A self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

We arrived in Amsterdam on the last leg of our trip to Europe. After having covered Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice in Italy. Then Bern, Lucerne, Grindelwald, Interlaken and Mount Titlis in Switzerland. Thereafter spending some time in Paris and a day in Disneyland. We finally arrived in Amsterdam. But little did we know that we are arriving in Amsterdam on King’s day. And the city is going to be super crowded due to it. Nevertheless, we were hell bent on not wasting time. Rather we decided to be a part of the celebrations. And also go on with the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour that we planned for ourselves.

We are so glad we did our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. Just like our previous walking tour in Europe, including Florence walking tour, Venice walking tour and a walking tour in Lucerne, we enjoyed this Amsterdam city walking tour a lot. We did at our own pace. And also for free. In this post lies the details of the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. With a map at the end for your convenience. Feel free to tweak and customize as required. Also, if you are in Amsterdam as  first timer, here’s a beautiful guide on where to stay in Amsterdam as first time visitor.

Amsterdam Central

Our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour started right at Amsterdam Central. Since we were staying nearer to the Schiphol airport, we took a train from there to Amsterdam Central. Thus arriving at the heart of Amsterdam. The railway stations at Amsterdam have automated ticketing as well as ticket swiping system. So, it took us just 2 minutes to get used to this convenient method. And soon we saw ourselves out of the Amsterdam Central, on the street. We crossed the street and walked towards left, taking the first right as the road turned. This brought us on to the Damark, the north-south road that connects Amsterdam Central to the next destination on our stop, the Dam Square.

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

The Damark

The next day we were supposed to take a guided tour to the Tulip Gardens. So, we decided to locate the tour operator whose address was right on the Damark. In the process of locating the office, we scrutinized Damark thoroughly. Either side of the street is full of shops and restaurants, that range from economy to high end. And the shops include literally everything from grocery to garments to souvenirs. So, in case you are planning to shop, particularly high end, then Damark will be a good starting point for you. After having located our tour office and confirmed with them our plan for the next day, we headed further to the Dam Square.

The Dam Square

The next stop on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour, The Dam Square can’t be missed, as you arrive at the end of the Damark. It is a big square located at the Amstel River dam, built in 1270. It has many notable and significant buildings surrounding it. The prominent one amongst these being the Royal Palace itself. The square also has a national monument to memorize the victims of the world war 2. The place was particularly abuzz on the eve of the King’s day. With lots of youth and old alike celebrating the day, sitting on the Dam Square. Some singing, some dancing and some simply drinking 🙂

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

The Oude Church

From the Dam Square, we took a left and immediate next left. Then we continued straight to arrive on the next destination on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour – The Oude Church. The Oude Church, also known as the Oude Kerk, is Amsterdam’s oldest building and also the oldest Parish church. The same itself means “Old Church”. The church is huge, covering an area of almost 36000 sq foot. And Amsterdam being a marshy land, it is really commendable that this building has stood the test of time. Which makes it something not to be missed when taking your self guided Amsterdam city walking tour.

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

The Red Light District

Well, can a tour of Amsterdam complete without taking a walk in the Red Light District ? No. So, from the Oude Church, one can head to the Red Light District. In fact, there is a Museum of Prostitution at a stone’s throw away from the Oude Church. It takes the visitors through the daily life of the prostitutes, their work, etc. Something that is considered illegal in most of the other parts of world has not only been legalized but also accepted here, that commands a lot of respect. In fact, visitors are also welcome to leave their own secret confession on one wall of the museum! Visit the museum and walk through the Red Light District on your self guided Amsterdam city walking tour, heading to the next destination – Nieuwmarkt.

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

Nieuwmarkt

“Nieuwmarkt” (New Market) is another square located centrally in Amsterdam. A daily market is established around the square. And on weekends, special organic markets are arranged here. There are many restaurants and cafes around the square. So, if you feel tired on your self guided Amsterdam city walking tour, now is the perfect time to grab a coffee. Or a basket of fries with cheese and sauce! You can also rest your foot a bit before continuing further on the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. Nieuwmarkt is considered a part of the Chinatown area, a chinese settlement in the center of Amsterdam. Walking on, we will continue further to the next destination – the Waterlooplein Market.

Waterlooplein Market

Waterlooplein is the oldest flea market, not just in Amsterdam but in the whole of Netherlands. Next we arrive here on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. Running 6 days a week, the market hosts hundreds of stalls selling all kind of items. There are many food trucks also stationed here, offering the best of fries, Italian and Greek appetizers and main courses. A world famous flea market, it is a must include in the list of places to visit while on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. In fact, those of us, who saved ourselves shopping in the high end malls on Damark can actually look for some souvenirs here. And those who are not into shopping can just enjoy the feel of the place in general.

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

Nationale Opera & Ballet

From Waterlooplein market, we head further on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. Arriving at the Nationale Opera & Ballet. The place is highly recommended by theater lovers. The shows and Ballets performances are great, and need pre-booking. If you are not into theaters or don’t want to watch the shows, it is still worth visiting this area before heading further on the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. Since, this area boasts of the best of the houseboats on the canals of Amsterdam. You can easily witness some around. Some are even converted into restaurants and cafes and you can get the feel of one here.

Flower Market

The Amsterdam Flower Market, just like the Red Light District and many others, is one of it’s kind in the world. In fact, it is the only floating flower market in the whole world. And that’s the reason, it must be in the list of places to visit on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour. So, next you walk here from the Nationale Opera & Ballet. Since 1862, this market is operational 6 days a week (closed on Sunday). And it is best described as one of the most fragrant parts of Amsterdam 🙂 . Here you can buy bouquets, single stems of flowers or even bulbs. And the best part is that the bulbs are ready for export. So, you can easily carry them back home with you.

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

Westerkerk

Next on the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour comes Westerkerk, a church designed in the Renaissance style of architecture. The architect, Hendrick de Keyser, who built this church, is himself buried here. The construction of the church was finished by his son in 1631. It is particularly famous as one of the first purposefully made protestant church. While other older churches were converted during the reform. More than anything, the renaissance architecture of the church is particularly attractive.

Anne Frank House

The second last spot on our self guided Amsterdam city walking tour is the Anne Frank House. To me, it is the most moving as well. If you don’t know about the life and story of Anne Frank, I highly recommend you read the Diary of a young girl. It is a small yet moving true story of a girl, Anne Frank, who lived hidden in this house along with her family and a few other families during the second world war, while the Nazis took control of the city. The house is preserved in her memorial is now open to the public.

The story is really moving, it is all about the human spirit, despair, hope against hope and the zeal to live on in the most pathetic and worst conditions. A story of an individual that brings out and strong the message about how cruel a war can get.

Jordaan

Last but not the least, Jordaan is actually not a building or a museum, or a park. But is is a neighborhood, an area right through which you walk as you start back from Anne Frank House to the Amsterdam Centraal. It is one of the most expensive and upscale locations of not just Amsterdam but the whole Netherlands. “Jordaan” derives from the French word meaning “Garden”. And most streets and locations in this area are named after trees and flowers. Overall, it is a delight to walk through this neat and clean, well structured area, looking at some of the most posh houses of Netherlands.

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

Canals of Amsterdam

Last but not the least, a trip to Amsterdam won’t complete without a boat ride on the canals of Amsterdam. So, before you end your self guided Amsterdam city walking tour, don’t forget to take a boat ride over one of the numerous gorgeous canals that are like the arteries of this city. It’s always wonderful to be on the canal and have a look at the city go by, along side the beautiful sunset, calling it end of a beautiful day!

the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

Map of the self guided Amsterdam city walking tour

General Tips on visiting Amsterdam

We traveled to Amsterdam for only 2 days. We spent the first one on the above walking tour and the second one in the Tulip Gardens. If you have more time at hand, you can as well take some awesome day trips from Amsterdam. Having said that, let us summarize some useful tips for you when visiting Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands, is well connected with most of the other cities around the world through air ways, and most of the cities in Europe through rail and road as well. We arrived here from Paris.
  • Amsterdam Central is the central railway station in the city, located right near the old city, and is well connected with other railway stations. For instance, there is a train between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central every 10 minutes.
  • We visited here on the King’s day. Being a holiday, and a day of celebration, it was super crowded. Vehicles were not allowed on the major lanes. So, it was inconvenient to commute farther. So, if you want to do a thorough exploration of the city, chose a different day. Also, many shops, markets and places of interest are closed on Sunday, so avoid making a plan on Sunday for this kind of self guided Amsterdam city walking tour.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking to be done around.
  • Carry your own refill drinking water. It will be really expensive to buy bottled drinking water in this area.
  • There are plenty of cafes and restaurants on this route, so no need to worry about food.
  • Apart from the places mentioned here, there are several other notable places to visit in Amsterdam. They are farther apart, so, can’t be covered as a part of this walking tour. However, you can take a public transport or hire a bicycle (cummon you are in Amsterdam!) to go to some of these. Like Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and several other notable museums, Vondelpark, De Gooyer Windmill.
  • In May beginning, it was still pretty cold there. Pack accordingly.

A free self guided walking tour of Amsterdam City in Netherlands | Things to do in a day in Amsterdam | Places to see in Amsterdam in a day

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34 Responses

  1. Kris

    I am jealous right now, from the first sentence until I finish the post. Haha! Imagine all the countries your visited on the tour and this last stop has a lot of beautiful structures. Love that you pick walking to explore, it’s the best way to get the details, and get great photos.

    • Neha

      Well Kris, we really wanted to spend more time in Amsterdam but we had to do with a one day walking tour due to limited time. Hope that makes you feel better 😀 But surely, we will return here some day to explore more

  2. David

    I loved my trip to Amsterdam. It’s such an interesting city. It’s so cool to read about your self guided tour. We’re always quick to pay money and go on organised tours but this is a great way to see a new city!

    • Neha

      Definitely David. Walkable places are our favorites and self guided tour that you can take on your own pace are the best to our likings

  3. 2 Backpackers

    I feel the best way to know a city is by taking a walking tour across the city. Its so good that you discovered the beauty of Amsterdam by walking. The places look interesting and you have put up a very detailed itinerary and tips. Thanks for such a detailed post.

    • Neha

      Totally agree with you. Walking is the best way to pay attention to the minor details and enjoy the culture of a place.

  4. Aditi

    I have been hooked to this place, thankfully its part of my Europe package that I will be doing this year and i so so look forward to it. The canals of Amsterdam leave me mesmerised every time I look at the pictures. Your pictures are stunning too. Never knew about the red light area, but seems intriguing enough to be visited at least once

    • Neha

      Oh..The red light district is an integral part of Amsterdam. Do some research on it before you go.

  5. Swati

    This is such a lovely post on a DIY Amsterdam tour. When I think of this city, I imagine canals, flowers and cycles. You have covered 2 🙂

  6. georgiasmythtravel

    It sounds and looks like you had an incredible time, your photos are amazing, i really need to visit Amsterdam and it’s definitely on my list, this just makes me want to go more! I can’t wait to read more from you, really well write, great job!

    • Neha

      Thank you so much. It is a lovely city. You will enjoy your time thoroughly when you go to Amsterdam

  7. Umang Trivedi

    I believe that one of the best ways of seeing a European city, or any city for that matter, is by walking around. Good job in compiling the blog post!

  8. Marge Gavan

    I am all for walking tours! It has become of the things I look forward to doing whenever I go abroad. It proved to be one of the best ways to really get to know a city. By the looks of it, Amsterdam is another good place to do a walking tour at as the place is so beautiful. Ain’t automated ticketing system a beautiful thing? Really it’s one of the things I wish we have in my own country.

    And the Red Light District! It’s on my bucketlist. It’s interesting to know it even has a Museum of Prostitution, I will not miss it if I ever go there. Oh yeah, Anne Frank house, I have to visit it too.

    • Neha

      You are right Marge. And that ticketing system…even I wish we had it in our country here 🙂

  9. Aisha

    There are so many things about Amsterdam that make it a city worth visiting. I love the fact that its great for walking and easy to navigate on your own. My favorite thing about it (although there’s a lot to love) is definitely the architecture…I love the details in the buildings, thanks for sharing this great itinerary!

    • Neha

      Thanks Aisha. The beauty is that when a city has so much to offer, everyone gets something to their liking. Isn’t it?

  10. Johna

    Awesome guide. I had a friend who just recently visited and was telling me about how awesome Amsterdam is! I would like to live in a city with barely any cars and where people ride around it bikes hehe.

    • Neha

      That way Amsterdam definitely is a fit for the city you are looking for. We saw very less cars on the streets and the number of bikes were definitely more. The rest of the world needs to learn from them.

  11. Karie

    Really interesting to know what you planned this walking tour by yourself. I assumed that most people would explore Amsterdam via bicycle.It is indeed a very beautiful city with so much to explore. I hope I can visit someday. Thanks for the tips and the map of the walking tour!

    • Neha

      We did want to bicycle in Amsterdam, but with our little one with us, it was a little inconvenient. So, instead, we took a walking tour on a slow pace

  12. LaiAriel Samangka

    Truly. Amsterdam is such a great city that offers a lot of great scenery to enjoy. I think wherever your eyes would choose to gaze, it’s all beautiful. Ambling around is i guessed the best way to enjoy this City and would love to do that if I get the chance. The city lights are so charming and romantic. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Neha

      Truly said. Amsterdam is a beautiful city. The city is charming and romantic both by the day and by night.

  13. Marvi

    Great to hear that you’ve decided to go on a self-guided walking tour around the city despite the holidays. It must’ve been more festive and the city would’ve been bustling of activities by then. 🙂 Love your itinerary. Seems like you’ve visited a lot of places! The flower market sounds pretty interesting and very enticing (so many flowers in one setting!) and the canals of course. 🙂

    • Neha

      Thanks Marvi. We had just that one day to explore the city and thus we had got to make the most of it. Although pertaining to the king’s day, almost everyone was on the streets enjoying themselves, still the city was as much walkable as on any other day. In fact, more so, since in many streets and main roads the vehicles were not allowed for the day pertaining to the celebrations. So, that worked well for us

  14. Sophia Grace

    Travelers love tralving on various destinations but a guide Amsterdam city walking tour can be more helpful for a traveler. This article is really helpful to understand guided Amsterdam city walking tour.

    • Neha

      Thanks Sophoia. I guess it being self designed and giving you the freedom to make changes to it as you wish, and take the walking tour on your own desired pace is what really makes it a wonderful walking tour

  15. Drew Espenocilla

    This city is just brimming with spectacular architecture. Looking at your photos, I can’t help but notice how intricately the buildings are designed. To think these are just pictures, how much more the real thing? What a marvelous place to feel artsy. 😉

  16. Followingtherivera

    I still felt cold when I visited in June! I used to be in Amsterdam once a month, and so became familiar with all the sights. Though I don’t remember Jordaan. It looks so colouful there!

    • Neha

      Yes, it was definitely very very cold in the month of April, last week to be precise. But the sun was out there to greet us, and we enjoyed the day walking around clad in proper winter wears 🙂

  17. Sandy N Vyjay

    Amsterdam is an enchanting city. I feel like most European cities, Amsterdam too is best seen by walk. We too love city walks that are self guided as it gives one the freedom to set your own pace. Also a walking tour provides a much more immersive experience. Your itinerary a really good as it covers a wide range of sights and experiences of Amsterdam. My favourite is Anne Frank’s house.

    • Neha

      Thank you Sandy N Vyjay. Definitely, walking tours are a must when in Europe. And this one we just loved to take since it so happened, the same day was King’s day as well. So apart from the usual sites, there was a celebration going on all around. And the festive mood made us enjoy our walking tour all the more.

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