This might be the only city in the world that is better seen from the water. Because of this fact no visit is complete without a canal tour. This is the only tourist attraction that is popular with both locals and tourists, old and young folks alike.
From Winston Crurchill to the Beatles and Nelson Mandela, almost all famous guests have made their acquaintance with the city from the deck of a canal cruise boat.
The advance booking is not necessary, indeed, if you have an I Amsterdam Card you get a free canal tour in front of Central Station, at Rederij Noord-Zuid (the blue boat company.) Their boats leave at every 30 minute, and with its duration of 75 minutes, this is the longest cruise. A computerized audio system acts as the guide, using four languages (English is of course one).
If a window seat is important to you, do not board a boat in which none are available. On most rides tips are solicited, but do not feel obligated to contribute.
The tour takes in Central Station, the Golden Bend of the Herengracht, the Harlemmersluis floodgates which are used nightly to flush the canals, many picturesque bridges, including the Bridge of 15 bridges at the crossing of the Reguliersgracht with the Herengracht, the famous Skinny Bridge over the Amstel, and the harbor. The boat trips are at their best when the sun is shining, there are a few seats outside in the back of the boat, where also smoking is allowed.
Do not forget to get a guide book in order to check immediately all what you have seen.
Without the card the 75 minutes tour costs 9.50€ for adults, 5.50€ for children (5 to 12 yrs) and 65+. Children under 4 are free.
Summer season (April-September):
Every half hour, daily from 10.00am - 6.00pm, and at 7.00pm
Winter season (October- March):
Every hour, daily from 10.00am - 5.00pm
It is a little bit tourist, but yet it is a good way to see a part of Amsterdam. They’re several tours: one-hour cruise, architecture cruise, night cruise, jazz cruise, red light district cruise. I found the museum boat very comfortable, especially a –very- rainy day. The museum boat starts opposite the central train station, and has seven stops near the major museums, such as the Rijks museum and Anne Frank’s house. The ticket costs 14.25 euro, gives a discount to some museums and it allows you to embark and disembark at any one of the six stops from 9:55am till 7:00pm.
It happened that the Bleu Boats cruises were at moorings in front of my hotel near the Leidseplein.
From a cruise years ago I remember that as these boats are low on water, so that they can pass under the bridges, the view on the houses along the canals is not best. The first thing one sees are the walls of the quays and the cars parked on these quays. You have to stand and strain your neck to see something of the city especially on the smaller canals called "grachten".
You will see more of the city by walking along the canals. But I admit that when it rains the boat is more comfortable.
The dinner cruise of 2 1/2 hour is priced at 67,50 € per person for a 4 course meal with drinks included.
I cannot tell you if the announced "culinary highlights" are really highlights or not.
In the evening I used to drink a beer at the terrace on the Singel Gracht and it seemed that the best way of cruising on the Amsterdam canals was to get some friends having their own boat.
A pleasant hour on a canal boat and only a few Euros.
They run very frequently, so no need to book – I was told before I went to Amsterdam that this was a ‘must do’ – so I duly did as I was told. It was nice, not spectacular, just nice.
The multi-lingual recorded guided tour was useful – if anything, the boat ride was a welcome rest for the feet! A lot of the boat trips leave from Damrak – easy to find too!
Watch out though - they snap your pic as you embark, all processed and on public display by the time you return, but no obligation to buy!!
The canal boat tours are many people's idea of hell - but I love them!
We bought a ticket for the Canal bus, which we were able to use for a day and a half for around 15 euros. We could stay on as long as we wanted, or use it as a (fairly slow) way of getting around the city. It was great to give our feet a rest and just sit back and let the city come to us - it also provided us with some shelter when the rains came, without restricting our sightseeing. The commentary is reasonably informative, but if you want a lot of detail about the city, take a guide book or go on a specialised walking tour.
We realised too late that we could have bought a 'multi' ticket for 22 euros, which would have included a discounted admission to the Van Gogh museum - we'll remember this next time!
The other advantage of a canal tour is that you get a different perspective than from the street. Here, seven bridges are aligned, which wouldn't be obvious from above.
This is a lovely way to see the city and give your feet a bit of a rest! There are lots of places to board the boat tours and we took ours from the Rijksmuseum. It was 13E each and well worth it. The guide spoke English and German.
Did you know that Amsterdam has 165 canals, 1281 bridges, 70 canal cruise boats, 8 wooden drawbridges, 2500 houseboats and 120 water bikes? A canal cruise is a must to explore and discover Amsterdam.
I feel the day tours are more interesting than the night ones, as there is more to see in the daytime. At least when i went on the night tour, the monuments, buildings were not highlighted, so couldn't see much. Turned out to be like a boat ride anywhere in the world. Day ones are special!
This is what the tour operators have to say (though i was not lucky enough to experience the night sights):
The canals are one of the major attractions of Amsterdam, also called 'Venice of the North.’ By daytime the canals are charming, by night they become even more enchanting because many canal houses and bridges are beautifully illuminated. The four main canals in the canal belt are Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal), Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) and Singel. For a refreshingly different view of Amsterdam, try a canal boat tour. You'll notice numerous tour operators near Central Station and along the Damrak and Rokin downtown.
Of course Amsterdam must be visited on its canals, by boat tours. I suggest you to start the trip with one such boat tour, to see the main canals and hear the captain's comments about Amsterdam, then a walk on the other canals that the boat did not visit, and in the last day in Amsterdam, a last cruise with the boat, to review the sights you've already visited.
The company that I can reccomend to you is Rederij Noord-Ziud, with its long blue boats. I think these are the longest boats in Amsterdam and it stresses the most of the captains and are like the top lenght allowed by the canals sharp (90 degree) bends.
I can tell you the driving this kind of boats is pretty difficult .. you will see that the canals are very narrow and the stone bridges very low .. you'll have to watch your head .. and watch the captain master the art of turning the boat at "intersections". He makes use of a tiny camera on the back of the ship .. to watch the boat's tail .. so he will be gratefull to tourist not to stay in the camera's way :)
I liked Rederij's boats because they have tables inside, it has a nice interior (see picture), allowing you to open or close windows, as well as a small open portion at the tail, where you can feel the wind and smell the water when going off on the Amstel, behind the Centraal Station, heading to the North Sea (for a little bit).
I have done canal trips 4 times & enjoyed it everytime
The best company to go with is canal company they have 3 lines Red, Blue & Green
They stop at various sights like Leidseplein, Prisengracht, Amsterdam centraal allowing yu to hop on & off.
Travel for the whole day is euro 16, this allows you various entrance discounts into museums etc.
Otherwise we went with the company Plas they did not go via Anne Frank's house & lasted an hour for Euro 6.50 or other companies leaving from Centraal & DamRak can charge Euro 7
Canal Cruises in Amsterdam are the most popular tourist attraction in the country, with over 3 million passengers a year. A fleet of about 200 specialized vessels offer a variety of services and entertainment - Lunch Cruises - Dinner Cruises - Music Cruise - Theatre Cruise.
An enjoyable and relaxed way of getting around the canals and seeing Amsterdam's top sights like Van Gogh Museum Rijksmuseum and Ann Frank Hous, is to take a CANAL BOAT TOUR.
CANAL-BUS offers 4 routes, with 20 stops. The 24-hour ticket allows to Hop on and off as often as you wish, as does the HOP ON - HOP OFF Canal Cruise.
Almost 20% of all Canal Cruise Boats are now electrically powered. Clean and silent - No engine noise - No gas fumes.
I will also reccoment to you as a very pleasant, romantic experience, to take the Evening Cruise of the Rederij Noord-Zuid boat company.
An cruise after the fall of the sun, when the lights of Amsterdam are on, is totaly different. All the bridges are illuminated and if you take the dinner on board the nice ship cruise makes a perfect evening.
Another big highlight of our visit was taking a canal boat tour. After all the hustle and bustle of walking (and trying not to get run down by people, bikes, or trams), this was a wonderfully leisure and comfortable way to see Amsterdam and take pictures. These boats are totally enclosed during cold weather, and heated. Seating is comfy, with tables, and large windows on the sides that can be opened for photography along with glass panels on the tops make it easy to really take in the sights from a unique perspective.
The boat captains really know their stuff, and it's cool to watch how they turn these suckers when changing canal directions. It's also neat to see all the houseboats that people live on moored along the canals, complete with electricity, running water, and city sewerage connections.
There are numerous companies and locations for taking a tour, with some being at the Central Station tourist information office area and just down the Damrak (street leading to Dam Square) from there. Also some down the street from the Rijksmuseum, turn right immediately when exiting it and you'll find them. A fair walk for these from the museum, but not too bad, and when we were there a lot of street construction going on in the area. The third or fourth one you come to is one that's free if you have the 72-hour Amsterdam Pass card, but be sure to also have the Pass booklet; it may be needed for verification.
There's also a Museum Boat that makes 6 or 7 stops in the main museum areas, but be forewarned: If you don't time your museum exit with the return of the canal boat, you'll be waiting a long time for it to come back around!