Amsterdam on a budget: Holland Pass, cheap train rides and foods [Updated: 7/3/17]

Iamsterdam sign at Amsterdam

Europe is one of the most expensive places to visit. For someone like me, it’s already difficult to afford that plane ticket so how much more the hotel accommodation during my stay? Not to mention, the hassle of applying for a Schengen visa and the fees that come along with it. It’s definitely not a cheap place to visit. My trip to The Netherlands was a short notice and I honestly don’t have enough money to enjoy a luxurious trip. So here’s how I was able to save my ass from the expenses while still enjoying my trip:

Holland Pass ticket, discount card and guide

Holland Pass

There are a lot of city passes and discount cards that you can avail if you want to save money on your trip to the Netherlands. However, each of these has its own offers, terms, and conditions so you have to weight things out before picking one. Based on my research, I decided to get the Holland Pass because I find it the most convenient among the rest of my options. First, the pass and discount card are valid for one month after your first use. Second, if you plan it wisely, you can really get big discounts. Way to go for a cheap Amsterdam tour.

So how does it work? The Holland Pass gives you free entrance tickets and a discount card. Attractions, Museums, Excursions and Canal Cruises are grouped into gold and silver categories which will determine which ticket you will present at the entrance of your chosen attraction.  The Holland Pass comes in three sizes– Small, Medium and Large which has a corresponding number of gold and silver tickets that you can use. One ticket is usually equivalent to one attraction but there are some attractions that require 2 or more tickets like the Countryside and Windmill tour. So basically, you just have to present the free entrance ticket for your chosen attraction.

The best thing about it is that whenever you run out of free entrance tickets, you can still save money by presenting your discount card to the ticketing booth.

How much does it cost? 

  • Small – €40
  • Medium – €55
  • Large –  €75


Holland Pass tickets for Amsterdam tour

In my case, I bought the large pass which gave me 3 gold and 3 silver tickets. So all in all, I can visit 6 attractions at most with my Holland Pass. Here’s the combination that I planned:

Note: To be able to track down how much I saved, I included the regular price of the attraction. 

GOLD category 

  • Van Gogh Museum – € 17
  • Rijksmuseum – € 17,50
  • Madame Tussauds – € 23,50

SILVER category

  • Muiderslot Castle – € 13,50
  • Tulip Museum € 5
  • Canal Cruise – € 18

Total: € 94,50

Holland Pass: € 75

Savings: € 94,50 – € 75 = € 19,50

I have all the places that I wanted to visit and I was able to save € 19,50 with the Holland Pass! It’s already a lot, right?

How can you purchase one?

It’s easy and very convenient. You can purchase online and pick up your card at their designated pickup station that’s convenient for you. First, you have to select which size you want, choose your pickup time and location, proceed to checkout and then voila! Don’t forget to print your claiming stub. You have to present this at the pickup station to get your card.

Cheap train rides

I tried Uber from Schiphol to my hotel in Zaltbommel and it costs over € 100!! If you convert it to Philippine peso, that’s around ₱ 5,200.00. A taxi from Zaltbommel to Waardenburg, which is just 12 minutes away from each other, costs € 15 and that’s already ₱ 720.00 in the Philippines. Ladies and gentlemen, transportation in the Netherlands is not cheap! Well, unless you have a bike or you’re willing to travel by foot then it’s not a problem. Now, how about trains? I would say these are cheaper compared to taxis and Uber but it could still break your bank.

However, I learned that you can save a lot by purchasing group train tickets. How? If you can’t find websites that offer group tickets, you can join Facebook groups for it. It’s the best and the most convenient option to get cheap tickets across the Netherlands! Group tickets could allow you to save up to seven times out of the original ticket price. Imagine that!!!


Group train tickets for touring Amsterdam

How does it work?

All you have to do is to find a group of people that are traveling either from or to the same location and on the same day as you, fill a slot, give your details and pay. Once a ticket has been ordered for you, you will receive an email that contains a website from where you can download your printable ticket, print it and you’re good to go. Happy pockets!

Update (7/3/2017): So I found out that there’s a new guideline when purchasing group tickets. This time, the group must travel “from” and “to” the same location already. It’s a bit difficult to form groups this way but as they say “if there’s a will, there’s a way”! 

Budget-friendly foods

Unless you’re into fine dining, you can just find good and affordable foods in the Netherlands. In my case, I went to the grocery on my first day to buy stuff that will last for the entire duration of my stay. It’s a cheap option and it also helped save time. Stores like Lidl, Jumbo, and Aldi are almost everywhere and it’s easy to find cheap foods in these stores.


So there you have it folks! All you have to think of is getting a cheap accommodation and cheap flight ticket to the Netherlands. If you’re from a country which does not need a Schengen visa to enter EU, good for you! But if you’re like me, guess you also have to spend a few more on the visa application. Good luck!


Have you ever been to The Netherlands? How were you able to stretch your budget? I’d love to hear from you. Comment down your  experience below and I might be able to learn something for my next trip.

Amsterdam on a budget pin

author avatar

I am a 20-something Software Engineer who loves to travel, explore places, experience different culture and chase dreams. Apart from my 6 to 9 job, I dance ballet as a hobby. Born, raised and currently living in the beautiful Philippines but will soon travel the world.. one baby step at a time.


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