Historic walking tour of Amsterdam

This tour will give you an overview of the historic center of Amsterdam and the famous canal ring. Meander through the city as it has existed for almost 400 years and soak up the art and architecture of Amsterdam’s Golden Age in this introductory tour.

Start: Dam Square
Finish: Museumplein
Walk time: 2 hours

  1. Dam Square – This square was once the site of an actual dam that diverted the Amstel River to create the canals of Amsterdam. Visible here are the World War II Memorial, the New Church and Koninklijk Palace.

    Walk around to the back of the palace to the Magna Plaza Department Store.
  2. Magna Plaza – This unique 19th century building was originally the main post office of the city and has since been converted to a shopping center.

    Walk around to the right of Magna Plaza to the first bridge spanning the Singel Canal.
  3. Torensluis Bridge – You can still see the bars of the dungeon that once existed on this site. The statue is Multatuli, a 19th century socialist writer who was an early critic of Dutch colonial practices in Indonesia. Just nearby at Single 166, you can see the narrowest house in Amsterdam.

    Cross the bridge and continue straight ahead to the next canal, Herengracht, and turn left.
  4. Theater Museum – Composed of two buildings, the neoclassical house at 168 Herengracht features Amsterdam’s first neck gable, an oval staircase inside and a beautiful garden out back. The Dutch-Renaissance house at 170 curves with the canal (unique in Amsterdam) and boasts a stuccoed interior.

    Continue up Herengracht one block to the next busy intersection at Raadhuisstraat.
  5. Westerkerk – Looking to the right up Raadhuisstraat you can see the tallest church in Amsterdam, once the tallest in the world at the time of its completion in 1631. For a small fee you can climb the tower for arguably the greatest view of the city.

    Cross over Raadhuisstraat and continue walking straight along Herengracht.
  6. The 9 Straats – As you walk straight along Herengracht, you will be entering an area known as “The 9 Streets.” This area, composed of three square blocks, features Amsterdam’s most unique and eccentric boutiques and cafes. A great place to grab a bite.

    Continue walking straight until you reach number 361 Herengracht.
  7. Canal Houses – Between numbers 361 and 369 you can see 5 different types of gables all in a row. These ornamental roof sections are a staple of Dutch architecture. Also nearby is the Bible Museum at number 368, unique for collection of Bibles as well as its beautiful architecture and interior frescos.

    Turn left just past the gabled houses onto Huidenstraat and walk two blocks to Spui Square.
  8. Spui – A favorite spot for artists and intellectuals, this square, located next to the University of Amsterdam, has been the site of many protests and demonstrations since the 1960’s. You can find the entrance to the hidden Begijnhof, a 14th century convent, by crossing the square and turning into the first alley on your left.

    From Spui continue south along the Singel canal two blocks until you reach the entrance to the flower market.
  9. Bloemenmarkt – Merchants once docked here to sell their flowers along the Singelgracht. Today the barges are more permanent, but still floating. Walk through the market. At the end you will reach Muntplein and the Munt Tower – once part of the old city walls that surrounded the city.

    Turn right at the end of the market onto Vijzelstraat and walk two blocks to Herengracht. Cross over the canal and turn right.
  10. Golden Bend – This section of the Herengracht was once home to Amsterdam’s wealthiest citizens. Look for the eagle atop the house at number 476.

    Turn left onto Nieuw Spiegelstraat.
  11. Nieuw Spiegelstraat – This street is filled with antique stores. Just about everything is for sale, including furniture, glassware, art and jewelry – much of it dating back to the 17th century.

    Walk to the end of the street and continue around to the right of the Rijksmuseum onto Museumplein.

  12. Museumplein – From here you can visit the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. Also visible at the south end of the lawn is the Concertgebouw, a beautiful neo Renaissance concert hall.