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.
- Amsterdam Canal Cruise — From $ 17
- Amsterdam Canal Luxury Boat Ride — From $ 23
- Amsterdam Canal Night Cruise — From $ 24
- Amsterdam Offer: Canal Cruise and Madame Tussauds Tickets — From $ 43
- Amsterdam Offer: Canal Cruise and Heineken Experience Tickets — From $ 36
- Amsterdam Offer: Canal Cruise and Ice Bar Tickets — From $ 42
- Amsterdam Offer: Canal Cruise and Van Gogh Museum Tickets — From $ 42
1. The most basic option: 1-hour cruises on the canals
This 1-hour cruise is one of the easiest and most economical. In its semi-open, solar-powered boat for up to 70 people, you'll cruise Amsterdam's famous canal belt for an hour while listening to commentary about its history and up to 14 attractions that you'll see comfortably seated and thanks to an audio guide in all languages.
You will see the merchants' houses built during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the district of the Golden Curve and its large stately homes, you will cross the bridges of the city, such as the Magere Brug and pass by places like the house-museum where the young Anne 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.
2. The most romantic option: the night cruises.
Another amazing way to experience an Amsterdam canal cruise is to do it when the city is at rest. This 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 city illuminated at dusk.
You will 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.
3. Cruise with entrance ticket to Madame Tussauds
With this two-hour cruise and entrance to Madame Tussauds you will discover the canals of the city and one of the most fun places in Amsterdam, especially if you go with family and children, the world famous wax museum Madame Tussauds, saving money and time by buying 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, on board 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.
4. Cruise with entrance to the Heineken Experience
This 90-minute Heineken Experience ticketed cruise is specially designed for beer lovers, as it includes food and drinks on board and starts with a quick entrance visit to the interesting Heineken Experience, the museum of the most iconic beer in the Netherlands created in its original brewery, where you will discover the history, evolution and brewing of this drink through an interactive journey and the tasting of two of its beers.
After your visit you will embark on this evening 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 St. Nicholas Church.
5. Cruise with entrance to Amsterdam's Ice Bar
If you have never been in a bar completely made of ice, maybe your visit to Amsterdam is the time to remedy it. With this original cruise with entrance to the Amsterdam Ice Bar, you'll put on thermal clothing and have a welcome drink plus two Smirnoff cocktails or Heineken beers served inice cups!
After this fun tour you will board 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.
6. Cruise with entrance to the Van Gogh Museum
Another way to save on your trip to Amsterdam if you are sure you are going to visit this must-see museum, is to book a cruise with tickets to the Van Gogh Museum. After a one-hour cruise along the canals appreciating the most important monuments, you can delve into the history and work of the famous painter, also skipping the queues to access.
With this option you will save time and money, since you will have a more affordable price by purchasing this combo and you will skip the queues at the doors of the most popular museum in Amsterdam.
7. Cruise with ticket to the Rijksmuseum
A visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is a must on your trip to the city and this makes queues already part of its otherwise spectacular entrance with its ornate facade and neo-Gothic rooftops.
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 the 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.
8. The most authentic experience: classic boat cruises and small group tours
To cruise the city's famous canals in style, what better than a morning or afternoon cruise aboard a classic 20th century boat with narration of the city's history and landmarks by your own 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 grand Rijksmuseum. In addition, you will never travel with more than 12 people, as they are small groups.
9. For those who enjoy the most: longer night cruises with an aperitif or dinner on board
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 a drink 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 the Oosterdok, its eastern docks.
Why it's worth taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam
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 boasts 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 can be seen in its canals, windmills and dykes.
The city's main canals, created in the 17th century to accommodate the growing population in the area, were declared a World Heritage Site in 2010. Three of these canals (the Prinsengracht, Keizersgratch and Herengracht canals) form the ring of the city's most important conduits, 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 cruises that ply its canals. 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 are the House Museum where Anne Frank lived and hid, the Canals Museum, the National Museum Rijksmuseum, the colorful Floating Flower Market and other curious enclaves such as the Bag Museum or the Van Loon family.
Other interesting activities in Amsterdam
If you've fallen in love with the city along its canals, you should consider taking a guided tour around every corner. You can either rent a bike and do it on your own or take a guided tour in a group. In this article I summarize the best ones: 6 Best Amsterdam Tours.