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Free Amsterdam Walking Tour

‘Free’ Amsterdam Walking Tours

Like any major city, Amsterdam can be quite expensive — but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of inexpensive options available for just about anything you want to do: sleeping, eating, sightseeing, and even shopping.

Nothing beats something free, though, especially if what’s on offer is of good quality.

That is indeed the case with Sandeman’s free Amsterdam walking tours.

Welcome to Amsterdam: cozy, unexpected, and beautiful. It is a city of canals and bridges, of bikes and trams, parks and people. Of course, Amsterdam is extremely liberal, which allows for the Red Lights and the Coffee Shops.

Free Walking Tour of Amsterdam

Meet outside the Tourist Office across from Central Station — Daily at 11 AM and 3 PM

As you walk the streets, you can’t help but feel history is everywhere in Amsterdam. There is so much to see and do.

Your time is valuable. Spend it wisely and take one of our informative walking tours with an expert guide who wants to make sure that you’ve been touched by the power of The Netherlands’ capital city.

We offer the ONLY free walking tour of Amsterdam, which allows everyone, no matter their budget, to fully discover this wonderful city. Our expert guides share their personal stories and insights during this intriguing, 3 hour English-language overview walking tour.

We also offer all sorts of Private Tours, in English, Spanish, German, Italian, and Hebrew.
– Source: New Amsterdam Tours

What’s The Catch?

While we at DutchAmsterdam have never joined one of these walking tours, they’re ubiquitous enough to run into them on a regular basis. We’ve listened in on some of them, and for the most part the information provided was sound and solid enough.

So what’s the catch? Are the tours really free? The company’s website even goes to great lengths to assure people that while tips are always appreciated, you don’t have to give any money:

We believe that if money is given, it should be voluntary and in direct proportion to the quality of the tour and the budget of the traveler. Even though the guides appreciate tips, your applause means so much more, and they are happy to welcome you as their guest!

So how can Sandeman’s New Europe provide these free Amsterdam walking tours?

A letter quoted by travel expert Rick Steves provides some insight:

I recently took a “Tom’s Free Tour” in Munich and talked later with the guide who explained to me their arrangement. Here’s the diary entry (word for word) I wrote minutes later. If my guide was telling the truth, the diary entry tells you all you need to know:

There were 38 people on the tour. The guide told the group at the start, “When we end the tour, if it was worth paying for, a tip would be most appreciated.” There was a Tom’s Free Tour handler there. The guide told me that he has to pay Tom €2.50 per head. The handler takes a group photo right at the start so Tom can’t be fiddled by his guides. While the group sees it as a fun group photo (available on the website), the real reason for the photo is so Tom’s guide knows that Tom knows how many were in the group.

Guides generally make enough in tips to cover the €2.50 per customer that they have to give to Tom. But sometimes they actually lose money, especially if it’s raining and people bail out before the end of the tour — i.e., before “tip time.” If people only tip €3, the guides don’t make very much.
– Source: Quoted by Rick Steves in The Ethics of “Free” Tours

During the walking tour, the company also makes money selling tickets to other tours and attractions in Amsterdam.

Tourists on walking tour

A walking tour is a great way to get to know the city of Amsterdam.

Reviews

Do you get what you pay for?

Overall, reviews of these tours tend to be overwhelmingly positive. Family members and guests of ours who have joined a tour report that there isn’t much of a ‘hard sell’ for either tips or the company’s other tours.

Even Amsterdam locals who, for one reason or another, walked along say they learned something about the city. The guides are, reportedly, both funny and informative.

Company policy or not, when it comes to tips some guides are less subtle than others — human nature being what it is. Often you are also strongly encouraged to leave positive reviews on review sites and social media. Fair enough, but you do have to keep that in mind.

Other Ways To See Amsterdam

If large-group free tours are not for you, a paid walking tour may be a better option. The groups tend to be smaller, making it easier to interact with your guide.

There are many specialty tours — for photographers, art lovers, those interested in architecture, Anne Frank, food, history, or {blush} the Red Light District, to name a few.

Check out these specialty Amsterdam walking tours

On a bicycle (In the city or the countryside)
By boat (Top Amsterdam tourist attraction)
By public transport (Convenient and interesting)
From a 360° Panorama Observation Deck (Awesome)
From a helicopter (Best way to see the layout of the city, especially its center and canal belt)

And don’t forget to relax and do your own thing. As we always say, Amsterdam is joined at the hip with serendipity.

One of the great pleasures in life is to simply walk out the door with no specific goal in mind. Go ahead: saunter along a canal, browse some boutiques and art galleries, enjoy a beer or two at an outdoor café, chat with some locals, take a tram ride ‘to nowhere’ — take in Amsterdam the way the locals experience it.

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This post was last updated: May. 24, 2017