NDSM by Rinke Dohmen

4 free things to do in Amsterdam

A cocktail on the terrace, ordering pizzas in the park and a new summer outfit, it all costs money. Does your money go up in smoke when the sun's shining? Here are four activities in Amsterdam that you can do when the weather is sunny. And best thing! You’re not spending anything at all.

Walk around the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam North 

Behind Central Station, you’ll find the blue and white GVB ferries. These ferries take you to the NDSM wharf in just 15 minutes - and they're free! The abandoned shipyard in North Amsterdam has a different vibe than the center of Amsterdam. Take a look for yourself when walking the North Amsterdam route. The NDSM Wharf has blossomed into a cultural hotspot in recent years with a vibrant artist community and various unique bars and restaurants. Check out the recycled-junk sculptures, graffiti artworks, and the giant wooden tiki head. On the Lasloods wharf, you will find the Anne Frank mural. Its title, ‘Let Me Be Myself,’ emphasizes the importance of respecting everyone’s identity. The wharf is a venue for many festivals, a great flea market (IJ-Hallen), exhibitions, offices, and the STRAAT Museum. This makes the NDSM wharf a great place to enjoy culture on a budget.  

Visit the Rijksmuseum gardens 

The Rijksmuseum is, of course, a must-visit when living in Amsterdam. But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can visit the gardens that surround the museum building. The gardens are a national monument, and they are freely accessible between 09:00 and 18:00. Pierre Cuypers (who also designed Amsterdam’s Central Station) wanted to create an outdoor museum with statues and fragments of old Dutch buildings. Each of the four sections of the garden has its own character, defined by a particular style era. 

Enjoy panoramic views of Amsterdam at NEMO  

The roof of the NEMO Science Museum building is the highest city square in the Netherlands. The museum has a panorama terrace with seating, a café-restaurant, and an interactive installation on renewable energy. The exhibition is free of charge and dedicated to the weather elements as a source of energy. As soon as the sun starts shining, 4000 liters of water flow through 30 pools on NEMO’s roof. Architect Renzo Piano designed this water feature as the sparkling centerpiece of his rooftop square. Climb the stairs on the eastern side or take the lift from the museum’s central hall. The rooftop square is open between 10:00 and 17:30 daily.  

Discover the Dam Square with an audio tour 

The Dam Square is Amsterdam’s principal square in the city’s heart and features De Nieuwe Kerk and the Royal Palace. This jam-packed square is jostling with locals and tourists day and night. Whatever the weather, there is always something going on. Do you want to know more about this grand square? Take the informative free audio tour about the history of the 15 buildings on Dam Square. During this 2-hour audio tour, you’ll learn everything about the square’s origins and architecture throughout the centuries.