One of the cultural capitals of Europe, it’s possible to spend weeks in Amsterdam without realising. With return flights from the UK often under £25, it’s also becoming one of the most accessible routes thanks to budget airlines.
This means that it’s possible to take city breaks using minimal holiday allowances from work, or if you’re a student (like me) a few days away is more than feasible. Amsterdam remains a solid favourite for a number of reasons: with the ability to walk from one side of the city to the other within an hour, you can do just about anything!
In December 2018, I decided to embrace the Winter Wonderland of Amsterdam I’ve spoke about previously and celebrate the end of my semester properly. The first semester is usually the most expensive for students, so here’s the first day in my guide to Amsterdam on a very-tight-student-friendly-budget, if that’s at all possible!
Day One: £58pp
Assuming you arrived the day before or caught an earlier flight, there’s no reason why your first day can’t be jam-packed with tourist trips. One place I’ve always wanted to visit is the Van Gogh Museum, but on previous trips never had the chance: I combined this with the Christmas Markets at ICE Amsterdam to have a truly magical day.
11:00 Van Gogh Museum (£25)
Yes, this is my usual daily budget, yes, but something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so I believe it was justified). The museum is a true dream to walk through, anyone who has the slightest inclination to appreciate art cannot deny than Van Gogh is part of the foundations of artists past and present and the work in the museum proves it!
The museum walks you though Van Gogh’s working life, tragic demise and his influence after his death. Each notion is explained in ways that many would struggle to fathom, but the eloquent artwork puts everything into perspective, definitely one to get you thinking!
13:00 Ice Amsterdam (£4)
Checking out the ICE Amsterdam markets for a beautiful array of typical European Christmas shenanigans, from mulled wine to Christmas decorations. There are also a number of local artists showcasing hand-drawn sketches of the city, often turned into gorgeous keepsakes like notebooks or even jewellery- definitely the best place to grab some unique souvenirs! This is also a great place to grab some food on a budget as most places sell small portions of items at around £3-5, whilst an alcoholic drink shouldn’t set you back more than £4.
Tip: If you’re travelling with others, share a few of the dishes, that way you can try traditional homemade stroopwafels, hog roast, vegan alternatives and drink enough to keep you warm for under £10 each!
15:00 De-tour through Dam (£0)
Take a detoured route through Dam Central to reach Central Station. The architecture will have you wandering for hours, given the choice- promise! Since Amsterdam has such a rich history, you can really understand how people lived hundreds of years ago. Each house tells a story, just like each figure you meet along the way, especially if you manage to hit Dam Square along the way!
The route from the Museum Quarter to Central Station is supposed to take 45 minutes, but its so easy to spend hours taking in the world around you and understanding the culture that makes Amsterdam the iconic city that it’s known to be. Taking the route above also takes you through the main shopping streets, perfect for window shopping or making last minute impulse purchases!
18:00 Q-Factory Hotel (£18)
Although it’s easy to try and cram everything in and book tickets to 5 different activities before you arrive, the reality of it is that sightseeing is god-damn tiring! At this point, we headed back to our hotel for a quick power nap and shower before taking on Dam by night!
Tried & Tested: Pick a hotel on the East Side of Amsterdam, we stayed in the Q Factory Hotel after reading a number of raving reviews and I’m happy to say that it didn’t let us down at all! It’s a short tram ride from the City Centre but so quiet at night that you get a real feel for what living in the suburbs would be like!
20:00 Burger n Shakes (£10)
The hustle and bustle and hours of walking (we clocked up 20,000 steps on our first day!) is sure to work up an appetite! Round the corner from the Q Factory Hotel is a little cafe called Burger n Shake, that does exactly what it says! We were expecting greasy takeaway food (if I’m honest) but were pleasantly surprised to receive a gorgeous veggie burger and enough fries to last for days!
It was very tempting to carry on our outing into the night but with a busy day planned, it was time to hit the hey (after exploring the hotel bar, it must be said). The Q Factory Hotel works on a cashless basis, perfect to avoid those pesky overseas withdrawal fees and for you to take advantage of happy hour!
Budgeting in a City
£50 £18pp Using a combination of vouchers and secret member price-matching, this 3.5* hotel (with 5* service) costs the same as a hostel, despite advertising at £100 a night!
Tickets: £25pp Unfortunately museum prices are rarely negotiated but the Van Gogh Museum is worth every penny spent!
Food & Drink: £15pp By eating at the markets, you’ll save a pretty penny: trying a variety of food and no obligatory tips to pay, it’s win-win!
Total Cost: £58
I think that although cutting costs is essential to travelling wider, you shouldn’t worry about the day-to-day costs, as long as overall you keep to your initial budget clear in your mind since you can always make up for expenses the next day or swap out any of the itinerary for a cheaper alternative (i.e.- visit the MONO museum to see Banksy instead of the Van Gogh or buy a supermarket lunch).
Have you visited Amsterdam before? I would love to hear about your trip, tweet me or leave a comment below x