Amsterdam is very much a city of water with around 50 miles (80km) of canals, and well over 1,250 bridges. Taking a canal cruise on a glass-topped boat is really a must-do when visiting Amsterdam.
Known as a rondvaart (literally boat ’round trip’) these tours will give you a different perspective on the city with its grand canals and beautiful 17th century houses. Amsterdam’s canal ring area is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There are a many canal boat tour operators offering similar types of trips, from 1 hour daytime cruises to evening dinner cruises. Multi-lingual commentary recordings are normally available. Getting on a boat can be quite relaxing if you have been walking around for a few hours.
Some of the main boat tour companies are listed here:
Blue Boat – Located at Stadhouderskade 30 opposite the Hard Rock Cafe. 75 minute City Canal Cruise (€16.50, children 5-12 €8) with audio recording in 21 languages.
Other cruises include a 90 minute evening cruise (€19.50, children €16.50) and tailored group dinner cruises.
Rederij Lovers – Located at Prins Hendrikkade 25 near central station, Lovers offers a variety of options from 1 hour day and evening cruises (from €16), 2 hour candlelight cruise with cheese and wine (€42.50), pizza cruise (€42.50) and a 2 hour evening dinner cruise with drinks (€92.50).
Lovers also operates the hop-on/hop-off “City Sightseeing Amsterdam” boat which covers 7 stops around the city. A 24 hour ticket costs €22, children €11.
Stromma – Offers a 1 hour 100 Highlights Cruise from the Stromma (formerly Canal Company) jetty at Prins Hendrikkade 37 between central station and the Victoria hotel. Price is €16.50 (high season) or €15 (low season), children half-price. Personal audio is available in 19 languages.
Stromma also has similar pizza, cheese/wine and dinner cruises.
Stromma Hop On/Hop Off – Stromma has a hop on/hop off bus and boat tour around Amsterdam’s main sights with 6 canal stops around the city. Runs approximately from 1000 to 1800. Day ticket costs €24, 24 hour ticket €26, 48 hour ticket €37; children 4-12 half-price.
Rederij Kooij – With a main jetty at Rokin (near Spui), this company has been running since 1922 and has had many famous faces on board their boats over the years. Its regular 1 hour tour costs €11 for adults, €7 for children 4-12 – which makes this the budget option.
The 2 hour candlelight cruise with cheese and wine is €29.50 for adults, children €14.75. Commentary in 10 languages. Private hire (€280 per hour) also possible.
Amsterdam Canal Pedalos
Stromma – 4-seater pedalo water bikes can be rented from the 4 Stromma points around central Amsterdam. This is a fun and active way to explore the city’s canals. Costs per person are: €10 for 1 hour and €15 for 1.5 hours. You have to leave a €20 deposit per pedalo.
Stromma has pedal boat moorings at Rijksmuseum (Stadhouderskade 520), Leidseplein (Leidsebosje 2), Westerkerk (Prinsengracht 279) and Keizersgracht 512. In case of bad weather the boats can be fitted with rain shields. Always remember to keep to the right when travelling on the canals!
Renting a Boat in Amsterdam
There are numerous companies in Amsterdam which rent out boats of various sizes.
Rederij ‘t Smidtje (T:+31(0)20 670 6067) rents out traditional large cruising boats with skipper for 12 to 100 people. Their main dock is at Ruysdaelkade 174.
Stromma (T:+31(0)20 217 0500) has private electric boats for rent which come with a skipper, from €142 per hour.
Canal Motorboats Amsterdam (T:+ 31(0)20 422 7007) rents out electric powered aluminium boats with capacity of up to 8 people which you skipper yourself. Prices are €50 for the first hour, €40 (2nd hour), €30 (3rd hour) and €20 for each successive hour after that. You need to leave a bond of €150 or credit card authorisation plus a valid ID. Free life vests can be provided. Location is a short walk from central station at Zandhoek 10A.
Mokumboot (T:+31(0)20 2105700) with 6 locations around the city provides a similar sloop boat rental service – prices for an 8 person boat range from €90 (2 hours) to €140 (4 hours). Larger boats with skipper are also available. Location in central Amsterdam is Nassaukade 351.
Boaty (T:+31(0)6 2714 9493) is a rental company located at the Jozef Israelskade near the Okura hotel. Their electric boats seat a maximum of 6 passengers and have solar panels. Rental rates start at €79 for 3 hours and a full-day rental (10 hours) is €179 (weekdays) and €219 (weekends). Note they are closed during the winter season (mid-Oct to mid-March).
Sloepdelen (T:+31(0)20 419 1007) is an interesting boat sharing scheme in Amsterdam which offers boat rentals at reduced rates to members. The electric boats are licensed for up to 12 passengers. Premium membership costs €25 per month or €200 per year and hourly rental rates are offered at either €40 (peak) or €30 (off-peak) – off-peak is Monday to Friday 1000-1600.
Booking online is possible which gives you an access code to release one of the boats. The Sloepdelen dock locations are Nassaukade 69 (in west Amsterdam) and Mauritskade 3 (east Amsterdam). They also do standard rentals for non-members at €60 per hour (min 2 hours) – a deposit of €150 is also required.