Western Canal Belt Walking Tour (Self Guided), Amsterdam

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 self guided want to see the best sights of the Western Canal Belt.
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Western Canal Belt Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Western Canal Belt Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Amsterdam (See other walking tours in Amsterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
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, mixing 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.

2) Haarlemmerstraat

Among the youngest of the trendiest shopping streets in Amsterdam, the Haarlemmerstraat is a top location for lovers of boutiques, high-end specialty stores, cosy cafés and restaurants, gadgets, personal service; in short, a wonderful street to shop and to walk.

There are so many totally different shops here; from nifty little art place like Jolanta Izabela's at no. 100 where you can buy one of a kind handmade jewelry, clothes and sculptures, to shops selling clothes made of natural fabrics ("Natuurlijk" at no. 113), to coffeeshops if you are so inclined, to supermarkets, vintage clothes and interior decorating shops.

In short, if you want to have a real Amsterdam experience while shopping, don't hesitate to come here.

The street goes over into Haarlemmerdijk, which is where you'll find the finest chocolate, fantastic gelato, Spanish ham, Portuguese pastries, and the best hummus in town.
Pancake Bakery

3) Pancake Bakery

Located in the atmospheric basement of an old canal house which was once owned by the Dutch East India Company, this place has fantastic outsize pancakes, both sweet and savory, with a mind-boggling, near-infinite range of fillings. The menu includes French, Greek, Hungarian, Mexican, Masai, Indonesian, and even Greenlandic pancakes!

Yes, the restaurant is popular with tourists and there may be times that you have to wait in line for a table. If you want to avoid lines and/or minimize wait time, trying to go on weekdays and early in the morning. On weekends and at peak times (lunch/dinner), you are almost guaranteed to have to wait.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–9:30pm
Anne Frank House

4) 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:
Does a beautiful job of preserving Anne and her family's memory, while also teaching the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Make sure you book early; also, be aware that there are lots of stairs and no pictures allowed in the house.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-10pm
Westerkerk (West Church)

5) Westerkerk (West Church)

Located near the Jordaan district, in Prinsengracht canal, is Amsterdam's largest church in the Netherlands that was built for Protestants – the Westerkerk. Designed in Dutch Renaissance style along with a hint of Gothic, it stands out impressively with a tower replicating the crown of Habsburg emperor Maximilian I in blue, red and golden colors.

Besides its architecture, Westerkerk church is renowned for its organ concerts and its carillon - the latter either operated by a carillonneur (on Tuesdays between noon and 1pm) or automated, with different songs tinkling out on the quarter-hour, day and night (it drives some locals nuts). Anne Frank described the tunes in her diary. Rembrandt, who lived nearby during his poverty-stricken last years, and his son, Titus, are buried (somewhere) here.

If you don't mind a cardio workout, the tower climb (open from April to October) is spectacular, both for the close-up view of the bells and also for the amazing view from the platform near the top over much of Amsterdam. The stairs at the top are fairly steep, but not too arduous.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am–3pm
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady)

6) Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady)

The beautiful and evocative Neogothic Style of this Roman Catholic church, dating to 1854, is certainly pleasing to the eye and easily dominates the immediate area, making for some great photographic opportunities.

The beauty of the church is not limited to its huge brick facade but extends to the interior, which has huge paintings and poignant carvings. Literally every nook and cranny and pillar is painted, and the stained glass windows only add to the grandeur.

For those seeking Sunday Mass, they are used to welcoming tourists and hold masses in English as well.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed: 11:45am–2pm / 7–8PM; Thu: 10:45am–10pm; Fri: 10:45am–8pm; Sat: 6:30–8pm: Sun: 10:45am–1pm
De Kaaskamer

7) De Kaaskamer

These days, when most of the cheeses are bought at supermarkets, quite a few of them, especially in cities like Amsterdam, are sold at street markets, farmers' markets, and specialty stores. One such store is found in the Nine Little Streets ("De Negen Straatjes") area and is called De Kaaskamer. This shop carries a fantastic variety of authentic, high-quality cheeses from all over the globe and is a great place to chow down on both imported and local specialties.

Unlike the array of tourist-trap cheese stores popped up in Amsterdam in recent years, which the locals avoid like the plague — with their 'souvenir packaged', overpriced wares, – De Kaaskamer is authentic and even artisan in nature, serving the locals and visitors alike. Understandably, this place is busy. But the friendly staff is helpful and efficient, and quite generous with their samples, too.

If you don’t quite know what you’re looking for, ask for their recommendations. Otherwise, try their Gouda. Truffled Gouda is a true heaven in a cheese form and the old Gouda with cumin seeds combined with the fig and nut loaf is totally out of this world!!

Opening Hours:
Mon: 12–6pm; Tue-Fri: 9am–6pm; Sat: 9am–5pm; Sun: 12–5pm
Cromhout House / Biblical Museum

8) Cromhout House / Biblical Museum

Amsterdam is filled with sights that intrigue and connect to the past. Standing on the Herengracht canal, the Cromhout House is one of the oldest of its kind in the Netherlands, immediately catching one's gaze with its obvious age. Constructed in the 17th century by merging two patrician houses, it has a breathtaking Baroque design, with intricate stucco decoration, painted ceiling, elliptical staircase and a grand façade.

The Biblical Museum provides its viewers with century-old miniature models of events and monuments that are religiously significant. Among the most popular are the models of the Temple of Solomon and Herod as they looked in first-century Jerusalem, the Tabernacle and many more. The Museum also has paintings of famous events and Biblical scenes. Apart from the models and painting, some of the most sought after exhibits are artifacts that date back several centuries- clay tablets, manuscripts on papyrus and several archeological relics from Egypt can all be seen at the Biblical Museum.
De Bierkoning

9) De Bierkoning

Mention Dutch beer and most people think of Heineken, a huge brand that is ubiquitous worldwide. As tasty as Heineken is, there are many other beers brewed in the Netherlands that are even more delicious!

A one-stop-shop for local and specialty beers, De Bierkoning is a charming beer shop/kingdom located in the center of the city that has been in place for many, many years. Spread over three floors, the shop carries a mindblowing selection of more than 1,000 Dutch and international brews and is nearly guaranteed to have whatever you may be looking for, as well as things you aren't likely to find again (cocoa beer, perhaps?).

The choice and selection of beer glasses and other accessories (mats, openers and the like) is outstanding, too. Prices are reasonable and the friendly staff can give some good advice on up-and-coming beers and those to look out for.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am–7pm; Sun: 12–7pm

10) 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
Puccini Bomboni

11) Puccini Bomboni

Lauded as one of the best chocolates in the world, Amsterdam chocolatier Puccini Bomboni creates handmade bonbons in delectable flavors such as lavender, drambuie, vanilla poppyseed, pepper, and plum. Entering the elegant shop, the visitor is struck by the deep cocoa scent permeating the air and the beautiful, large truffles arranged artfully on the table.

The chocolate delights are handmade on site, and do not contain added preservatives. Choose a selection of bonbons to be packaged in a cellophane bag or pretty purple box. A perfect gift for those chocoholics! Be sure to purchase the chocolates shortly before you return home as they only keep for 7 days. That is, if they even make it to the recipient before you devour them yourself.

Hours: Monday 12:00-18:00, Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-18:00, Sunday 12:00-18:00
Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room

12) Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room

It is absolutely a fun experience to taste some of the finest Dutch cheeses. Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room offers visitors exactly that. The traditional ripening process of the Reypenaer cheeses is unique in the Netherlands. Because the Reypenaer cheeses are matured in an entirely natural way, this process leads to the distinctive and rich taste with its mouth watering aroma that characterizes these artisan cheeses.

In the Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms, you can taste and evaluate the flavor, the aroma and the qualities of the Reypenaer cheeses, all under the guidance of a cheese expert. Each cheese tasting session lasts approximately one hour. You will compare the different cheeses and learn the processes to get the different flavors. It is a fun and educational experience suitable for both adults and children. Visitors can also purchase cheeses at the shop.

Shop Opening Hours: Sunday, Monday 12:00-18:00, Wednesday-Saturday 10:00-18:00. Tasting Workshops: Monday and Tuesdays 13:00 to 15.00 Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 17:00.

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

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...  view more

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Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Museum Quarter Walk

Museum Quarter Walk

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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.7 Km or 0.4 Miles
Dam Square Walking Tour

Dam Square Walking Tour

This self guided walking tour takes you to and around Dam Square (New Side) 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 walk starts from the Centraal Station and make stops at the neoclassical Royal Palace, the 15th-century Gothic New Church, the Madame...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Plantage Walking Tour

Plantage Walking Tour

Amsterdam's Plantage neighborhood has been throughout the centuries a place of rest and entertainment. Beside its impressive 19th-century architecture, there is the historic Royal Zoo, and close-by is the verdantly exotic Hortus Botanicus. Follow this self-guided walk to explore one of the greenest neighborhoods in Amsterdam – a lovely place to stroll and laze.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles

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