Famous for its museums, canals, red light district and coffee shops, Amsterdam is an intriguing city to visit. But like any capital, tourist attractions aren't cheap, and the costs can quickly mount up.
There is, however, plenty of opportunity to explore the city without putting your hand in your pocket, so if you're looking for a short getaway that doesn't cost the earth, here are some of the attractions to take in.
Sandeman's New Amsterdam Tours
Guided walks aren't for everyone, but this three-hour whistle-stop tour of some of the city's most famous sites is always going to be worth the money - and that's because the young, self-employed, English-speaking guides work on a tip-only basis, leaving you to decide how much you would pay for the tour. The Red Light District, Amsterdam dungeon and Anne Frank House are some of the top sights you'll take in. All you need to do is turn up 15 minutes before one of the departure times, usually 11.15am and 1.15pm, at the National Monument at Dam Square.
Street markets are a great way to experience a city going about its daily life, and as the largest in Amsterdam, the Albert Cuypmarkt is a buzzing taste of the real city, where the residents of this cosmopolitan capital shop for anything from fabric to food.
The hustle and bustle of any city can get a bit too much after a while, but Amsterdam hides a peaceful secret. Head to Gedempte Begijnensloot and search for a plain wooden door - behind this humble entrance lies a secret courtyard filled with 14th-century houses, gardens and two churches. An oasis of calm in the capital.
Enjoy a little lunchtime culture in the city with one of the free concerts on offer in Amsterdam. You might have to get to the Concertgebouw early on a Wednesday to catch the classical concert hall's free 12.30pm show, but it could be well worth it. Top-class musicians, often rehearsing for a concert later that evening, show off their extraordinary skill and talent on Wednesday lunchtimes from mid-September right through to June. The Muziektheater at Waterlooplein offers similar performances every Tuesday lunchtime from September to May, where you could catch anything from opera to the Dutch Philharmonic.
They are perhaps Amsterdam's most famous feature, and their beauty and heritage are absolutely free for tourists and residents alike. You don't need to pay for a boat tour of the city's canals - enjoy the 400-year-old waterways, and the architecture lining their banks, with a stroll around the city, or watch the world go by at a cafe.
Do you know of any great free activities in Amsterdam? Leave your comments below...