Amsterdam is often referred to as the “Venice of the North.” And while the city may not have as many canals as the other Venice, its canals split the city into 90 small islands, connected by nearly 1,300 bridges. Approximately 3.5 million travelers take a canal boat tour each year in Amsterdam, making it the second-busiest attraction in the country and a top Amsterdam thing to do. Most canal tours last about an hour and take you past the various canal house designs, showing the clock, spout and neck gables, as well as the many houseboats. You’ll also pass under some of the most impressive bridges in the city, including the famous Magere Brug (skinny bridge). This wooden bascule bridge is one of the reasons canal boats are designed to be so low. Most cruises also sail out into the Amsterdam docks, sailing past a replica of the VOC ship Amsterdam, one of the first ships used by the Dutch to explore the world.
Boarding docks are located at the west side of the central train station and along the Damrak. Daytime cruises start at 9AM and end at 6PM. Some cruise lines offer nighttime candlelight tours and specialty tours to the various museums in the city. Three of the most popular canal boat companies are Rederij Lovers, Rederij Plas and Holland International. Another cool option is to rent your own boat. A six-person rental boat costs EUR50 per hour.
Rederij Lovers—Departs from west docks next to the Central station
Rederij Plas—Departs from Damrak every 20 minutes (during summer months).
Holland International—Departs in front of the Central Station every 15 minutes (during summer months).