Considering heading over to Amsterdam for a couple of days of drunken, orange chaos? Here are 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.
There is 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).
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.
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.
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 to enjoy the holiday.
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.
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 fewer 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!
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 difficult (and requires 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. When 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!
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.
- 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.
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!
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.
Here are some more useful links for when you’re visiting Amsterdam
- Useful information on King’s Day in Amsterdam: IAmsterdam.
- Amsterdam survival tips from Tales from a Fork
- More handy Amsterdam travel tips
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.