Canal cruise is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attraction – and with good reason! If you’re visiting for the first time, it’s an excellent introduction to the city’s many sights. There are a number of departure points throughout the city and the tours are available in a multitude of languages.
We started our canal cruise from Rijksmuseum with Canal Company that operates a hop-on, hop-off "canal bus" and we departure near the Central Station. The canal cruise was certainly a highlight and a great way to see the various sights of this charming European city. I highly recommend this. Whether you’re a first-time or frequent visitor, everything in Amsterdam seems a bit more magical when viewed from a boat.
The history of Amsterdam is intimately connected with water. Its 165 canals were created over the centuries to stimulate trade and transport and reclaim land to expand the city. They continue define the city’s landscape and in 2010 Amsterdam's canal ring was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The first pleasure cruise in the history of the Amsterdam canals took place in 1621 when Queen Elisabeth Stuart of Bohemia was welcomed into the city in a parade of festively decorated admiralty sloops, with thousands of Amsterdammers cheering on bridges and canal-sides. Treating royals and other VIP's to a cruise on the canals became a tradition that lives on till today. From Winston Crurchill to the Beatles and Nelson Mandela, almost all the famous guests have made their acquaintance with the city from the deck of a canal cruise boat. No longer exclusive Royal privilege, canal cruises in Amsterdam are now the most popular tourist attraction in the country, with over 3 million passengers a year. For good reason, the city was built to be seen from that perspective.
Did you know that…
… the canal cruise is Holland's largest touristic attraction, with over 3 million visitors every year?
… there are 170 boats in Amsterdam to take all those people on a cruise?
… there are more than a thousand people that work in the canal cruises?
… 60 people on a canal boat produce a lot less CO2 than the same number of persons in coaches, taxi's or cars?
Today, a diverse fleet of about 200 specialized vessels offer a waterborne variety of almost every form of service and entertainment that's available on shore. In 2014, almost a quarter of all canal cruise boats are electrically powered. Clean and silent, these boats are ideal for tourists who want to record their cruise on video. No engine noise or tremble will pollute their recordings. Amsterdam’s many canal cruise operators generally offer a consistent level of quality and customer service. An ideal transport along the canals during the day, passing all the highlights of Amsterdam, is the Canal Bus. You can hop on and hop off at the many stops whenever you wish and create your own sightseeing tour in Amsterdam.
Insider Tip: For the least crowded boats, try for a mid-afternoon cruise. That said, in the busy summer months, canal cruises will be packed at any hour, so buy your ticket in advance and arrive as early as possible to snag a good seat.
The number of canals have led Amsterdam to become known as “The Venice of the North”. A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without a boat cruise on these well known attractions in Amsterdam. A canal tour can be both fascinating and relaxing by day and enchanting and romantic at night when many of the houses and bridges are illuminated.
Without a doubt, floating down the canals is a breathtaking way to experience Amsterdam. Start planning your next adventure on the water in Amsterdam.