Amsterdam ()

Sorry – This isn’t meant as an exposé as to the best places to indulge in all your favorite vices while visiting amazing Amsterdam. Instead, today we’re introducing you to some less-costly but equally fun things to do when experiencing the city of bikes, canals and doing whatever you pleasure in a tolerant society.

Plan A: The Heineken Experience: An almost amusement park-like experience awaits adult visitors to this Dutch brewing powerhouse. The 18-euro tour price includes two tasty brews at the end of the tour.

Plan B: I Brouwerij ‘t IJ: Prettily set somewhat outside the city center, this old working brewery offers guests no end of tasty styles of beers to indulge in, while the old windmill on site offers just the right touch of atmosphere. Free brewery tours are available Friday through Sunday and take about 20 minutes, but spots are limited to 20 visitors on a first come, first serve basis.

Plan A: Swimming in a pool: Booked in at a hotel with no swimming pool? For 30 euros, the Wet Deck experience at the W Hotel offers adult non-guests the chance to sip cocktails and swim in their outdoor rooftop pool while taking in an amazing skyline view.

Plan B: Swimming in open water: In the basin formed by the NEMO science museum and the Maritime Museum, locals and tourists alike can enjoy a refreshing swim in waters blocked off from boats and motorized vessels. A spacious park and the Homeland brewery found on-site make whiling away the hottest hours of the day a sensible option. Other places to enjoy a free swim without leaving city limits include Zeeburg and Strand West.

Plan A: Canal cruise: An hourlong cruise through the heart of the city’s canal network, taking in the sweet sight of narrow, gabled houses, soaring churches and majestic concert halls while listening to an audio guide is a first-timer’s must that will set you back some 16 euros, depending on the company you go with.

Plan B: Harbor cruise: Tucked away in plain sight just behind the central station, ferry lines cross the IJ river day and night. Hop on board and find a place to stand on the bow of the ship. You’ll be rewarded with a completely different perspective of a city in perpetual motion, constantly being reshaped and modernized. For spectacular waterside views, cross over and enjoy your choice of beverage on the restaurant and outdoor terrace of the EYE film museum. The best thing about these ferries? Although they’re part of the city’s public transportation network, riding them costs absolutely nothing.

Plan A: Seafood dinner: Dining out at a white-tablecloth establishment is the kind of splurge that won’t come cheap, yet being so close to the sea, you don’t want to skip the chance to indulge in tasty, freshly caught seafood.

Plan B: Fish dinner: For street food at its best, head to any one of a number of “Vishandel” stands throughout the city, where smoked fish, crab soup and herring rolls are on the menu at a fraction of the cost of a sit-down restaurant. Ordering a portion of Kibbeling, pieces of white fish fried on the spot and served alongside the dip of your choice, will set you back around 5 euros.

Plan A: Panoramic Outlook: The A’DAM lookout is a fairly new attraction offering birds-eye views of Amsterdam from across its busy harbor. A major draw is its “Over The Edge” swing that propels the rider over the edge of the roof. Tower entry and a ride on the swing goes for 17.50 euros.

Plan B: Rooftop Bar: The purchase of a drink or two is the cost of admission to SkyLounge Amsterdam, a rooftop bar and restaurant atop the Doubletree by Hilton Amsterdam. It offers both indoor and outdoor seating, and in the evening hours, a DJ provides the background music. Due to the times in which we are living, advance bookings are mandatory.

Plan A: Museum visits: The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are just two of the city’s world-class art museums to be visited once in a lifetime. The Ann Frank house presents the opportunity to see the hideout of a Jewish family during some of the darkest days of the past century and hear a young girl’s message of eternal optimism.

Plan B: Holocaust memorial visit: During World War II, the German occupying forces used the Hollandsche Schouwburg theater as a collection center for the tens of thousands of men and women who were deported to concentration and extermination camps. This space commemorates their memories with an inscription of their surnames and an exhibition detailing the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands.

The sum of the cash splashed has little to do with the pleasure gained in this city for all ages. What cheap or free activities do you enjoy during your visits to the Netherlands’ vibrant capital city?

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