Amsterdam Sightseeing Guided Tours: an overview

When in Amsterdam...a sightseeing walking tour is always recommended. The compact old city centre has a surprise around every corner. Amsterdam is also a great base to explore the surrounding countryside.

This post is an overview of the tours available in Amsterdam. It is not an exhaustive list but a guide to your choices and the pros and cons of your choice.

Why take a tour in Amsterdam:
  • You learn something.
  • You get a real person with which to talk. No recorded messages that have replayed for years.
  • There is no stress for you about directions.
  • You cover a lot in a small amount of time.
  • You get your bearings and tips to enjoy the rest of your time in Amsterdam.
  • You receive local recommendations instead of what is on the web. We notice that Amsterdam web recommendations are always the same. This is because many people writing on the web do not live in Amsterdam.
  • Always recommended on the first days of arrival.

Types of sightseeing walking tours:
  • Large group mainstream tours
Large group is defined as any tour of more than 12 people. Normally 15 to 50 is the regular size for this group. This is specific to Amsterdam or any small town.

- value for money
- provide an overview of the city 
- hit main sights
- you can tick a lot off your list
- cater to large travelling groups

- You are limited to staying outside for most of the tour.
- Interaction is limited with the guide due to the number of people.
- You are prone to up-sells. 
- The guides are working the commissions
- The places you are taken are designed to cater to mainstream tourism.
- Not so flexible. You are on a strict schedule.

The main players in this group are:

Amsterdam City Tours

Started by a family it is now one of the largest tour agencies in Amsterdam. They cater to travellers and business groups in an wide range of languages.

Tours and Tickets

This company burst onto the scene a few years ago. You will find there offices at all the main locations in Amsterdam. They teamed up with Lindbergh Tours in 2013. Most of the tours you will find advertised on the internet will filter back to this large organisation.

Lindbergh Tours

This company teamed up with Tours and Tickets. It is an older company than Tours and Tickets, they are an incoming tour provider. They also can organise hotels and transfers.

Sandman's New Europe Tours

A large multinational headquartered in Berlin. They provide free tours and smaller paid topical tours. Groups are normally 30 people or more. Lead by local youngsters these tours are frequented by the budget traveller or college student.

  • Small Group Sightseeing Tours
Small group sightseeing tours are defined by groups of fewer than 12 people.  This group also includes independent tour operators. These operators may do a tour of more than 12 people but rarely. Becareful, when searching 'small group tours' in Amsterdam many are not that small. Remember the city is small so the smaller the group the better for this category.

- Cover more in a short amount of time
- Get out of the weather. Amsterdam weather is always changeable. Small groups let you escape the worst of a storm in a local hangout cafe. 
- More time to talk and ask questions of the guide
- Personalised feeling.
- Can also provide private sightseeing tours of Amsterdam.

- You may not like the guide
- Not a large group of travellers with which to interact.

Some of the many independent sightseeing guided tour operators in Amsterdam:

Omy Amsterdam Tours

Established by guides that worked for the mainstream companies. They take small groups to the extreme with groups of 4 or 6 people maximum depending on the tour.

Joy Ride Bike Tours

Highly rated local Amsterdam company that prides itself on good customer service. Rated #1 Bike Tour company in Amsterdam.


A former student at the local University of Amsterdam. Amsterdamsel has built up a netwok of guides and locals to cater to her ever growing demand.

Final Point

Whether big or small there is an activity for you to do in Amsterdam. Have a look through review sights like Tripadvisor or Yelp. Always remember to read the reviews with a grain of salt. Most importantly....

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

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