Amsterdam is nicknamed “The Venice of the North”, and it’s easy to see why! There are more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) or canals in Amsterdam, featuring more than 65 individual canals, over 1200 bridges and almost 90 islands!
Amsterdam’s Grachtengordel (inner canal ring) is made up of its three most historic canals, the Singel, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Prinsengracht. These 3 canals are more than 3 centuries old and are lined by stately buildings from the same period.
The point is, if you are visiting Amsterdam, you can’t miss the canals. We mean you literally can’t miss them – you’re going to be crisscrossing them all day. But actually, getting out on the canals, taking one of the many cruise services that are on offer is a great way to see the city from a new perspective.
Interestingly enough there is a good argument that understanding the city from the canal presents it in a whole new way – it is also undoubtedly the best way to get a great scenic picture of your visit. Canal cruises come in several different styles, from luxurious Amsterdam Gentleman’s Boat cruises to the more atypical Canal Highlight’s Cruise.
We’ve chosen a few of our favourites canal cruises to give you a feel for what’s on offer:
• Amsterdam Canal Highlight Cruise.
• Amsterdam Gentleman’s Boat Cruise.
• Amsterdam Hop on Hop Off Cruise.
• Amsterdam Party Boat.
Amsterdam Highlight Cruise
A great way to kick off your visit to the city, these comfy boats offer comprehensive tours of the Grachtengordel and feature onboard guides or audio that will give you loads of interesting information about Amsterdam and its history. Many of these boats also offer free wifi, so if something you pass interests you can look it up on the move!
Amsterdam Gentleman’s Boat Cruise
The Amsterdam Gentleman’s Boat is the ultimate act of male pampering. This is something of a favourite with my friends and me – we tried on a reasonably ill-fated stag do back in 2014, and since then it’s become a part of our occasional Amsterdam excursions. The Gentleman’s Boat Cruise lasts about an hour and a half.
While on board you enjoy several glasses of legitimately good whiskey and a fine cigar, if you’re so disposed, while the skipper tells canal stories.
These tend to be of the “things aren’t like the used to be” brand that men of a certain age find mysteriously invigorating. If you want to take an afternoon in the club out onto the water, this is ideal.
Amsterdam Hop on Hop Off Cruise.
This is an excellent if expensive service. These canal boats continuously travel around the central canal ring so that you can get on and off at your leisure.
Tickets are a little dear, but last a full 24 hours, meaning that instead of risking life and limb in the cycle lanes or cramming into rush hour trams you can cruise the canals from destination to destination. With more than 15 pickups and drop off points, this is a really unique answer to the age-old problem of holiday travel.
Amsterdam Party Boat
The student’s friend. The Amsterdam boat party is a great way to kick off a night out in Amsterdam. These boats tend to go up and down the Amstel river, through the centre of the city, because the noise restrictions are lax there, meaning they can play music.
Also, they often feature open bars, so it’s a great way to start an evening out in the city. These cruises are often pretty flexible, so it should be easy to talk the skipper into dropping you off near a club or bar you like the look of.