Ilera Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 20-22 June 2013: Imagining new employment relations and new solidarities.

Money and costs


The Netherlands uses the euro (€). If you’re coming with US dollars you’ll be aware that the euro has appreciated sharply against the dollar in the past couple of years. As for the denominations of the currency, there are €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes, and €0.05, €0.10, €0.20, €0.50, €1 and €2 coins (amounts under €1 are called cents) (no €0.01, €0.02 coins are used in the Netherlands). Euro notes are the same in all participating countries: coins have a ‘European’ side and a ‘national’ side (in the Netherlands, with an image of Queen Beatrix). All are legal tender throughout the euro zone area, although many businesses will not accept notes larger than €50 because of the funny money in ­circulation.


Automatic teller machines can be found outside most banks, at the airport and at Centraal Station. Most accept credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard/Eurocard, as well as cash cards that access the Cirrus and Plus networks. Check with your home bank for service charges before leaving. ATMs (cashpoints) are very widespread in Amsterdam, so you don't have to worry in not finding one.

Changing money

Avoid the private exchange booths dotted around tourist areas. They’re convenient and open late, but rates and commissions tend to be lousy. Banks and the Postbank (at post offices) stick to official exchange rates and charge a sensible commission, as does GWK Travelex (0900 05 66), accessible at a number of branches: Centraal Station (8am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-10pm Sun); Damrak (Damrak 1-5; 9am-8.45pm); Leidseplein (Leidseplein 31a; 9.15am-5.45pm) and Schiphol airport (7am-10pm).

Credit cards

All the major international cards are recognised, and most hotels, restaurants and major stores accept them – but always check first to avoid disappointment. Some establishments levy a 5% surcharge (or more) on credit cards to offset the commissions charged by card providers.
To withdraw money at a bank counter instead of through an ATM, go to a GWK Travelex branch such as at Centraal Station or Schiphol airport. You’ll need to show your passport.
Report lost or stolen cards to the appropriate 24-hour number. For American Express and Visa, phoning the emergency contact number for your home country will speed things up.

Travellers cheques

Banks charge a commission of 2% to 3% to cash travellers cheques, and require passport ID. American Express and Thomas Cook are the leading providers. However, shops, restaurants and hotels always prefer cash; a few might accept travellers cheques but the rates will be anybody’s guess. Direct ATM withdrawals via a credit card might make more sense for cost and convenience – check with your bank.
Eurocheques are on their way out, although you can still cash them at banks and GWKs with a guarantee card. Few shops accept them.


The cost of living is about average for a northern Europe city, but less expensive than London or Paris. 

To sum up, budget travellers staying in hostels or cheap hotels, eating in modest restaurants and visiting a museum or two should be able to get by on €40 to €60 a day. Staying in midrange hotels and eating in midrange restaurants equates to €80 to €100 a person per day in peak season. From around €150 per day, you can stay in four- and five-star hotels, dine at fancy restaurants and hire a private boat, provided a few others chip in.


Accommodation will likely be your major expense. Although budget lodging can be relatively inexpensive, you’ll pay dearly for anything of quality. Booking package deals and taking advantage of internet discounts might help. Prices ease slightly in the budget and midrange brackets as you move away from the old centre, and though you’re slightly further away from the action, the standard of facilities tends to go up. The majority of hostels charge around €20 to €25 for a bed, though at rock-bottom you can find digs from around €17. Budget hotels charge around €55 to €80 for a basic double. A room in a midrange hotel or B&B goes for €80 to €160 for a standard double, with the average somewhere around €125. For a flashy boutique or luxury hotel, expect to pay from €160, though things start to get really comfy around €200.

We will soon offer hotels in the city center of Amsterdam for ILERA participants. More information can be found here.

Food and drinks

You’ll find lots of cafés and restaurants with three- or four-course meals anywhere from €18 to €40, though most will be around €25 to €35, and the bill can easily be more in posh places. You can economise by taking your main meal at lunchtime, as €5 to €10 or so will buy a daily special and a drink, and then having a snack for dinner. Self-catering is an attractive option, as delis and supermarket chains like Albert Heijn stock sandwiches and prepared meals. A consolation is the reasonable price of drinks in bars and cafés.

Tourist attractions

Museums can be a drain on resources at about €10 a pop for the top exhibitions, but discounts (such as the €35 Museumjaarkaart yearly ticket that gets you into most state/provincial/municipal museums in the country for free) are available. Remember that many of the summer festivals cost nothing to attend, and some cultural institutions offer free treats such as the lunchtime concerts at the Concertgebouw.

Public transport

Public transport is remarkably cheap, costing from €0.90 per regular journey in the city centre using the OV-chipkaart , and bicycle rental will only set you back €7 to €10 per day. If you’re looking to save money, avoid taxis! Fares vary but are generally €3.40 at the drop and another €1.94 per kilometre, and the total bill mounts quickly. Petrol (gasoline) is among the priciest in Europe at around €1.65 per litre of unleaded but, then again, you’ll hardly need a car once you’re in Amsterdam.

See for more information on public transport the 'Practical information - getting there and around' section of the website.


If you’re from a ‘service with a smile’ kind of society, service in Amsterdam may be impersonal, off-putting and just plain slow. Don’t take it personally, it’s not directed at you.
Tax and a service charge are included in the bill, but unless your server really messes up, a modest tip is in order. Round up to the next number, or around 5%; a 10% tip is considered generous. If your bill comes to €9.50, you might leave €10.
If you’re paying by credit card or just need change, state the amount you want to pay, including tip, as you hand your payment to your server (this will usually elicit a proper ‘thank you’!). Note that servers appreciate being tipped in cash, as they may not actually receive a credit-card tip.



You can assemble your own ILERA programme and download all accompanying session material under the Programme menu Download Papers.


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