Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour, Amsterdam

Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour (Self Guided), Amsterdam

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.
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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: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mint Tower
  • Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)
  • De Kleine Komedie
  • Museum of Bags & Purses
  • The Cat Cabinet
  • Leidsestraat
  • Pipe Museum
  • Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
  • FOAM
  • Museum Van Loon
  • Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)
Mint Tower

1) 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.
Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)

2) Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)

If you're coming to Amsterdam, especially in the spring, you'll want to see some tulips. If they haven't necessarily bloomed yet or are past their prime, fear not – Bloemenmarkt has got your back. Dating from the 1860s, this is probably the best – and still the most atmospheric – place at which to find (and buy) cut flowers and bulbs.

From the moment you step into this mini-botanical-garden set along the canal, you'll be bombarded with everything flower-related (and sometimes not) – including a million different kinds of souvenirs, all of which are around the same price even at different vendors. Daffodils, amaryllis, crocus, narcissus, tulips, peony roots, etc. bulbs are all for sale; also, there are some cacti and potted plants/herbs to buy.

If you decide to purchase tulip bulbs to take back home, make sure to obtain a "customs-cleared" stamp so that you don't run into trouble with the customs department upon arrival in your home country.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am–5:30pm; Sun: 11:30am–5:30pm
De Kleine Komedie

3) 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.
Museum of Bags & Purses

4) Museum of Bags & Purses

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.
The Cat Cabinet

5) 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.

6) Leidsestraat

This major shopping street is always busy because it links one of the largest squares in the city to the central area. It is actually an upmarket extension of Kalverstraat, with outlets such as Cartier and Esprit, and equipped with an escape route of canal-side cafés and restaurants from all parts of the world – many of them so popular that booking is essential. If you're looking for a nicer-than-average souvenir stop, check out Seasons Amsterdam at Leidsestraat 68. Just east is the Spiegelkwartier, one of Europe's most fabled agglomerations of antique shops.
Pipe Museum

7) 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.
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat

8) Nieuwe Spiegelstraat

Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is one of the greatest antiques hubs in Europe. Located in the South Canal Rings district of Amsterdam, and just across the bridge opposite the Rijksmuseum, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat has been the heart of the Dutch art and antique trade for the past 80 years. The street of old Dutch houses gathers over 70 art and antique dealers, who are lined door to door, and offer a wide variety of objects, ranging from archeological finds to 17th century furniture, from Oriental art to Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces, from tribal art to contemporary art, from old medical instruments and clocks to jewelry. Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, which is a historic street itself, takes its name after the Spiegel family, who was extremely influential in the 16th and 17th centuries.


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.
Museum Van Loon

10) Museum Van Loon

Visit an original upper-class Dutch family's stately home by one of the main canals in Amsterdam – Keizersgracht, or the "Emperor's Canal". It is a typical, grand mansion, and the furniture and decorations from the 18th and 19th centuries are all intact: ceiling stucco, wall paintings, furniture, mirrors, candelabras, porcelain, kitchen utensils, etc.

Today, the building is a museum, owned by the original family (who still occupies the 3rd floor) and open as a museum. Not only are there sumptuous sitting-, dining- and bedrooms, and from the kitchen in the cellar, there is a door that opens to the French-style back garden, which you can also visit. It's a lovely, secluded spot, with trees and bushes as well as a beautiful sundial, and as you reach the former coach house and stables, you can see some of the fine carriages formerly used for transport. Today, there is a small café serving the traditional apple pie with cream, besides sandwiches.

Not many people find their way to this well-kept secret garden, so you will be in relative peace to enjoy the atmosphere from former days of glory.

Once inside, read the information booklet that points out little features such as the fake doors in one of the bedrooms and the paneling hiding the bookcase in the bird room.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am–5pm (exc. Jan 1, Dec 25, Apr 27)
Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)

11) Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)

Although the Blauwbrug is the most ornate bridge in the city, Amsterdammers and visitors alike have a soft spot for its neighbor a little way south up the Amstel, the Magere Brug or 'Skinny Bridge'. Besides affording gorgeous views of the Amstel and surrounding area, this white, wooden drawbridge is picture-perfect and one of the most enduring symbols of the city. It is even prettier at dusk when the lights on its arches and spars are switched on.

There has been a bridge here since the 1670s (allegedly, the original was built by two wealthy sisters who lived on either side of the Amstel and wanted to visit each other more easily), but the present one was erected only in 1969. Its use has been limited to pedestrians and cyclists since 2003.

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.7 Km or 0.4 Miles
Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles

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