From the charming canals that weave through the streets, to the beautiful baroque architecture on display to the locals cycling around on bikes to the buzzing shopping, dining and nightlife scene – the Dutch capital unfolds before your very eyes on a good old-fashioned stroll. If you have just arrived and want to be introduced to this funky city, be sure to get in touch with That Dam Guide for the best private walking tour of Amsterdam.
Mark and his team of guides lead conversational and personalized walking tours of Amsterdam, showcasing the city’s true character along the way. Originally from South Africa, Mark traveled to Amsterdam back in 1991 and it was certainly love at first sight. He stayed for four years until London was calling where he studied law and worked in property development. But at the back of his mind was always Amsterdam, the city that captivated him.
So in 2009 he packed his bags and returned to the dam to pursue his dream of becoming a tour guide. Four years later, That Dam Guide was born. Mark is constantly searching through the nooks and crannies of Amsterdam to find hidden gems that tourists will cherish. He shares his passion on small group and private tours where guests get a real feel for the sense of community and history found in Amsterdam’s neighborhoods.
His walking tour of Amsterdam runs for three hours. After getting to know his guests, Mark tailors each experience to suit the desires of his customers. All the main themes will be covered like history, sightseeing, restaurants and travel tips – with the added bonus of a few activities/places that align with the preferences of the group. Some might be more interested in history while others will be foodies looking for delicious bites.
There is no better way to kick off your Amsterdam visit than by booking this tour. It grounds people in all the practical info needed to make a successful trip. All of your questions shall be answered and you will learn the best things to do, where to eat and how to get around. From this you will be able to spend the rest of your days with some local insight – avoiding tourist traps and immersing in the local life that Amsterdammers enjoy.
Topics that can be Covered on this Amsterdam Walking Tour
History and Trade
Amsterdam started as a little fishing village in the 13th century and over the years it developed through periods of trade. Even 800 years ago, merchant ships sailed north to the Baltic Sea trading various items. The next couple of hundred years saw the city grow to a population of 30,000 because in 1585 the Spanish recaptured Antwerp and thousands of Protestant refugees fled to Amsterdam. The population tripled and commercial life flourished.
Much of the trade in Antwerp moved to Amsterdam and industries rose in prominence such as banking and shipbuilding. Jews also came here after being expelled from Portugal. The ships which once only sailed to the Baltic and the Mediterranean began heading to Africa, South America and the East Indies. Amsterdam was one of the world’s largest trading centers up until the 18th century when it was surpassed by London and Hamburg.
All of these details can be covered on a tour with Mark. It’s fascinating to hear stories about the global influence that this once small fishing village had on the world. Mark shares historical info and interesting tales about the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, and how these companies changed global business and banking. The modern history of this city is just as riveting as the Middle Ages as well.
Alternative Amsterdam Culture
The history and culture of Amsterdam is by no means limited to trade. The dam has gone through dramatic social change in recent decades and you can learn all about this alternative culture on the best private walking tour of Amsterdam with That Dam Guide. Edgier topics such as the city’s liberal attitudes around drug policy, cannabis legalization, rise of the coffee shops, the heroin epidemic and sex work policy can be talked about.
Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole is known for its tolerance. This liberal lean has a rich history dating back hundreds of years, evolving from trade liberalism to the social liberalism we see today. Enlightenment and rationalist thinkers like the Dutch philosopher Spinoza led the way in this regard and you can find out how these famous figures changed belief systems not only in the Netherlands but throughout Europe and beyond.
Design, Dining and Drinking
Another key theme on this walking tour that will surely pique your interest is Amsterdam’s famed design, dining and drinking scene. Everywhere you look as you wander the streets of “The Venice of the North” you see creative design that takes your breath away. The squatted and tilted houses lining the waterways, the innovative canals, the locals dressed to a tee, the custom of riding Omafiets bicycles – design plays a major role in this city.
As you get lost in the alleys of Amsterdam with Mark, the topic of food is sure to come up at least once. The cuisine here is superb and you will get informed on where to eat and drink throughout your stay. You can also learn about the coffee shops – the good, the bad and the ugly and how it all works – and discover which markets and museums to visit. These subjects are the beginnings of your immersion into one of the world’s greatest cities.
Best Places To See on an Amsterdam Walking Tour
While the topics mentioned above will keep you entertained for hours, it’s good to know that on an Amsterdam walking tour with That Dam Guide you will also see many attractions on the walk. On a typical tour you visit most of the places listed below, but this depends on your priorities and what tickles your fancy. If you are staying in the city for several days (which you should) then any spot you miss on the tour can be seen at a later time.
- Dam Square
- The Canal Belt
- The Jewish Quarter
- Canals and Streets of Jordaan
- The Oude Kerk (The Old Church)
- The Amsterdam Red Light District
- De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets)
- The Original Sea Dike Defenses of Amsterdam
- Oost-Indisch Huis (Old Headquarters of the Dutch East India Company).
Practical Info Before you Book the Tour
The group sizes are between one and eight people – so whether you are a solo, a couple, a family or a group of friends you will be able to enjoy this private experience with the full attention of Mark or one of the other fantastic guides at That Dam Guide like Lee or Rob. The duration is three hours which includes a cafe break where places are marked on a map – top 40 recommendations of what to see, where to eat and drink, and more.
The total cost is €185 for the group, plus an extra €1.50 per person for the tourist tax. Start times and points are flexible as long as it’s centrally located in Amsterdam. Once you have finished this tour and explored every corner of this marvelous city, it would be a nice idea to book another tour with That Dam Guide – namely, their Countryside and Windmill Driving Tour from Amsterdam. The nature just outside of the city is truly spectacular.