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Why is Amsterdam So Expensive?

by Micaela Zaslabsky

The Netherlands and, especially Amsterdam, is a very expensive place, but only compared to most European countries. For someone coming from Scandinavia, visiting Amsterdam has a very reasonable price, but why is it so expensive for us mortals to go on a holiday to Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is expensive for tourists but not so much for locals. Amsterdam is a very popular city for all the events and attractions that take place here during the whole year: supply and demand. The very limited space and the high amount of tourists make it rather unaffordable.

Luckily, even though it is an expensive city, if you come from a European country, sharing the currency, the EURO, would make things a little less painful than coming from other countries. It is very relative, it depends on the currency, origin and economic situation of the person, but by no means, one can say that Amsterdam is cheap to visit.

When Amsterdam is The Most Expensive?

If you are planning your visit to Amsterdam and you are trying to figure out when it would be best to visit, don’t worry, it will always cost you more or less the same. Of course, there are months of the year like the beginning of the summer holidays around the month of June or Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but Amsterdam doesn’t have a low or high season.

Why so? Well, most high and low season destinations are so because of the weather, but the weather in Amsterdam is always unpredictable and cloudy makes it the perfect destination for the whole year: most activities are indoors, museums, attractions, transportation, and events are prepared for the weather all year round, so any moment is a good moment to visit the city. This makes Amsterdam an expensive city all year round, meaning that checking for a good hotel or plane deal has to be the only concern when booking a holiday here.

But if you would like to visit Amsterdam on a budget here you can find a full guide explaining how to save money while visiting Amsterdam. I created this guide because I was surprised by how many blogs sell that kind of information. It’s not very kind to sell something when someone wants to save their money. I also recommend some budget hotels and hostels in Where To Stay section.

In any case, I cannot recommend you enough visiting this amazing city. The whole country is beautiful and very special, enough to make you want to move here! If you want you can check some of our articles offering some more information to take into consideration when visiting Amsterdam:

  • What museums to visit: here
  • Where to find tulips: here
  • Where to see windmills: here
  • What markets to visit: here

Why is Amsterdam So Expensive?

There are several historical and geographical reasons why the Netherlands, in general, is a very expensive country. Some of the reasons why Amsterdam, in particular, is expensive to visit and to live in are:

  • Historical: the whole city centre is historical, the city of Amsterdam itself is a museum worth visiting. As I explained in my last article about Bikes in Amsterdam, constructing public transportation, roads for cars and all the modern life features, ended up being a very expensive and difficult task due to the way Amsterdam was constructed. Keeping the whole infrastructure, taking care of the buildings and constructing and building around them are very expensive activities that translate into very expensive properties, very expensive rents and mortgages.
  • Popular: Amsterdam is indeed a very popular destination from people all over the world. Its art, architecture, history and special location make it ideal for almost anyone to find something to visit here. A city so popular like this makes us think about Supply and Demand. The more people want something, the more expensive it gets. The less space there is in Amsterdam, the more tourists want to visit it, the more expensive ends up being. Certain activities like visiting Anne Frank’s House or the Van Gogh Museum are so popular that if you are considering going you should definitely book the tickets in advance or there will be very little chance for you to go in. But definitely something worth doing.
  • Expensive for tourists, but not so much for locals: for locals, Amsterdam is quite fairly priced. Of course, you don’t go around doing all the activities you do as a tourist, eating out every day and so on, but in general Dutch people have a fairly high standard of life. Dutch people live well and have good salaries, they can afford Amsterdam. In general, this society is prepared so that you can receive help from the Government if you need it, including health insurance and rent help.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Amsterdam?

The best option when going on a holiday is setting a budget and organise it around this. Of course, you will always end up spending more, but this way you will tend to control your expenses and it won’t end up being so expensive.

I have thought about this and there are a few things you have to consider when traveling: transport to go around the city, hotel, airport bus to go to the city from Schiphol, dinner, lunch and at least one activity such a museum ticket per day. Calculating all of these factors, here you have a table with all the expenses and all the explanations, but I calculate 250 euros per day for 2 persons.

1 DAY (two people)1 WEEK (two people for 5 nights)
Transport8×2= 16 euros30×2=60 euros
Hotel (3 stars)100-150 euros500-1500 euros
Airport Bus7×2= 14 euros14×2= 28 euros
Dinner (medium-good restaurant)30×2= 60 euros150×2= 300 euros
Lunch (anywhere)15×2= 30 euros75×2= 150 euros
Museum ticket 15×2=30 euros75×2=150 euros
250- 300 euros1200-2200 euro

Tips to Make Amsterdam Cheaper

There are ways of making your stay in Amsterdam cheaper, some tips that at the end of the day will make a difference for you and your pocket. Some of my personal ones are:

  1. Book Hotel First: as you can see on the table featured in this article, one of the most expensive parts of visiting the city is the accommodation. You can always look for one of the many hostels that are available, but booking your hotel in advance is always a great idea. Even before you book the plane! Hotels are very expensive and that doesn’t mean the best quality, so even though you will be paying a lot, don’t expect the best luxurious hotel. That is a normal price for normal service in the Netherlands. Check out our recommended cheap hotels!
  2. Check Museum Deals: plan ahead what you want to visit. In this article, you have all the most popular museum cards and activity cards that there are available for tourists. It is important to plan it and even book your single tickets beforehand, websites for museums, such as the Rijksmuseum always offer discounts online!
  3. Visit Amsterdam on a Budget: if you are really into making the most out of your money, let me help you! My friend wrote this article about visiting Amsterdam on a budget, free activities and how to make the most out of this city without being broke by the end of the week.
  4. Save Money on Transportation: here you have some tips about public transportation, but basically if you know you are going to use any public transportation more than 3 times every day, you need to get your hands on one of the travel cards that you can buy it here. It’s best to buy it in advance.

Is Amsterdam Expensive for Locals?

Since here we calculated how much it would cost to visit Amsterdam, I thought I would also illustrate how much it would cost to live here. It is very different because we have to take into consideration that salaries are paid so that people can live out of them. An average Dutch salary is around 2500, but more or less one can live with a student budget of 1000 euros per months (read here for more information about students in Amsterdam). Here we have a table of minimum expenses for two people living in Amsterdam for a month:

Accommodation (studio 40m2 for 2 people)1000 euros
Living ExpensesIncluded in rent (or max. 50 euros per month)
Phone50 euros
Groceries400-500 euros
Health Insurance100×2 = 200 euros
TOTAL1750 euros

But what if you want to do something besides just living? How much is it to actually go out in Amsterdam and having fun, doing some activities in the summer evenings and also enjoying living in this city? Here there is some more:

Coffee 2,5-3 euros
Beer3-5 euros
Movies10-15 euros
Cocktail12 euros
Cigarettes7 euros

Believe it or not, coffee costs that everywhere you go, even if you stop at the station or grab a coffee from McDonalds. Drinks are one of the most expensive things in the Netherlands, where bartenders and owners get most of their profits. In general, going out and partying as well as any other activity is quite expensive, but there are many ways to get better deals such as house parties, picnics, getting a Museumcard or, if you are a student, checking one of the great free places to study or work that I recommend in this article: Study in Amsterdam.

Here you have some more information about the price of basic products, going out and all the normal activities one does on a daily basis.

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