Posted: 5/25/2022 | May 25th, 2022
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve been visiting it regularly for over a decade and even spent some time living there. It’s a city with a misunderstood reputation, often glossed over as simply a place to party and partake in the illicit Red Light District.
But Amsterdam has so much more to offer.
If you want to explore the city, there are really only two ways to get around: biking and walking. And fortunately, for those who like to walk (and/or bike) the Dutch capital offers a legion of picturesque strolls: along leafy canals, past centuries-old churches and cozy canal houses, and down narrow cobblestoned lanes.
To really get a glimpse below the city’s surface, take a walking tour. I take them in every city I visit. They’re the best way to learn about the history and culture while connecting with an expert local guide who can share their tips and insight.
Amsterdam, unsurprisingly, offers an array of unique tours: from sex worker-led tours through the famed Red Light District to tours that explore the city’s recreational drug culture to strolls that focus on the history of the city.
To help you decide which ones to take, here’s a list of the best walking tours in Amsterdam!
BEST PAID TOUR
This tour with AmsterBike a perfect way to connect with the local pace of life. AmsterBike offers a few different types of tours, including a cycling tour around the canals and tours out into the countryside.
For their Amsterdam city tour, spend three hours pedaling along canals and down narrow atmospheric streets of this loveable city, learning the history of the place as you go along while stopping at some of the city’s most iconic spots.
Best Free Tour
Sandemans New Europe
Sandemans does free tours in many big European cities and they know what they’re doing. With a local guide leading the way, their three-hour walking tour hits all the major sites in Amsterdam. Start at the National Monument and end at the Anne Frank House and in between stroll along canals while stopping in the Jewish Quarter, various churches, bridges, and canal-side houses along the way.
For more other walking tours, here’s a list of what I like the best:
1. Free Food Tour Amsterdam
Dutch gouda cheese, scrumptiously sweet and gooey stroopwafels, deep-fried savory bitterballen, and fresh herring are all on offer during this free two-hour walking tour that explores the food of Amsterdam. The expert local guides give a nice overview of the history and culture of Dutch cuisine while you nibble on samples of traditional foods. And yes – you really do get free food on the tour (just be aware that these are tasting bites, don’t expect to get full here).
At the end of the tour, your guide will leave you with personal recommendations so that you can continue eating your way through Amsterdam long after the tour is over. The catch? You just have to give a good tip at the end.
2. Hungry Birds
For nearly a decade this female-owned tour company has been feeding hungry visitors with knowledge and food of Amsterdam. “Mother birds,” as they refer to their guides, lead food-loving visitors around this charming Dutch metropolis for 4.5 hours, snacking on all manner of edible Dutch delights. Tour-goers get the chance to sample street food, traditional Dutch fare including herring and stroopwafels, some non-Dutch treats like Surinamese and Indonesian cuisine, as well as food at an old-school atmospheric food market.
Tours from 89 EUR.
Despite the country’s neutrality during World War II, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1939 shortly after the war broke out. Led by a retired history professor, their “World War II and the Holocaust in Amsterdam” tour takes visitors on a whirlwind around the city viewing it through the lens of World War II. It’s a fascinating three hours and the guides really know their stuff. If you’re a history buff like me — or if you just want to learn more about the war from a Dutch perspective — this is the tour for you.
Tours from 35 EUR.
4. Ultimate Party Amsterdam
These wild, party-themed pub crawl tours are festive and fun. Hop on the Red Light District pub crawl where the tour begins with unlimited vodka shots for the first 30 minutes (and then at every stop you get another free shot of booze). The tour concludes with free entry into Amsterdam’s biggest nightclub. This tour isn’t all just about getting drunk (though that’s a big part of it) but is a good way to find out some cool party spots so you can come back later and explore more on your own. it’s a great way to meet people too if you’re traveling solo.
Tours from 25 EUR.
5. Eating Europe
Started in Italy a decade ago, Eating Europe now has tours in many big European cities, including Amsterdam. The local guides know how to eat — and where! The food tour through the hip neighborhood of Jordaan gives a great taste of the amazing food scene there. The 3.5-hour walking tour hits some of the coolest spots in the neighborhood, plus street food and food markets to sample traditional and creative takes on Dutch food as well as some great international food. The knowledgeable guides also give a great account of the history of Dutch cuisine and the history and culture of feasting in Amsterdam.
Tours from 89 EUR.
6. O My Amsterdam Tours
Amsterdam is famous for its tolerance of recreational drug culture, particularly toward marijuana use. In certain cafes, it’s totally fine to light up a joint and get higher than a kite. This 2.5-hour tour takes a bong-sized hit of drug culture and history in Amsterdam, leading curious visitors to cannabis grow rooms and the marijuana museum, among other spots, all the while explaining drug culture here. The guide even explains the difference between bad weed and good weed. It’s a real trip!
Tours from 35 EUR.
7. Prostitute Information Center Tours
The Prostitute Information Center, or PIC, in Amsterdam aims to dispel some myths and misconceptions about prostitution, in general, and in Amsterdam, in particular. Every Wednesday to Saturday at 5pm, a current or former sex worker leads tours around the Red Light District, explaining the practices of the trade and taking tour-goers into an actual room where prostitutes entertain customers. And of course, you can ask a lot of questions. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about sex work but were afraid to ask.
Tours from 25 EUR.
8. AllTourNative Amsterdam
This Dutch metropolis has a huge alternative culture scene. And the best introduction to it is to take a guided walking tour. AllTourNative Amsterdam’s “Street Art and Alternative Amsterdam” tour takes visitors to see some of the city’s best street murals, galleries, and coffeehourses that support and create alternative culture in Amsterdam. The 2.5-hour tour will definitely take you to spots you would not normally have heard of as a tourist.
Tours from 20 EUR.
9. 360 Amsterdam
360 Amsterdam offers a slew of great walking tours: guided tours that just focus on Anne Frank and the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, tours that take visitors to the most Instagrammable spots in the city, food-focused walks, and a Seven Sins of Amsterdam tour — a two-hour guided walk through the Red Light District, weed-scented cafes, and other “sinful” activities. In short, they have a ton of amazing tours that are also affordable.
Tours from 18 EUR.
Amsterdam is an amazing city that really does have something for everyone — and every budget. Whether you want to learn about the drug scene and the Red Light District or have tamer tastes and are interested in the city’s storied past, there’s a walking tour for you.
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Book Your Trip to Amsterdam: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. Some great places to stay in the city are:
If you’re looking for more place to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in Amsterdam.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for nomads)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Amsterdam?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Amsterdam for even more planning tips!