Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour, Amsterdam (Self Guided)

Grachtengordel (Dutch for the Canal District) is an international icon of urban planning and architecture in Amsterdam. Still very much intact after four centuries, the area is known for its small bridges, crossing the canals, and 17th-century homes. Forming a horseshoe around the Old City Centre, the Canal Ring comprises Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals, built during Amsterdam's Golden Era. Interconnected with streets, the three canals offer a plethora of shopping, eating and drinking opportunities, complete with cultural attractions, among which are the Pipe Museum, The Cat Cabinet, the Torture Museum, the Mint Tower and others. A walk around Amsterdam Canal Belt will leave you anything but bored.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Amsterdam (See other walking tours in Amsterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Author: clare

1) Leidsestraat

Leidsestraat is a busy Amsterdam street, located between the King's Square and the Leidseplein. It has many luxurious clothing boutiques like Karen Millen as well as cheap souvenir shops.
Pipe Museum

2) Pipe Museum

Smoking has been a part of cultures since ages. In fact, the first citation of smoking was reported as early as 5000BC and that too as a part of a religious ritual. We have come a long way since then and yet smoking remains the one way man can legally and openly subject himself to neuronal drugs.

Whether it is ritualistic, societal, leisure or a status symbol, smoking seems to be the one habit; man has kept alive (apart from drinking, of course!). So what best way to celebrate this kind of achievement than a Museum dedicated to the history of smoking and more precisely the tool for smoking – pipes.

The Pipe Museum or the Pijpenkabinet in Amsterdam is one of its kind in Europe. What started off as Don Duco’s passion for collecting and preserving pipes, has now turned into a celebrated museum that people from all over the world come to visit.

Don Duco started collecting pipes in 1969 and his hobby has led to a vast collection of over 20,000 pipes. Although the museum may not display each and every piece, the best of the lot are surely put on display. Some of the most prized possessions in the Pipe Museum are the ceramic pipes from the Dutch Golden Age. These pipes are now categorically regarded as an archeological find. With elaborate designs and mindboggling beauty, the little Pipe Museum is sure to blow your mind away.

3) Spiegelkwartier

If you're looking to acquire a nice piece of antique either for yourself or anybody, Spiegelkwartier is the place to go. The variety of objects available here is enormous, from Egyptian 6,000 year-old antiquities and Chinese porcelain to the 17th century Delftware and abstract modern art.
Galerie Clement

4) Galerie Clement

The Galerie Clement features graphic art as well as other forms of art. It opened in 1969. The gallery displays paintings, sculptures and paper works by Jan Baas, Peter Breevoort, Jan Hendrix, Terry Thompson, Antonie Wiertz, Jan Swart, Ronald Tolman, Jan Cremer and many other creative minds. Hours of operation: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Toussaint Bonnet Decorative Arts and Antiques

5) Toussaint Bonnet Decorative Arts and Antiques

Located at Nieuwe Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam's antique district, Toussaint Bonnet Decorative Arts and Antiques specializes in antique furniture, ceramics, porcelains, sculptures and many more. Established more than 25 years ago by Toussaint Bonnet, the gallery also offers decorative objects from the 18th to 20th century, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, as well as bronze and marble sculptures.

Operation Hours Wednesday - Saturday: 12 pm - 5 am, or by appointment
The Cat Cabinet

6) The Cat Cabinet

If you are a cat person and just adore the feline, The Cat Cabinet must not be missed. But don’t let that be the only reason to visit this amusing museum. Located on the banks of the Herengracht Canal, the Cat Cabinet is housed in one of the most opulent areas of the city.

The structure that now houses the Cat Cabinet has stood its ground since the early 17th century and seen many elite families of merchants, mayors and ambassadors come and go.

For years the building housed important and noteworthy people but it was only after its purchase by Bob Meijer that the fate of the building got sealed as a Museum. Meijer purchased the structure in 1985 and restored it to make it home for him and his 5 feline house mates.

The building was converted into The Cat Cabinet in 1990 in remembrance of Bob’s favorite pet John Piermont Morgan, a red tom cat named after a US banker. The museum boasts a collection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, posters and drawings that are dedicated strictly to cats. The museum is a fun visit with the exhibits displayed in a manner that makes you understand and appreciate the affection and love that Meijer had towards his cats.
Torture Museum

7) Torture Museum

One of Amsterdam’s most gruesome but still interesting places is the Torture Museum. At the Museum, step into dungeons that hold the darkest and most terrible secrets of history and travel back to a time when prisons, justice and laws meant ripping of body parts and tearing of flesh. Get an glimpse of how prisoners and criminals were brought to justice or even got to confessing their crimes.

The Museum is definitely renowned for the ambiance it creates. With its dimly lit interiors and spooky surroundings one can just appreciate how the outlaws were brought to justice some 500 years ago. The Museum boasts of a vast range of torture apparatus from the medieval ages. Right from the classic guillotine to the torture chair along with many other indigenous instruments with just one intention- torturing its host the Museum has it all.

Also in its possession are some rare medieval torture apparatus which are just one of its kind. Each exhibit has a description along with it and if the information is still difficult to fathom, there are paintings that will aid the process. The Torture Museum is not the perfect place for the innocent and weak hearted but if you can muster the courage, it is definitely a watch.
Mint Tower

8) Mint Tower

The Mint Tower is one of the structures in the city which has a rich past. A part of the wall that guarded the city of Amsterdam, the Tower was one of the main gates of the Regulierspoort.

Built in the latter half of the 15th century, the Tower underwent tremendous renovation over the centuries. From the fire of 1618, which engulfed and destroyed most of the city’s walls, the Mint Tower emerged almost untouched, only to be reconstructed in the Renaissance style a year later.

Hendrick de Keyser, a renowned Dutch architect and sculptor, oversaw the building’s reconstruction and also attributed to the stylish eight sided top half of the Tower. Elegant additions of 4 clock faces and a carillon of bells were also made. Today the original bells are on display in the Amsterdam Historical Museum and replaced by newer ones. The Tower chimes ever quarter of an hour and on Saturdays between 2 and 3 pm one can hear a live concerto of the bells.

The Tower earned its peculiar name in the 17th century, when the Dutch were at war with England and France. With most of the Dutch territory occupied, the risk of losing valuable resources was high. A tower was used as a make shift center to mint money which is now known as the Mint Tower.
De Kleine Komedie

9) De Kleine Komedie

De Kleine Komedie is today the oldest theatre in Amsterdam, dating from 1788. In the Fifties and Sixties many famous people in the Dutch entertainment world, like Toon Hermans, Wim Kan and Fons Jansen, made appearances in this theatre. In 1973 the building was closed by the Amsterdam fire brigade due to fire hazard. After a renovation financed by private sources, it was reopened in 1978.

Amsterdam's oldest theater, De Kleine Komedie is the nation's premier cabaret stage, though it also offers a wide range of musical acts. Today the Kleine Komedie offers a stage for both upcoming and established Dutch talents.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Amstel Antiques

10) Amstel Antiques

Amstel Antiques is located at the Amstel canal, in the South Canal Ring district of Amsterdam. The shop features a wide collection of antiques, such as old vinyl records, CDs, as well as some 20th century art and furnishings.
Museum of Bags & Purses

11) Museum of Bags & Purses (must see)

The Museum of Bags and Purses, located in Amsterdam, is a museum devoted to historic handbags, purses and suitcases. The museum's collection includes 4,000 items dating back to the 1500s. One of only three museums across the globe specializing in the field and its collection is the world's largest. While the majority of visitors to the museum are women, the most valuable item on exhibit is a 16th-century men's goat-skin belt pouch with iron clasps. The earliest handbags in the museum's collection are typically small, used to carry coins, keys and sewing kits. Such bags were carried, by both men and women, under clothing to avoid drawing the attention of thieves. The development of pants with pockets for men and the change from billowing skirts to more form-fitting dresses led to handbags becoming an item for women, often with elaborate adornment.

Why You Should Visit:
A quirky museum, set in a lovely building. Well combined with Museum Willet-Holthuysen on the same canal.

In addition to wandering through the museum, you can make a reservation for High Tea and savor the view of the canal with delicious tea & food.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Kunsthandel P. de Boer

12) Kunsthandel P. de Boer

Located in the South Canal Ring district of Amsterdam, Kunsthandel P. de Boer specializes in Dutch and Flemish Old Masters paintings. Its collections include masterpieces from the 16th to 18th century, although the main focus is on 17th century works. Established in 1922, Kunsthandel P. de Boer also provides advice on restoration and framing matters.

Operation Hours Monday - Friday: 11 am - 6 pm, or by appointment

13) FOAM

If you want a break from the history and architecture of Amsterdam the FOAM is a pleasant change.

Located in a beautiful 19th century warehouse and residential complex with the interiors a mix of the old and new, the FOAM comes alive with its myriad of photographs and exhibits. The Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam or FOAM is a photography museum with international reputation and acclaim. Attracting admirers from all over the world, the FOAM offers its viewers a peek into the minds and emotions of the photographer.

A mix of young upcoming artists and famous photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, etc. the FOAM brings to its viewers photographs in the perfect ambiance and style. Exhibits range from still life, art, history, contemporary, fine art and documentary to multimedia and film. The museum maintains an immaculate and serene interior, with glass, plain stark walls that highlight the exhibits perfectly.

Not only is it a place to watch your favorite photographers’ work, FOAM is also a platform where you can meet them in person. The museum also holds talks and meetings with famous and established photographers whose work is on display. The museum also has its own magazine that gives a detailed agenda of the exhibits and events held at the museum.
Gallery Lemaire

14) Gallery Lemaire

Located in the South Canal Ring district of Amsterdam, Gallery Lemaire has been in the trade of tribal art from Oceania, Africa, Indonestia and New Guinea since 1925. Over here, you can find a large collection of items such as statues, masks, jewellery, textiles and utensils. In addition, Gallery Lemaire has an elaborate library that contains information about any item found within the gallery (i.e., its origins, tribe background, age, etc). Gallery Lemaire also participates at the Tribal Art Fair.

Operation Hours Thursday - Saturday 11 am - 5 pm, or by appointment

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
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
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
Canal Belt Nightlife

Canal Belt Nightlife

A major cosmopolitan city with an absolutely electrifying nightlife scene, Amsterdam offers a variety of entertainment, from live music to underground house music, including ultra-chic to casual hangouts. Amsterdam is also home to variety of bars and clubs located inside historic buildings, allowing some of these former establishments to live on thematically, including the industrial chic of a...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 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
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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

12 Traditional Dutch Foods You Must Try in Amsterdam

12 Traditional Dutch Foods You Must Try in Amsterdam

Cool climate, closeness to sea, and sense of adventure have made the Dutch what they are – skillful farmers, industrious seafarers and, generally, people with the taste for life and good hearty meal, whether it comes from the sea they live by or the land they set their feet on. All of this has...
Bars of De Pijp, Amsterdam

Bars of De Pijp, Amsterdam

Sitting to the south of the Centrum (city centre) De Pijp area of Amsterdam is a fascinating mixture of trendy urbanites, students, immigrants and Amsterdammers. De Pijp has a long history as the Bohemian part of town, which is reflected in the different cafés of the area. There truly is something...
Top 7 Dutch Cheeses to Try in Amsterdam

Top 7 Dutch Cheeses to Try in Amsterdam

Don't mind things turning a bit "cheesy" when in Holland. After all, this small country is renowned for its cheese manufacturing and successfully competes, in terms of cheese exports, with such economic giants as the United States and Germany. Amsterdam alone and its vicinities are...
Souvenir Shopping in Amsterdam: 20 Dutch Things To Buy

Souvenir Shopping in Amsterdam: 20 Dutch Things To Buy

Tulips, red lights, weed... Other than these, there are plenty of good things to remember Amsterdam by. What's more, you can take home some of them quite legally. Look here to see what to buy in Amsterdam and...
Dutch Sweets and Pastries

Dutch Sweets and Pastries

Known primarily for their cheeses, the Dutch have proven just as passionate about their sweets and pastries, many of which have come about as a result of the centuries of colonial past that had infused Holland with Oriental flavors and ingredients. Blended with their own dairy-rich European...
The Oldest and Historic Pubs of Amsterdam

The Oldest and Historic Pubs of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a stunningly beautiful city, steeped in history, with hidden treasures and fascinating tales practically around every corner. Like all marvelous cities, Amsterdam has its share of dining and drinking establishments from the modern to the ancient. This guide will assist you in exploring...

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.