Walking Tour: Southern Canal Ring

  • Start Singelgracht
  • End Amstel River
  • Length 4km; two hours

Set off at the Singelgracht and head north into the nexus of art and antique shops of the Spiegel Quarter, the heart of which is Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. On Herengracht, Amsterdam's swankiest patch of real estate – the appropriately named Golden Bend – has a row of double-fronted houses (rare in Amsterdam, due to the taxes imposed) awash with classical French flourishes.

Stop by the bustling Bloemenmarkt; from the eastern end, you'll see one of Amsterdam's most enduring emblems, the striking Munttoren (Mint Tower). From the tower, head east along the Amstel river to take in the grand Hotel de l'Europe, where polished skiffs moor at the terrace restaurant. At the bridge, turn south into tiny Halvemaansteeg (Half-Moon Lane) and the beating heart of the entertainment district around Rembrandtplein. As you cross the square, it's almost obligatory to pose with the life-sized figures re-creating Rembrandt's The Night Watch, before making your way to De Kroon, one of the square's most stylish grand cafés.

Pass through shady Thorbeckeplein to the Herengracht, lean on the bridge and do your Insta-thing on Reguliersgracht, aka the 'canal of seven bridges'. The house at Reguliersgracht 34 has an unusual twin entrance and an eagle gable for the original owner, Arent van den Bergh (arend is a Dutch word for 'eagle'). Where Prinsengracht crosses Reguliersgracht, there is a house with a statue of a stork outside – the dwelling once belonged to a midwife.

Where Herengracht and Reguliersgracht join up, you can count a whopping 15 bridges as you peer east–west and north–south. Take a few steps further south and you'll come to the Amstelkerk, a curious wooden church with a belfry that still looks makeshift despite being built more than 300 years ago.

Head east down a quiet section of the Prinsengracht until you reach the shores of the Amstel river. From this vantage point, you can admire the petite Magere Brug and, beyond the sluizen (locks), the neon-lit roof of the Koninklijk Theater Carré.