Walking in Amsterdam: Self Guided Tour

Updated: 17 noviembre 2022

There are a lot of interesting sites to see in Amsterdam, and many of them are located in the city centre.

This self-guided tour will provide information about multiple historic and notable attractions at the heart of the city.

Audio Tour Option

We've recorded one of our tour guides as he gives his Intro to Amsterdam tour and have put it on a GPS-led audio tour app.

Listen to a sample.

  1. Purchase an audio tour – $2.99
  2. Get a confirmation email with .mp3, .pdf, and embeddable Google Map
  3. Enjoy the tour(s).

Guided Tour Options

You don't have to go it alone.

There are several walking tours in the city that cover central Amsterdam, as well as other parts of the city.


Self-Guided Tour of Amsterdam City Centre

This tour will begin at the Central Station in Amsterdam, and it will lead south down the Damrak and past the Royal Palace to many other important historic sites.


Amsterdam Central Station

This is the main train station and the biggest public transport station in all of Amsterdam. Roughly 250,000 people find themselves here every day.

In addition to being the main hub of transportation, Central Station is also a bit of a shopping centre. 

Amsterdam Central Station

You’ll find stores like Moonflower and Victoria’s Secret and restaurants such as Starbucks, Wagamama, and even a Salsa Shop.

Central Station first opened for business in 1889 with architecture designed by Pierre Cuypers, who also designed the Rijksmuseum

The architectural features have elements of both the Gothic and Renaissance Revival era. 

Due to its age, the building has been undergoing almost constant renovation and reconstruction since 1997.

Our next stop is the Stock Exchange, and you’ll find it by walking south down the Damrak.


The Stock Exchange (Euronext Amsterdam)

As you’re walking down Damrak, one of the first major sites you’ll see is on your right.

The Stock Exchange, otherwise known as Euronext Amsterdam, first opened in 1602.

The Stock Exchange (Euronext Amsterdam)

At over 400 years old, this is considered the oldest modern securities market in the world, and it was established by the Dutch East India Company.

While it was once known simply as the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, this market merged with the Brussels and Paris Stock Exchanges to form Euronext in the year 2000.

This was the site where the first multinational corporation was established, and shortly afterward there was a lot of investment interest in the corporation, resulting in the first stock being sold.

It is possible to take a group tour of the building.

Our next stop is the Dam Square, which is just a bit further south on Damrak Street.


Dam Square

This is arguably the biggest and most notable public square in all of Amsterdam, and it’s also the location of multiple historic landmarks.

The most notable landmark you’ll see here is the Royal Palace, which was completed in 1665 and was originally intended to be the Town Hall of Amsterdam.

There is an image titled “Dam Square” already in WordPress.

The architectural style on display is Classicism, and it was designed by Jacob van Campen, who also worked on the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Paleis Noordeinde and more.

To the right of the Royal Palace you’ll find De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church), and despite its name, it’s actually older than the palace!

De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church), Dam Square

Built and finished in 1408, the church has seen many renovations over the years due to fires and other damage, which explains the use of both traditional Gothic and neo-Gothic architectural designs.

Today, The Old Church is used mostly as an exhibition site for art, photography and more. Some weddings and royal ceremonies are also held here.

Opposite the palace you’ll see the National Monument at the centre of the square. 

National Monument, Dam Square

Every year there is a ceremony held here called Remembrance of the Dead which pays tribute to the casualties of World War II.

Although these are arguably the three most notable sites in the area, we should point out that you’ll find both Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s Believe it or Not on the southern side of Dam Square.

Continue walking south, this time down Kalverstraat, to find the next stop on our tour.


De Papegaai Church

Also known as the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, this church is nicknamed De Papegaai (The Parrot) because of where it was once hidden.

There was a time in Amsterdam when Catholicism couldn’t be practiced in public, and as a result, this church was originally hidden in a garden behind a house owned by a bird-trader.

De Papegaai Church

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was founded in 1672, but the current church is a reconstruction from the mid-19th century using neo-Gothic architectural design.

Today, visitors are welcome to partake in Mass and the Eucharist throughout the week at 10:30 am. There is also a second Mass service held at 12:15 pm on Sunday.

Our next stop will take you just a bit further down the Kalverstraat until you reach an alley branching off to the right between Kiehl’s and Pepe Jeans.

This is actually the entrance to the Civic Guards Gallery, our next stop. 


Civic Guards Gallery

This is technically a part of the Amsterdam Museum, but it’s actually entirely free to visit and enjoy everything on display.

Civic Guards Gallery

There are a lot of interesting works of art and artifacts on display here, including works from none other than Rembrandt.

One of the most notable things to see here is the statue of Goliath, which towers over guests and dates back to the 17th century. This was likely an attraction at an Amsterdam amusement park.

This is one of the top free things to do in Amsterdam.

While there’s not a lot to see here, it’s definitely a nice taste of what you can expect in the Amsterdam Museum, which is the next stop on our tour.

Head out the back of the Civic Guards Gallery and walk down the Gedempte Begijnensloot to the east.


Amsterdam Museum

Although it originally opened in the Waag (on Nieuwmarkt Square), the Amsterdam Museum has been located here at a former convent since 1975.

The convent was used as an orphanage from the 1500’s until 1960, but it now houses some of the most important historical and artistic relics from throughout the history of Amsterdam.

There are 70,000 items in this museum, including a variety of paintings, archeological finds, photos, models, and many other interesting exhibits.

Tickets start at €15 for adults, €12.50 for student cards, and free for everyone 17 and younger. Visit their website.

You can also save money on this museum by using an Amsterdam tourist attraction pass, as the Amsterdam Museum is included on multiple services at a discounted rate.

Our next stop is right next door on the southern end of the museum.


Begijnhof

This courtyard is one of the only of its kind in Amsterdam, located within the innermost canal of the city. 

In addition to the courtyard, this is also now the site of two churches: The Houten Huys and English Reformed Church.

Surprisingly, nobody knows exactly when the Begijnhof was originally founded. The first mentions of this location were found in texts dating back to the 1300s.

When it was first built, the Begijnhof was actually surrounded by water, and the only way to get here was by crossing a bridge across the Begijnensloot.

This was essentially like a convent, housed by beguines who had taken a vow of chastity. Unlike nuns, they were allowed to leave the court and get married if they wished. 

Our next stop is the Spui square, which is just south of the Begijnhof.


Spui Square

Although it’s not as well known or popular as Dam Square, this public square is a great place to take a break and rest your feet during the tour.

This was originally a body of water, but in 1882 the Spui Square was filled in and turned into the location you see today. 

Spui Square

If you come on a Friday, you may run into the weekly book market held here. 

Alternatively, visitors coming on a Sunday will have the chance to shop at the weekly art market on the Spui.

In addition to the shopping, there are also several works of art in this square, including Een vertaling van de ene taal in de andere from noted American conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner.

Our next stop will take you back down Kalverstraat heading south to Muntplein.


Mint Tower

Located at the heart of Muntplein (Mint Square, named after the tower), you’ll find the Mint Tower. This is where the Amstel river and Singel canal meet.

Mint Tower

The tower that stands here was originally attached to the Regulierspoort, which was one of the main gates in the city wall of Amsterdam during medieval times.

Following a fire in 1618, only part of this tower was left standing, and the rest of it was rebuilt in 1620 using elements of the Renaissance architectural style.

The Mint Tower gets its name from the guard house next to the tower, which also survived the fire. This location was used to mint counts during the 17th century, hence the name.

Although the guard house made it through the fire, it was replaced in the late 1800s using the neo-Renaissance architectural style.

To find the next site, head south across the water and then turn east on Singel to see the floating flower market of Amsterdam.


Floating Flower Market & Koningsplein

Also known as the Bloemenmarkt, this flower market is technically located on the Singel canal, which means it is floating in the water. 

Image

As you might have guessed, this would be a great location to purchase some flowers for a loved one. In addition to selling bouquets and singles, they also sell seeds and blooming flowers ready to plant.

Aside from the obvious, this is also a great place to find authentically Dutch souvenirs, as there are a lot of vendors who have branched out (no pun intended) to serve a wider audience of customers.

This market has been open since 1862, and you can visit from Monday - Saturday from 9 am - 5:30 pm or on Sunday from 11 am - 5:30 pm.

To find our next stop, keep walking east alongside the Singel Canal until you reach Koningsplein. 

This public square is a popular meeting place for locals, and it separates the Singel and Herengracht canals.

Although it’s a nice square, there’s not a lot to see here, and our next major stop is actually south down Leidsestraat. 

This street is lined with popular stores and shops you may want to check out before we get to Leidseplein.


Leidseplein

This is probably one of the second most popular public squares in Amsterdam, and it’s a great place to hang out if you’re interested in the nightlife.

Originally, this square was used as a parking lot for horse-drawn carriages, but today the traffic looks different and so do the streets lining this square.

If you walk down the side streets nearby, you’ll find dozens of great bars, restaurants and nightclubs where you can enjoy your night, meet new people, and have a lot of fun. 

The most notable attraction here is the Stadsschouwburg, a theatre which was once home to the National Ballet and Opera. The architectural style on display here is neo-Renaissance.

The history of this theater dates back to 1789. After burning down in 1890, the building before you today was designed and construction was finished between 1892-1894. 

In 1982 it was named a Rijksmonument, a national heritage site of the Netherlands, due to its cultural importance.

This is the last stop on our tour, but we recommend taking some time to grab a drink at one of the nearby nightclubs or bars.

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: noviembre 17th, 2022
Back to Top
cross