The best way to discover Amsterdam is through the eyes of a resident, so why not book a tour and discover the history, secrets and hidden gems the city has to offer? From bike and coffeeshop tours to little-known free walks and even graffiti workshops, these are guaranteed to uncover a different side to the city.
Whether you want to learn how to roll a joint, head out on a bicycle like an Amsterdammer or take in the city on a moonlight canal cruise, Culture Trip has rounded up Amsterdam’s best tours. Beer drinker? History buff? Cheese fan? Art lover? Whatever your interests, you’re bound to find the perfect tour below.
Amsterdam Food by Foot
Get a taste of Amsterdam with this food tour | Courtesy of Urban Adventures
Amsterdam’s culinary offering doesn’t have a clear-cut reputation, but Amsterdam Food by Foot’s tour guide Sean knows all the best snacks in the city. You’ll get to sample a selection of Dutch delicacies. From herring and sausage to pancakes and fries (with classic frites sauce, of course), you won’t go hungry while picking up some interesting tidbits about the city’s history, too.
Amsterdam’s known for its beers – Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel – but this tour helps you uncover some lesser-known names. It all starts at the Beer Temple (yes, it almost sounds too good to be true) before you wander through the beautiful streets of the city while learning about the history of the brewing industry. You’ll pass through a small brewery in the Red Light District before finishing up at a beer hall boasting over 200 varieties of the tipple. Tickets include three beers and a Dutch bar snack en route.
Amsterdam’s underbelly is laid bare on this tour of the Red Light District. As you wander through streets lined with sex shops, tattoo parlours and themed museums, your guide will explain the history of prostitution in the city. The tour also touches on the famous coffeeshop trade and the state of recreational drugs in the area today. It’s an eye-opener of a tour.
Amsterdam is an incredibly beautiful city, but at night, it takes on a magical air with twinkling street lamps reflected in the gently rippling canals. During this 90-minute excursion, you’ll cruise under the iconic Skinny Bridge spanning the Amstel river before heading along the Herengracht, a stretch of the canal known as the “Golden Bend”. It’s lined with grand manor houses where affluent merchants once lived. Treat yourself to a drink from the bar while you tour through the iconic canal belt and your host shares the city’s history, with some tales of legend thrown in for good measure.
If cycling isn’t your thing, then why not try this free English-speaking walking tour? It’s a great way to get to know Amsterdam in just under three hours. Fascinatingly explained by your tour guide, you’ll learn how the city emerged from the banks of the Amstel river to become the affluent and world-renowned city it is today. From the World War II invasion to the history of decriminalisation, you’ll hear stories of its past while taking in some of the most well-known landmarks, including the Anne Frank House, the Jewish Quarter, the canals and hidden churches. Did we mention it’s free?
It would be remiss if you visited Amsterdam, a city with more bikes than people, without hopping onto a two-wheeler yourself. On this three-hour tour, you’ll be able to see the city through the eyes of a resident, getting a feel for the incredible network of canals and learning about the city’s history and culture. The tour guide’s stories take inspiration from Pete Jordan’s book In the City of Bikes (2013), which tells the tale of Amsterdam’s bike culture. Tickets include bike hire.
Amsterdam was deeply affected by World War II when the Nazis arrived, and this tour paints a picture of what the city was like before, during and after the Nazi occupation. For anyone fascinated by modern European history, this tour is a must-do, albeit a profoundly poignant one. The expert guide will take you to the Jewish Quarter where you will see the iconic Auschwitz Memorial and the Monument to Jewish Resistance. You will then head to the Shadow Wall, where the names of over 200 deceased Jewish residents line the canal opposite their former homes.
The cannabis scene is thriving in Amsterdam, and on this tour, you’ll learn all about the city’s drug history and current cannabis culture, making it ideal for beginners. It all kicks off in Dam Square before you head to one of the city’s oldest coffeeshops. During the tour, you’ll visit a couple of the city’s best cannabis purveyors, where you’ll be able to buy some weed, learn to roll a joint and get the chance to relax inside.
Ever fancied trying your hand at graffiti? Well, this workshop takes that dream and makes it a reality. The private session gives you the chance to legally spray paint a street-art masterpiece on panels of concrete, wood or metal. All materials are provided, and with just six people per session, you’ll be given plenty of pointers by your graffiti instructor. So, grab yourself an aerosol can and start expressing yourself!
Amsterdammers love their cheese, and if you do too, then this tour is well worth booking. You’ll learn about the traditions and processes of Dutch cheesemaking in an authentic factory atmosphere. Henri Willig and his wife, Riet, have been producing traditional cheese since the mid-1970s, and you’ll get the chance to sample five types. They are accompanied by mustard and cheese dips (cheese on cheese, why not?) and a couple of glasses of red wine or speciality beer to wash it all down.
The Van Gogh Museum is incredibly popular and often sold out days in advance. Book this tour (that includes your entrance fee) and not only will you skip the line, but your guide will also help you to understand Van Gogh’s artistic evolution. You’ll see the painter’s earliest, darkest works through to his vibrant later paintings, such as the iconic Sunflowers. While here, you’ll also get the chance to witness works by Gaugin, Monet and other artists who inspired Van Gogh.