New Side (Dam Square) Walking Tour, Amsterdam (Self Guided)

This walking tour takes you to and around New Side (Dam Square) in the historic center of Amsterdam whose notable buildings and frequent events make it one of the most popular and important locations in the city, much as the whole of the Netherlands. The tour's highlights include the Centraal Station, the neoclassical Royal Palace, the 15th-century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, and the National Monument.
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New Side (Dam Square) Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: New Side (Dam Square) Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Amsterdam (See other walking tours in Amsterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Author: clare
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.

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.
Ronde Lutherse Kerk

2) Ronde Lutherse Kerk

Standing elegantly on the banks of Singel, the canal that formed the outer boundary of Amsterdam in the middle ages is the Ronde Lutherse Kerk. The Ronde Lutherse Kerk once served as a church for the Lutheran order but today is taken over by the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel.

Built in the latter half of the seventeenth century, the Church was built to replace the Oude Lutherse Kerk (Old Lutheran Church) on Spui. The Ronde Lutherese Kerk is one of the few domed Protestant churches in Netherlands. The distinctive copper dome on the church is noticed from anywhere in the Spui. The unique exterior done in a brilliant Renaissance style was designed by Adrian Dortsman. Although built with grandeur and style, the Church endured many changes along the years. In 1882, the Church had to undergo serious remodeling and renovation because of the damage caused by fire. Over the years the Church’s congregation decreased tremendously which led to its conversion to a concert hall after another fire damaged the structure in 1993. Ironically, the Old Lutheran Church on Spui which was to be replaced by the Ronde Lutherse Kerk is still an active protestant Church.

Today this beautiful monument is not open to public but on request, one can get the opportunity to admire the splendor of the interiors of the Ronde Lutherse Kerk.
Sex Museum

3) Sex Museum

What started off skeptically has today turned into one of the key attractions in Amsterdam. Along with a rich past, spectacular art and breath taking architecture, Amsterdam is home to the most flamboyant sex and erotic industry and also the world’s first Sex Museum.

Opened in 1985, the Sex museum gets on an average over 500,000 visitors every year. Also known as the Venus Temple, the Sex museum, is recorded as the fourth most visited museum in Amsterdam just after Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank’s House, and likely so, the Museum provides detailed historical accounts of how civilizations sated their carnal desires. (Now, who wouldn’t want to know that).

The Museum is definitely not for everyone, only for those who are curious and definitely not children. It is filled with paintings, sculptures, vintage photographs, cartoons and other recordings having one denominator, Erotica and sensuality. The Sex Museum also has a vast collection of objects, personal belongings and recordings of personalities of the past who have played a huge role in shaping and influencing the history of sex. This includes people like Marquise de Pompadour, Marquis de Sade, Mata Hari, etc.

Another fun exhibit at the Museum is the one dedicated to the practices of the ancient Greek and Romans. Altogether, the Sex Museum is a fun experience which should not be missed at any cost.
Beurs van Berlage

4) Beurs van Berlage

The Beurs van Berlage will be of much interest to those who are intrigued by a city’s architecture. The structure constructed between 1898 and 1903 was built as the stock exchange of Amsterdam. Located in the center of city, the Beurs van Berlage was designed by architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage. Considered as one of the leading architects in Amsterdam, Berlage has contributed to the new wave of modern architectural designs in the city.

Not only is the designer of the building an important figure in the history of the city’s architecture, the Beurs van Berlage itself has influenced many modernist architects and has garnered appreciation from different art schools of Amsterdam. The most unique aspect of the building and its architecture remains its aloof yet simple patterns and designs. Set on the backdrop of vintage Gothic and Renaissance styled buildings, the Beurs van Berlage makes its own stand with its colour, structure and style. Proposed to be ahead of its time, the designs come as a refreshing change and can easily be singled out in the Amsterdam skyline.

Today the building no longer serves as a center for city’s stock exchange but is now used as an exhibition and concert hall.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Dam Square Area

5) 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.

Free, clean toilets on the 5th floor of the De Buenkork shop.
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Monument

6) National Monument (must see)

Designed by the famous Dutch architect Jacobus Oud, the Dutch National Monument stands as a memorial to the Second World War. A national icon in Amsterdam, the obelisk is a place famous amongst both locals as well as tourists who visit the city.

Although the structure is popular amongst visitors, very few actually appreciate the underlying symbolism that is crafted on the pillar. Placed in a series of concentric circles, the obelisk is beautifully sculpted with figures of men, canines and birds. The front side of the monument has two male figures that represent the Dutch Resistance Movement while the left and right sides represent the intellectuals and the working class. The canines stand as a symbol of loyalty and suffering. The woman along with the child represents victory, peace and new beginnings, and the doves that ascend to the skies symbolize freedom and liberation.

The urns behind the obelisk hold the soil that was collected from the World War II cemeteries and execution grounds.

Every year, on the 4th of May, the ceremony of Remembrance of the Dead is held at the National monument. The obelisk stands as a representation of all the turmoil, suffering and lives that were lost and sacrificed during the Second World War.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the most important European symbols that recall the immense tragedy of the Second World War.

A nice place to make a brief stop along the way to other exhibits within the area.
Madame Tussaud's Scenerama

7) 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.

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

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Royal Palace

8) 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).

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
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

9) 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.

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
Magna Plaza

10) 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

11) Torensluis

Amsterdam is a city unlike any other in the world. Amidst the vintage architecture, monumental structures and immense history, what one relates most to Amsterdam is its unique means of transportation. The canals and their bridges form an integral part of the identity of the city.

One of the most famous and important canals in Amsterdam remains the Singel. The Singel once served as the outer limit of the city circling the boundaries of the city. Back in the 16th century, the Singel acted as the perfect moat. However, the city soon grew beyond the Singel, thus reducing it to a mere inlet for transportation.

One of the most overlooked monuments in Amsterdam and arguably one of the oldest is the Torensluis. The Torensluis is a bridge that was built across the Singel in 1648. Along with being the oldest bridge in the city, it is also the widest one measuring up to 42 meters. Back then, the bridge built across the canal connected the inner city with the outer world. Covered with cozy café terraces, restaurants and the bust of the legendary Dutch writer Multatuli, the Torensluis today forms a bridge between the past and present.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Amsterdam Museum

12) 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

13) 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.
Begijnhof Chapel

14) Begijnhof Chapel (must see)

The Begijnhof Chapel, dedicated to Saint John and Saint Ursula, is a Roman Catholic chapel run by the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, in the St Nicholas Parish of Amsterdam. Here the commemoration of the Miracle of Amsterdam is maintained. The first steps in the construction of the present chapel were taken as early as 1665, after joining two houses bought for that purpose at the initiative of parish priest Van der Mije (1665-1700); his nephew laid the foundation stone on 2 July 1671. The municipality approved the building plans on condition that the building did not look like a church from the outside. The chapel was designed by the Catholic architect in Amsterdam, Philips Vingboons (1607-78), and was dedicated to St John the Evangelist and St Ursula. In its present form, it has a gallery with a left and a right section, resting on six wooden columns. The front with its leaded ogive windows dates only from the 19th century.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to see a different side of Amsterdam; very quiet and peaceful even though you are in the middle of the city.
Can be easily combined with a visit to Amsterdam Museum.
Sight description based on wikipedia
English Reformed Church

15) English Reformed Church

The English Reformed Church is one of the oldest constructions in Amsterdam, situated in the center of the city. It was established in 1607 for English-speaking worshipers in Amsterdam and still holds English-speaking services.
Oude Lutherse Kerk

16) Oude Lutherse Kerk

The Oude Lutherse Kerk or the Old Lutheran Church is one of the many attractions in Amsterdam. Built in the early 17th century, it stands on the Singel in Amsterdam. The site on which the Church was constructed on was used as a warehouse from early 1600s. The Verguide Pot as the ware house was called was allegedly used as a gather point for the Lutherans who would come from Germany during those times.

With its simple and austere exteriors, the Oude Lutherse Kerk was built with utmost sincerity. The cleanliness and the plain look of the Church managed to make it stand out nevertheless.

Throughout the years, the Old Church underwent several restorations and remodeling. In 1822, the Church underwent severe damage because of a fire that was caused due to careless plumbing. The structure was remodeled in 1823, under the supervision of architects T.F. Suys and J. de Greef who are also responsible for some noteworthy additions in the Church.

When it was being constructed, the Church had quite a gathering. However, over the years the numbers dropped considerably and in 1961, the Oude Lutherse Kerk officially got leased to the University of Amsterdam. Today this magnificent building is well taken care of and used as an auditorium amongst other things.

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.
Plantage Walking Tour

Plantage Walking Tour

Plantage is a neighborhood of Amsterdam, located in the Centrum district. It dates back to the 1600s and has been throughout the centuries a place of rest and entertainment. It is one of the greenest neighborhoods in Amsterdam, in part thanks to the fact that is home to the Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, and the Artis Zoo.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

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.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 km
Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

The Western Canal Belt is one of the most scenic parts of Amsterdam, it is where the web of historic canals is most tranquil. Various attractions are found here, from tiny shops and cafes to churches, museums and galleries. Take this tour and see the best sites of the Western Canal Belt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

Amsterdam has been the center of the Dutch Jewish community for the last four centuries, and although the holocaust had a dramatic effect on it, great efforts have been made to rebuild it in the years since. Wandering around the Jewish Quarter will give you an insight into the centuries-long history of the Jewish community of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 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
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

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: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Amsterdam for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Amsterdam has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Amsterdam's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the I Amsterdam City Card, Amsterdam City Pass, Amsterdam City Pass Plus, or Amsterdam Pass (by Stromma).

A city pass combines all or multiple Amsterdam' top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Amsterdam hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Hotel TwentySeven, Swissôtel Amsterdam.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Amsterdam, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Amsterdam typically costs from around US$25 up to US$40 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat calling at all of Amsterdam's major attractions, museums and shopping centers. En route, you can listen in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages and get on and off at any of the stops along the way as often as you like.

- Discover Amsterdam with the taste of beer on a relaxing 75-minute canal cruise gliding past beautiful bridges, buildings and houseboats, calling at the former Heineken brewery for an ultimate cultural experience and a free pint to enjoy.

- Pedal your way around Amsterdam's quirky quarters and picturesque waterways on a guided city bike tour. In the course of 3 hours you will visit the city's eclectic sights stopping at the most notable of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Take a morning walk around Amsterdam with a knowledgeable guide for an insider view of Holland's most fascinating city. This tour will take you along Amsterdam's enchanting canals to its must-see attractions away from tourist crowds. A complete overview of Amsterdam from the ground up!

- Treat yourself to some of the best Dutch and international delicacies Amsterdam has to offer on a 3-hour food journey across the city visiting, among other locations, a typical local market, beer garden, and a family-run restaurant.

- Step back in time to the dark years of the German occupation of Holland during World War II on a 2-hour historical walking tour of Amsterdam. Feel what it was like, learn the story of Anne Frank, visit the Jewish Quarter and other memorable places.

- Visit the infamous Red Light District, once the most dangerous part of Amsterdam, now synonymous with the city itself. See how the area has transformed, over the years, from the dark “gutter” with shady dens of vice to the lively district with welcoming pubs and restaurants.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Amsterdam, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Giethoorn, Bruges, Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof, and Holland’s countryside. For as little as US$50+ to US$180+ per person you will get a chance to discover “Venice of The Netherlands” and the Garden of Europe, visit one of the most captivating cities in Belgium, explore the charming Dutch villages with eye-catching windmills and picturesque canals, acquaint yourself with the traditional Dutch crafts (clog- and cheese making), taste the local pancakes and cheeses, and so much more! For any of these tours you may be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Amsterdam, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan to the destination of your choice and back again.