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Amsterdam Canal Cruises

Amsterdam is famous for its canals and sailing through them and even enjoying an aperitif or dinner on board will be an unforgettable experience. I tell you about about a few hand-picked options

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

6 min read

Amsterdam Canal Cruises

Amsterdam canal cruise | @DennisM2

Amsterdam is a charming city dotted with bridges full of bicycles that cross its 165 canals on which the Dutch capital rises. Touring them by boat is a must-do experience on your trip.

1. The most basic option: 1-hour cruises through the canals

Canals at sunset
Canals at sunset

This 1-hour cruise is one of the simplest and most economical. In its semi-open, solar-powered semi-open boat for up to 70 people, you will cruise Amsterdam's famous canal belt for an hour while listening to commentary on its history and up to 14 attractions that you will see comfortably seated and thanks to an audio guide in all languages.

You will see the merchants' houses built during the 16th and 17th centuries, the district of the Golden Curve and its great manor houses, you will cross the bridges of the city, such as the Magere Brug and you will pass by places like the house-museum where the young Ana Frank lived and hid, the wonderful Van Gogh Museum or the most important art gallery of Amsterdam and the country with an impressive facade: the Rijksmuseum.

Itinerary

  • Red Light District
  • The Amstel
  • Magere Brug
  • Munt Tower (Munttoren)
  • Singel
  • Hermitage Amsterdam
  • Lovers Canal Cruises
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Anne Frank House
  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Heineken Experience
  • Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam
  • Moco Museum

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2. The most romantic option: night cruises

Amsterdam canals at night | ©Jorge Láscar
Amsterdam canals at night | ©Jorge Láscar

Another amazing way to experience an Amsterdam canal cruise is to do it when the city is at rest. This Amsterdam night cruise is also super economical and very similar in operation to the previous ones, but with it, you will discover another facet of this beautiful and dynamic illuminated city at dusk.

You'll cruise the city's canals with its houses, bridges and neighborhoods reflected in the waters at dusk, with its lively waterfront bars and cafes and passing around up to 10 attractions, such as the impressive Gothic building of Amsterdam's main train station, Centraal Station, the Anne Frank House or the Heineken beer museum, with audio commentary on board available in up to 19 languages.

Itinerary

  • Lovers Canal Cruises
  • Anne Frank House
  • Magere Brug
  • Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam
  • Centraal Station
  • Heineken Experience
  • Amsterdam Canal Ring
  • Westerkerk
  • Het Scheepvaartmuseum| The National Maritime Museum
  • A'dam Lookout
  • Rijksmuseum

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3. The most authentic experience: classic ship cruises and small group

Amsterdam canal view from inside the cruise ship | ©Lyn Gateley
Amsterdam canal view from inside the cruise ship | ©Lyn Gateley

To cruise the city's famous canals in style, what better than to take a morning or afternoon cruise aboard a classic 20th-century boat with a narration of the city's history and monuments by your captain.

In addition, you will enjoy coffee and tea on board or the possibility to buy a soft drink, a beer, or a glass of wine while admiring the canalside attractions, such as the Anne Frank House, the impressive Amsterdam Opera House, and the impressive facade of the great Rijksmuseum. Plus, you'll never travel with more than 12 people, as these are small groups.

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4. The most enjoyable: longer night cruises and with aperitif or dinner on board

Night cruise along the canals
Night cruise along the canals

You can simply cruise the canals of Amsterdam or you can make the experience truly unique by relaxing for almost two hours aboard a night cruise with a delicious tasting of authentic Dutch cheese and local charcuterie, including drinks and a special welcome with a glass of prosecco.

This exclusive evening cruise travels through the city center along the Golden Bend area, a stretch of majestic mansions, and the Herengracht, Amstel, and Oudezijds canals to Oosterdok, its eastern docks.

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5. The best value option: cruises with tickets to different attractions in Amsterdam

Madame Tussauds Amsterdam | ©bertknot
Madame Tussauds Amsterdam | ©bertknot

Amsterdam has a lot to offer and if you are thinking about entering one of its amazing museums or visiting iconic places like its ice bar or its Heineken Experience, you will have the opportunity to combine your cruise with one of these activities. With these options, you will save time and money, since you will have a more affordable price by purchasing one of these bundles and you will save the queues at the gates of museums and attractions. Here are the most popular ones:

With admission to the Heineken Experience

This 90-minute evening cruise and entrance to the Heineken Experience is specially designed for beer lovers as it includes food and drinks onboard and starts with a quick entrance visit to the interesting Heineken Experience, the museum of the most iconic beer of the Netherlands created in its original brewery and where you will discover the history, evolution, and elaboration of this drink through an interactive journey and the tasting of two of its beers.

After your visit, you will embark on this night cruise and enjoy a dinner of delicious pizza, with 6 different types to choose from, and even a Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dessert, while listening to the interesting commentary on board about the city and historical monuments such as the Magere Brug Bridge, the Royal Palace and the Church of St. Nicholas.

With entrance to Madame Tussauds

With this two-hour cruise and admission to Madame Tussauds you will discover the city's canals and one of the most fun places in Amsterdam, especially if you are with your family and children, the world-famous wax museum Madame Tussauds, saving money and time by purchasing both experiences together with fast-track access.

You will start your adventure by visiting the hyper-realistic wax museum, a replica of its London counterpart, where you can see face to face hundreds of the most famous characters from the history of cinema, music, politics, monarchy, show business... Then, onboard the cruise, you will enjoy the houses, bridges, churches, and cobbled streets of the seventeenth century on its route through the main canals of the city with explanations through an audio guide.

With entrance ticket to the Rijksmuseum

The visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is indispensable on your trip to the city and this makes queues already part of its otherwise spectacular entrance with its ornate facade and neo-Gothic roofs.

With this cruise with entrance to the Rijksmuseum you can start your experience by skipping all the queues and saving money on the 2-hour visit to what is considered the best museum in Holland and National Museum with the largest collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and then tour the picturesque canals of the city with audio commentary on board about its history and main landmarks.

With entrance to the Amsterdam Ice Bar

If you've never been to a bar made entirely of ice, perhaps your visit to Amsterdam is the time to change that. With this original cruise with entrance to the Amsterdam Ice Bar you'll wear thermal clothing and have a welcome drink plus two Smirnoff cocktails or Heineken beers served in ice cups!

After this fun tour, you will take a luxurious glass-roofed boat to start your canal cruise and see Amsterdam's main attractions, such as the Anne Frank House and the Magere Brug.

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Why it's worth taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam

Flower Market | ©Laura
Flower Market | ©Laura

The nickname by which Amsterdam is known, The Venice of the North, is fully justified. What's more, the Italian city has fewer than 500 bridges, while the Dutch capital has a total of 1,281 bridges. One-third of the territory of the Netherlands lies below or at sea level, so this country has a special relationship with water, which we see in its canals, windmills, and dykes.

The main canals of the city, created in the seventeenth-century to accommodate the growing population in the area, were declared a World Heritage Site in 2010. Three of these canals (the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht canals) form the ring of the city's most important canals, called the Grachtengordel. The Herengracht is the smallest in area, but the most picturesque, with some of the most striking mansions in the city.

You don't get to know Amsterdam until you take one of the canal cruises. It is a relaxing activity, with which you discover another face of this friendly city and learn about its history and some of its points of interest. Among the most relevant is the House Museum where she lived and hid Ana Frank, the Canals Museum, the National Museum Rijksmuseum, the colorful Floating Flower Market, and other unique enclaves such as the Bag Museum or the Van Loon family.

Other interesting activities in Amsterdam

If along its canals you have fallen in love with the city, you should consider taking a guided tour to visit each of its corners. You can either rent a bike and do it on your own or take a guided tour in a group. In this article I tell you about the best ones: Amsterdam Tours.