City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital and the largest city of the Netherlands. It is famous for its unusual life rhythm manifested in the air of cannabis, coffee shops, the Red Light District and many other elements that keep drawing in people from the whole world all year round. Here are some suggestions on the top-rated tourist attractions of this extraordinary city.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Netherlands » Amsterdam (See other walking tours in Amsterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: kane
1
Centraal Station

1) Centraal Station (must see)

When in Amsterdam you are bound to enter the Centraal Station at least once during your visit. With over 1500 trains that ply daily through the station, it is one of the busiest places in Amsterdam. Almost 250,000 commuters go through the Central daily and in the truest sense it is the heart of the city.

The Central station began service in the late 19th century. Designed by architects P.J.H. Cuypers and A. L. van Gendt, the structure symbolized the rebirth of the once unstable financial state of the country.

An interesting fact about the Central Station is that it was built on three man-made islands and the current location of the station is not the one that was originally decided. To erect a structure as massive as the Station it took precisely 8687 wooden piles to support the building on the muddy soil. The entire project seemed like a huge mistake and was even condemned by many experts, but in the end, the architects managed to pull it off.

Today, this Neo-Gothic structure stands proudly on the banks of the river IJ and one can only gaze at the beauty and the colossal presence of this magnificent edifice built on a manmade island.

Why You Should Visit:
A mass transit and cosmopolitan fever hotspot.
Mixes neo-Renaissance architecture and modern technology.

Tip:
There are several (free) ferry trips through the canals that leave from here about every 5 or 15 minutes and are very worthwhile. You can get right back on the boat if you wish and cruise back to the station.
2
Tulip Museum

2) Tulip Museum (must see)

Located in Jordaan is a small but quite a fascinating museum dedicated to the most notorious flower in the history of Netherlands -- the Tulip. A flower that has played such an important role in shaping the history of the country is bound to have a museum dedicated to telling its tale and the Tulip Museum or the Tulpenmuseum does exactly that.

Tulips were introduced in the Netherlands and Europe in the mid-16th century by the Ottoman Empire. The delicate flower soon caught the attention of the nobilities and was brought to cultivate on Dutch soil. The flowers gained huge popularity, especially with the elite and also became a status symbol in society. The rarer the colour of the flower, the more precious the bulb. Variations in the flower colour, petals etc. were soon discovered and the market demand rose to great extent. There were instances recorded when people were ready to pay 10 times the annual income of a craftsman for a single bulb of the flower. The ‘Tulip Mania’, as it is known today, peaked in 1637 and caused severe damage to the Dutch land's economy.

Why You Should Visit:
Small but packed with information and with everything you need to become addicted to tulips.

Tip:
The gift shop at the entrance is cute and has plenty of interesting souvenir options.
Also known as one of the few places that have "certified" bulbs for the USA & Canada.
Location-wise, it's right near the Cheese Museum so you can get your fill of cheese at the same time!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
3
Anne Frank House

3) Anne Frank House (must see)

The name Anne Frank must have rung a bell somewhere. Just to revive your memories, Anne Frank was a 13-year-old Jewish girl residing in the Netherlands with her family. Originally residents of Germany, after the Nazis gained power in Germany and life started getting difficult for the Jews, she and her family sought shelter in the Netherlands. However, little did the family know that soon the Nazi terror would come and haunt them even in their asylum.

The Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht Canal was where the Frank family along with the Van Pel family went into hiding for over 2 years. The house was built in 1635 and throughout its existence, it served as a residence, warehouse, stable and office. In 1940, Otto Frank, Anne’s father bought the premises as an office for his spice business. Soon the office became a hideout from the German troops who were rounding up Jewish families and sending them to concentration camps. The Anne Frank House is a haunting, tragic and overwhelming experience that gives you a glimpse of how the inmates tried to live their lives in the midst of horror.

Today the premise has become a museum, which gives the viewer a peek into the lives of those in hiding. A definite recommendation whether or not you’ve read the book.

Why You Should Visit:
The museum does a beautiful job of preserving Anne and her family's memory, while also teaching the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Tip:
Make sure you book early; also, be aware that there are lots of stairs and no pictures allowed in the house as it is a memorial.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-10pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Magna Plaza

4) Magna Plaza

Directly behind the Queens Palace on the Dam square an elegant 19th century building, now one of the few shopping malls in Amsterdam – Magna Plaza is found. It was built in 1895–1899 in Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance style. The building is a rijksmonument since July 9, 1974, and is part of the Top 100 Dutch heritage sites. The brick exterior is heavily and variedly decorated with dimension stone, and with framings for all windows and doors. Across the roof edges are a large number of dormers, each with their own crow-stepped gable. Due to the pear shaped crowns on top of the towers the building is colloquially named ‘Perenburg’ (English: pearburg).
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

5) Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) (must see)

The Nieuwe Kerk or the “New Church” is located on Dam square next to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and was built in the 14th century. This church was built since Oude Kerk (Old Church) was unable to serve the increasing number of parishioners. After being damaged by fire several times in 1645, the Church was rebuilt in Gothic style. Dutch Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima married in this Church in 2002. It has been the National Church since 1815 and has been hosting royal weddings and inaugurations.

Even though this church is tower-less, it illustrates the original early Renaissance style features. It has beautifully decorated stained glass windows which depict events like the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina. The interior has an admirable altar, great pipe organ, sepulchral monuments with the tomb of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, a Dutch Naval hero. When this Church became a Protestant one in 1578, many of its treasures were removed and frescoes were painted over.

Now the church is a popular exhibition space and is no more used for services. However, it is still used for recitals. The themes of the exhibitions keep changing; one of the famous themes was the Buddhist art of ancient Bactria. Postcards, books and gifts are sold at a museum store in the Church. A popular café adjoining the Church, the Nieuwe Café has a large outer terrace.

Why You Should Visit:
Worth seeing if you like old buildings and history in general, but don’t expect a religious experience.

Tip:
Feel free to step inside the lobby to marvel at the beautiful giant stained glass panes.
Exhibitions can be a little overpriced but good value with the I Amsterdam Card.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Dam Square Area

6) Dam Square Area (must see)

Dam Square lies in the historical center of Amsterdam. Its notable buildings and frequent events make it one of the most well-known and important locations in the city. The Dam derives its name from its original function: a dam on the Amstel River, hence also the name of the city. Built in approximately 1270, the dam formed the first connection between the settlements on the sides of the river.

As the dam was gradually built up it became wide enough for a town square, which remained the core of the town developing around it. Dam Square as it exists today grew out of what was originally two squares: the actual dam, called Middeldam; and Plaetse, an adjacent plaza to the west. A large fish market arose where ships moored at the dam to load and unload goods. The area became a centre not only of commercial activity but also of the government, as the site of Amsterdam's town hall.

Traditionally busy and crowded, the area around Dam Square is grand with shopping opportunities. Here, among numerous boutiques, one will easily spot the famous Dutch department store De Bijenkorf.

Why You Should Visit:
The perfect place to experience the hustle and bustle of city life, experience different cuisines, shop, enjoy music or sit by the fountain...
As it is a few steps away from the tram and bus stop and well connected to other city areas, you can walk or cycle to your next destination after strolling through it.

Tip:
Free, clean toilets on the 5th floor of the De Buenkork shop.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Royal Palace

7) Royal Palace (must see)

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of four palaces in the Netherlands which is at the disposal of Queen Beatrix by Act of Parliament. The palace was built as city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. The building became the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon and later of the Dutch Royal House. It is situated on the west side of Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam, opposite the War Memorial and next to the Nieuwe Kerk. The town hall was opened on 20 July 1655 by Cornelis de Graeff, the political and social leader of Amsterdam. It is now called the royal palace. It was built by Jacob van Campen. He took control of the construction project in 1648, as the Town Hall for the City of Amsterdam. It was built on 13,659 wooden piles and cost 8,5 million guldens.

Why You Should Visit:
If you love an opulent palace – especially one with loads of chandeliers and stunning ceilings, this one will not disappoint.
Also very affordable for families as those under 18 are free (plus senior and student discounts).

Tip:
Check beforehand online if the palace is open, as it is sometimes closed for Royal events.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Madame Tussaud's Scenerama

8) Madame Tussaud's Scenerama (must see)

What was once a unique skill and a collection of inherited wealth is today a worldwide phenomenon. So popular has the name Madam Tussaud become today, that anyone in the world can instantly predict what he is going to encounter. A brand in its own right, the Madam Tussaud’s is the largest tourist attraction in many cities. Not surprisingly, one of the most popular destinations in Amsterdam is the Madam Tussaud’s Scenerama.

After taking a good look at the works of some noted figures in Dutch history in various museums in and around Amsterdam, how about taking a look at their life-size figurines? The experience is quite surprising and it is for this very experience that people all over the world come to Madam Tussaud’s.

The Museum is filled with life-size figurines of artists, craftsmen and famous personalities from the Dutch Golden Era. Along with the various stars of yesteryears, the highlight of the museum is the plethora of global personalities ranging from present-day movie stars, politicians, members of royal families and many more.

With each passing year, the wax models seem more like their subjects than they were before. Capturing a moment with your favorite celebrity from the present or the past is what Madam Tussaud’s strives to give to its every visitor.

Tip:
Worth climbing to the top floor for a brilliant view of Dam Square.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
9
Amsterdam Museum

9) Amsterdam Museum

Set in the heart of Amsterdam is the Historical museum or more recently known as the Amsterdam Museum. The Museum relays to you the story of a small medieval town which has grown to become one of the most popular cities in the world.

Through its exhibition and artifacts, one can relive the city’s history and experience its existence, growth, downfall and revival. With compelling exhibits that shine light upon the Dutch Golden era, the Middle Ages along with other archeologically significant finds, the Museum forms a perfect collection to dive into the rich history and past of Netherlands.

The Museum took shape in 1975 and has since been housed in an orphanage that dates back to the late 16th century. The orphanage was functional till 1960, five years prior to the Museum’s taking over the building. This vintage structure was enlarged and remodeled in 1634 by renowned Dutch Golden Age architect duo Hendrick and Pieter de Keyser, who gave the structure the eternal classic look.

The Museum has exhibits spread over three floors comprising paintings, sculptures and other archeological finds. Throwing light upon the different aspects of the city like- religion, culture, folklore, prostitution etc., the Museum provides an overall perspective on the past of the city.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Kalverstraat

10) Kalverstraat

Kalverstraat, probably the busiest shopping street in Amsterdam, stretches across the city center. It is named after the kalvermarkt ("calves market") that was held here until the 17th century. It features stores like Mango, Esprit, Zara, WE, and H&M. Also on Kalverstraat there is Kalvertoren Shopping Center, a big brash mall with 45 stores, cafés, restaurants, and the department store Hema.
11
Rembrandt House Museum

11) Rembrandt House Museum (must see)

Rembrandt was a Dutch painter who is considered as one of the most important artists in the Golden Dutch Era in the midst of the 17th century. The Dutch Empire enjoyed maximum power and fame in this period. Among the various talents that Rembrandt possessed, he was an exceptional painter and specialized in portraits, self-portraits, war, and biblical scenes. His work comprises over 300 pieces in the form of paintings, sketches, etching, and drawings.

Standing modestly on the Jodenbreestraat is the house that once served as home to one of the most renowned painters and etcher in Dutch history- Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Now converted into a museum, the house was bought by the painter in 1639 and has stood witness to some of Rembrandt’s masterpieces.

Constructed in 1607, the structure housed many artists and merchants. However, it was not until 1639, that Rembrandt purchased the mansion for himself. He lived in the mansion for almost two decades and it is within these walls that Rembrandt was commissioned to make his magnum opus, 'The Night Watch'.

The museum offers a glimpse into the artist’s daily lifestyle, with the furniture and ambiance maintained within the rooms. On display, one can find a vast collection of Rembrandt's etches, paintings and drawings.

Why You Should Visit:
A home, a studio, a museum, and a great insight into the master and the extremes of his life.
Great if you want to fill 30-60 minutes.

Tip:
Reserve some time to step into the little shop inside the museum.
You can find some really nice, good quality souvenirs at reasonable prices, and most likely, you will want to buy something for yourself!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
12
Waterlooplein Flea Market

12) Waterlooplein Flea Market (must see)

No trip to a city is complete without a visit to the local bazaars and markets of the place. The Waterlooplein Flea Market is one such destination you cannot afford to miss. One of the most interesting places in Amsterdam, the Waterlooplein Flea Market is also one of the oldest markets in the city. If you have the patience, you can find almost anything under the sun here. From the trendiest attires to old military uniforms; from jewelry, antiques and electronics to getting yourself a great deal on a tattoo - there is nothing this flea market doesn’t have.

Built in the early 19th century, the market was then a renowned Jewish market. It ran successfully up until the Second World War which brought along banishment of the Jews. However, after the War, the market was revived and thenceforth has been a popular pit stop for tourists and locals alike. The market is crude and gives you the perfect bazaar feel. You can shop, haggle or just look around the various items on display.

With over 300 stalls, the Flea Market is very large to browse through quickly and with the wide array of items it is difficult to make a speedy visit. So make sure you have allotted enough time for this visit.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place for an afternoon stroll, cultural immersion and treasure hunting (if you have the inclination and patience).

Tip:
If money-saving is valued, do a walk-around of the market before buying.
Many items (like hats and sunglasses) can be found at numerous stalls and prices vary from stall to stall.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-6pm; closed on Sundays
13
Jewish Historical Museum

13) Jewish Historical Museum (must see)

Located in the heart of Amsterdam’s old Jewish district is one of the most detailed museums dedicated to Jews. Housed between four medieval synagogues, the museum shines light upon the history of the Jews of Amsterdam and their journey to the present day.

Amsterdam was the haven for Jewish community for a long time. Known as "Mokum" in Hebrew, Jewish communities like the Sephardic from Iberian peninsula and the Ashkenazi from Central and Eastern Europe sought refuge and flourished in Amsterdam. Although parts of the same ethnic group, these two Jewish communities had a huge economic divide and belonged to different strata of the society. The synagogues that accommodate the Museum today were first built by the Ashkenazi in the late 17th and 18th centuries.

The Jewish community enjoyed great religious freedom and tolerance in the Netherlands until the Nazis took over the city in 1940. Despite the serious efforts that were made, almost 80% of the thriving Jewish population of the city was sent to concentration camps.

The Jewish Historical Museum is the perfect place to get a glimpse of the triumphs and tribulations of the community. Being one of a kind in the entire city, the Museum has in its possession some of the rarest documents, artifacts, and manuscripts.

Why You Should Visit:
This is the major museum within the Jewish Cultural Quarter, with less focus on the Holocaust, and more on all aspects of Jewish life, and the relationship between the Jewish community and the city of Amsterdam.

Tip:
A great idea would be to buy the combined ticket so that you can visit the Portuguese Synagogue and the Holocaust Museum as well (you've got 30 days to use all tickets).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-5pm
14
ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo

14) ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo (must see)

ARTIS, short for Natura Artis Magistra (Latin for "Nature is the teacher of art and science"), is a zoo in the centre of Amsterdam. It is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe. Artis Royal Zoo is not just a zoo, it also contains an aquarium and a planetarium. Artis also has an arboretum and a fairly large art collection. A part of the art collection is on display in the Aquarium building of the zoo. Artis contains 27 monumental buildings, most of which are used as enclosures for the animals, making Artis a unique cultural heritage of the 19th century.

Why You Should Visit:
Very well kept zoo with beautiful plants around the animal exhibits.
Fences/cages are kept to a minimum so you can really observe the animals.
Plenty of benches and special activities for children.
Food and drink are available for purchase.

Tip:
You might want to spend some extra on a joint ticket and visit the adjacent Micropia, which is a zoo for bacterias.

Opening Hours:
1st of November until 28th of February: 9am-5 pm; 1st of March until 31st of October: 9am-6pm; Every Saturday in June, July and August: 9am-sunset
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

Creating your own self-guided walk in Amsterdam is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Old Side Walking Tour

Old Side Walking Tour

Amsterdam's Old Side or Oude Zijde in Dutch is a neighborhood of true contrast. On one side we have centuries old medieval buildings, churches and landmarks, and on the other hand we have the Red Light District, which is not in fact a district, but an area within the Oude Zijde of Amsterdam.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Churches Walking Tour

Churches Walking Tour

Amsterdam's numerous churches are an unique example of architectural diversity. Whether you are a keen church goer or simply interested in the architectural and historic aspects, Amsterdam will not disappoint. Take this tour to visit the most important religious sites in the city.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Amsterdam without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Amsterdam, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Museum Quarter Walk

Museum Quarter Walk

The museums of Amsterdam are among the main tourist attractions of the city. Some of its museums are quite small, but nevertheless important, and some, like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are world famous and should not be missed. This tour gives you an opportunity to visit Amsterdam's most renowned museums and learn more about history, art and even the world of diamonds.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Old Center Museums Walk

Old Center Museums Walk

Amsterdam is home to more than 50 museums and galleries reflecting the city's cultural diversity and appealing to a wide range of visitors. This self-guided tour is the perfect opportunity to visit some of the most attractive museums located in Amsterdam's Old Center, such as the Maritime Museum and the NEMO science center.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Old Center Gay Nightlife

Old Center Gay Nightlife

Amsterdam is second to none when it comes to tolerance and respect for individual uniqueness. This intimate city is an iconic gay destination and offers a wide range of gay bars and clubs. Follow this tour to visit some of the best rated gay venues in Amsterdam's Old Center.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km

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