1. Start with the Amsterdam (Historic) Museum. The outside of the collection of buildings is interesting in its own right, and the inside will take the better part of a day to see the interesting stuff. On the backside, there is a protruding wall with old armours in a beautiful setup, that you can see from the outside.
2. Walk towards the Kalverstraat, try to find signs to "Schuttersgalerij". Go through the gallery and admire the immensely large paintings that can be seen for free. These are so-called "schutters-stukken", paintings of private militia that were guarding sections of Amsterdam in its Golden Age. (By the way, the armours at the Amsterdam Museum are just around the corner of the Schuttersgalerij)
3. After walking through the Schuttersgalerij, you can walk on, towards the Begijnhof, which is a small entrance on your right. Walk around, exit at the other entrance (which is a bit concealed, behind the two churches. If you turn around, you can see this seems to be just a door of a building. This is done to scare of most of the tourists.
4. Cross the street "Spui" (which has some nice shops, including the
American Book Center and a bookshop of Waterstone's) and go into the
In this alley, "Voetboogstraat" (Footbow Archer's Street) you will find several pubs, and the place formerly known as "Schutter" (The Archer) was our regular hangout when we lived in Amsterdam, Liz almost "lived" there. Liz and I met there on the 21st of December, 1986. We are a bit sad that the bar is now closed and we hope a re-start will happen sometime. A couple of buildings further down the alley is a "Flemish fries" shop, the very best in town. Most of the time there is a line of people waiting for their turn. My favourite is a "middle" fries with green pepper sauce and chopped onions, hmmm. Liz's favourite is fries with samurai sauce, spicy!
By the way, I mentioned the American Book Center on the Spui: this is a very interesting bookshop, since it has the only "self-book-printing" service in The Netherlands: if you have a pdf (or many other formats) of a book and you want it properly printed in just one copy, you can get it done there. The machine is available to the public, and it is very interesting to look at.
5. At the end of the Voetboogstraat, enter the shopping centre across the street and walk to the other end (which leads to the Kalverstraat), or, go left into the Heiligeweg. The top of this shopping center is a bit of a tower, called the Kalvertoren, you can get up by elevator and from the top you are offered a very nice view over a large section of Amsterdam.
6. At the end of the Heiligeweg / the shopping centre, go right onto the Kalverstraat, towards the Munttoren.
7. At the Munttoren, go right, over the bridge, and go right again, onto the flower market. On the bridge, you can take a look at the back side of the flower market shops, and as you will see, most of them are just big canal boats with shops build on them.
8. At the other end of the flower market, go left into the Leidsestraat, towards the Leidseplein (Leidse Square).
9. Cross the Leidseplein and go straight on, go to the left side of the
street. Cross the canal and cross the very busy street (Stadhouderskade).
Go left, towards the Vondelpark.
On your way through the Leidsestraat you will see a small street on your left (and right), the Kerkstraat. If you want to see the oldest comic book shop of Europe, Lambiek, go left into the Kerkstraat and walk on a bit. They have a permanent exhibition of one or more comic book artists. But just the immense amount of comic books is stunning.
10. Enter the Vondelpark and walk straight ahead to the main section of the park. Go to your right and walk around (counterclockwise), for instance to (in?) the Film Museum.
11. When you arrive at the "left side" (as seen from your point of entry
into the park) of the Vondelpark, close to where you entered, exit and walk
into the neighbourhood. Reasonably wealthy neighbourhood here with a lot of
11a. You will certainly get across the PC Hooftstraat, the most expensive shopping street of The Netherlands.
12. Keep on going left and right (not the other way around) and you will wind up in the Van Baerlestraat. Follow this street, away from the Vondelpark.
13. Arrive at the Museumplein (Museum Square) on your left hand and turn left and walk onto the square.
14. Walk towards the Rijksmuseum, which is the museum farthest away when you
enter the Museumplein. On your left you will see the Stedelijk Museum (City
Museum of Amsterdam, which is a museum of modern art) and the Van Gogh
Museum (indeed, filled with stuff by Van Gogh and his contemporaries).
Behind you, you will see the Concertgebouw (Concert Building, indeed, they do opera and classical music here).
15. At the Rijksmuseum, if all would be well, you would be able to walk
through the alley under the center section of the Rijksmuseum. Walk on
until you are at the front side of the alley.
15a. If you want to spend several hours watching the most wonderful art that The Netherlands ever created, pay the museum a visit. Our national treasure is always on display, the famous Night Watch (Nachtwacht) by Rembrandt.
16. Carefully cross the very busy street (Stadhouderskade) and on the other side of the canal, enter the Spiegelgracht, which continues into the Nieuwe Spiegelgracht.
17. At the end, turn right onto the Herengracht. The houses at this part of the canal are the most expensive houses of The Netherlands, it is called the Gouden Bocht ("Golden Bend"). Some say that the houses at #475 and #476 are the prettiest, but most buildings here can use a cleanup.
18. At the first bridge that you encounter, go left onto the Vijzelstraat and walk on until you reach the Munttoren (again).
19. Walk straight on after the Munttoren, crossing the street that comes from the left ("Singel"). On the other side, go to your right and cross that even busier street ("Rokin"), towards the magnificent building of "Hotel de l'Europe", onto the Nieuwe Doelenstraat.
20. Take a look on the lovely quay on your left, which is called "Oude Turfmarkt" ("Old Peat Market"). But go into the Nieuwe Doelenstraat.
21. Go left at the Binnengasthuisstraat.
22. At the end, go right (Grimburgwal) and immediately to the left onto the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.
22. Take one of the streets to the right, for instance "Rusland" (this is Dutch for "Russia") until you reach the Kloveniersburgwal. Go left onto that street.
23. At the end of the Kloveniersburgwal, you will reach the Nieuwmarkt. Enjoy the view, the shops, restaurants and pubs. There are a lot of typical Chinese shops (toko) where you can buy spicy food, noodles, Chinese hats/shoes/art.
24. Visit the "Waag" ("weighing scales": witches have not been burnt here,
several witch hangings did occur on Dam Square), the big building on the
end of the square. Or just have a nice cup of coffee/tea in the quite nice
restaurant/pub on the ground floor. The Waag started as a city gate,
and you can still see where the gate was in two sides of the building.
On the two other sides used to be the city walls, but the walls have been removed when the city grew larger. The Waag became an anatomical theater, and later a weighing house for many types of goods ("waag" means "place where you can weigh your goods).
25. Behind the Waag you will find the Zeedijk. Enter this narrow , windy, busy and long shopping street. Halfway you will find a large buddhist temple.
26. At the end of the Zeedijk you will see (across the busy street, Prins Hendrikkade, and the water of the Damrak) the Central Station (train station), which is a beautiful building. Walk to your left on the Prins Hendrikkade towards the large bridge that leads toward the train station, and go left onto the Damrak, towards the Dam (Dam Square).
26a. Instead of completely following the Zeedijk, you can turn left at several places. A nice place is the Molensteeg, which you can follow until you reach the Oude Kerk (Old Church). Walk around this church and on the other side, into the Wijde Kerksteeg and cross the Warmoesstraat, into the Paternostersteeg. Go left into the Beursstraat and right into the Beursplein. The pretty building on your right is the "Beurs van Berlage" ("Exchange of Berlage"). You have reached the Damrak. Go left towards the Dam.
26b. First you could go into the Central Station. It has been renovated lately and it looks lovely again (well, most of it). You could walk all the way to the other end of the station and wind up at the back side. There's a very busy street, so careful when you cross it. You are now on the banks of the IJ, one of the busiest sea arms of The Netherlands: to the left it goes to the North Sea, to the right it goes to the IJsselmeer. Just enjoy the view of the boats, the ferries, the tourist canal boats and all the people.
Pickpockets, criminals, hookers, pimps (as everywhere else in Amsterdam, but here lives the scum of the Earth). When you are done enjoying the view, turn around, go back into the station and go all the way to the front. By the way, the station has several entries and exits and hallways, so there is more than one way to go through.
27. On the Dam, you will see our National Monument on your left, the Palace
on Dam Square (our National Palace) on your right. Across the Dam, you will
see the entrance of the Kalverstraat (earlier, you have been on the other
end of that long street), which will lead you back to the Amsterdam Historic
27a. Instead of immediately going into the Kalverstraat, you could dwell a bit on the Dam. To the right of the palace is a big church, the "Nieuwe Kerk" ("New Church"), which often has nice exhibitions. A bit more to the right of the Nieuwe Kerk you will see the entrance to another long and windy and busy, shopping street, "Nieuwendijk". That will lead to (again) the Prins Hendrikkade, but this time at the other end of the Central Station.
Go to your left onto the Singel and walk by the "Ronde Lutherse Kerk" ("Round Lutheran Church"). The Singel brings you eventually to the Raadhuisstraat. There, on your left, you will see the backside of the Palace on Dam Square. You could go the right into the Raadhuisstraat and into the Westermarkt. There is the Westerkerk ("West Church"). At the end of the Westerkerk is the Prinsengracht. Go right (don't cross the canal) and you will reach the Anne Frankhuis (the house where Anne Frank has been hiding during the Second World War) (and she was betrayed and taken from there to the concentration camp where she was killed in the gas chamber).
As always, beware of pickpockets. Especially Kalverstraat, Nieuwmarkt, Zeedijk, Dam and Nieuwendijk are infamous for tourists being robbed from wallets. It's busy, and when they see you don't pay attention, you'll be their target.
From any of these places, you can return to your car, or take a cab, or walk (if your feet don't hurt like hell). Many more nice streets and canals and alleys and museums and shops to discover. I've never managed to take this route myself in one day and I hope I never do, because on my way there are too many interesting places that grab my attention for at least an hour. I hope you enjoyed it.