What's the fuss about canal tours in Amsterdam?

All about canal tours in Amsterdam

You want to take a nice canal tour in Amsterdam. But where to start? When it comes to Amsterdam canal cruises, there are countless options. Some excellent, some good, and some… not so good. But how do you know it when you are in town and are overwhelmed by all the boats you see there? And what is all the fuss around the canal tours? Is it really that good? That's why we decided to avoid disappointment give you some tips what you can or can't expect. And of course, how do you choose?

If you visit the Netherlands it’s a must to view Amsterdam from the water. Best way to do that would of course be in a luxurious open boat so you can literally use all your senses to experience the rich culture this magical city has to offer.

 

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Amsterdam Canals

The main canals of Amsterdam

The canals are a very important part of Amsterdam. The three main canals (Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht) were dug during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. They were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010 and there are many monumental buildings alongside these main canals. A lot of events take place in and around these canals

 

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How do I choose the right Canal Tour and how to prepare?

How to go about a canal tour

  • Find the right tour: 

    You want to take a nice canal tour in Amsterdam. But where to start?First you search the internet for the different kinds of tours that are available. Once you’ve chosen the tour you like, you purchase your ticket(s). Some companies have different arrangements to choose from. Find out which one suits you the best.

    Pick the date and time of your choice. There might be more than one pickup location. Check out if there’s a location that is near a place where you have other plans that day or close to your hotel.

  • Be prepared:

    You might want to go alone or with a group of people. When you’ve decided to go with other people, you could combine the tour with a visit to a museum or maybe a restaurant.

    Find out how to get to the pickup location and how long it will take you to get there. You don’t want to be late and literally miss the boat, so make sure you have enough time to get there. Keep in mind that there’s a possibility you miss your bus or train.

  • Dress to chill:

    Dress in layers. The feeling temperature on an open boat can be different from the real temperature due to wind and open spots on the water. When you’re wearing layers, you can always decide to take off a layer. If you take a tour on an open boat in wintertime, you might consider to wear gloves, a scarf, a hat and/or ear muffs.

  • Smokes and dogs:

    Some companies will allow you to smoke on board. Open boats sometimes have that availability. Before you go on the tour, contact the company to find out if you can bring your dog on the boat. It prevents disappointments.

  • Food & drinks:

    Ask the company beforehand if it’s allowed to bring your own food and drinks. Often when they have a menu on the boat, you can’t. If you are on a special diet, you can always ask if there’s a possibility there to make an exception.

  • Answer the nature’s call:

    Make sure you go to the bathroom before you take the tour. Often the boats don’t have a toilet on board or they have a very small ship toilet.

  • Payment:

    It’s easy to purchase your tickets for a boat tour online. Most companies have a website where you can buy your tickets and pay with your credit card or via iDeal. On the day of your tour you might want to bring some cash or your credit card in case you want to order a drink or snack on board

  • Important message:

    You’re totally prepared to go on a canal tour. Now there’s one thing that is utterly important when you take the tour: have fun and relax!

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Sightseeing Amsterdam

What is the best way to discover Amsterdam?

Organized canal tours are very popular among tourists as well as locals. The tours are designed to show you the most important sights of Amsterdam. The history of the city will be shown and explained while cruising through the canals.

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Amsterdam highlights

Discover the Amsterdam's highlights by boat

An Amsterdam canal cruise will enable you to see (among other things) the famous Seven Bridges, the oldest houseboat of Amsterdam, the Old Church, Red Light District, Maritime Museum with a replica of the VOC ship and dancing houses.

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How about boat tours in different seasons?

Canal tours in the summer or winter.

We all know that Holland could be a bit could and rainy, especially during the winter. And how about a canal tour when it is cold? Some boat companies offer their services all throughout the year, and they provide warmed boats with a roof.  But some start their season at the end of March / beginning of April. The latter is mostly the case with open boats. They cruise the canals during the spring and summer, providing a sunny, relaxed atmosphere with a drink and a snack on board.

In wintertime they will participate in the Amsterdam Light Festival(from November till January), so they will lead you through the canals at night when it’s dark. This way you will be able to see this magic event at its best. 

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Amsterdam Events from the water

Big events in Amsterdam

Also big events are being organized, like King’s Day, the Amsterdam Light Festival and Pride Amsterdam. During these days the canals are filled with boats that carry partying people. Music, lights, dance … you will experience all of this while in Amsterdam on one of the event days.

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Sanne Sont Floating Amsterdam

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Belinda Janssen Floating Amsterdam

Top 10 things to do when you in Amsterdam

There’s a never ending selection of things to do in Amsterdam, and when you are just here for the weekend, it is hard to choose what to do. That’s why we’ve made this ‘must see and do’ list that shows highlights of this incredible city. 

This will definitely help you decide which places to visit in Amsterdam, what activities to do and sights to see.

Download our travel guide:

  • To discover the very best highlights in Amsterdam
  • Let us know what you want to see in Amsterdam and download our travel guide
  • Enjoy Amsterdam!