Amsterdam for FREE

Culture, fresh air, and music…the best things in life are free. Here are some absolutely gratis ideas for passing time throughout Amsterdam, organized in these categories: Culture, Markets, Music.

Culture

Mondays

Amsterdamsel’s favourite. Not only does the Lloyd Hotel have a fascinating past and rooms ranging from one to five stars, its Cultural Embassy agenda is rich with events: music, exhibitions, parties, lecutres, and things you can’t always categorize. Most events are Mondays from 20:00. From Centraal Station take Tram 26 to Rietlandpark. Up the stairs, turn left.

Weekly

For avant garde film screenings, lively storytelling evenings, dance lessons, and multiculti happenings of all kinds while home-made soup simmers from Mom’s kitchenette, the loungy Cafe Mezrab can only be found in a place like Amsterdam. MC Sahand always has an entertainig trick up his sleeve multiple days of the week. Definitely worth a look at their agenda. Trams 3, 7, 9 to Wijttenbachstraat. Walk another block further and left on Domselaerstraat  to #120 on the right.

Markets

The Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) used to be where merchants would pull up their boats to sell their wares, and now it remains the only floating market. The barges are fastened along the Singel Canal and are open everyday for tourists to get their bulb fix (tulip, calla lily, dahlia, daffodil, gladiolus). Just make sure the bulbs, plants, or seeds you buy there have been cleared for customs if you plan to bring them home.

Daily Markets (except Sundays and holidays)

Albert Cuypmarkt is open 09:00-17:00 and located a few blocks behind the old Heineken brewery. Over a hundred years old, this long outdoor market weaves garden shops with spices, clothing with fresh stroopwafels on the griddle. Spend an afternoon here and dine or have a borrel in one of the many restaurants and cafes along Albert Cuypstraat and side streets in the trendy yet bohemian neighbourhood De Pijp.

The Dappermarkt is open 09:00-18:00 and has been a market street since 1910, selling great Turkish pizzas, funky clothes, and fresh food, with an exotic flair in an ethnic neighbourhood just east of the city center.

Waterlooplein Market is open 09:00-17:00 and located close to the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). A great selection of gifts, second-hand clothes and bikes, African masks, prints of old maps and Dutch advertisements, cannabis lollipops, and other trinkets. Among the market stalls are places selling authentic Vlaamse frites (Flemish fries with mayonnaise) and kroketten (croquettes of beef ragu), not to mention occasional stalls selling crispy loempias and crepes. Like Albert Cuyp, great for people-watching of many cultures.

Saturday

Gourmands will appreciate the Noordermarkt every Saturday from 09:00-16:00. Specializing in organic food and gourmet ingredients; flowers, kibbeling, and charm abound.

Music

Tuesdays

Het Muziektheater (Stopera) at Waterlooplein offers free musical concerts of various kinds almost every Tuesday from 12:30-13:00. Metro 51, 53, 54; Tram 9, 14; Bus 355, 357, 359, 361, 363 to Waterlooplein.

Every other Tuesday afternoon from 12:30-13:00, Thomas Open Foundation organises high quality lunch concerts. Talented musicians perform in small complement and mix different influences from classical music to modern flares. They like playing in the church hall because of the great acoustics. Metro or bus to Zuid/WTC.

The glassy and gorgeous Muziekgebouw aan ‘t Ij offers occasional lunch concerts some Tuesdays. Check the agenda for what’s running and enjoy the views of the Ij from the foyer. Behind central station by foot or tram 25, 26 to Muziekgebouw.

In a mysterious black box jutting out of the Muziekgebouw (above) lies the Bimhuis for you jazz lovers. Tuesdays you can jam and improvise during the Workshop (20:00) and listen to Music Conservatory of Amsterdam students and other musicians play during the Session (22:00). Can you dig it? I knew that you could. See Muziekgebouw above for directions.

The Jesuit order’s Ignatiushuis Centrum voor Geloof en Cultuur (Ignatius House Center for Belief and Culture) is a cozy atmosphere for various musical styles on Tuesdays from 1 September through 15 December from 12:30 – 13:00. They also offer interesting courses on spirituality of all kinds (in Dutch) at a good price. Tram 1, 2, 5 to Koningsplein or Tram 4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25 to Muntplein. Pass the large Krijtberg church (with large twin spires) along the Singel canal on your left and take the first left onto Beulingstraat (number 11).

Wednesdays

Het Concertgebouw offers free classical music lunch concerts every Wednesdayfrom 12:30-13:00 (check agenda). Get there by noon because seats in the Kleine Zaal (small hall) fill up fast! Trams 3, 5, 12, 16, 24; Bus 142, 145, 170, 172, 197, N70, N97, 358 to Museumplein, located behind Rijksmuseum.

About the third Wednesday of the month from 12:30 – 13:15, the Stadsdeel Noord (municipality) lures unsuspecting music lovers into their hall for a lunch concert. Go on, be adventurous. Take the ferry behind Centraal Station to Amsterdam Noord, the area of town few tourists dare go. From Centraal Station, ten minutes on Bus 33 to Buikslotermeerplein will get you there.

Fridays

The Conservatorium van Amsterdam (Amsterdam School of the Arts) has something on just about everyday during the school year, including free lunch concerts Fridays from 12:00 – 13:00. Walking distance from Centraal Station, next to the Openbare Bibliotheek (Public Library).

Check out young and talented organists within the sacred walls of the famous Westerkerk (Western Church) on Fridays during April through October 13.00 – 13.45, associated with the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag. Bus 142, 170, 172, N70, 348, 352, 354, 358 or Trams 13, 14, 17 to Westermarkt.

Sundays

Head east of Centraal Station to the under-appreciated Oosterkerk (Eastern Church) for koffieconcerten (coffee concerts) every third Sunday at 12:00 ranging from Indian classical to Yiddish Latino fusion. Bus 22 and 43 east from Centraal Station to Wittenburgergracht and double-back a minute to this church in the historic nautical quarter of town.

Wind down your Sunday from 21:00 at Cafe de Doelen with a strumming singer-songwriter in this cozy cafe south of the Red Light District and east of the flower market on Kloveniersburgwal 125.

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