One day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour: 15 sights to see

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Amsterdam is a city that is both historic and progressive, elegant and bawdy. There are 17th-century canals and trendy cannabis coffeeshops. Grand, gabled houses line the streets, while a neon glow eminates from the Red Light District. Bicycles outnumber the human population and the city’s long history of beer is being revolutionized by craft brewers. The city is robust, but it is possible to get a vibe of Amsterdam in one day – and an Amsterdam walking tour is a fantastic way to do it. To help other travelers, we designed a One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour to 15 of the city’s best sights. (Amsterdam Walking Tour Map below!)

Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands Bridge over Canal JetSettingFools.com

Amsterdam is a compact city, but the sights are spread throughout, making it somewhat difficult to organize an easy-flowing Amsterdam self-guided walking tour. To see the best Amsterdam sights, our walking tour of Amsterdam covers some ground, which includes a little zigging and zagging. Still, at a leisurely pace, it should only take about 2-3 hours to complete the route. For more walking tour Amsterdam tips and things to do in Amsterdam in one day (or more!), see the suggestions below.

 

One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour

Start your one day in Amsterdam at…

 

Central Station

Amsterdam Central Station was opened in 1889 and today 250,000 passengers pass through the station daily.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 1: Central Station

Walk straight away from the station onto…

 

Damrak

Damrak is the busy north-south route from Central Station to Dam Square. The large brick building, Beurs van Berlage, was once the stock exchange building, now a concert hall.

One day in Amsterdamself-guided walking tour - sight 2: Walk along Damrak

Take Oudebrugsteeg (or any narrow side street) to the right to…

 

Nieuwendijk

Running parallel to Damrak, Nieuwendijk is a pedestrian-only shopping street and one of the oldest in Amsterdam.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 3: Shop on Nieuwenduk

Walk south to…

 

Dam Square

Dam Square is in the historical center of Amsterdam and is located at the original Amstel River dam, which was built in 1270. Many notable buildings and monuments are on the square including the Royal Palace (built in 1655 as City Hall and converted to a royal residence in 1808); the New Church (built in the 15th century); and the National Monument honoring the victims of World War II (built in 1956).

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 4: the Royal Palace on Dam Square

From the WWII memorial on Dam Square, walk north on Warmoesstraat to Wijde Kerksteeg and turn right to…

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De Oude Kerk (The Old Church)

The 800-year-old De Oude Kerk, Old Church, is Amsterdam’s oldest building and was consecrated in the year 1306. Built as a Catholic Church, it is now a Calvinist Dutch Reform Church.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 5: De Oude Kerk

Walk around the church to the right, cross the canal on Oudekennissteeg and continue to the next canal and the…

 

Red Light District

The Red Light District is an odd prostitution-as-a-tourist-attraction sight. During the day, most of the red-lit window boxes are vacant, with only a few occupied by young women dressed in lingerie. At night, it is a different scene. Sex shops and the Erotic Museum are also found along the street.

{To get a better understanding of the area, take a Red Light District Tour at night, guided by a local.}

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 6: The Erotic Museum in the Red Light District

Walk north through the Red Light District to Korte Stormsteeg and go right to Zeedijk. Turn right and walk south into…

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Chinatown

A plethora of Asian (not only Chinese) shops and restaurants line Zeedijk, the main street through what is commonly called Chinatown. The He Hua Buddhist Temple, built in 2000, is a striking difference to the rest of the architecture.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 7: the He Hua Temple in Chinatown

Continue south to Nieuwmarkt Square and…

 

De Waag

Dominating Nieuwmarkt Square is De Waag, The Weigh House. The building, which is Amsterdam’s oldest non-religious building, dates to the 15th century and was once part of the city walls. Now, it houses a popular restaurant.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 8: De Waag

Continue walking south on Sint Antoniesbreestraat across the canal and turn right on Zwanenburgwal to the…

 

Waterlooplein Market

The outdoor Waterlooplein Market has more than 300 stalls selling second-hand clothing, antiques, tools, books and other trinkets. It originated as a Jewish market in 1893 and was revitalized as a general market in the 1960s.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 9: Waterlooplein Market

At the end of the market, turn right on Waterlooplein Street and right again before the bridge to the front of the…

 

National Opera & Ballet

The Amstel River fronts the National Opera and Ballet. Many of Amsterdam’s iconic houseboats are moored in the area.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 10: Houseboats moored in front of the Opera

Heading west from the Opera, cross three canals using Staalstraat and then walk south on Nieuwe Doelenstraat to…

 

Muntplein

Intersection at Muntplein and Munt Tower in Amsterdam, The Netherlands JetSettingFools.com

This busy square is actually a bridge with six streets leading to it. The Munt Tower, after which the square is named, was once part of the city gate. In the 17th century, the tower served as a mint.

Continue south and turn right (west) on Singel to the…

 

Flower Market

The flower market stalls are housed in floating shops and sell everything from seeds to fresh cut flowers.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 12: Shop the floating flower market

Continue west to Leidsestraat and turn left. Walk to Prinsengracht and turn right to follow the canal north to…

 

Westerkerk

The Westerkerk is a protestant church that was built between 1620 and 1631. The tower, which stands at 279 feet, is the tallest church tower in Amsterdam.

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 13: Westerkerk

To the north of the church is the…

 

Anne Frank House

Now a museum, the Anne Frank House is where Anne, a young Jewish girl, hid from the Nazis during World War II. It’s easy to find, follow the long line and, just past it, the door numbered 263.

{Interested in learning more about the life of young Anne Frank? Take a private Anne Frank walking tour with a guide.}

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 14: Anne Frank House Museum

Across the Prinsengrach Canal is the…

 

Jordaan neighborhood

The working class settled the Jordaan neighborhood in the 17th century and attracted many with radical political ideas. In the 1970s, gentrification overtook the area, attracting young professionals, well-to-do families and, along with it, trendy cafes, bars, galleries and specialty shops.

{For a unique way to experience the Jordaan neighborhood, join the Jordaan district food walking tour.}

One day in Amsterdam self-guided walking tour - sight 15: Walk the Jordaan neighborhood

Crisscross north through the neighborhood to Brouwersgracht and turn right (east) to complete the loop back at Central Station.

 

One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour Map:

One Day in Amsterdam self guided walking tour map

Click here for a link for the route on Google Maps

 

Top Tips for your Trip to Amsterdam

If you have just one day in Amsterdam to see the sights, these tips may help!

 

Amsterdam Sightseeing Tips

  • Before leaving Central Station, stop by the Amsterdam tourist information office, VVV, in front of the station to pick up a city map.
  • If visiting museums and other attractions in Amsterdam is high on your list, consider purchasing the I Amsterdam City Card, which includes free entry into the most popular museums, free public transportation and a canal boat ride. 
  • Watch out for bikes! Always look both ways when crossing the street and, for shutterbugs like myself, be aware of your surroundings when looking through your lens.
  • Dam Square is an ideal spot for people watching. We stopped at a café on the perimeter for a coffee and an entertaining view.
  • For those using this One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour not keen on walking through the Red Light District, simply continue walking north on Warmoesstraat from De Oude Kerk to Prins Hendrikade. Turn right (east) and follow it as it curves into Zeedijk and continue through Chinatown.
  • While Amsterdam has many sights, much of the charm is found simply by walking the canals. If time allows, make detours!

 

Amsterdam Walking Tours

There are many Amsterdam tours that are led by knowledgeable, professional Amsterdam tour guides (check a list of tours here). If you would rather join a group for Amsterdam sightseeing, a popular option is a 3-hour Amsterdam Walking Tour. For a free walking tour in Amsterdam (which is tip-based), check out New Europe Tours Free Walking Tour Amsterdam. 

 

Amsterdam Sightseeing Options

 

Where To Stay

During our visit to Amsterdam, we stayed near the airport (for convenience) at the Ibis Budget Amsterdam Airport (which was just a short walk to the bus station where we could catch a bus into the city center). However, for those who prefer staying closer to the city, there are many Amsterdam hotels to choose from. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Park Mansion Centre HotelThe Toren and Frederik Park House. Or, find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline

Budget travelers can find accommodations at Amsterdam hostels, like The Flying Pig UptownClinkNOORD Hostel or Generator Amsterdam. However, we’ve often found apartments to be cheaper (as well as more spacious and comfortable!) than hostels or hotels, especially if there are two or more people traveling together. You can search for Amsterdam holiday apartments on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor), on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner or Airbnb (which offers additional savings for creating a new account with this link).

Travelers who are on a budget or simply looking for a truly local experience should check out Couchsurfing. The website connects travelers to local hosts who offer accommodations in their home for free

 

Getting There

Amsterdam can be reached by plane, train, bus or car. Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). However, due to our unique circumstances (flight benefits earned from years of service with a major airline), we rarely buy airline tickets. That being said, when we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.

To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and take trains or buses. In Europe, we use Rail Europe to find train tickets and our preferred bus company is FlixBus – as it is economical, clean and comfortable with on-board wifi, seat-back entertainment, refreshments and a toilet. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.  
 

Before You Go

  • Most people in Amsterdam speak in English, but it’s a good idea to learn a few in Dutch phrases before you go! Take interactive language learning courses with Babbel to learn Dutch prior to your trip! 
  • Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
  • It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook prior to arriving.  
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads

Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!

 

We want to know: What is your favorite thing to do in Amsterdam? What would you add to our One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour? Tell us in the comments!

 

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1 Day in Amsterdam A Self Guided Walking Tour to 15 Sights by JetSetting Fools 

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One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walk to 15 Sights by JetSetting Fools
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24 thoughts on “One day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour: 15 sights to see

  1. Georgia

    Thanks for the article! Just wondering if you could share the location that the first two photos were taken (of the bridge, canal and Dutch houses)? I think they’re just stunning!

    • Thanks Georgia! Both photos were taken on Leidsegracht. The orange bike is on the Keizersgracht bridge and the 3-arched bridge is Herengracht. I’ve dropped a pin on each bridge on this Amsterdam map. Hope that helps! There are so many beautiful canals in Amsterdam 🙂 Enjoy!

  2. Jen

    We are going to Amsterdam this October, and this is exactly what I need. Thank you so much!! Plus we are also staying in Ibis Budget Amsterdam, it makes me giddy. Thank you mucho.

    • Hi Jen –
      So exciting! Hope you enjoy your time in Amsterdam – the autumn is a fantastic time to visit. One more tip: you can buy a day bus pass from the hotel check-in desk 😉
      Cheers and have fun!

  3. Claire

    I am doing a very short layover in Amsterdam next month and was looking for something just like this – thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Mel

    Stop at the pancake bakery, it is some where near Anne frank house, it was one of the most amazing meals I have ever ha d in my life!

  5. Jillian

    I’m heading to Amsterdam for a day next month and stumbled on your article – what a fantastic guide – will be trying it out! Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Deanna

    Visited Amsterdam many years ago with a tour group. Loved it. Hope to visit again. It rained a lot and the tulips bloomed before we got there.

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  8. Dana

    Hello! I have a 22 how layover in Amsterdam in my way home to the States and it starts at 11 am from the airport. I was wondering how long your tour took so I would know If I have enough time to complete it?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Dana –
      Our walking tour could probably be completed in under two hours without too many stops. The sights are located within close proximity – and, if time doesn’t permit, spend less time wandering Jordaan and cut back through the city. Enjoy, it’s a beautiful city!

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