Get musical at a free lunchtime concert
Musical venues such as the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam offer free musical performances at lunchtimes. The Concertgebouw is the central classical music venue of the capital.
Take a trip into the big city and enjoy a performance put on by young and up and coming artists as well as public rehearsals of the Concertgebouworkest. Usually, the concerts take place on Wednesdays but check the website for more details.
Go for a winter hike
Heading out into the cold for a chilly hike probably doesn’t spring to the top of your mind when you think of the ways you could spend your free time. But hiking during wintertime has a whole host of physical and mental benefits.
If you’re looking for a workout, hiking in winter will help you to build muscles and burn an extra 34 per cent more calories than in warmer weather. Plus going outdoors in nature when you’ve been cooped up inside can do wonders for reducing stress levels.
So wrap up warm and then check out scenic areas such as the Utrecht Heuvelrug national park, which converges around a glacial ridge that was formed during an ice age!
Go ice skating on the canals
If you’re lucky enough and the temperature drops low, you might be able to put on a pair of skates and head to one of the Netherlands’ many canals for a day of ice skating.
If you don’t own a pair of skates and can’t afford the investment? Don’t worry. You could also go walking along the frozen-over canals - so you still get to join in on the fun.
Just make sure that you stick to spaces that have been specially designated to ice skaters! And remember that with all of the people skating on them, the canals get watery fast. So as soon as the weather is right, head outside to give it a go.
Soak up the atmosphere at a Christmas market
You don’t have to spend money to enjoy the ‘gezellig’ winter environment of a Dutch Christmas market. While not as popular here as in neighbouring Germany, Christmas markets have sprung up all over the country in recent years.
Gluhwein is a popular drink at the Christmas markets - but if you can’t afford to buy it while you’re there, make up a flask at home! Follow a recipe like the one here.
Wander around the Amsterdam Light Festival
Every year Amsterdam invites a selection of artists from all over the world to create a piece of artwork using light. The art is displayed on a route around the city and is free to explore between December and January.
Each year the festival has a different theme and this year the theme is ‘disrupt!’Artists are invited to challenge and shake up the city with their designs. So go and culture yourself (and take some great photos for Instagram).
Pick a tulip
While tulips may not be in full bloom again until Spring, you can head to Dam Square in Amsterdam for National Tulip Day in January.
The capital city celebrates this day with a huge tulip picking garden as it marks the start of tulip season. On 18th January, the square is filled with around 200,000 tulips. The theme this year is ‘World of Colours’ and you can go along and pick a tulip for free!
You may not have much money this winter - but there’s always someone slightly worse off than you are. Dedicate your free time to helping others and you’ll not only fill up your time with something positive and fun but you’ll also be making a difference.
Check out sites such as Access NL to see if there are any volunteering opportunities in your local area. You may be limited if you don’t speak great Dutch but you never know which services may need assistance.
If you can’t find any organised volunteering opportunities, your volunteering could be as simple as investing time into helping your elderly neighbour put up their Christmas lights or offering to help tutor a friend that is struggling.