Drunk, drunker, drunkest: King’s Day in Amsterdam on a budget

Considering heading over to Amsterdam for a couple days of drunken, orange chaos? Here’s a few tips and tricks for celebrating King’s Day in Amsterdam on a budget.

 

There’s no debate about it: April 27th, AKA King’s Day, is the greatest holiday on the Dutch calendar.

Originally celebrating the queen’s birthday , it’s an excuse for Dutchies to head to the streets and paint the country orange in a nationwide, open-air festival.

How to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget - Boats on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Lost With Purpose

Party on land? Party on water? Anything is possible.

The are music and voices in all directions, the canals are swamped with boats overflowing with orange partygoers, and the streets swell with people in various stages of inebriation–and by various stages, I mean drunk, drunker, and drunkest, with hints of drug use in between.

You can celebrate the holiday anywhere in the country, but as a tourist, Amsterdam is the place to be. The city turns into a madhouse, but just go with the flow, and you’ll have a blast (and get blasted in the process).

Celebrating King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget

Maybe a little bit too much Oranje action for this kid.

So is King’s Day in Amsterdam expensive?

King’s Day can be a serious money drain, especially if you’re just visiting from abroad:

  • Budget flights from around Europe are cheap, but hotels and hostels fill up before you can blink.
  • Food and drinks on the streets are priced to take full advantage of your drunk-and-not-particularly-competent state.
  • There aren’t enough public toilets, so conniving Dutch children convince to pay €2 to use their home’s toilet because they’re oh-so-cute… and they know you need it.

Luckily, there are a few easy measures you can take to celebrate King’s Day in Amsterdam on a budget. And if you’re headed to Amsterdam on a “regular” day, make sure to check out this budget report for Amsterdam.

 

 

King's Day is the Netherlands' greatest holiday, and Amsterdam is a great place for visitors to celebrate the day. Though the holiday might seem costly, it's equally possible to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget. Click through to learn how.

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5 tips for celebrating King’s Day in Amsterdam on a budget

 

1. Buy your orange ahead of time

You may think it’s counterproductive to spend money on fugly orange clothing when you’re trying to save money… but wearing orange (or anything Dutch) is essential on King’s Day!

If you resist the calls of that hideous orange dress in the days leading up to the holiday, you’ll just end up feeling left out while wandering the streets the next day, and you’ll probably end up buying something even uglier and more expensive in a drunken state.

How to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget - Buy orange ahead of time - Lost With Purpose

I am a firm believer of tacky costumes.

Instead, head to stores like HEMA or Zeeman to find cheap orange clothing, and Xenos for all kinds of insanely cheap (and whack) orange articles of clothing/costume/who knows what.

You’ll likely destroy whatever you buy, so don’t go too overboard with your spending.

 

2. Roam the streets/go to free events

King’s Day used to be about parties galore in Amsterdam’s city center, but there’s been a recent trend towards festivals outside the city.

This is entirely the city’s doing. They want to do some crowd control to keep the center orderly. These days, lots of younger Dutchies head out to music festivals on the city’s periphery to do drugs drink loads enjoy the holiday.

How to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget - Wandering the streets of Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Lost With Purpose

Despite the trend, King’s Day, in my humble opinion, is about roaming the streets and savoring the fact that you can watch an entire country get absolutely wasted, in public, with hardly any restrictions.

I can see how it could get repetitive after a few decades or so, but as a visitor to the party, why would you pass on public festivities to go to a festival? You can do that anywhere. There will be plenty of youngins a-roaming Amsterdam’s streets, I assure you.

How to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget - Mackin' with Queen Maxima - Lost With Purpose

NBD, just making out with the Queen of the Netherlands.

Instead of draining your wallet on a bland festival, stick to the streets, and let yourself be swept away by the crowds.

For fun crowds with less tourists, head west to the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. Westerstraat is a great place to be for King’s Night (the kickoff of partying the night before King’s Day), and the whole of the Jordaan is great for all of King’s Day. If the Jordaan doesn’t tickle your fancy, check out this guide to other neighborhoods of Amsterdam.

 

3. BYOD: Bring your own drinks (… or drugs)

Drinks are always expensive at festivals or parties. The upside of a city-wide, open-air festival is that there’s no one to check your bag at the gate and confiscate your party supplies!

Preparing to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget

He knows how to get ready for King’s Day.

Head to an Albert Heijn or Gall & Gall a day or two ahead of the party and stock up on some drinks ahead of time. Some of the Albert Heijns in the city center are open on the holiday, but they’ll be insanely busy, and eventually run out of supplies.

Don’t forget, carrying beer will be a difficult (and require more toilet quests), so liquor is preferred. To each his or her own, though!

Note: Drugs are also popular in the Netherlands, especially on King’s Day. Not that we’re advocating drug use, especially when drinking is involved, but… sometimes things happen. If you’re so inclined, here’s some more information on drugs in the Netherlands.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Though police won’t care if you’re drinking on the streets, they’ll care if you’re carrying glass bottles. If buying bottled beverages, be sure to get plastic cups or bottles for A) safety and B) sharing!
  • If you end up in a bar/party/place of normalcy in the evening, they may confiscate your beverages. If you want to be stealthy and/or make carrying alcohol even easier and/or increase your bra size, get a WineRack 😉 (or a BeerBelly, for the lads).

Looking for something more organized? Check out the most popular tours in Amsterdam!

King's Day is the Netherlands' greatest holiday, and Amsterdam is a great place for visitors to celebrate the day. Though the holiday might seem costly, it's equally possible to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget. Click through to learn how.

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4. Find apartments on Facebook, last minute Airbnb rentals, or stay outside of Amsterdam

Unless you book far in advance, hotels and hostels sell out, and the ones that are left are Expensive with a capital E.

If you’re crafty, however, there are still ways for you to snag an apartment at the last minute for cheap.

  • Use Facebook groups like Amsterdam Apartment Rentals and Expats in Amsterdam. People often post apartments for short-term rent.
  • Check Airbnb. It’s usually cheaper than hostels if traveling with a group. People often spontaneously decide to flee Amsterdam for the holiday, putting their apartments up at the very last minute at a cheaper rate than others in the area.
  • Stay outside of Amsterdam, and take public transport into Amsterdam. Haarlem is a city that is also incredibly pretty, much less touristy, and only 15 minutes away by train from Amsterdam. If you don’t want to leave the city, Amsterdam North is cheaper, connected by ferry, and a cool place to be. Just be sure to get into Amsterdam early on King’s Day, as transport can turn into an even bigger madhouse than the city itself sometimes!
  • If you are staying in Amsterdam, try staying away from the city center. Here you can find a list of the best hostels in Amsterdam if you need some inspiration. 

 

5. For god’s sake, please don’t rent a bike

Most people have the sense not to bother biking during the holiday, but you never know.

Though all of the 32,093 Things You’ve Gotta Do When Visiting Totes Adorbs Holland articles may rave about how charming it is to cycle in Amsterdam, they are lying and/or ignorant and were not writing with King’s Day in mind.

A woman watching over a party from a window during King's Day celebrations in Amsterdam.

Basking in the sun? Shouting at the noise? Watching someone foolishly attempt to walk their bike through the crowds?

So what’s the problem?

  • The streets will be insanely full of people, and you won’t be able to get your bike anywhere useful.
  • You’ll be stuck with a bike in unmoving crowds. That’s A) annoying for you and B) going to make everyone hate you.
  • You need to lock said bike… and remember where it is. Always a dangerous game to play when copious amounts of alcohol are involved.
  • If you do find a place to lock your bike, there’s a good chance A) you locked it somewhere illegal, and the municipality will take it or B) someone will steal it while you’re off being sloppy somewhere.

Just don’t. Walk everywhere. It gives you time for leisurely drinking, and it’s free!

 

How to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget - Lost With Purpose

TL;DR don’t die

Whatever you do on King’s Day, just remember to stay safe, don’t do (too many) drugs, and please don’t swim in the canals, they’re toxic.

Veel plezier!

 

King's Day is the Netherlands' greatest holiday, and Amsterdam is a great place for visitors to celebrate the day. Though the holiday might seem costly, it's equally possible to celebrate King's Day in Amsterdam on a budget. Click through to learn how.

Like this? Pin it!

 

Coming to the Netherlands for King’s Day? You should see some of the famous tulips, too! Here’s how to see tulips in the Netherlands… without paying for Keukenhof.

 

Alex

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex Reynolds

13 thoughts on “Drunk, drunker, drunkest: King’s Day in Amsterdam on a budget

    Trip Republic says:

    Hi! Great post, and this should be just the day to celebrate on a budget. Most things are free, after all. I am looking for someone to create a timeline on our page regarding Amsterdam, and you have a very interesting take. Would you be interested? We will of course promote the timeline, and direct traffic to you.

    Thanks! We’d be interested to learn more, we’re always down to share some love for the Netherlands. Feel free to send us more information via our contact form 🙂

    Gabby Beckford says:

    Absolutely great post! Heading to Amsterdam for Kings Day this year, and your post is so helpful!

    Thanks Gabby! Glad I could be of service. You’re going to have a crazy time on King’s Day, I’m a little bit jealous 😉 Have fun!

    hi, i need
    Rent a holiday villa in amsterdam

    We don’t offer that service. I suggest Googling for it.

    Erin says:

    This is a super helpful article and it has me all excited about my first king’s day to be in 2018!
    For others looking for cheap accommodation, I’d suggest checking out stoke travel as they have a campsite so it’s way cheaper than hostels at the moment!

    Casey says:

    Hey Erin, i stayed with Stoke a few years ago but they didn’t do king’s day last year. great to hear they’re doing it again!

    Sebastiaan says:

    Have fun, and thanks for the tip.

    Bay says:

    Hi,

    Great post so thanks for that. I booked flights for Kings day this year without knowing about it but we will only land in Amsterdam on 27th April around 8pm. I’m assuming a lot of festivities will have died down as they kick off the night before. Is there a particular area that may be livelier on the streets than others that we could head to in the night? will the weekend resume normalcy? (if there is such a thing in the Dam) Will public transport be available? You are right in saying accommodation process are hiked up…its crazy!!! lol, no wonder the flights were cheap.

    sia parla says:

    Nice post ! I am looking into travelling with Stoke Travel to the event, seems like a very nice party. Hope it will be as good as I think:)

    Daniela Berenguer says:

    Hey guys, thanks so much for this post!
    My friends and I have been looking to stay the whole weekend, we want to party but have never really been to Amsterdam so we want a cheap package with accommodation, food, and pubcrawls/parties.
    We found the Stoke Travel campsite, but weren’t sure how good it was, glad to hear some good reviews! Do you know if they’re doing it again this year?

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