Take to Amsterdam’s canals on a pedal boat and experience the best sides of Amsterdam from the city’s beautiful canals. It has to be said, there’s nothing quite like experiencing 400 years of architectural styles, historic spots and the sun glistening off the surface of the water as the world passes you by. And it’s even more joyous when you can experience all this at your own pace. Pedal boats, also known as pedalos, water bikes or even canal bikes, afford you time and space to explore every nook and cranny of the waterways in Amsterdam’s city centre, while also being a fun and memorable outing for families and friends.
- Experience Amsterdam from the water to see the city at its best – especially when the sun is shining.
- Keep it green: pedal power is fantastic for the environment and your health.
- A fun activity for the whole family.
Hire a pedal boat in Amsterdam
The bicycle may be Amsterdam’s most emblematic form of transport, but the pedal boat is its humble cousin. In fact, in Dutch it’s known as waterfiets: literally ‘water bike’. It allows to you pedal – well, technically paddle – through the city’s iconic canals and see all the major sights from the water. The system is so simple that you’ll take to it like a duck to water. Simply step aboard and the two passengers in the front of the vessel begin pedalling, turning the paddles that drive you forward in the water. As soon as you get the hang of moving and steering, it’s time to explore the highlights of Amsterdam’s city centre.
See Amsterdam’s top sights from the water
There are a number of ‘Canal Bike’ rental locations throughout Amsterdam’s Canal Ring. Most pedal boats are equipped to carry up to four passengers, making it a great adventure for families with kids and groups of friends. As part of the rental you’ll be given advice on how to manoeuvre safely among canal traffic, a free guidebook including a map of the best routes through the city and the major Amsterdam attractions you’ll pass, plus a rain hood should the weather turn unpleasant while you’re out on the water. Collect and drop off your boat at depots near Leidseplein, the Anne Frank House (Westerkerk) and the Rijksmuseum.
Highlights of the Canal Ring
The highlights of Amsterdam are literally at your feet when you rent a pedal boat. There are so many major attractions within the city’s Canal Ring that you’ll see something wonderful after passing under every bridge. Major museums situated along the canal banks include the Rijksmuseum, Foam, the Anne Frank House, Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solderle photography museum. Other iconic sights best seen from Amsterdam’s canals include the Westerkerk, the Homomonument, Amsterdam City Archives and the Seven Bridges of the Reguliersgracht.
Editor's pick: Don’t just experience the city from the water in daytime, book an overnight stay on one of Amsterdam’s iconic houseboats.