How to Eat in Amsterdam on the Cheap

Amsterdam, the free-spirited 17th century capital of the Netherlands (Holland), is a popular destination for both young and old. Bike-riding along its many canals, visiting one of its art museums, or wandering through the red-light district are a few of the activities you might undertake. Amsterdam may not be a destination widely popular for its cuisine like some other European locales are, but it has a wide variety of cuisines with moderate prices which make it relatively easy to eat on the cheap in Amsterdam.


  1. 1
    Buy French fries for a snack. Known as "Vlaamse (Flemish) Frites" in the Netherlands, and most often served with mayonnaise, French fries are sold everywhere in Amsterdam from restaurants to street stands for a very reasonable price. Fries come in three or four different sizes, from small to meal-sized large, to satisfy any appetite.
    • Optional sauces are available for an extra fee. These might include the most popular mayonnaise, as well as curry sauce, garlic sauce, gravy, cheese, and ketchup.
    • Vlaamse Frites are served very hot in a paper cone and are meant to be eaten with a fork.
  2. 2
    Enjoy a pancake. Amsterdam locals love pancakes which can be sweet or savory and are seldom eaten for breakfast. A basic pancake can be had for a very modest price, but adding toppings brings the cost up. These are often big enough to share with someone, making pancakes a cheap meal.
    • Sweet pancake toppings include sugar, syrup and assorted fruit.
    • Savory pancakes are topped with different meats and veggies.
  3. 3
    Try herring. Popular throughout much of northern Europe, eating herring can be an an option if you want to know how to eat in Amsterdam on the cheap. Herring is found at stands throughout the city.
  4. 4
    Insert a coin or two into one of the automats scattered around Amsterdam for a cheap meal. Kroketten (deep-fried "sausages consisting of hash with a crust of breadcrumbs), hamburgers, and French fries are some of the choices.
  5. 5
    Book dinner at a squat restaurant for an inexpensive meal while you are in Amsterdam. These vegetarian restaurants are run by volunteers and feature 3-course meals, wine and beer. Whatever the staff cooks that day will be your meal. There are no menus.
    • Check local magazines and tourist brochures for lists of these squat restaurants.
    • You should reserve your place by early in the afternoon to ensure a table that evening.
  6. 6
    Visit a falafel shop for a cheap meal. Often vegetarian, this meal consists of deep fried chickpeas in pita bread. Add other salad vegetables to make it a substantial meal.
  7. 7
    Shop at an outdoor market like the Albert Cuyp Market for fresh cheap food and have a picnic alongside a canal or at a park.
  8. 8
    Enjoy a meal at an Indonesian restaurant. Indonesia was a Dutch colony from 1602 to 1945, making Indonesian food very popular in Amsterdam. The most common way to eat at an Indonesian restaurant is to order the rice table (rijsttafel), a large rather expensive buffet type of meal shared by all at the table. But you can order a la carte if you need to eat on a budget.
  9. 9
    Stroll through the Leidseplein neighborhood to find a wide choice of places to eat while you are in Amsterdam. This area is filled with countless restaurants of all sorts. Menus are posted outside and employees often compete to draw in customers.


  • Avoid the area near the train station on the street called Damrak. Most places exist to draw in tourists and locals seldom eat there, so expect higher prices than in the more out-of-the-way areas of Amsterdam.
  • Full-time students between 12 and 26 can purchase an ISIC card for a small price and get discounts in many restaurants.

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