Sights to see in Amsterdam Walking Tour for 1 day

One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour

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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 coffee shops. Grand, gabled houses line the streets, while a neon glow emanates from the Red Light District. Bicycles outnumber the human population and the long history of beer is being revolutionized by craft brewers.

However, it is possible to get a vibe of the city in one day – and an Amsterdam walking tour is a fantastic way to do it. To help fellow travelers, we designed a One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour to more than 18 of the best sights. Plus, an Amsterdam Walking Tour Map is included!


Amsterdam Walking Tour

Sightseeing in Amsterdam is best done on foot – and our free walking tour highlights more than 18 attractions. To see the best sights, our walking tour of Amsterdam covers some ground and includes a little zigging and zagging. Don’t worry, we created an easy-flowing Amsterdam tour that is perfect for first-time visitors and those who have yet to discover all the prime sights.


What’s Provided in the Free Amsterdam Walking Tour Self-Guided

Our Self-Guided Amsterdam Walking Tour includes everything you need to make your way through the city!

For our Amsterdam Walking Tour Free Guide, we highlight individual sights, provide step-by-step walking directions to each sight and include two Amsterdam Maps. One being an interactive Attractions in Amsterdam Map, the other is an Amsterdam PDF Map.

You will also find our top Walking Tour Amsterdam Tips and more suggestions of things to do in one day throughout the article.


One Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Canal View, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Planning what to see in Amsterdam is no easy task – especially if you are limited to one day. Whether you have two hours or an entire day, you can use our outlined Amsterdam tour.

The main route of our walking tour in Amsterdam circles the city in a loop, taking in the major sights in a relatively short amount of time. However, those with more time to explore can use our ‘If You Have Time’ suggestions to complete a full day of sightseeing.


If You Have Time: Amsterdam in One Day Travel Tips

With our tips, visitors don’t need to worry about what to see in Amsterdam in a Day – we’ve got it covered! Throughout our Amsterdam Tour, we offer ‘If You Have Time’ advice regarding nearby sights and alternate routes to our Amsterdam Walking Tour.

We include both museums that require a ticket (or are included with the Amsterdam City Card) and other free sights, too. 

Travelers will find our suggestions of places to visit in Amsterdam in 1 day are ideally intertwined into a walking tour. Plus, we provide detour directions to the alternate Amsterdam walking routes.

Pro Tip: Even if you are short on time, we recommend reading through the ‘If You Have Time‘ sections. There may be detours you want to make during your walking tour in Amsterdam. 


Amsterdam Sightseeing Card

If visiting the museums and other attractions in Amsterdam that are listed in our ‘If You Have Time’ sections, consider purchasing a Amsterdam City Card. It includes entry into many recommended museums (excluding the Anne Frank Museum). Plus, free public transportation and a canal boat ride, which is a beautiful way to end your one day in Amsterdam!


Walking Tour Amsterdam FAQs

Before you begin your Amsterdam City Tour, we are answering a few frequently asked questions.


Is This Really a Free Walking Tour Amsterdam?

Yes! And we think it is the best free walking tour in Amsterdam! Featuring top Amsterdam sights, our route is easy to follow and includes walking directions and maps. For each stop, we include a snippet of information and sometimes a link to more information.


How Long Does Our Amsterdam Walking Tour Take?

This Free Amsterdam Walking Tour is Self-Guided – so how long it takes totally depends on you! Those who follow our Amsterdam tour as it is written should allow at least 2 hours to complete the loop.

Still, visitors who have a full day in Amsterdam can use our If You Have Time tips to fill their tour with Amsterdam Old Town sightseeing.

Pro Tip: If entering all of the suggested museums in this self-guided Amsterdam city walk, a City Card will save you money!


Where does the Amsterdam One Day Walking Tour Start? 

We start this Amsterdam Walking Tour from Central Station – which is great for travelers coming to the city for just one day. However, we designed the Amsterdam walking tour route in loop, so you can actually start it from anywhere along it.

Using our Amsterdam walking map, simply find the sight closest to your location – and set off on the tour from there! 


Do I Need an Amsterdam Tour Map?

For self guided walking tours in Amsterdam, it is best to have a map with attractions – either online or in hand. Don’t stress though – we make Amsterdam touring easy with multiple maps and links to Google, too.

We also provide two overview maps – and interactive version, as well as a printable map – of our free tour Amsterdam. Both feature the entire route of our Amsterdam walk with tourist attractions marked. 

The interactive Amsterdam Sightseeing Map indicates each stop, as well as nearby sights. The provided printable Amsterdam Sights Map with Walking Tour Route offers a general overview of the route. 


Where Can I Get an Amsterdam Tourist Map?

Although we include several free Amsterdam walking tour maps, visitors can also pick up an Amsterdam city map from the tourist information office. There is a VVV Office in front of Central Station.


Are There Guided Amsterdam Walking Tours?

Of course there are guided tours in Amsterdam – but not by us. While we believe our self-guided option is the best walking tour Amsterdam, those who prefer a guide lead the way will find ample sightseeing tours to book. We highlight some of the top-rated guided tours later.


Are there Free Guided Tours Amsterdam?

Visitors who want to join a guided Amsterdam free walking tour have a few to choose from in the city. However, it is important to understand that the guides expect – and hopefully deserve – tips. Therefore, they are not really free tours. That said, we mention popular guided free walking tours of Amsterdam at the end of the article.


What Will I Need for this Amsterdam Walk?

Fortunately, not much is needed to complete our outlined city tour. We provide all of the information for where to walk in Amsterdam – you just have to follow along. However, we have a few tips on how to prepare for sightseeing Amsterdam on foot. 


Data Connection 

Perhaps the most important thing to have for Amsterdam city walks is an internet connection. Visitors can print our Amsterdam Sightseeing Map PDF, but a WiFi Connection is necessary to access this article while touring the city. Furthermore, the interactive maps links will only work with connectivity.

We use a GlocalMe Mobile WiFi Hotspot to stay connected abroad. Top features are that eSIM data packages can be purchased online and it allows up to 10 devices to be connected at one time. That is really great for couples, families or groups of friends traveling together. 


Amsterdam Walking Shoes

The city is fairly flat, but walking in Amsterdam is so much better if you wear comfortable travel shoes. I like to wear these Columbia Shoes and Kris prefers Merrell Trail Shoes.


Capture the Sights in Amsterdam

Visitors can really take in the beauty while walking Amsterdam canals and streets. In order to truly capture these sights, we recommend using an actual camera. We shoot with a Canon Rebel and a 18-135mm lens. It’s a great set-up and the bundle comes with loads of accessories, making it an excellent valve camera for traveling.


Weather Gear and Day Bag for your Amsterdam Tour

Amsterdam walks are most comfortable if you are prepared for the elements. Depending on the season, a packable raincoat or travel umbrella might be a good idea. In summer, don’t forget sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. Finally, bring a refillable water bottle and the perfect day pack to carry everything in!


Planning Your Amsterdam Trip

There is a lot more that goes into planning a trip to Amsterdam – from what to see to things to eat to where to stay. We have created several travel guides that will help make your trip planning a breeze. 

Pro Tip: Get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Amsterdam by utilizing our Trip Planning Printables!

Travel Planner Printables by


Self-Guided Free Walking Tour Amsterdam Sights

Okay, lace up your shoes and grab your camera – it’s time to go see Amsterdam! Start your one day in Amsterdam at Central Station. MAP


#1 Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam Central, The Netherlands

Central Station was opened in 1889 and today 200,000 passengers pass through daily. From the north side of Amsterdam Central Station, ferries (which are free) transport passengers to the northern neighborhoods.

Sights in the northern neighborhoods include the A’DAM Lookout Tower (free with the City Card), the NDSM artistic district and a few of our favorite Craft Beer Bars. Week-long river excursions – like the Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise we took – also depart near Amsterdam Centraal.

Pedestrian Passageway, Centraal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Pro Tip: Access the north side of the station via the Cuyperspassage – a tunnel of 80,000 Delft Blue tiles. The famous Netherlands tiles are a must-see, so we recommend ducking into the tunnel on your Amsterdam sightseeing route.

The south main entrance of Central Station opens onto the most historic part of the city. Across and slightly to the left is the towering Basilica of Saint Nicholas. The church was built in the late 1800s and is free to visit.

If You Have Time: Pop into St. Nicholas Basilica for a quick look around the magnificent interior. For visitors using this guide for a short, 2-hour Amsterdam walking tour, consider ending at the church.

Central Station to Damrak Directions: Walk straight away from the front of Central station onto the west side of Damrak Street. Map & Directions.


#2 Damrak

Damrak pedestrians, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Damrak is the main north-south route from Central Station to Dam Square. Once a busy waterway of Amsterdam, the Damrak Canal was filled in to make a street in 1672. The remaining small body of water, Natte Damrak, was once a thriving harbor. Buildings open directly onto the water for quick unloading of goods.

Pro Tip: Many of the city boat tours depart from Natte Damrak harbor. We offer more information about canal cruises in Amsterdam at the end of the post.

Most of the buildings along Damrak were built from the 18th to 20th century – and more than 20 of them are designated as Royal Monuments. The large brick building, Beurs van Berlage, was once the stock exchange and is now a concert hall.

Directions from Damrak to Nieuwendijk: Stay on Damrak to the south end of Beurs van Berlage. On your right, you will see the Old Amsterdam Cheese Shop, stop in for a free sample! After a few nibbles, use the next alley on your right – the elegant Beurspassage – to cut across to Nieuwendijk.

don't miss the amazing Beurspassage, Amsterdam, Netherlands

At the end of the lavish passageway is Nieuwendijk. Turn right to the first store on your right, Van der Linde Ice Cream Shop. There will likely be a line, but it moves fast, so pop in for a scoop of their one-and-only flavor: Mr. Whippy Vanilla. It’s one of the top things to eat in Amsterdam! With cone in hand, walk south on Nieuwendijk. Map & Directions


#3 Nieuwendijk

Christmas lights on Nieuwendijk, Amsterdam

Running parallel to Damrak is Nieuwendijk. A pedestrian-only shopping street, it is one of the most historic places to walk in Amsterdam. The narrow, brick lane is home to 200 shops – most of which cater to tourists – and nearly 100 of the structures are labeled as national heritage sites. 

Directions from Nieuwendijk to Dam Square: Walk south to Dam Square. Map & Directions


#4 Dam Square

Can't miss the Royal Palace, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dam Square is in the historical center of Amsterdam and is located at the original Amstel River Dam, which was built in 1270. A major sightseeing stop on our Amsterdam city walk route, many notable buildings and monuments are on the square. They include the Royal Palace (built in 1655 as City Hall and converted to a royal residence in 1808); the De Nieuwe Kerk (New Church); and the National Monument pillar honoring the victims of World War II (built in 1956).

Always buzzing, Dam Square, Amsterdam

Pro Tip: For a free view of Dam Square from above, go to the 3rd floor of the Peek & Cloppenburg Department Store.

If You Have Time: Facing the front of De Nieuwe Kerk, take the narrow passageway, Eggertstraat, around the east side of the church into an ancient part of the city. Here you will find De Drie Fleschjes (Three Little Bottles). The classic Amsterdam tavern is a jenever bar (a local Amsterdam gin) that dates to 1650. MAP & Directions.

Directions from Dam Square to De Oude Kerk: From the WWII memorial on Dam Square, walk north on Warmoesstraat to Wijde Kerksteeg and turn right to De Oude Kerk. Map & Directions.


#5 De Oude Kerk (The Old Church)

The Old Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The 800-year-old De Oude Kerk 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, but the space is also used as an art gallery (and is free with the City Card).

Attic Church, Our Lord in the Attic Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

If You Have Time: Just north of the Old Church along the canal is the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder – or Our Lord in the Attic Museum (included with the City Card). The hidden church and historic house museum are some of the most fascinating buildings in the city! MAP.

Directions from De Oude Kerk to the Red Light District: Walk around the church to the right, cross the canal on Oudekennissteeg and continue to the next canal and the Red Light District. Map Directions


#6 Red Light District

Red Light District at daytime, Amsterdam

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.

Pro Tip: To get a better understanding of the area, take a Red Light District Tour at Night, guided by a local.

Museum of erotica, Amsterdam

Directions from the Red Light District to Chinatown: Walk north through the Red Light District to Korte Stormsteeg and go right to Zeedijk. Turn right and walk south into Chinatown. Map Directions


#7 Amsterdam Chinatown

Chinatown, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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 found in Amsterdam Old Town.

Directions from Chinatown to De Waag: Continue south to Nieuwmarkt Square and De Waag. Map Directions


#8 De Waag

Details of the outside of De Waag, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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

Directions from De Waag to Waterlooplein Market: Exit the square to the south on Sint Antoniesbreestraat; cross the canal to the Rembrandt House Museum (free with the City Card); turn right on Zwanenburgwal to the Waterlooplein Market. Map Directions


#9 Waterlooplein Market

Waterlooplein Market, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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

Directions from Waterlooplein Market to the National Opera and Ballet: At the end of the market, turn right on Waterlooplein Street and right again before the bridge to the waterfront National Opera & Ballet. Map & Directions


#10 National Opera & Ballet: Stopera

National Opera & Ballet House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The National Opera and Ballet building, nicknamed the Stopera, fronts the Amstel River. The modern building, constructed in the 1980s, was met with many protests – thus the name: Stop the Opera… or Stopera for short. Many of Amsterdam’s iconic houseboats are moored along this section of the Amstel River.

Directions from Stopera to Blauwbrug: Walk a few steps south onto the ornate Blue Bridge, Blauwbrug. Map + Directions.


#11 Blauwbrug Blue Bridge

View of Blue Bridge from Amstel River, Amsterdam

The ornate Blauwbrug is named for a blue wooden bridge that used to straddle the Amstel River on the same site. The current bridge dates to 1883 and features sumptuous decorations. Despite not being painted royal blue, the original name stuck.

Pause a moment on the bridge and take in the 360-degree views and surrounding Amsterdam sights: The National Opera and Ballet is directly north. Look for the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum to the southeast along the river. Directly south is the Magere Brug – or Skinny Bridge – which is a picturesque wooden drawbridge and one of our favorite bridges of the city.

If You Have Time: There are several Amsterdam sights near Rembrandtplein that are worth exploring. Two that we recommend are the Willet-Holtuysen Museum and Museum Van Loon, both of which are historically preserved canal houses (and both free with City Card). The Archives Museum (in the De Bazel Building) is also close by and offers excellent exhibits and free toilets, too. For a quick snack, pop into Eetsalon Van Dobben, an iconic Amsterdam sandwich shop – which offers a discount with the City Card. MAP.

Directions from Blauwbrug to Muntplein: After taking in the sights from the Blue Bridge, walk straight ahead to Rembrandtplein to visit The Night Watch cast of characters and the Rembrandt statue. Continue following the road to Muntplein. Map & Directions.


#12 Munt Tower on Muntplein

Muntplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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

Directions from Muntplein to the Flower Market: Continue south and turn right (west) on Singel to the Flower Market. Map Directions.


#13 Bloemenmarkt Floating Flower Market

Floating flower market, Amsterdam

The flower market stalls are housed on floating shops and sell everything from seeds to fresh cut flowers. The floating market is one of the most colorful (and fragrant!) spots in the city. 

If You Have Time: There are quite a few tourist attractions that are south of the canal ring that are included on many walking tours Amsterdam. If time allows, make your way to Vondelpark and Museumplein, where you will find the famous Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum before continuing your canal exploration on Prinsengracht. Map & Directions.

Flowers for sale, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Directions from the Flower Market to the Canal Ring: Continue west to Koningsplein and turn left. Walk to Prinsengracht and turn right for an exceptional Amsterdam canal walk north along the ring. Map Directions


#14 Amsterdam Canal Ring

Canal Cruise Boat, Amstel River, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The network of canals in Amsterdam date to the 17th century and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The canal system is a unique urban city plan and one of the best places to walk in Amsterdam.

Once an integral part of the city’s development and maritime trade, the land around the canals was purchased by the city’s richest residents. Beautiful gabled houses were built, enhancing the appeal of the area.

Pro Tip: Most of these houses were built on wooden foundations. As they warp and rot, they are shifting and leaning. However, the homes that appear to be hovering over the street were purposely built to look bigger than they really were.

If You Have Time: Walk the two blocks of Leidsegracht, a quaint canal with lovely bridges. With ample time, make a detour to the secret Begijnhof Garden that conceals two hidden churches (and is accessed via an inconspicuous arched doorway). From the courtyard, continue to the Amsterdam Museum and take a peek into the Civic Guards Gallery exhibit, then exit through the leaning portal. Now, continue through the heart of the Nine Streets Neighborhood. Map Directions.

Directions to the Nine Streets: Walk north along the canal to the Nine Streets. Map Directions. 


#15 Nine Streets (Negen Straatjes)

Nine Streets, Shopping Street Christmas Lights, Amsterdam, Netherlands

A tiny neighborhood within Central Amsterdam, The Nine Streets are a 3-by-3 grid of picturesque lanes lined with boutique stores, high-end specialty shops and chic cafes. Originally occupied by tanners, many of the streets are named after animals.

The Nine Streets are one of the picturesque places to see on an Amsterdam 1 day city tour. 

Pro Tip: Those who wish to take a stroll through the Nine Street District can use these Map Directions for a quick 10-minute walk.

If You Have Time: The Houseboat Museum (included with the Amsterdam City Card) sits on the west side of the Prinsengracht Canal at Berensluis Street. Although quite small, it’s interesting to see how the inside of a houseboat is decorated! MAP.

Directions from the Nine Streets to Westerkerk: Continue walking north on Prinsengracht to Westerkerk. Map + Directions


#16 Westerkerk

Westerkerk Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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 (and can be climbed, for a fee). Famous Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn is buried at the church and, in 1966, Queen Beatrix chose Westerkerk as the location of her wedding ceremony. 

Directions from Westerkerk to the Anne Frank House: Walk north along the Prinsengracht Canal to #263. Map Directions


#17 Anne Frank House

Door to Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The story of Anne Frank is known worldwide. Her diary detailing her time spent hiding in an Amsterdam house was first published as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, in 1947. The house where she hid, numbered 263 Prinsengracht, is now a museum. The Anne Frank House Museum is one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam.

Pro Tip: Tickets should be booked in advance; this museum is not included in the City Card. If tickets are unavailable, consider joining a private tour of Anne Frank sights – like this one – or a group guided Anne Frank Tour to learn more about her life in Amsterdam.

If You Have Time: In the area, there are a few notable places to stop for food and drink. For a quick snack of classic Amsterdam fries, go to Heertje Friet; for a savory meal of Dutch-style pancakes, the Pancake Bakery is nearby; and for a locally produced beer, head to the charming Proeflokaal Arendsnest.

Directions from Anne Frank House to Jordaan Neighborhood: Walk north past the Anne Frank House to the first bridge, Leliegracht, and cross west into the Jordaan Neighborhood. Map & Directions.


#18 Jordaan Neighborhood

Jordaan Neighborhood, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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

The inviting neighborhood is characterized by elegant houses, many of which hide hofjes (inner courtyards) and feature Gable Stones. The stone plaques displayed on the front were first used in the 16th century. They were a means of identifying the home’s inhabitants by depicting the owner’s profession or family name.

Pro Tip: For a unique way to experience the neighborhood, join a Food Tour of Jordaan.

Informative and entertaining,Tulip Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

If You Have Time: The Tulip Museum (free with the City Card) is one of the most surprisingly interesting museums in the city. The often humorous displays detail the history of tulips in the Netherlands – as well as the hysteria of the Golden Age Tulipmania. MAP

Directions from Jordaan District to Central Stations: Crisscross north through Jordaan and turn right (east) onto Brouwersgracht. Named in the late 1500s for the breweries that occupied the canal houses, it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful Amsterdam canals. From here, it’s an easy walk back to Central Station. Map Directions.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands Maps

Below find our two Walking Tour Amsterdam Maps. Use these maps of Amsterdam, Netherlands to route your way to our recommended walking tour sights. 


Amsterdam City Map: Interactive

Use this map of Amsterdam City Center that is interactive; click on any of the markers for more information and zoom in or out of the map for a better view.

The Amsterdam top sights listed in our walking tour are numbered; the blue markers show mentioned sights; the orange markers indicate the If You Have Time attractions. Use this online version of our Amsterdam, Holland Map. 

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One Day in Amsterdam: Self-Guided Walking Tour Map

This is a printable map of Amsterdam that highlights the main route of our Amsterdam Walking Tour. To print this Amsterdam City Center Map, click on it and then right click outside of the map and select print! 

Amsterdam Walking Tour Map by


Top Amsterdam Sightseeing Tips

Craft beer on the canals in Amsterdam

If you have just one day in Amsterdam to see the sights, these tips will help make the most of it!


What To Eat and Drink in Amsterdam

We absolutely love Netherlands food! Read our review of Dutch Cuisine, which includes everything from cheese to apple pie – and incredible dishes that tempt the palette. 

Dutch Cuisine 17 Must Try Things To Eat in the Netherlands by

Having a locally brewed Heineken is an essential Amsterdam experience. The distinctive red star logo is plastered throughout the city and it’s sold just about everywhere. Even though Heineken is mass produced (and available in 192 countries), it wouldn’t be right to visit Amsterdam and not have one.

That being said, don’t miss out on the local craft beer, too. We have a complete guide to the Top Amsterdam Craft Beer Bars!


Stroll the Amsterdam Canals

SO many bridges, Walter Süskindbrug, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Charming. Quaint. Lovely. Picturesque. Beautiful. The canals in Amsterdam are worthy of these overused adjectives and many more. It is not just the water flowing through the neighborhoods that make it so appealing. It is the allure of the entire scene: the floating houseboats, endless number of bridges and detailed architecture of the gabled houses.

We have had the pleasure of seeing it all with autumn leaves and in the winter decorated for the holidays. No matter the season – even if you only have one day in Amsterdam – take some time to savor the scenery and wander aimlessly.


Watch Out for Bikes in Amsterdam!

Typical Family Bike, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bicycles are everywhere. As fans of pedal power, we were impressed with so many people using bikes as their method of transportation. We found it amazing how effortlessly people moved about on bicycles, even with the extra encumbrance of hauling groceries, musical instruments and multiple children.

Visitors need to be aware of bikes as much as cars. It is wise to always look both ways when crossing the street. And, for shutterbugs like myself, be aware of your surroundings when looking through your lens.


Amsterdam and Marijuana

Weed Coffee Shop, Amsterdam

The scent of potent pot is always floating in the air. Within 24 hours of being in Amsterdam, the smell becomes commonplace. In the Netherlands, the laws covering buying, possessing and using of small quantities of marijuana are complicated and evolving.

Individual joints are sold in coffee shops and can be purchased for about $5 USD. Some shops, with names like Coffeeshop Reefer, seem to be geared toward tourists who find the freedom to smoke up a novelty.  

The unfortunate side effect of tourists using drugs is that some idiots overdo it. We saw more than one foreigner dazed-and-confused and struggling to function in broad daylight. Not cool.


To Visit – or Not Visit – the Red Light District

We didn’t venture into the Red Light District after dark, However, even during the day, young women stood in the red-lit, glass-paneled box windows in their lingerie. The girls we saw looked bored, texting on their phones and not even looking into the crowd outside their windows.

The scene is not for everyone. Visitors using our One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour who aren’t keen on walking through the Red Light District can simply skip it altogether.


More Amsterdam Walking Tours

We have outlined a free walking tour that is easy to follow and can be completed at any pace. However, there are many other routes that are led by knowledgeable, professional Amsterdam tour guides. 


Guided Walking Routes Amsterdam

Visitors can choose from a private walking tour with a local guide (like this one) or join a small group for Amsterdam sightseeing. 

Find the guided Amsterdam walking tour you are looking for on this complete list of tours or join one of these highly rated tour recommendations in the next section.


Best Tours in Amsterdam: Themed Experiences 

We already mentioned a few Amsterdam guided tours that focus on a specific theme – like the Red Light District Night Tour, the incredibly popular Anne Frank Tour and the Jordaan Food Tour.

Looking for a different way to experience the city? There are a few more themed tours to consider. 


Alternative Tour of Amsterdam

A 2-hour walking tour that focuses on the city’s alternative side and subcultures. Find out more!


Amsterdam World War II and Jewish Quarter Tour

Learn about the city’s Nazi occupation and poignant memorials. Get the details!


Craft Beer Tour

Explore the city with a local Amsterdam tour guide while sipping craft beer. Book it now!


Cheese Tour Amsterdam

Join a Cheese Tasting Workshop in Central Amsterdam (accompanied by local beer or wine). Reserve your spot!


Guided Amsterdam Bike Tour

Pedal through the city streets like a local…with a local guide! The 2.5-hour tour features top sights, historic information and insider tips. Learn more about it!


Amsterdam Pub Crawl

Join jolly revelers on a nighttime pub crawl to the city’s best bars for a night of fun. Get the info!


Free Amsterdam Walking Tour

Visitors looking for a guided free tour have many options, including Sandemans New Europe Tours. Keep in mind, however, that these Free Walking Tours of Amsterdam are tip-based. For a truly Free Amsterdam Walking Tour, use our outlined guide above!


Amsterdam Sightseeing Options

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to see the city – so we are sharing a few ideas of ways to explore, besides walking.


Sightseeing in Amsterdam by Boat, Bus or Bike

Too much walking? No problem. There are two great Amsterdam sightseeing options that don’t require nearly as much walking.


Amsterdam Bus and Boat Tour

The classic Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus moves tourists effortlessly through the streets to top attractions. The ticket is good for 24 hours – and the bus makes 11 stops around the city center. 


Bike Rental

An alternative is walking to city sights is to rent a bike! Visitors can discover the top places to visit in Amsterdam on two wheels at their own leisurely pace. 


Amsterdam Canal Boat

Unique to Amsterdam, the Canal Hop-On-Hop-Off Boat transports visitors via the waterways.


Amsterdam Canal Cruise

Want to cruise the canal? In Amsterdam, there are plenty of options when it comes to taking a boat cruise on the canals! From sightseeing cruises to candlelit cruises to pizza cruises to dinner cruises – pick one that fits your style! 


Best Amsterdam Day Trips

Have time to explore beyond the Amsterdam city limits? Consider taking a day trip to see the Famous Dutch Windmills and The Hague, the iconic Tulip Fields or to fairytale Bruges, Belgium.

For a great half-day trip from Amsterdam, hop on a train to Haarlem

Top 5 Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands by


Amsterdam Travel Advice

Amsterdam is a fascinating city and there is a lot to see and do! You can create your complete trip plan with our Amsterdam Itinerary – but for now we have a few essential tips to share.


Where To Stay in Amsterdam

Hotels in Amsterdam are expensive – so before you book your accommodations, use read our guide for Finding Cheap Hotels

During our trips to Amsterdam, we have stayed in a few different types of accommodations. For an Amsterdam layover hotel, Ibis Budget Amsterdam Airport, is just a short walk to the bus station where we could catch a ride into the city center.

More recently, we stayed at the stylish Volkshotel in Amsterdam South near the hip De Pijp District. Key features of the hotel were the creative rooms, co-working space and rooftop hot tubs!


More Amsterdam Hotels

For those who prefer staying closer to the city, there are many Amsterdam Hotels to choose from.  Search for availability at Park Mansion Centre Hotel or The Toren and check out these other top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews) for your upcoming trip


Hostels in Amsterdam

Budget travelers can find accommodations at Amsterdam Hostels, like The Flying Pig UptownClinkNOORD Hostel or Generator Amsterdam.


Amsterdam Airbnb

We’ve often found Airbnb Apartments to be cheaper (as well as more spacious and comfortable) than hostels or hotels. This is especially true if there are two or more people traveling together, but be sure to check all the additional fees!


Getting to Amsterdam

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! Direct flights to Amsterdam from the US are available from Seattle, San Francisco, NYC, Boston, Chicago, Washington DCPhiladelphia and Austin!

When we need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on flights to Amsterdam (AMS) on Skyscanner.

To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we rely on public transportation. In Europe, we use Rail Europe to find train tickets and our preferred bus company is FlixBus. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can save time and it allows for greater discovery. 


Amsterdam Travel Insurance

Trip insurance may help cover costs with cancelled plans or lost luggage, or when travelers become ill or get injured. If you haven’t already obtained coverage for your Netherlands vacation, consider traveling protected with World Nomads


Start planning your trip to the Netherlands! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel advice? Head over to our Travel Planning Page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides Page!


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

33 thoughts on “One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour

  1. Thero

    Great list! It really sends people to a bunch of the highlights. You should add getting an ice cream cone on Nieuwendijk from Van der Linde. It is a true Amsterdam original!

  2. Bekah

    Thank you so much for this guide. We had a 12 hour layover from 8am-8pm and this was just perfect. By the time we got out of the airport and took an Uber to our starting spot, we added an hour long canal tour and spent 5 hours total with this tour. It was the perfect day to see all the big stuff without feeling too ‘touristy’. We always love self guided tours because we are cheap and don’t like crowds. This one was just perfect!!

  3. Becky

    Thank you for this! I was in Amsterdam by myself for the day and this gave me a great way to get out and see the city. It was a nice walking loop and allowed me to see the sights on my own schedule. I felt safe and didn’t get lost. I was also able to take small detours on my own and get right back on the path you’ve created. Again, thank you!

  4. Andrea Hopf

    Thank you so much for this clear and no fuss itinerary. I had a really lovely morning walking and now it’s time to explore some more.

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  6. Jenjen


    Question.. from Amsterdam Central, how did you go back to the Ibis Budget Amsterdam hotel?

    Thank you 🙂

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

    • Jen

      Yay! This day bus pass, I can use for tram also?

      And from the Ibis Budget hotel, how did you go to Amsterdam Central? Thank you 🙂

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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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  14. 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?


    • 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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