How to Travel on A Student Budget: Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is one of the most popular destinations to travel to for students (for obvious reasons) and although not the cheapest place to visit, it’s definitley possible to experience this beautiful city without spending all of your student loan. Here are a few tips for saving the pennies so you can enjoy the more *recreational* side of the city.

Credit: Molly Joyce

Accommodation

There are so many great hostels to stay in across this city so just have a look at websites like hostelworld.com or booking.com to find the best one for your trip. I stayed at Stayokay Amsterdam hostel in Zeeburg and can’t recommend it enough. They’ve converted a school built-in 1900 into a hostel, which means the hostel is massive, yet feels very homely. The rooms are spacious and clean and the reception staff were great at helping us out with directions as well as selling snacks. This hostel didn’t include breakfast, which was the only downside, but it does have a huge cafe that was pretty reasonably priced as well as having different specials each night, like pizza and a pint for €7. Being just outside city centre this hostel was cheaper than most others I looked into, with beds starting from €25 a night. It didn’t take long to get into the city centre as the tram is literally 200m away and only took 10 minutes to get to Reki square

Amsterdam pass

Honestly, if you buy one thing in Amsterdam, get the IAmsterdam city card. These are available at the airport and at most hostels (I got mine from my hostel reception) and basically get you into EVERYWHERE. You can buy the card for either 48/72/96 hours and gives you free entry to all major museums and galleries as well as free tram travel. I bought the 72 hour pass for €87, which seems pretty expensive but I honestly probably saved over €50. Having access to free tram travel means you can get everywhere quickly and easily and we easily managed to visit around 2-3 places a day.

The top 3 places included within the card that I would recommend are:

  • Lovers Canal Cruise: this canal boat cruise takes around an hour and a half and is the perfect way to see all of Amsterdam whilst sitting down. The boat cruises along slowly so you can take everything in and as the boat has a glass roof, it is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. The cruise is guided via headphones where each individual can choose which language to listen to, meaning that if you’re in a group with different nationalities you can all go together.
  • Van Gogh Museum and Gallery: you can’t really come to Amsterdam and not visit the Van Gogh Museum. Not only does it house his famous ‘Sunflowers’ painting, but it is the biggest collection of Van Gogh art in the world. Even if you’re not a massive art lover this gallery is impressive, and worth the visit.
  • Jewish Cultural Quarter: This was one of the most interesting places we visited in Amsterdam. It includes a Portuguese synagogue (which you can wander around with an audio-guide) as well as a museum that tells the history of the Jewish community in Amsterdam and focuses on the Holocaust and life for the Jewish community after World War Two. Although it is obviously an emotive experience, having not come from a Jewish background myself I learnt a lot about the Jewish community and was grateful to be able to learn about individual’s stories and testimonies from the Holocaust.

Eating out

Eating out in Amsterdam is a bit hit and miss, in terms of price. There are some great places that are relatively cheap as well as some expensive tourist trap places that aren’t worth the visit. In general, Rembrandt Square is a good place to start if you’re eating out. Being in the heart of the city, it’s filled with bars and restaurants and is always buzzing at night. Even if you just want to go out for drinks, this is a great base and if you’re looking to eat it has a wide range of cuisines on offer.

Specific places that were great quality and friendly to a student budget were:

  • Singel 404: this cafe sells great sandwiches that start from €5 and is normally filled with students.  Because of this, when we visited it was packed and we couldn’t grab a table at lunch, but if you visit after 2pm we were told it is normally quieter. The portions were big so it’s definitely value for money.
  • Getto Burgers: this is a burger joint with a difference. All the burgers are named after famous Dutch drag queens with drag shows throughout the week and amazing cocktails. Welcoming everyone, not only is the service great but the burgers were delicious. Mains start at €12, which is slightly on the pricier side, but the atmosphere and service definitely make it worth the money.
  • Cafe Koosje: located just by the Jewish Quarter and the Zoo this cafe was so cheap and the food was amazing! With a range of eggs, paninis and soups it’s the perfect spot for breakfast and lunch. If the weather’s nice, sitting outside is the best way to pass an hour or two just people watching and eating. I can’t recommend this place enough!

Having only visited for 4 days, there was so much more to see so a few trips to Amsterdam is needed to take in this whole city. With its twisting canals, it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited and is the perfect place to visit for a long weekend.

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