Tips for Budget Eating in Amsterdam

Food in Amsterdam, like most big cities, is expensive – particularly if you want any kind of sit-down meal. For those travelling on a budget, €15-20 per meal depletes money that could be spent on other important things, like beer and museums. Although it isn’t immediately obvious, there are several budget eating options in Amsterdam – most of which are pretty easy to find.

1. Find a Supermarket.
One of the most cost effective ways to eat anywhere, and Amsterdam is no exception. There’s a supermarket called “Albert Heijn” on a tramline used by routes 1,2 and 5 – right next to the “Koningsplein” stop. They have everything – from sandwiches to cases of beer for as much as 50% off the price of restaurants and fast food outlets.

2. Orange juice is much cheaper than coke.
Better for you, too.

3. Try the food outlets just outside Centraal Station
They are all very reasonably priced (particularly the Kebab shop, which I tried) and serve good food. Avoid the drinks – they almost double the price of the supermarkets.

4. Avoid McDonalds.
Apart from not being a particularly authentic travel food experience, McDonalds is widely regarded as a benchmark for food price worldwide. In mainland Europe, particularly Amsterdam, it is very expensive (near double what you’ll pay in the UK).

5. Hit the markets.
Scattered all around central Amsterdam are market stalls, selling everything from fresh fruit smoothies to meat. Whilst the latter isn’t particularly feasible if you’re just visiting, the fruit tastes fantastic and is very cheap.

I hope this helps, and sound off in the comments if you have any of your own tips to share!

Picture Source: Moyan Brenn, Flickr.

Review of the HEM Hotel, Amsterdam

This is a review of the HEM Hotel in Amsterdam – where I stayed in September 2012.

Source: expedia.co.uk

When I booked the HEM Hotel, the reviews weren’t particularly promising – an average of around 2.5/5, and plenty of complaints. It cost about £40 a night, making it perfect for a budget night in Amsterdam, and I didn’t arrive with particularly high expectations.

The hotel is located about fifteen minutes away from Amsterdam Centraal Station (on the No. 2 tram line, get off at Westlandgracht) and along the route there is a supermarket, several places to eat, a Starbucks and an Apple Store. It is a bit hidden away, but unlike the reviews said, the reception staff (and everyone else I dealt with) were very friendly, accommodating – and they all spoke English very well. The keycard to our door played up (it always happens to me!) but they were very helpful about that too, and we haven’t had any problems since.

Source: travelbug.com

The room was fairly spacious, very clean and the bathroom is a lot bigger than most (although the shower takes some getting used to). The beds were also very comfortable and there were no bedbugs, mice or other unwelcome critters (as some other reviews suggested). We stayed four nights, and every night the bed was freshly made and new towels were provided.

Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures – but I’ve found some that look a lot like the room I was in, and have added them to this post.

In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised by the HEM Hotel in Amsterdam – and would happily return next time I visit Amsterdam. It is far enough from the city centre to be cheap (and quiet) but not so far that it’s difficult (or expensive) to commute. The beds were comfortable, the staff friendly and the price good. Not much more you can ask for, really.

You can find out more about the HEM Hotel in Amsterdam here, as well as booking prices.

Getting Lost in Amsterdam

We spent our first (and most of our second) day in Amsterdam just wandering around – starting from Centraal Station and getting completely lost, just to enjoy the atmosphere. Because of the way its tram network works, Amsterdam is a great city to get lost in – as all you have to do is find a tram line to get your bearings again.

I love that Amsterdam has tram stops in the middle of the road.

As well as having beautiful canals to wander around, there is a certain atmosphere in the smaller shops and bars hidden away in the back streets (and some great food!).

Tried the local beer – it’s good – if a little on the expensive side. There are also some great Irish bars, and in them, some great characters – we met an American magician in Temple Bar (near the red light district) – one of the bars we particularly liked.

The public transport system is incredibly well run – you’re never waiting anywhere for long – and its surprisingly well priced. On the trams (or buses) you can only buy 1 hour (€2.70) and 24 hour (€7.50) travel cards, but in shops around the Centraal Station, 48 (can’t remember) and 72 hour (€16) cards are also available, which are a much better deal and cover Bus, Tram and Metro.

Trams Everywhere!

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We arrived in Amsterdam tonight, after 16 hours on various Megabus services from the UK – and the first thing that struck me (apart from how beautiful Amsterdam is at night) is the sheer number of trams running around the city. Their public transport map is probably the most complicated I’ve ever seen (although the conductors on the trains are very helpful – when you pronounce your stop right!).

After some wandering around, we found our hotel – hidden away, but for the price we paid it’s surprisingly comfortable and not a great distance from the centre of Amsterdam.