Taking a canal cruise through Amsterdam’s historic waterways is one of the best ways to explore the city. These guided boat trips offer unparalleled views of the centuries-old architecture, charming canal houses and monuments. And if the sights are accompanied by an informative tour guide, a glass of wine, or even dinner, so much the better.
- Take in Amsterdam’s most beautiful and interesting sights from the water.
- Get to know the city’s history, urban legends and sightseeing tips with audio guides available in several languages.
- Try a specialized tour for a unique experience on the water.
Experience Amsterdam forn the water
While cycling may be the transport of choice for locals, seeing the city from the water is an excellent way for visitors to get their bearings. There is a wide variety of canal cruises to choose from, each offering different types of tours, boats, departure points and on-board services. Compared to many other European cities, Amsterdam is a compact size, which means you can sail past many of the major points of interest in an hour or two.
Combine a canal cruise with active sightseeing
As Amsterdam is surrounded by water, most of the museums and attractions are easily accessible from the canals. Several canal tours operate on a hop-on, hop-off’ basis, which is a convenient way to tick important landmarks off your must-see list, to stop-off to explore the treasures in the Rijksmuseum, or simply allowing you to refuel in a café before continuing your adventure on the water. On board the boat, a tour guide or audio recording in a selection of languages provides fascinating background knowledge on the sights as they pass by. This is an opportunity to receive tips and background knowledge on everything from Amsterdam’s trading legacy to Dutch icons and the Old Masters without the need to take a tour at each location.
Unique and unusual canal cruises
In recent years, cruise companies have diversified with a seemingly endless selection of tours that make the experience even more memorable. Romantic candlelight cruises, cheese and wine tours, and several tours held during the Amsterdam Light Festival in winter are perfect for couples. The Pancake Boat combines sightseeing on the river with stacks of delicious Dutch pancakes, while dinner cruises, cocktail cruises, and even pizza cruises aim to satisfy every culinary craving.
More things to do on a canal cruise
The world famous Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank House, the Royal Theater Carréand the Heineken Experience are just steps away from drop-off points on typical routes. Pre-purchased cards such as the Holland Pass allow you to combine a canal cruise with entry to Amsterdam’s top attractions for a discounted price.
A number of canal cruise operators in Amsterdam offer wheelchair-friendly boats. Capacity may be limited, so it’s always good to check first with operators and book your canal cruise in advance.
If canal cruising leaves you inspired to see more of Amsterdam from the water, consider hiring a private boat to head off on your own adventure. Hiring a boat in Amsterdam is relatively simple and cost efficient for groups. A boating license isn’t required for most small boats. Alternatively, be your own captain by renting a pedal boat to explore Amsterdam’s waterways.