By Vicky · Published Jul. 20th, 2022 · Updated Nov. 21st, 2022
A walking tour of Amsterdam is the best way to experience this compact city in the heart of Holland. Discover canals, museums and more.
This walk starts from Amsterdam Centraal train station. It’s an easy 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Schipol airport.
Amsterdam Walking Tour Map
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Tips for Amsterdam Walking Tour
- This walking tour is self-guided and lasts roughly 3 hours, including a few breaks but excluding time spent in any museums.
- DK Eyewitness Top 10 Amsterdam* is a great guidebook to accompany this walking tour.
- Check out other historic cities in the Netherlands such as Leiden or Delft.
- See other Dutch walks and hikes on our Netherlands Hiking Page.
Top Sights in Amsterdam
On this self-guided walking tour you’ll see the main sites and attractions of Amsterdam. Two to three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Amsterdam, however you could spend much longer visiting the many world-class museums.
- Grachtengordel (Canal Ring)
- Anne Frank House
- Museum Square
- Van Gogh Museum
- Stedelijk Museum
- Moco Museum
- Heineken Experience
- Hermitage Amsterdam
- Botanical Gardens
- National Maritime Museum
- NEMO Science Museum
- Museum Het Rembrandthuis
- Red Light District
- Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder
- Oude Kerk
- Dam Square
- Royal Palace
- Nieuwe Kerk
- Madame Tussauds
- Body Worlds
If you’d prefer to be led around the centre of Amsterdam by a local, try this guided tour* which visits many of the places on this self-guided walking tour. Apart from a walking tour, a boat cruise is also a very popular way to explore Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Walking Tour Route
This walking trail starts from Amsterdam Centraal train station. Centraal Station (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a monument in itself, not just a convenient entry point to Amsterdam. Its neo-Renaissance style, built in 1889, was designed by the same architect who built the Rijksmueum.
Directions: From the train station head across the large bridge in front of you. Look to your left and you’ll see the front of St Nicholas Basilica. Pop over to visit, else head right along the water. Take the first road on the left, then the first right along a smaller street. You’ll soon reach a bridge over the Singel Canal, and the start of the Grachtengordal area.
St Nicholas Basilica
Key Information: Open Tue-Fri 11-12:30 and 1-4, open Sat & Mon 12-12:30 and 1-3. Free to visit, €3 for an audio guide.
St Nicholas Basilica (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a church near Amsterdam Centraal Station and it’s a beautiful building with lovely stained glass windows. It was built in the late 19th century when after centuries Catholics were once again free to worship their religion openly (previously Amsterdam was ruled by Protestants).
1. Grachtengordel (Canal Ring)
The Grachtengordel, or Canal Ring (Tripadvisor Reviews*), is a famous neighbourhood in Amsterdam and a lovely place to walk. The Grachtengordel contains four well-known canals from the 17th century, in order from the inner city outwards – Singelgracht, Heerengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. There are some large, old houses lining these canals, and it’s mainly very rich people who live here today.
Directions: Walk down Keizersgracht, the third of the four canals. At Leliegracht, a canal at ninety degrees, turn right and cross the bridge over Prisengracht. Turn left. From here you can see Anne Frank House and Westerkerk on the opposite side of the canal. Head down the canal and cross over the next bridge. Head slightly back up to visit the famous House or the Church.
2. Anne Frank House
Key Information: Open 9am-10pm every day. €14 for adults, discounts for concessions (plus €7 for a 30-minute introductory talk). Must book in advance.
The Anne Frank House (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is another of the top sights in Amsterdam. If you haven’t read The Diary Of A Young Girl* by Anne Frank, now is a great time! Walking around the Anne Frank House is very moving as you look around the house Anne hid in with her family during the Nazi Occupation. To explore more in-depth, you can discover the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam where Anne Frank lived on a guided walking tour*.
Key Information: Church open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm with free entry. Tower open to climb on a guided tour, June-Sept only, Mon-Sat, 10am-7:30pm, tickets €9. Book in advance.
Westerkerk (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a church next to the Anne Frank House. You can climb up the tower, Westertoren, which is mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary*. There are 360-degree views from the top of the tower, but book tickets in advance to guarantee a trip up the tower.
Directions: From the church, continue down Keizergracht, cross over to Prinsengracht, head down one block and then turn left towards the city centre. Cross over two canals, then the tram lines and continue on a small street. Turn right on Kalverstraat, a busy shopping street. After 200 metres turn right down a small alley – you should see part of a white church at the end. At the end of the alley you’ll reach the entrance to the Begijnhof.
Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm. Free entry.
The Begijnhof (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a medieval courtyard from the 14th century where religious Catholic women who weren’t nuns lived. Look out for the dark wooden house – het Houten Huis – in the corner, one of the only wooden homes left in Amsterdam. There’s also a little chapel inside that you can enter. Women still live here, though they no longer need to be Catholic, so be quiet and respectful.
Directions: After leaving the Begijnhof, head right and across a square. Walk down a small street leaving from the middle of the square and continue to a T-junction. Head left here and you’ll reach Koningsplein, by the Singel Canal. The Flower Market is just across the bridge on your left.
The Amsterdam Flower Market, or Bloemenmarkt (Tripadvisor Reviews*), is a floating flower market on the Singel Canal. However, you can’t really tell that it’s floating because the barges the stalls are on are very sturdy and look like normal shops. You can buy all kinds of flowers and bulbs, including of course tulips. The stalls are open from 9:30am-5pm.
Directions: Head back to the main street and continue downwards leaving the city centre. You’ll soon reach Leiden Square (Tripadvisor Reviews*), a pleasant square full of outdoor seating for restaurants. Head onwards on the walking tour, over the bridge, left and then right into Vondelpark, a park near the centre of Amsterdam.
Vondelpark (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a grassy public park near the centre of Amsterdam. The layout was designed in 1850 and today it’s a very popular place for locals to go on a walk or a jog. There are lakes, rivers, fountains and birds, it’s a calm oasis in the busy city. There are several cafes/restaurants within the park, an open-air theatre and a water playground for kids.
Directions: The park gets more interesting after you walk under a road bridge. Wander around the lakes and rivers, then leave the park through a gate onto P.C. Hooftstraat, a fancy shopping street. Turn right at the next junction and you’ll soon reach Museum Square.
5. Museum Square
Surrounded by famous world-class museums, the museum square itself is a large green area. You’ll notice the grand Concertgebouw (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) on your right and the part old, part new Stedelijk Museum on your left. In the centre-left of the square is the obvious round building of the Van Gogh Museum, and at the far end the stately Rijksmuseum. The smaller, newer Moco Museum is between the two, in a fairly normal-looking old house.
Key Information: Open 9am-5pm every day. €20 for adults, free for children. You could spend an entire day here, most people spend a few hours.
The Rijksmuseum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a huge art museum in Amsterdam. The most famous painting is The Night Watch by Rembrandt, which takes up one side of a large wall. There are also paintings by Vermeer and many more famous Dutch masters. The museum is so large that a guided tour* can be worthwhile to bring you directly to the highlights and give background to the paintings.
Van Gogh Museum
Key Information: Open 9am-6pm every day. €20 for adults, free for children. Must book in advance.
The Van Gogh Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) has a large collection of Van Gogh masterpieces along with works by his impressionist contemporaries. Highlights include the Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, The Bedroom and many self-portraits.
Stedelijk Museum (City Museum)
Key Information: Open every day 10am-6pm. €20 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The Stedelijk Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) focuses on modern art and design. The new extension looks like a bathtub, while the rest of it is in a beautiful old building. There are some pieces by Mondriaan and Picasso but most of the work is from lesser-known artists. There’s also a nice sculpture garden. The free audio tour is worth getting.
Key Information: Open every day 8:30am-9pm (until 10pm on weekends). €16 for adults, discounts for concessions. You can book tickets online to avoid the queues.
The Moco Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a new museum displaying street art, both old and contemporary, including works by Banksy. It’s quite small and can be overcrowded, so aim to visit early or late.
Best Museums in Amsterdam
Most museums in Amsterdam are fairly expensive, with ticket prices ranging from €12.50 to €25 for adults. The top three museums in Amsterdam are:
- Anne Frank House: The most popular museum in Amsterdam. If you visit, it’s worth reading the book* beforehand as you’ll get more from the experience.
- Rijksmuseum: A very large museum containing many famous works of art. Try a guided tour* to hit all the top paintings.
- Van Gogh Museum: Famous works by the master and his contemporaries, remember to book online a few days in advance.
Directions: Walk through the passageway beneath the Rijksmuseum to reach a canal. If you want to, head right 500 metres to the Heineken Experience. Else head across the bridge over the canal.
6. Heineken Experience
Key Information: Open 10:30am-9pm every day. €21 per person, must be 18+ to visit.
Directions: After crossing the canal, continue walking straight onwards to a T-junction at Herengracht canal. Turn right then left over the bridge. Continue right along the canal then turn left to walk up a wide tree-covered area. You’ll soon reach a large square, Rembrandt Square (Tripadvisor Reviews*), with a statue of the man in the centre. Head right to cross the square and leave along the road with trams on. Cross the Amstel River and immediately turn right to find the grand building of the Hermitage Museum.
7. Hermitage Amsterdam
Key Information: Open every day 10am-5pm. €15 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The Hermitage Amsterdam (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) has cut ties with the museum of the same name in St Petersburg because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It now contains Dutch artworks, mainly on loan from other Dutch museums.
Directions: Walk around the Hermitage, left on the large Weesperstraat and then right before the next canal. The botanical gardens are soon on your right.
8. Botanical Gardens
Key Information: Open 10am-5pm every day. €12 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The Botanical Gardens, or Hortus Botanicus (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*), started in 1638. It is fairly small but has beautiful flowers and several greenhouses representing different climates and plants from all over the world. The butterfly house is perhaps a highlight. There’s a nice cafe in the grounds.
Directions: If you do want to visit, now would be the time to detour to The National Maritime Museum and/or the NEMO Science museum, both along the water’s edge. If not, turn left across the large bridge just after the gardens and straight on to Museum Het Rembrandthuis.
9. The National Maritime Museum
Key Information: Open Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays. €17.50 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The National Maritime Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a large museum celebrating Dutch naval history and its importance to the country. There are collections of model ships, old maps, navigation instruments and more. The building housing the museum is quite grand and has good views over the water and Amsterdam. You also get to tour a full-sized replica of a Dutch East Indian trading ship.
10. NEMO Science Museum
Key Information: Open every day 10am-5:30pm. €17.50 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The NEMO Science Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*), located in a very modern glassy building, is full of interactive exhibits about science and technology. It’s good for kids, but can be crowded. There are great views from the roof terrace and a nice cafe, both of which you can visit without entering the museum.
11. Museum Het Rembrandthuis
Key Information: Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. €15 for adults, discounts for concessions.
Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a museum in the house that Rembrandt lived in from 1639 to 1658. You can see how he worked and learn interesting facts about the artist. There’s a good audio guide.
Directions: After Het Rembrandthuis, continue along the street as it bends to the right and you’ll eventually reach the large square of New Market, or Nieuwmarkt (Tripadvisor Reviews*). There’s a lovely old building at the centre of this square – De Waag, or the Weighhouse – used in the olden days to weigh goods.
Leave Nieuwmarkt Square around the back of De Waag on Zeedijk Street.
Zeedijk Street is one of the oldest streets in the city. Some of the buildings are leaning quite precariously here since the ground has been subsiding since their construction. This street is also the centre of Chinatown and you’ll see Chinese writing on many shop signs, together with many Asian restaurants.
Turn left through a black gate down a small alleyway. This route is only open between 8am and 6pm, else the gate is closed. Continue over the first and then second canal to reach the Red Light District.
12. Red Light District
The Red Light District, or De Wallen (Tripadvisor Reviews*), covers a central area of Amsterdam. A good way to get insight into the area is to take a guided walking tour*. There is an interesting museum here, Our Lord in the Attic Museum, and the Old Church (Oude Kerk) sitting in the middle of the District. The museum is just down the canal and the Church is a short distance further.
Museum Ons’Lieve Heer Op Solder
Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (until 6pm on Sat), open Sun 1pm-6pm. €15.50 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The Museum Ons’Lieve Heer Op Solder, or Our Lord in the Attic Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*), is a small slightly hidden museum that preserves a 17th-century canal house with its original furnishings. The old house surprisingly includes a church in the attic. During the 17th century Protestants were in power in Amsterdan and Catholics had to worship in secret, hence the wealthy Catholic merchant who owned this house built himself his own little church.
Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 1pm-5:30pm. €12 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The Oude Kerk (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is in the heart of the Red Light District. This church was started in the 13th century and is the oldest building in Amsterdam. It’s now mainly a museum but still has church services on Sunday mornings. It contains exhibits about the architecture of the church as well as temporary exhibits by artists, new and old.
Directions: Leave the church around the back and head out to Warmoesstraat. Continue left and you’ll soon reach the very large Dam Square.
13. Dam Square
Dam Square (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is the main town square in the centre of Amsterdam. There used to be a dam here on the river Amstel, from which Amsterdam gets its name. The square was developed as far back as1270.
The Magna Plaza (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a shopping centre in a beautiful building around the back of the Royal Palace. It contains posh shops and a wonderful food hall. It’s open 9am-10pm every day. There are several other interesting buildings around the main square.
Royal Palace Amsterdam
Key Information: Open every day 10am-5pm. €12.50 for adults, free for children, discounts for concessions.
The Royal Palace Amsterdam (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is open most of the year to visit, while also being used sometimes by Dutch Royalty. You can explore the impressive interior and learn about the history of the building and the important collections of paintings, furniture and more. There’s a good audio guide tour.
The Nieuwe Kerk (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is on one side of the square. It’s open 10am-5pm every day and contains temporary exhibitions. Entry prices vary but are often around €15. Today monarchs are coronated in this church.
Madame Tussauds Amsterdam
Key Information: Open every day 10am-6pm. From €25 if you book online in advance.
Directions: After exploring the buildings of Dam Square, leave up the large Damrak Street toward the station. On the left is the Body Worlds museum, with the elegant Beurs van Berlage building just afterwards on the right.
14. Body Worlds
Key Information: Open 10am-10pm every day. €25 for adults, discounts for concessions.
The Body Worlds Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) shows you the human body as you’ve never seen it before. Gunther von Hagens’ special technique to preserve bodies allows you to see in high detail all the tendons, sinews, organs and much more than you ever thought you would see. It really changes your perspective on your own body.
Directions: This is the end of the self-guided Amsterdam Walking Tour. You can walk onwards 500 metres to return to Amsterdam Centraal Station, return to Dam Square or head elsewhere for a well-deserved drink.
Guidebooks to explore more of the Netherlands
To visit a typical Dutch town similar to Amsterdam but with fewer tourists, try exploring Leiden, 30 minutes away by train.
FAQS – Amsterdam Walking Tour
Amsterdam is known for its many world-class art museums, including the Rijksmuseum, for its very central red-light district, and its general tolerance for drugs and drunken tourist behaviour.
The best thing to do in Amsterdam is to go on a walking tour!
You need to spend at least two days in Amsterdam to explore the city, and could spend much longer visiting all the famous museums.