The Kathmandu valley grew up around four towns - each of which had their own Durbar (palace) so be careful when you ask for a taxi as they could take you to any one of the four. The principal Durbar Square is in Kathmandu City and we walked it in the following route. Starting at New Road you need to pay an entrance fee - if you are going to be in town for a while then go up to the conservation office near the Kumari house where you can get your ticket extended for free (you need your passport) and thus saving the entrance fee every time - handy as many roads lead to the square so you could be cutting through it regularly.
Anyway back to the walk - go straight ahead and on your right you have the Old Royal Palace - with four pagoda pillars representing each of the four cities, on the left is Freak Street - once home to the guesthouses and cafes that marked the end of the hippy trail. This is adjacent to a wide open area which usually has a range of craft stalls catering for tourists. At the end of the open area is the Kumari house - home to the living goddess of Nepal - the current Kumari is five years old. As you approach the Kumari House then the square opens up before you and its no surprise that cameras are always out and about here - the place is really impressive - even moreso if this is your first experience of temple architecture in the city.
In the square is a whole array of buildings, including Kathmandsap - the building that gave the city its name, Large drums - and we are talking big here - to ward off evil spirits, various other bells, Hindu temples galore and an array of local people that’s a travellers dream - you know that you've arrived in a different culture that’s for sure.
Most of the tourist touts seem to hang about on the north side of the square so by entering from a southerly direction you are likely to get less hassle as you'll be leaving by the time you meet them. The reason that they are here is that a few minutes to the North is Thamel - the main district where tourist accommodation and shops are, so is where most tourists enter the square.
Also in the square is the Old Royal Palace - the big white building where there's a museum which is hidden away past a series of armed guards, making you think you shouldnt be there or that you're walking into some army barracks!