Amsterdam, like many other major cities in Europe, is hardly cheap to visit. But there are many things that you can do to lower your expenses and still have a terrific vacation.
There are a large number of budget hotels and hostels scattered throughout the city. Hostels tend to be restrictive with curfews and shared rooms, so if you're here for the wild nightlife, you may prefer to stick with a cheap hotel in RLD area.
Discount cards are an interesting way to save money. As the name suggests, they give you discounts on accommodation, shopping, restaurants, and entrance fees for certain sites. Some of the cards on offer are Hostels of Europe (for a 5-15% discount on accommodation at an affiliated hostel), a Student Discount Card (ISIC), an ISE card (the same as an ISIC but with more benefits), a Youth Discount Card, and a Senior Discount Card. Each one takes into consideration the needs of the traveller that it targets.
Travelling around Amsterdam is easy. There is always public transport available in the form of trams, buses, a metro, and a ferry. If you buy a 15-strip ticket from a local supermarket, you'll save some cash on your bus and tram trips. Or you could just get a multi-use ticket that is valid for a set period of time. These can be purchased from the GVB across from Centraal Station. A more expensive option would be the All Amsterdam Transport Pass, which allows you unlimited access to tram, night bus, metro, and canal bus services for a single day. And there is, of course, the tried and true method of walking from place to place.
The Iamsterdam card gives you free use of buses, trams, and the metro as well as a 25% discount on train tickets and numerous attractions and restaurants. It also provides free access to museums and a canal cruise tour. The card is only valid for a single day, though.
The Museum Jaarkaart offers low-cost entrance to numerous museums including some that are outside Amsterdam. Museum ticket prices can be quite high, so this card would be a good savings option for those who want to visit a number of museums.
There are also a number of freebies up for grabs. A free ferry service runs behind Centraal Station with a stop at Buiksloterweg. You can visit the Westerkerk and the Begijnhof free of charge as well. Free concerts and theatre performances are conducted at the Vondelpark during peak season in June, July and August.
For savings on food, you'll find numerous cheap but satisfying eateries and snack bars with vending machines offering pre-packaged snacks. You could also try the Maoz, which is a falafel served in pita bread with as much salad as you can eat. Or try the Vlaamse or Patat Friets (chips served with sauces). The snack bars are dotted around the Damrak and Leidseplein, which is very convenient if you're shopping or seeing the sights in the area. You probably wouldn't want a hotel in the Leidseplein area since it's quite expensive there.
Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing Amsterdam accommodation rentals & Vacation rentals apartments .