How To Survive Amsterdam Without Going Broke

Amsterdam and especially Amsterdam hotels may not be known for affordability, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible to travel the country on a budget. The experienced thrifty traveler knows how to visit even the most expensive countries for less - you just have to follow the insider secrets.

Luckily, globetrotters follow some pretty simple rules for saving money, so you don't have to be an expert to travel for less. Anyone can do it!

The first thing you need to know is how to get around town. Fortunately, because Amsterdam is a compact area with beauty everywhere to be seen, getting from place to place isn't as difficult as you might expect - it can actually be quite fun! Compared to everything else in the city, transportation is relatively inexpensive, especially if you know what to do.

Traveling the city for cheap begins right when you arrive in Amsterdam. Visit the VVV office across from Centraal Station right away. Most people in Amsterdam speak English very well, so you don't have to worry about communication problems. If you speak to the staff here, they will assist you in finding the cheapest and quickest route to your destination.

Whenever you can, forget about paying for transportation and walk. This is not only free (the best deal you can get) but the best way to take in the city. Again, because Amsterdam is small and easy to travel, follow the locals and walk as much as possible. This is also a lot of fun. You can use the free map from the VVV to find your way - just watch out for the many cyclists traveling through the streets.

In fact, that's yet another way to get around Amsterdam, just as the locals do. If you really want to have some fun, use a bicycle for your local travels. The city is made for cycling, but you have to keep in mind this doesn't necessarily mean cycling around the city is a piece of cake. Cyclists move along at high speeds and follow special traffic signals, so having a good amount of previous experience on a bike will be helpful.

For traveling longer distances, the tram system is an economical and efficient way to travel from point A to point B. You can purchase tickets in Stationsplein at the small office beside the VVV or from bus and tram conductors. You'll need to get a dagkaart, strippenkaart, or sterabonnement depending on how long you'll be staying in Amsterdam.

Another option: take the bus. Local and regional buses can take you where you want to go, and there is even a night-bus system that can help you get around during the wee hours between midnight and 4 a.m., when other transportation is unavailable.

The railway or metro is another good possibility. To get from Schiphol airport to Centraal Station, the railway is the most direct connection, while the metro can take you to the outlying districts.

The ferry system also takes pedestrians and cyclists across to Amsterdam Noord for free.

For lodging, be sure to book your room in advance as this will no doubt save you a ton of cash.

A person has to eat

In Amsterdam, you're going to need to eat at some point in time. It's possible to enjoy some fantastic grub on a budget if you know where to look.

Bars and coffee shops also sell food, which usually costs much less than meals in a restaurant. A variety of delicious sandwiches are available in these establishments for a very low price.

Amsterdam is famous for its pancake houses - they are the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat for a good price. But don't expect American style pancakes - the Dutch version, called pannekoeken, is made with many different ingredients, and can provide a very satisfying meal to hungry travelers.

Another tip: vegetarian and whole food restaurants offer moderately priced food and a healthy dining experience. If you're not into vegetarian, check out the Leidseplein district - here you can find Greek, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, and Indonesian food in addition to the traditional Dutch delicacies. In this area prices are competitively priced.

While you're on the move, grab some frites (which are just French fries). This snack is cheap and tasty, and is served in a paper cone with mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Or, if you don't mind the taste of herring, grab a herring on a bun (haring broodje) almost anywhere in the city for a decent price.

Or, buy your entire meal from a vending machine - in Amsterdam, vending machine meals are sold for low prices! For dessert, try a stroopwafel. You can find this in supermarkets and fresh from street vendors. It's simply a thin cookie resembling a waffle, filled with yummy caramel.

Finally, avoid the eateries directly in tourist areas. Stray off the beaten path just a little and you'll find much more affordable food that tastes delicious. Another tip: dine at one restaurant a day, and purchase the rest of your food from markets and grocery stores. This will pare down your food budget considerably and it's a great way to cut down on vacation costs.

Amsterdam doesn't have to be expensive, so what are you waiting for? Start planning your next vacation to this wonderful city and you'll be enjoying a vacation without paying through the nose.

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