You know the warm and fuzzy feeling you have when you are totally at ease? That’s what being in Amsterdam will give you- a sense of conviviality, or what the locals call Gezellig. This open-heartedness of the Dutch Capital attracts more than five million tourists every year. Nicknamed the Venice of the North, the unparalleled beauty of this ancient canal city originates from the rich cultural and artistic history that flows along its intricate network of canals and bridges. No trip to the Dutch capital is complete without experiencing an Amsterdam Canal Cruise and in this article we will walk you through all you need to know before you select a canal cruise.
What makes an Amsterdam Canal Cruise special?
The origin of present-day Amsterdam can be traced back to the 12th Century. It was then known as Aemstelredamme, a ‘dam in river Amstel’ which was built across the saltwater inlet called IJ by the fisher folk who lived along the river banks. Records suggest that it was in the early 1300’s that the canal city’s name evolved from Amstelland to Amsterdam. At the turn of the 17th Century, Amsterdam entered the Golden Age. With the maritime success at its peak, and trade and business flourishing, the city saw an unprecedented urban expansion during this time.
The concentric semi-circular canal ring that was built in the 17th Century includes Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan. The canal ring was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. The complete loop of canals in Amsterdam is made up of 165 canals with a combined length of over 100 kilometers. These 400 years-old canal networks connect every part of Amsterdam with the help of more than 1700 bridges. One of the best ways to experience the historical marvel that is Amsterdam is by cruising through the city’s waterways. In this article, we will tell you all that you need to know about choosing the perfect cruise option.
How to pick the best Amsterdam Canal Cruise?
If you are headed to Amsterdam, and want to explore the city in its entirety, getting on a canal cruise would be your best bet. However, remember to consider some of the following factors before making a booking.
1. Location and Route: Most of the cruises start from Stadhouderskade 501, Amsterdam. If you are planning multiple cruise experiences, it may be a good idea to book an accommodation near the pier. What may also influence your choice of cruise is the route you wish to sail through. The canals are lined by examples of great architecture and the buildings with a forward tilt are a sight to behold.
2. Time of Day: The various cruise operators in the city offer customized canal cruise experiences throughout the day. In a day time cruise you can witness the architectural beauty of Amsterdam in great detail. For those looking to be dazzled by the night lamps and their captivating reflections in the flowing water channels, some time on the more soothing and romantic night-time cruise will be perfect.
3. Activities: Amsterdam’s canal cruises have something to suit every mood- from casual evenings with pizzas and burgers, to relaxing sails with cocktails and candle-lit dinners. If you are travelling with your young ones, you can opt for the canal cruise that have exclusive routines for children. All in all, the selection of experiences available on-board different canal cruises in Amsterdam is a promise of making memories worth remembering.
4. Combos: A visit to Amsterdam promises a lot of fun with a healthy dose of history. You can combine the two elements by opting for a combo that will take you around the city on a canal cruise. You will also have priority access to some of the city’s landmark museums and art galleries.
5. Other Factors: If you are big on experiencing the local culture, go over Amsterdam's festival calendar before planning a trip. One of the highlights is the Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival). It is a ten-day classical music festival that is held in the month of August and witnesses a jam-packed audience in the canals.
Where do I purchase tickets for a canal cruise in Amsterdam?
We know how daunting it can be to plan the perfect trip. To help you plan, we have here a list of the best and most preferred Amsterdam Canal Cruise experiences.
Evening Canal Cruise
Amsterdam has a dreamlike quality to it which enhances as the sun starts to set and the ancient streets and waterways are illuminated by ornate lamps and the moonlight. You can be part of a magical evening by booking a place on one of the evening canal cruises.
In the 90 minutes you spend on this cruise, you will pass through the most famous landmarks of Amsterdam. The multi-lingual audio guide will tell you all about the city and its many structures. What’s more is that this cruise also sails through the red-light district of Amsterdam, an area where no day time cruise will take you. All this, while you enjoy a drink onboard.
• 90-minute cruise on the famous canals of Amsterdam under the starry sky.
• A drink per person on board the cruise (choice of Heineken, house wine, and soft drinks)
• Cruise through the red light district, a location where no day cruises take you to.
• Personal audio guide in 17 different languages.
Amsterdam City Sightseeing Canal Cruise
The Dutch capital is known for its many structures with ornate baroque façade. This cruise will take you back in history as you pass though as many as 1550 monumental buildings in the 75 minutes you spend onboard. The audio guide will fill you in on the history of the city and landmarks like the Golden Bend, Overhoeks and Music Building. This will be your chance to witness the city's progression from the 17th to 21st Century.
What sets this cruise apart is the treat it offers to its young passengers. Children onboard the cruise can listen to stories on their audio sets. The interactive experience includes everything from mission booklets to eye-patches.
• 75-minute cruise down the Amsterdam canals a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Audio commentary in 21 languages.
• Witness up to 1550 monumental buildings and edifices and take in the rich baroque works along the banks.
• Special kids cruise with the children's ticket.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Canal Cruise
The best way to see the sights in a city is to do it at your own pace. he Hop-on-hop-off Canal Cruise allows you that flexibility. You can buy a ticket that is valid for 24 hours or 48 hours. It gives you unlimited access to the sightseeing boats in the city. You can board these GPS and WiFi enabled cruises from 10 different stops in Amsterdam.
There are two routes defined for these cruises and the stops on both the green and blue line are different. You might want to check the timings of the cruise along with the stops you want to explore on a certain day.
• Choose either a 24h/48h hop-on hop-off boat ticket.
• Unlimited access to the sightseeing boats in Amsterdam.
• 10 Hop-on Hop-off stops allowing you complete maneuverability within the city.
• Onboard GPS guide and Wifi.
Open Boat Canal Cruise
A small boat with few people and a jovial captain- the Open Boat Canal Cruise is ideal for anyone looking for a relaxed ride through Amsterdam’s canals. As you lounge on the open-air cruise, the captain will tell you all about the historic structures that line the city. With nothing obstructing your view, this 75-minute cruise will give you ample opportunities to click the perfect photographs.
Since the boat is smaller than other cruises, the captain will steer you to secret alcove. This is perfect for those looking to enjoy the confluence of history and modernity in the charming city.
• Open-top boat allowing you to feel more immersed and involved in the cruise.
• Small group size leading to a more intimate setting.
• Live personal commentary from the captain.
Special 4-Course Dinner Cruise
This cruise promises two and a half hours of pure bliss. From delicious food to a round at the famous Holland Casino, being on this cruise would be the perfect getaway you have been looking for. The enchanting experience of dining through four courses of gourmet dinner with Amsterdam’s mesmerizing cityscape on either side can't be put into words. The luxurious boat cruises through the canal rings that make up for a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The highlight of this romantic experience would also be the free access to the Holland Casino that you can enjoy after the cruise docks.
• Unique dining experience aboard a cruise.
• Welcome drink and an amuse bouche.
• Cruise through the beautiful canals of Amsterdam on this luxurious boat as you enjoy a 4-course meal.
• Free entry at the Holland Casino at the end of the cruise.
City Canal Cruise + Rijksmuseum + Van Gogh Museum Combo
The Dutch Golden Age characterises the present-day Amsterdam. The museums like the Rijksmuseum are home to the many artefacts and stories that are a testimony of the prosperity that envelopes the canal city.
Amsterdam is also known for its art enthusiasm. A visit to the Van Gogh Museum will give you a glimpse into the famous artist's unparalleled imagination. This museum houses the largest collection of his work.
With priority access to both of these must-visit museums, you will get an insight into the past and present of Amsterdam. Enjoy the experience as you relax onboard and float through the many canals lined by centuries old buildings.
• Relaxing cruise along Amsterdam's canals.
• Rijksmuseum entry tickets with skip the line access.
• Van Gogh Museum entry tickets with skip the line access.
Dutch Wine and Cheese Cruise
Europe is known for its vineyards and delicious cheese. The Dutch Wine and Cheese Cruise offers an experience to take in this culture and an unlimited supply of Holland’s brand of wine, beer and soft drinks, with platters of cheese and charcuterie for you to enjoy.
The spectacular sights that will decorate your window will seem more magical and a little less mysterious as a multi-lingual guide will take you through the history of the elaborate network of bridges and buildings. We promise that you will be transported to a dreamland as you take in the glittering night-time beauty of Amsterdam and its canal districts.
• A candlelight cruise that takes you through Amsterdam’s legendary network of canals.
• Unlimited drinks onboard your cruise. Wine, beer, and soft drinks are available.
• Enjoy a special selection of Dutch cheeses and charcuterie.
• Live guide on board providing insights about the sights.
You can discover many more enchanting Amsterdam Canal Cruise deals at Headout and make your Amsterdam holiday one to remember.
What do you need to know before going on a canal cruise?
Here are some handy tips that may help you make the most of our time in Amsterdam, if you are planning a canal cruise:
Book a place in advance
Amsterdam is much loved among tourists. And it may be possible that there are thousands of others flocking to get on a canal cruise right when you are there. To ensure that you have the best experience here, pre- book your seats on the cruise of your choice.
Consider Cruise and skip the line combos
A visit to Amsterdam can be complete only when you visit at least the most famous of its museums. But the popularity of these art havens mean that the ticket counters are always flooded with people waiting in line. You can book a canal cruise combo in advance to gain priority access to museums like Rijksmuseum, and landmarks like Anne Frank’s house.
If you have the time, go for Hop-on-hop-off canal cruise
For those who like to travel at their own pace, the Hop-on-hop-off cruise would be the perfect choice. It gives you the flexibility of roaming about at your own pace. The ticket costs are quite reasonable for such an experience.
Make use of the audio guides
Most of the canal cruises are equipped with multi-lingual audio guides. These come in handy when you want to understand the sights and their history. It is a good idea to make use of this resource to experience Amsterdam and the city’s journey to what it is today.
We hope that this guide on Amsterdam’s Canal Cruises will help you plan the perfect holiday. Have a Gezellig time in the Dutch capital!