USD per night. If you’re staying one night, that’s great for spoiling yourself.
But there are cheap places to stay in Amsterdam. If you’re visiting for longer (or just wallet-conscious), hostels and Airbnbs offer travelers really cost-effective options. And you can always check into a hotel on the city outskirts, which tends to be a little less expensive, too.
Hostels in Amsterdam
Hostels are almost always the cheapest accommodation option, no matter where you travel, and even in the Netherlands.
There are some cool things about staying in a hostel. It is the best way to meet like-minded travelers from around the world. And this is where great tips circulate for affordable things to do, places to eat and so on.
A dorm bed in one of Amsterdam’s cheapest hostels can cost you on average as little as $25 USD. Private rooms range quite broadly, anywhere from $70-110 USD on average. You can find loads of options priced lower or higher than these, but expect to hit this sort of ballpark.
Hostels are great fun and the most social of all accommodation options. This is especially true in hostels in Amsterdam, where cafe culture seems to infiltrate all aspects of the destination’s holiday culture.
Here are three of the best you don’t need to spend very much for:
- Hans Brinker Hostel Amsterdam – Near the canals, budget-friendly and free breakfast is thrown in, too. What’s not to like?
- a&o Amsterdam Zuidoost – Stylish private rooms and affordable dorms, right in the heart of the Bullewijk district, and close to some awesome shops.
- WOW Amsterdam – Take advantage of the $9 USD meals from the on-site restaurant!
Airbnbs in Amsterdam
How much does an apartment cost to rent in Amsterdam? There’s no real short answer – apartment prices are quite varied. This is another area where you can spend or save wisely.
An average one-bedroom apartment should put you in the $80 USD per night range, with studios from as little as $60, and really swanky spots pushing into the $150-250 USD and upwards range (it can get Bill Gates-level expensive around here).
The upside of a stay in an apartment is the relative privacy and luxury of having personal space. No sharing of bathrooms, no loud neighbors who want to party all night long, and you can cook your own meals to scratch that homesick itch in your belly.
And thanks to services like Airbnb, tourists enjoy a pretty broad range of options for where exactly you want to stay in the city. Here are a few of our favorites:
- SPECTACULAR LOFT – central & quiet – on the pricier side perhaps, but it is absolutely gorgeous! Why not feel like a classy Euro-traveler for a few days?
- Riverview apartment, private entrance, Wifi/ bikes – Yup – free bikes for you to use.
- Luxurious Apt NO.2 | CITY CENTRE | Canal view! – Why is it that all the apartments in Amsterdam look so classy? And this one has an awesome canal view, too!
Hotels in Amsterdam
Let’s say this upfront: hotels are the most expensive option for tourists in the city. In part, it is because Amsterdam takes great pride in its hotel industry, and strives to be competitive on all fronts.
But hotels also have that wonderful quality of being housed in historic and old buildings. Many have been refurbished, but with limited space in the city and with tourism interest high, property is at a premium price.
Averaging around $180-185 USD, a stay in a hotel room has the advantage of added security, great service, access to amenities like gyms and swimming pools, and privacy. A lot of them have shops and top restaurants attached as well. But let’s put that aside for the moment…
Check out these highly rated, but affordable hotels in Amsterdam:
- Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam – just 200 yards from central station, and the benefit of free use of hotel bicycles!
- Albus Hotel Amsterdam City Center – Great for couples, and close to all amenities a tram station for easy access.
- Hotel Weber – Fresh bread is brought to your room each morning – you don’t even get that at home!
Houseboats in Amsterdam
Remember we mentioned an unusual accommodation option earlier? Amsterdam has an awesome one not found in many other cities: houseboats!
There are about 2500 houseboats moored in Amsterdam’s canals, many of which are available for rent, just like a self-catering AirBnB. Some houseboats are simple affairs, while others can be multi-leveled and quite luxurious.
All offer the tranquility of the gently rocking canal water to fall asleep to. And potentially a mildly annoyed duck to wake up to.
Houseboats can be found on many of the usual accommodation services like Booking.com or Airbnb. So, is Amsterdam expensive when it comes to this unusual mode of stay? Luxury houseboats can go for more than $250 per night, while a standard option averages around $80 USD. So you could spend around the same for a hotel stay, in effect.
Here are a few of our favorites to check out.
- Modern Houseboat/Large Roof Terrace – a studio on the first floor (yes, of a boat!), and it even has a terrace for some outdoor relaxation.
- Houseboat – wake up with great view! – In Amsterdam south, where you can even step out of your room and into the water for a swim! Or just watch TV from bed.
- Cozy & comfortable suite on coaster close 2 center – features an awesome view of the harbor, an attractive sun deck and within five minutes of the local nightlife!
ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $9-25/day
When using the public transport options in Amsterdam, get an OV-chip card, which allows access to trams, trains, buses, and the metro – all are operated by a service called GVB. You should be able to get to almost anywhere you need to without much hassle, using the card to get yourself around the public transportation system.
Be aware that Amsterdam has moved to a cashless transport system, so you’ll need to purchase one card or another before you use the system to access the network. From that point, it is a matter of tapping in and tapping out when you use one of the transportation modes.
Single tickets to a specific destination can be bought at most bus, tram or metro stations, but are quite expensive – around $3.50 USD for one trip (valid for one hour). You’re better off using an OV Chipcard, which overall cuts the cost of such a trip in half. You can also purchase a one-day card for $9.
Whichever the case, Amsterdam public transport is considered a luxury option, because most people prefer to walk and cycle.
Train, Tram and Metro Travel in Amsterdam
In Amsterdam, train travel is used mostly between the airport and the city. And to connect it to other cities in Holland.
Within the city itself, it is more common to use the modern and stylish tram system for routes that are too long to walk. There’s also a metro, which is useful for reaching the outer lying areas like Bijlmer, or Amstelveen.
To save money, a whole host of options exist in terms of tram and metro travel passes. To give you some idea: A typical train from the airport to the city costs around $5 USD. Day passes for the city public transport network start from around $9 USD. You can get these kinds of passes valid for up to seven days.
Bus Travel in Amsterdam
The bus service, also run by GVB, is very reliable and comfortable, operating 40 routes around the city. Between midnight and 6 am, the bus services are a little more limited, but they still run reliably.
You can purchase a 60 minute ($4 USD), or 90-minute pass ($7.50 USD) for single-trip use if you won’t be using the system otherwise. Your multi-day OV-Chip card, GVB pass or I Amsterdam card is still your most economical option, though.
It is also worth mentioning the tourist-friendly Canal Bus Day Pass, which is a hop-on, hop-off system with stops at some of the popular museums and monument attractions.
Public Transport Passes in Amsterdam
Definitely make use of Dutch travel passes:
- I Amsterdam City Card: from 24 to 120 hours access to the GVB system plus discount or free entrance to some cool Amsterdam attractions ($70-130 USD).
- GVB day pass: From $9 USD, for access to all systems operated by GBV.
- Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket: 1, 2 or 3-day transport pass ($23-42 USD), but also applies to trains.
- Amsterdam Travel Ticket: Unlimited public transport access for one to three days ($20-30 USD), including a train ticket between the airport and the city center.
Renting a Scooter or Bicycle in Amsterdam
You really cannot think about the Netherlands without thinking of bicycles. Amsterdam is without a doubt one of the most friendly cities for cyclists in the world. Your hotel or hostel even includes the use of bicycles in their offers.
Think about this: There are reportedly more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are permanent residents. Nearly 70% of all daily commutes are by bicycle. So if you’re at all able to take two wheels, this is the city in which to do it.
Renting a bike couldn’t be easier or less expensive. The FlickBike app is a convenient mobile service that helps you find, pay for and drop off a rental at one of many service providers in the city. At a little over $2 USD per hour, it is probably the cheapest way to get around without walking.
You might as well also try FlatTire, an app that lets you call a repairman out, should your bike break down. Think of it as the AAA for bikes.
You can also rent a scooter, but you’ll need a B driver’s license. Scooters are slightly more expensive at around $40 per day, not counting any extra gas. You should also be aware that it is not quite as easy to get around on them as it used to be.
Amsterdam recently banned scooters from using bike lanes, so you may yet have to deal with some traffic, anyway. The best advice is to use pedal power instead.
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ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $20-200
Let’s talk about the general costs of living in Amsterdam. Eating reasonably well here costs around $45-55 USD per day. Broken down further, that could mean around $10-20 USD per main meal. But this will not take into account eating at an expensive fancy hotel eatery or restaurant, which could easily double your daily expenses.
A recent study offered up the following estimated average Amsterdam food prices for comparison:
- Casual Dutch family restaurant meal per person: $17 USD
- Mid-level restaurant meal per person: $35 USD
- Fast-food burger combo lunch meal: $9 USD
- Bottle of coke/soda (11 ounces): $2.60 USD
- 1-liter milk: $1.20 USD
- 12 regular eggs: $3 USD
- Take-away coffee: $2-3 USD
Bear in mind that eating dinner at restaurants is relatively expensive anyway, compared to cooking for yourself with groceries from the local market or shops.
Eating in while visiting will save you money, given the lower cost of food prices in Amsterdam. But if you don’t have cooking facilities, have a look around for specials like two-for-ones or happy hours at local bars.
Where to Eat Cheaply in Amsterdam
It is possible to eat smart around the city and save a few dollars. It is just a fact that certain types of food always seem to work out costing less than others. For example, when it comes to lunch and dinner, Asian cuisine tends to come in cheaper than most other options.
Ask around for restaurants that locals like to eat. Chances are they sell way more affordable meals than restaurants, which generally cater to the high-end or tourist sectors. Some of the local favorites include:
- Skek – a restaurant in Zeedijk that serves traditional Dutch fare with a fusion touch.
- The Pool Restaurant, Amsterdam East – for under $6 USD, you can get one of a number of tasty treats like Ganoush and hummus, croquettes with aioli, or empanadas.
- Warung Spang Makandra – Surinamese food including sandwiches, soups, and beef rendang is surprisingly popular in Amsterdam.
- Foodhallen – It is a food court, so it offers take-out style options to suit any budget, averaging $6-10.
You might also want to check out some street options.
- Herring – a fishy takeaway served by many street vendors for around $3.50 a pop.
- Friets – a popular Dutch street snack, available for around $3 all about the city.
ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $5-50/day
This city likes to have a great time, and bars and restaurants are more than happy to provide eager customers with beer, wine, and spirits to help. But drink prices in Amsterdam can be expensive if you find yourself in the touristy part of town.
Some establishments have been known to adjust their prices to grab an extra dollar from a visitor. You could say the Amsterdam price of alcohol is “liquid.” Bars at hotels are also typically more expensive. So bear this in mind.
In reality, beer prices in Amsterdam should be reasonable – it’s only $6.50 USD for a pint. But, something that may take some foreigners by surprise; beer is also served in 8, 9 or 11-ounce glasses in bars. For these, expect to pay about $5 USD.
Beer and wine are popular in Holland and somewhat cheaper to enjoy than harder liquors. Buying them in stores is even cheaper – a can of local lager beer can cost less than a dollar!
So, if you’re looking to party really seriously, get some pre-drinks at the shops and have a few at home. Then head out in time to catch the happy hours – like everywhere else, the beer prices in Amsterdam are less expensive around this time.
ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $10-150/day
There’s a whole lot to see and do in Amsterdam. It is one of the most visited cities in Europe for many reasons. Among them are cultural attractions like art galleries and the Anne Frank House museum, and novelties like the cannabis cafes and the red light district.
Free walking tours will allow you to see many of the top attractions in Amsterdam. Whilst some of the exhibitions and tourist sites in the Netherlands are free, but most will require an entry fee of between $12-30 USD per person – yep, it can be a little expensive. You might also want to factor in some day trips from Amsterdam too. That said, there are a few ways to save on your visit.
- Investigate the city passes that allow cheaper or free entry to certain places. Some, like the I Amsterdam city pass, even give you access to the public transport network.
- Buy in advance. Early bird tickets may be available up to two months before. These are usually for places where time slots are assigned.
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There are always things that go wrong – or at the very least are unexpected. Seasoned travelers that we are, even we can’t think of everything. So it’s a good idea to calculate in a small personal buffer – call it “just in case money” if you must.
You might see that crazy scarf that your aunt Sally simply MUST have, or a book you know your dad’s been dying to read. Maybe you need some unexpected headache killers after a night of partying Netherlands style. That’s not in the budget!
It’s safest to plan for this. A reasonable sum to set aside is 10% of the total expense of the whole trip. You don’t want to be caught with an empty pocket just when you need it most.
Tipping in Amsterdam
Should you tip in Amsterdam (especially if you feel it’s already expensive)? Tipping in the Netherlands is very much personal preference. It’s not expected, however, it won’t be seen as weird if you choose to “overpay”, either.
If you found the service to be exceptional, or really enjoyed the coffee your barista made, it’s only polite to show your appreciation (just remember your own budget).
You may also find that service fees are included in your bill already. So look at the check, and feel free to use your discretion, as you would back home.
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Some Final Tips for Saving Money in Amsterdam
If you’re truly adventure-loving, there are some slightly more drastic ways to save money. Here are a few more ways to side-step some of the expensive prices in Amsterdam that we’ve heard about (and, in some cases, employed ourselves).
- Musician? Couch-surf! These days, even top musicians like Amanda Palmer reach out to their fans for a place to stay on their travels. Promise free entry to your Netherlands show or a private performance!
- Prioritize the free stuff – walking costs nothing, and lots of places in the city are free to visit. Make a museum and gallery list and hit the cobbles.
- Share expensive meals if you’re traveling with your partner. At the very least, eat light and from markets, not restaurants. Street vendors also sell some delicious meals.
- Have a water bottle: Don’t waste money on plastic, bottled waters; carry your own and refill it in the fountains and the tap. If you’re worried about potable water, get a filtered bottle, like the GRAYL, which filters out 99% of viruses and bacteria.
- Earn money while you travel: Teaching English while traveling is a great way to make ends meet! If you find a sweet gig, you may even end up living in Amsterdam.
- Become a volunteer with Worldpackers: Give back to the local community and, in exchange, you’re room and board will often be covered. It’s not always free, but it’s still a cheap way to travel in Amsterdam.
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So is Amsterdam Expensive, in Fact?
How expensive is Amsterdam? Have you figured out how long that piece of string is yet? This particular destination certainly can be expensive, if you choose it to be.
Spending a week in Amsterdam at a top hotel, eating dinner at a fine restaurant every night, paying for everyone’s drinks at the bar… that’s no way to save money. But generally speaking, we can comfortably say that backpacking in The Netherlands is pretty affordable.
But traveling smart is what seeing the world is all about. For its reputation as a costly money pit, the city is no more expensive (or cheap) than any other major first-world city. Use the advice outlined in this article and you’ll easily be able to afford a fairly comfortable trip to this major city in Holland for a reasonable outlay per day (not counting flights).
To travel in Amsterdam cheap doesn’t mean you have to sleep at bus stops or camp outside the city, either. Even budget services are superb, as are general amenities like restaurants and transport. Use the advice in this article, do some legwork, and remember to consider the many potential expenses. Your destination Amsterdam project should be looking erg goed!
What we think an average daily budget for Amsterdam should be? Around $60 we’d say.
Bye for now, but not forever!
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