Free Amsterdam: Gardens, art, ferries, conversation

Amsterdam Rijksmuseum garden

Looking for ways to save some euros while visiting Amsterdam? Here are five suggestions:

Try some flower power.

Visiting the masterpieces at the Rijksmuseum will set you back €10, but the baroque and renaissance gardens behind it are free to stroll. Delight in the fountains, statues, and the carefully coiffed hedges and plants. The gardens are open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Baroque gardens are closed on the weekends.

(Note: The Rijksmuseum is undergoing extensive renovations that are scheduled to last until 2010. Until then, visitors may visit a scaled down “best of” collection entitled ”The Masterpieces.”)

Pick up a passport to paintings.

Speaking of the Rijksmuseum, we’re flying high about the joint venture between the museum and Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schipol, an art space at the airport maintained and is open from 7 am to 10 pm. So, get your stamp and your art on!

Go Dutch!

Ever wondered how to say “ham sandwich” in Dutch? (The answer is broodje ham).  Why not sign up for a local chat buddy and learn even more? Check out the University of Amsterdam’s Web site and bulletin board to find a partner in conversation. Or, just try Craigslist. Our friends over at Trippist recommend the Student Language Exchange too. What better way to connect with Dutch culture than to go, quite literally, Dutch!

Park  yourself.

It’s no secret that Amsterdam has some of the prettiest and most extensive parks. Our favorites include Vondelpark and Beatrixpark. For more space and to catch a game of Frisbee, try Vondel. Another Vondel bonus? Free concerts abound, especially during the summer months. Beatrix is your best bet for quiet and quaint. Relax on a blanket, pull out a good book, and prepare to catch some rays and shut eye.

Go over the river.

Since Amsterdam’s touristy canal tours can get pricey, we recommend the free ferry (about a 5-minute ride) from Central Station (the Ruyterkade) over the River IJ. We admit, the tour isn’t long, but it offers a great view of Amsterdam’s shoreline and lets visitors fully appreciate Amsterdam’s rich port and shipping trade history. Ferries leave every 7.5 minutes between 6:30 am and 11 pm daily; every quarter hour at other times of day.

If you’ve rented a bike, spend the day on the other side, touring the countryside and nearby small villages of Monnickendam, Marken, and Volendam. Cycling maps are available at all of Amsterdam’s bike shops (read more about this countryside bike tour).

About the author

Meredith Franco Meyers
About the author: Meredith earned an MFA in fiction writing at The New School in New York City. Her feature stories and articles have appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, American Baby, Self, Bridal Guide, Time Out New York, Fitness and more. She joined EuroCheapo in summer 2007.
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