5 of Amsterdam’s best canal cruises to float the day away

All aboard ⚓️

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is an ideal way to see the city from a new perspective — and these five cruises really make it worth it.

Feeling light and breezy as you drift past actual traffic from your cosy canal view of beautiful Amsterdam is pretty much Dutchness defined.

Ready to hop aboard? Your Amsterdam canal cruise is waiting for you. 👩‍✈️

Is an Amsterdam canal cruise worth it?

Is it worth taking a traditional boat ride on the canals of beautiful Amsterdam? One thing we can say for sure: the city looks different from the water.

photo-of-amsterdam-canal-tourist-boat-near-bridge-with-canal-houses-in-background
Seeing the sights from the water just hits different. Image: Freepik

While you might dismiss these boats as a tourist activity — well, that’s technically true but it’s for a great reason.

Amsterdam is famous for its canals, and while you can view them from ashore, a gentle boat ride is an ideal way to scope out the majestic canal houses, iconic locals riding bikes, and beautiful urban nature lining the streets.


5 best Amsterdam canal cruises

Of course, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you want to choose the best canal cruise Amsterdam, consider the following five cruises.


1. Pancake Cruise Amsterdam

A pancake canal cruise in Amsterdam is a real treat for families and those who love sweet and savoury delights.

This family-friendly cruise combines the joy of sightseeing with the indulgence of freshly made Dutch pancakes. These fluffy pancakes are a beloved local delicacy you can enjoy as you glide through Amsterdam’s waterways.

dutch-style-pancakes-with-orange-slices-and-cream-on-white-plates-with-a-fork-against-white-tablecloth
The Dutch do pancakes RIGHT. Image: Unsplash

The cruise route offers panoramic city views, including charming bridges and historic buildings.

Perfect for breakfast or lunch, this cruise ensures a fun-filled and delicious experience that will leave both adults and children with delightful memories of Amsterdam’s canals and their mouthwatering pancakes.


2. Wine & Cheese Cruise in Amsterdam

For those with a penchant for fine wines and gourmet cheeses, a wine and cheese cruise in Amsterdam offers an unforgettable evening of indulgence.

This cruise delights guests with a carefully curated selection of premium wines paired with an assortment of delectable cheeses.

Rose-wine-fruits-and snacks-on-the-wooden-pier-during-picturesque-picnic-on-the-wooden-gondola-dock
This is perhaps the best way to experience Amsterdam by boat. Image: Freepik

As the boat glides along the water, guests can unwind and relish the tranquil ambience while enjoying the city’s illuminated beauty during the evening.

The knowledgeable staff onboard provide insights into the wine and cheese pairings, adding an educational element to the journey.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply wish to enjoy a refined experience, this cruise promises an elegant and delightful time on Amsterdam’s canals.


3. Evening Canal Cruise

For the more nocturnal among us, an evening canal cruise allows everyone to have a night on the town, but in a family-friendly tour on the water.

“The Venice of the North” is no stranger to bustling nighttime activities, and this cruise lets you witness the city in all of its nighttime glory but from the comfort of a cushioned boat.

lit-up-amsterdam-houses-next-to-canal-against-night-sky-with-buildings-reflections-in-the-water
Nothing like a view of Amsterdam at night to make you feel like a cosy night owl. Image: Freepik

Not only do you not have to wake up early, but you can seize the plentiful photo opportunities provided by “golden hour” lighting at sunset, before sitting back and relaxing Amsterdam’s sparkling lights after dark.


4. New York Pizza by LOVERS Cruise in Amsterdam

The New York Pizza by LOVERS Cruise in Amsterdam promises a delectable and unique dining experience on the iconic Amsterdam canals.

This cruise combines the best of two worlds, allowing passengers to savour delicious, freshly baked New York-style pizza while drifting along the picturesque waterways.

Photo of a pizza on a plate that someone is taking a piece from.
Bring on the pizza. Image: Freepik

A pizza cruise not only treats visitors to breathtaking views of Amsterdam’s landmarks but also ensures a mouthwatering culinary journey.

With a relaxed and cosy atmosphere onboard, this cruise is an excellent choice for pizza lovers and anyone seeking a memorable dining experience on Amsterdam’s scenic canals.


5. Amsterdam Dinner Cruise

Want to dazzle a love interest or significant other with some fine wining and dining? Treat them to a romantic dinner cruise on the water in Amsterdam, which offers delicious, professionally prepared cuisine complete with classy drinks.

Whether you opt for a meat, fish, or vegetarian menu, your palate will not be disappointed.

photo-of-dinner-on-a-dinner-cruise-in-amsterdam
This might be the best way to enjoy Amsterdam from the water. Image: Freepik

Plus, there’s nothing like a bit of a Titanic movie atmosphere to charm the person sitting in front of you — especially while romantic music underscores your journey through Amsterdam’s popular sites and the evening sunset illuminates your loved-up faces.


Where do Amsterdam canal cruises depart?

Taking a boat trip around Amsterdam is easy. Many Amsterdam companies offer them, but some of the most famous are Stromma, Lovers Canal Cruises, Blue Boat Company, and International Holland Cruises.

front-view-of-red-and-black-canal-boat-sailing-through-amsterdam-canals-on-sunny-day-next-to-house-boats
The city’s historic centre, with many attractions, is located within the Canal Ring pictured here. Image: Unsplash

Generally, the boats dock in front of Central Station, and you can choose the prettiest one from them.

But if you want to cruise Amsterdam’s canals from elsewhere in the city, that won’t be a problem either. You can bump into them at all the famous tourist spots — for example, in front of the Rijksmuseum or the Anne Frank House Museum.


What to expect on an Amsterdam canal cruise

Amsterdam canal cruises come in all shapes, sizes, durations, and more.

To start with, the boats come in different forms:

  • The most common are long, narrow boats with panoramic windows that offer a view on the sides and top. They are similar to buses from the inside, except that the seats are arranged in groups of four: two facing forward, two facing backwards, and a small table in between.
  • There are smaller boats, including open boats. They are the best way to see the sights along the canal banks but are best kept for a sunny day.
  • The best choice is a boat with a folding roof that can be adjusted to suit the weather.

The duration of excursions along the canals of Amsterdam is usually an hour and a half. Their itineraries do not vary too much and typically include the canals of Grachtengordel with sights that can be seen on their sides.

photo-of-typical-tourist-boat-moored-in-amsterdam-harbour
A typical tourist boat in Amsterdam. Image: Freepik

These tours usually focus on the Netherlands’ maritime past, its colonial policies, the East India Company, and the 17th century, a time of commercial prosperity and rapid expansion for Amsterdam.

If a regular boat trip is not enough for you, you can book a personalised guided tour or a combo tour, where a canal cruise will be combined with a museum visit or a walking tour.


Ready to jump aboard?

Exploring Amsterdam’s canals is an essential and unique experience that offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history and architectural beauty.

Once vital for the city’s development, these waterways now serve as its main roads, providing an enchanting view of Amsterdam’s picturesque landscapes and captivating buildings.

What’s your favourite Amsterdam canal cruise? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Ellen Ranebo
Ellen Ranebo
As someone half Swedish and half Irish who has lived in the Netherlands, the UK, and attended an American School, Ellen is a cocktail of various nationalities. Having had her fair share of bike accidents, near-death experiences involving canals, and miscommunications while living here (Swedish and Dutch have deceptively similar words with very different meanings), she hopes to have (and document) plenty more in future.

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What do you think?

1 COMMENT

  1. My Dutch cousin treated me to a canal boat ride only to have a bunch of hooligans spoil it for us all by hooting howling and yelling the entire cruise. It was an ordeal for me and embarrassed my cousin terribly. I hope some provision is made to discourage such ugly behavior. Being on a boat one can not get off to escape the boors which makes it especially abusive. The tour operators are in control and need to take responsibility for giving a pleasurable ride. .Many years ago and still painful to think of it.

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