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Amsterdam Travel Guide

Tours

Bicycle Tours

From April through October, guided two- to three-hour bike trips through the central area of Amsterdam are available through Yellow Bike. Let's Go self-guided tours (contact the VVV or visit the website for further details) takes you out of the city center by train before introducing you to the safer cycling of the surrounding countryside. Its tours include Edam and Volendam, Naarden and Muiden, and, in season, a Tulip Tour.

Contacts

Let's Go (Tours start from VVV Netherlands Board of Tourism, Centraal Station, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 AB. No phone. www.letsgo-amsterdam.com.)

Yellow Bike (Nieuwezijds Kolk 29, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 PV. 020/620–6940. www.yellowbike.nl.)

Boat Tours

The quickest, easiest, and (frankly) most delightful way to get your bearings in Amsterdam is to take a canal-boat cruise. Trips last from one to one-and-a-half hours and cover the harbor as well as the main canal district; there is a taped or live commentary available in four languages. Excursion boats leave from rondvaart (excursion) piers in various locations in the city every 15 minutes from March to October, and every 30 minutes in winter. Departures are frequent from Prins Hendrikkade near the Centraal Station, along the Damrak, and along the Rokin (near Muntplein), at Leidseplein, and Stadhouderskade (near the Rijksmuseum). For a tour lasting about an hour, the cost is around €14, but the student guides expect a small tip for their multilingual commentary. A free trip is included in the I amsterdam card. For a truly romantic view of Amsterdam, opt for one of the special dinner and candlelight cruises offered by some companies, notably Holland International. A candlelight dinner cruise costs upward of €30. Trips for all boat tours can also be booked through the tourist office.

Operators of canal cruises include Holland International, Gray Line Amsterdam, Rederij Lovers, Rederij P. Kooij, Rederij Noord/Zuid, and Rederij Plas.

A popular option for exploring the city's canals, and some of the attractions that lie along them, is to hop on board one of Canal Company's Canal Buses (actually ferrylike passenger boats). Canal Buses, which leave from Centraal Station and travel along the canals by three different routes, allow you to disembark at points of interest along the way. Stops along the Green Line include the Anne Frank House, Rembrandtplein, and Rembrandt's House; the Red Line stops at the Rijksmuseum, City Hall, and the Westerkerk; and the Blue Line stops at the Tropenmuseum, NEMO, and the Scheepvaartmuseum. A Canal Bus Day Pass, which costs €22, is valid from the time you buy it until noon the following day; you can hop on and off the boats as many times as you like within that time. Buying a day pass also gets you reduced entry rates at some museums along the routes.

The Canal Bike Waterfiets is a pedal-powered boat that seats up to four. You can tour the Grachtengordel ring of canals at your own pace. For one or two people, the hourly fee is €8 per person, and for three to four people, it costs €8 per person, per hour. Rental hours are between 10 and 6:30 daily. There are five landing stages throughout the city, with two of the most popular ones across from the Rijksmuseum and across from the Westerkerk.

Fees and Schedules

Amsterdam Canal Cruises (Stadhouderskade, opposite the Heineken Experience, The Pijp, Amsterdam, 1017 ZR. 020/679–1370. www.amsterdamcanalcruises.nl.)

Canal Bus (Weteringschans 26–1, Leidseplein, Amsterdam, 1017 SG. 020/623–9886. www.canal.nl.)

Gray Line Amsterdam (www.grayline.com.)

Holland International (Prins Hendrikkade, opposite Centraal Station, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 AB. 020/625–3035. www.hir.nl.)

Rederij Lovers (Prins Hendrikkade, opposite Centraal Station, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 AB. 020/530–1090. www.lovers.nl.)

Rederij P. Kooij (Rokin, near Spui, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 KK. 020/623–3810. www.rederijkooij.nl.)

Rederij Plas (Damrak, quays 1–3, Dam, Amsterdam, 1012 JX. 020/624–5406. www.rederijplas.nl.)

Bus Tours

Afternoon bus tours of Amsterdam operate daily. Itineraries vary, and prices start at €17. A hop-on, hop-off city tour that includes nine stops is offered by Key Tours. However, it must be said that this city of narrow alleys and canals is not best appreciated from the window of a coach. Also, a number of visitors feel unhappy that part of some tours involves a visit to a diamond factory, where they feel pressured into listening to a sales pitch. The same bus companies operate scenic trips to attractions outside the city.

Fees and Schedules

Key Tours (Paulus Potterstraat 8, Museum District, Amsterdam, 1017 CZ. 020/305–5333. www.keytours.nl.)

Lindbergh Excursions (Damrak 26, Dam, Amsterdam, 1012 LJ. 020/622–2766. www.lindbergh.nl.)

Special-Interest Tours

Art and Architecture

From quaint to grandiose, Golden Age to Modernism, art and architecture in the Netherlands has never been anything less than visionary.

Contacts

ARCHITECTURE tours.nl. This firm offers customized architecture tours. 06/2884–7075. www.architecturetours.nl.

Walking Tours

The Netherlands Tourist Board (VVV) maintains lists of personal guides and guided walking and cycling tours for groups in and around Amsterdam and can advise you on making arrangements. You can also contact Guidor, Nederlandse Gidsen Organisatie (Dutch Guides Organization). Typical costs range from €150 for a half day to €250 for a full day. The tourist office also sells brochures outlining easy-to-follow self-guided theme tours through the central part of the city. Among them are "A Journey of Discovery Through Maritime Amsterdam," "A Walk Through the Jordaan," "Jewish Amsterdam," and "Rembrandt and Amsterdam."

Walking tours focusing on art and architecture are organized by Stichting Arttra and Architectour. For walking tours of the Jewish Quarter, contact Joods Historisch Museum. Yellow Bike Tours organizes two-hour walking tours of the Jordaan and the Red Light District.

Probably the best deal in town is Mee in Mokum, which offers walking tours led by retired longtime residents. For a mere €7.50, you are given an entertaining three-hour educational tour of the inner city or the Jordaan, focusing on architecture and surprising facts. These tours are also popular with Amsterdammers who wish to discover new things about their city. The admission fee entitles you to reduced fees to a choice of museums and a reduction in the price of a pancake at a nearby restaurant. Tours are held daily and start promptly at 11 am. You must reserve at least a day in advance. Tours are limited to eight people; private arrangements can also be made for other times of the day.

Fees and Schedules

Architectour (Touwslagerstraat 13, Amsterdam, 1013 DL. 020/625–9123.)

Arttra Cultureel Orgburo (Tweede Boomdwarsstraat 4, Amsterdam, 1015 LK. 020/625–9303. www.arttra.com.)

Guidor, Nederlandse Gidsen Organisatie (Leidseplein 33, Amsterdam, 1017 PS. 020/624–6072. www.guidor.nl.)

Joods Historisch Museum (Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1, Postbus 16737, Plantage, Amsterdam, 1001 RE. 020/531–0310. www.jhm.nl.)

Mee in Mokum (Tours start from Museumcafé Mokum, Kalverstraat 92, Dam, Amsterdam, 1012 PH. 020/625–1390 call between 1 and 4.)

Yellow Bike (Nieuwezijds Kolk 29, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 PV. 020/620–6940. www.yellowbike.nl.)

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