Amsterdam boat tours

Top 7 reasons to take an Amsterdam canal cruise

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Yes, going on a canal cruise in Amsterdam is something that all the tourists do, but it’s for a very good reason—or several of them.

Travelling on the canals of Amsterdam plunges you right into the heart of the city’s history, allowing you to soak in the impressive 17th-century architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site from the perfect vantage point. Over three million people visit the Amsterdam canals each year, and canal cruise company Blue Boat lists seven reasons why you should be one of them.

1. It's the easiest way to see most of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a true international city with lots to do and see, but also lots of people, which is why one of the best ways to see Amsterdam is on the water. On an Amsterdam canal cruise, visitors get to sit down, relax and absorb their surroundings without worrying about the crowds and traffic—and not just the cars, but the trams and, of course, nearly one million bicycles. They don’t have to elbow their way through a crowd, wait for a tram to pass, or dodge impossibly fast cyclists to marvel at the sights and get that all-important photo.

2. See Amsterdam in all weather.

The Netherlands has its fair share of rainy days—all those tulips do need water, after all—but that doesn’t mean a chance of rain will ruin a day out in Amsterdam. Many canal cruises in Amsterdam feature covered boats, allowing you to shield yourself from the rain while still taking in the city. And with dinner and lunch cruises, you can spend a whole afternoon or evening enjoying the sights, even in a downpour.

Canal tour

3. You'll miss some must-see sights if you don't get on the water.

Some of the sights are viewable best while on an Amsterdam canal cruise: Seven Bridges, for example, one of the most famous stops along a canal tour, is a series of seven canal bridges that line up perfectly, creating a stunning tunnel right on the water. There is also a seldom-seen Dutch phrase affixed to the wall under the bridge over the IJ River that proclaims, “Returning is not the same as staying.” These hidden secrets are perfect photo opportunities, ones that would be missed if it weren’t for the canal cruises.

4. Learn more about the local flair.

For every canal cruise, there are dozens of experienced boat captains and tour guides, either born-and-raised Amsterdammers or expats that have discovered the city on their own. Both groups know all there is to know about Amsterdam, having sailed through the canals thousands of times; they’ll point out their favourite bars, restaurants and things to see. Not only will all your questions be answered, you’ll get the inside scoop on some of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets.

The canals are also still a “local” place—although there are tourists, you’ll still see plenty of locals living the typical Amsterdam life while you sail gently by.

5. You get the most out of your limited time.

Many visitors to Amsterdam have limited time—and because the city has so much to do, it can be difficult to pack it all in. Most cruises last between one to two hours, during which guests see more than what they could have most likely done in a day on foot.

6. The photo opportunities can’t be beat.

From the canals, you have the perfect vantage point to take those snapshots of the towering gabled buildings and world-famous houseboats, as well as a few selfies: a photo of a romantic kiss under the illuminated Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), which grants eternal love according to local legend, is a perfect memento of a trip to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam tours photo

7. With the right canal cruise, you can enjoy more than a tour.

While there are plenty of cruises that offer just a guided tour through the canals, there are a few Amsterdam boat tours that specialise in providing more of an experience. Some canal cruises offer “hop on, hop off” availability, so you can simply exit the cruise when you’d like—providing not only the sightseeing tour but transportation to your next destination—while others offer leisure lovers a longer, more relaxed outing.

Lunch and dinner cruises in Amsterdam allow you to see the sights while enjoying a meal with your companions, and there are plenty of options: the Pancake Boat provides a family-friendly experience complete with delicious Dutch pancakes, while adults will enjoy the Eating Amsterdam Food Tour, which combines a canal trip, a walk through the lively Jordaan neighbourhood and a full day of nibbling on Dutch snacks.

In addition to cruises paired with cuisine, there are canal cruises that cater to specific interests: history enthusiasts and art lovers can feel at home on Blue Boat’s Rijksmuseum cruise, while architecture enthusiasts will find specialty design tours a highlight of a trip to Amsterdam.

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is certainly one of those “touristy” things to do while in the city, but the variety of cruises—and the experiences they offer—make it a worthwhile trip for visitors and locals alike.



Blue Boat / Expatica


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