What makes a canal ride in Amsterdam so special?
First of all, you should know that the history of this unique city is almost inextricably linked to water. Over the centuries, no less than 165 canals have been built in Amsterdam to stimulate trade and facilitate the transport of goods. In 2010, UNESCO was therefore able to declare the canal ring as a world heritage site. And that is exactly what makes a boat trip in Amsterdam so special.
You’ll learn a lot of the history of this city, but along the way you’ll also encounter some unusual sights and hear some crazy facts (for example: the amount of cars and bikes that are taken out of the water yearly… You’ll definitely be surprised about the answer!)
What do you see during a canal boat tour in Amsterdam?
What you see exactly depends on the type of canal cruise you choose. But most of the time you will sail past the most famous sights such as the home of Anne Frank, the old Heineken factory, the red light district and the Wester church.
On top of that you can also admire the Magere Brug (‘the skinny bridge’), the smallest house of the city and all the beautiful old houses from the seventeenth century. If you don’t want to miss a single sight, then you should choose the 100 cruise highlights. Usually a cruise takes an hour or 75 minutes and that’s ideal because you still have oceans (or in this case canals) of time to visit some other things!
Is a canal cruise in Amsterdam really worthwhile or are you trying to sell me something?
Everyone who knows my site, knows that I only write about places and attractions that I really find worth doing or visiting and that I’ve done myself. In my humble opinion, this is a wonderful way to experience the historical center of the city from a different point of view. Whether it’s your first time or if you’ve already been there thirty times, your visit to the capital of Holland is only complete after a boat tour on the canals of Amsterdam.
What does a canal boat tour cost in Amsterdam?
The price varies depending on the type of cruise that you choose, but usually you should count on fifteen to twenty euros. Children always have a discount. Many boats also have a real guide or audio guide and you can also opt for a “hop on hop off” formula, where you can get off and on whenever you want. The biggest tour operators are Lovers, Stromma and Blue Boat.
Special canal boat tours in Amsterdam
If you want something different than “just” sailing around the city in a boat, you can always choose one of the following special formulas:
- The Netherlands is known for its delicious cheeses and you can also enjoy these during a canal cruise in Amsterdam. Add a glass (or two) of wine and enjoy!
- If you’re looking for something a bit more exclusive, then you can always opt for the Dinner cruise where you are served a four-course menu.
If you prefer to eat something less expensive, then the pizza cruise is what you’re looking for. Pizza and a a canal trip in Amsterdam? A match made in heaven if you ask me.
- Obviously, there’s much more than just eating on a cruise. What do you think of a cocktail cruise, for example? The ideal way to end the day!
- This wouldn’t be Holland if it wouldn’t be possible to bring your own food and drinks on your private boat. With a cost of 450 euros it’s a tiny bit more expensive, but it definitely is a fun way to celebrate a birthday!
- The sports enthusiasts can also pedal their own boats when visiting Amsterdam. With a cost of ten euros this is also a lot cheaper and better for your condition!
- For kids there are also several options. The pirate adventure looks like a lot of fun! Even I would consider doing it! The kids receive a booklet with all kinds of assignments which they have to fill in using an audio story.
Seven fun facts about the canals in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam was originally founded as a fishing village in the twelfth century. The name comes from the Amstel river and the dam that was built in 1220 to prevent flooding of the Zuiderzee. The original name was Amstellodamus which has evolved over time to the now known Amsterdam.
- The Zuider church was the first church that was built in the city for the Protestants. The famous French impressionist painter Claude Monet painted this building thirteen times during his visit to the Netherlands.
- You might sail past the so-called dancing houses. These houses were originally built on stilts because of the swampy soil. Because of this, they started sinking (slowly) into the river and now they stand quite crooked on the banks of the Amstel river.
- Amsterdam has more bridges than the other world-famous city with its countless canals. Right, Venice. La Serenissima has “only” 409 bridges and Amsterdam has no less than 1281! Almost three times as much.
- The most famous bridge is the previously mentioned ‘Skinny Bridge’ (magere brug). It’s opened every twenty minutes so that boats can pass.
- You can’t look next to them during your canal cruise: house boats. There are about 2,500 of these floating on the canals in Amsterdam and some have been here for over a century. There are different types but the concrete house boats are most common because they don’t need to be repaired. The city has strict laws for these house boats because the wooden ones have to be repainted every three years! Some even changed into a hotel or bed and breakfast. So if you want a unique overnight stay, you might as well look into that!
- During the Middle Ages, walls were built around the city to defend against potential attackers. In the nineteenth century they were demolished. During some canal boat tours in Amsterdam you can still admire the remains of them.
Whether you’re visiting the Dutch capital during a romantic weekend with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or just staying here during a fun weekend or family outing… The offer of boat trips on the Amsterdam canals is so extensive and varied that there is something for everyone. You’re no longer tied to a single formula and all of the trips are also extremely affordable, so there really is no reason not to admire Amsterdam from the water during your next visit.
Are you following me on Social Media?
Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.