Recently I did some research for traveling the Netherlands on a budget. I realized that my home country is pretty sucky when it comes to affordable accommodation, transportation and fun things to do. That’s why I created a list of 10 free things to do in the Netherlands.
From free festivals and abandoned theme parks to the traditional windmills, many great things can be done for free in the Netherlands. And because my country is so small, most of them are scattered all over the place, making it inevitable for you to explore off road. However, it won’t take you a lot of time to get there because of the size of my teeny tiny country!
10 free things to do in the Netherlands
Explore an abandoned theme park
Het Land van Ooit used to be one of the biggest theme parks in the Netherlands, until it went bankrupt and closed. Located on a large estate, this theme park was all about knights, princesses and children being the boss of everything. There weren’t many rides as this park focused on storytelling and theater. Throughout the 34 hectare park you could find spectacular arena shows with knights, a pink castle and a horse with a mustache (yes, really!).
Nowadays the magical park is open to visitors again, only this time free and without shops to buy your cotton candy at. Although it’s just a park to wander around in now, some parts of the park remain, such as the gorgeous pink castle and the swan lake. Admit it, abandoned theme parks are awesome, especially when you can visit them for free!
Cycle the super flat countryside
Technically it’s not entirely free as renting a bicycle might cost you something, however cycling the Dutch countryside is. Holland’s countryside is usually called a ‘polder’ and exploring them is easy as they are all around! The Netherlands is home to over 4.1 million cows (April, 2015) so you’ll be sure to meet one on your way!
Attend a free music festival
Free music festivals can be found all over the Netherlands, especially in summer. Attend the legendary festival of Parkpop in Den Haag or bust a move at Uitmarkt in Amsterdam. Although summer in The Netherlands feels like it lasts only two weeks, a free festival makes any rainy day better! More free festivals can be found here.
Marvel at the traditional houses around the canals of Amsterdam, Leiden or Delft
Google The Netherlands and all you’ll find are tulips, cheese, windmills and those super cute houses that can be found along the canals of the major Dutch cities. Grachtenpanden, as we call them are a typical tourist attraction, they’re beautiful and totally free to look at! You can find most of them in Amsterdam at the Canal belt or the Jordaan neighborhood. Other cities famous for this kind of architecture are Leiden, Delft, Haarlem and Den Haag.
Check out the famous Dutch cheese market in Alkmaar
Can’t go to the Netherlands without bumping into giant wheels of cheese! The cheese market in Alkmaar – which is a lovely city to visit when you’re done exploring the market – is one of Holland’s most famous tourist attractions and it’s fun to see people running around with heaps of cheese.
Tip: When you go to the market or a cheese shop, don’t hesitate to ask for a taste. Buying something afterwards is kind of expected, though.
Take a free walking tour in Amsterdam
Certainly a no-brainer when it comes to visiting ANY touristic city in the world. Free walking tours are simply amazing, almost everywhere you go, as they are done by professionals who love their job (and promote their other – paid – tours through this, as well). In Amsterdam, Sandeman is responsible for the best free city tours and supposedly they are pretty awesome! Do know that a small tip is expected after the tour.
See the traditional windmills at Kinderdijk
Windmills are iconic for the tourist view on the Netherlands and I can’t blame you. At Kinderdijk, close to Rotterdam, you’ll find 19 of them in a row – pretty Instagram pics guaranteed.
A lot of Dutch cities have windmills and some of them are still being used. On certain days you are even allowed to climb up there and see how all the work is done.
Party with the Dutch on Kings day
Kings day- on the 27th of April – is the day the entire nation turns orange. The party usually starts the day before with loads of free festivals in almost every town and city. Famous are the festivals in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag but wherever you find crazy Dutchies, you’ll find FUN! All you need now is an orange t-shirt.
Fun fact: Queens day used to be celebrated on the 30th of April but changed when the Queens abdicated her throne. Still tourists with outdated guidebooks come – all dressed in orange – to celebrate her birthday. So, if you’re not in time to party on King’s Day, check out the disappointed tourists flocking the stations on the 30th.
Relax on one of the many beaches on the Dutch coastline
We don’t have mountains, dangerous wildlife or big forests; however, the Dutch coastline is quite nice! Soak up some sun at Scheveningen, play a little beach volley at Zandvoort or splash around at Hoek van Holland. The Dutch coastline has plenty of beaches to keep you occupied and they’re all free!
Get in touch with nature at Hoge Veluwe National Park
As I said, we don’t have a lot of nature but at Hoge Veluwe National Park there’s no denying that the Netherlands can be beautiful, too. Located close to the city of Utrecht you’ll find yourself in breathtaking nature for exactly €0. Walk through the ‘forest’ or chill out in a green meadow. You might even spot a deer!
Visiting Holland soon? I hope you found some ideas for free things to do in The Netherlands. My country might be expensive for most visitors, when you plan carefully, there’s something to do for everyone!
These 10 free things to do in The Netherlands is just a start as there’s so much more you can do on a budget! Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like to know more (or when you have great ideas to help other travelers with!).
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