Amsterdam is very much a city of water with around 60 miles (100km) of canals, and well over 1,700 bridges. Taking a canal cruise on a glass-topped boat is really a must-do when visiting Amsterdam.
Known as a rondvaart (literally a 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.
Let’s take a look at some of the main boat tour companies:
Lovers Canal Cruises
Lovers has been offering canal cruises in Amsterdam since the 1950s. It has its main location at Prins Hendrikkade 25 near Amsterdam Central Station. It has a GPS audio guide in 19 languages and free WiFi is available on board.
Lovers runs the following cruises:
- The 60 minute classic Amsterdam canal cruise – book here, from €16
- 90 minute cheese and wine cruise – book here, from €32.50
- 75 minute pizza cruise – book here, from €34.50
- 75 minute pancake cruise – book here, from €21.50
- 120 minute 3-course evening dinner cruise – check availability here, from €79
Amsterdam Boat Experience
This outfit runs a number of canal cruises around Amsterdam. Its open boat cruises are particularly popular and have been voted highly by TripAdvisor Travelers Choice awards. Cruises depart from Prinsengracht (near the Anne Frank house) and also close to the Rijksmuseum. Private boats depart from Oosterdokskade (near Central station).
They offer the following trips:
- 1 hour open boat canal cruise (March to October) – book here, from €19.95
- Classic boat cruise with cheese & wine option – book here, from €19.95
- Guided luxury evening canal cruise – book here, from €19.95
- Private cruise (drinks + burger/pizza, 90 or 120 mins) – book here, from €495
- Private cruise (prosecco, 90 mins) – book here, from €390
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 original 1 hour Amsterdam tour costs €13 for adults, €9 for children 4-12 – which makes this a budget option. Commentary is in 10 languages.
The 2 hour candlelight cruise with cheese and wine is €31.50 for adults, children 10-14 €16.
Blue Boat has been running canal cruises in Amsterdam since 1948 (under the former name Rederij Noord-Zuid, changed to Blue Boat in 2005). It has 2 locations on Stadhouderskade – opposite the Hard Rock Cafe and opposite the Heineken Brewery.
It offers a classic 75 minute city canal cruise (book here, from €15) and a 90 minute evening canal cruise (book here, from €20). Audio guides are available in 19 languages.
Offers a number of canal cruises including the 100 Highlights Cruise (60 minutes) from near Central Station or the 75 minute highlights cruise (book here, from €18.50) from Rijksmuseum. Personal audio is available in 19 languages.
Last updated 28 September 2022. This article was first published in 2010 and has been regularly updated.