Amsterdam has many canal cruises, but which is best for you? Which one is the most worth taking? No one tour caters to all. I’ve taken some of the best canal tours and will share how to pick the best one for yourself, professional tips, and answer all your questions.
Which Canal Tours to Take?
This post provides additional information to help you choose the best canal trip. Click here if you wish to see the best boat tours in Amsterdam right away.
Most Asked Questions When Booking A Canal Tour
You might have some questions about Amsterdam canal tours; I have listed them here.
Is It Worth Doing A Canal Cruise In Amsterdam?
Yes, especially if you visit Amsterdam for the first time.
Taking the canal tours allows you to see the historical and beautiful canal houses, understand Amsterdam’s history, and experience the Dutch vibe on a boat.
You might hear some people saying it is not worth it, but they probably didn’t pick the most suitable tour for themselves and didn’t join a good rating tour. That is why I have this post, so you have the best canal tour experience.
Is It Necessary To Book The Tickets In Advance?
Yes, especially if you take small boat tours or evening dinner cruises. Why?
You won’t find ticket offices selling small boat tours; most only sell big ones. That is why you need to book in advance. In addition, the tours I recommended in this post are top-rated, so be sure to book them in advance.
For dinner cruises, there’s only one boat per evening. Spots are limited!
Do Amsterdam Canal Boats Have Bathrooms?
There’s a toilet on board for big boats, but I advise you to use the bathroom before taking the tour. (You can find the public toilets in Amsterdam here)
For small boats, unfortunately, no restrooms!
How Long Is Amsterdam Canal Ride?
In general, it takes around 60 to 90 minutes. Some tours, like dinner and evening cruises, can take about 3 hours.
Where Do Canal Cruises Leave From In Amsterdam?
There are three places: Damrak, close to Amsterdam Central Station; Near Anne Frank House, and Rijksmuseum.
Most tours depart from Damrak, but I recommend boat tours from Anne Frank House and canal tours from Rijksmuseum since it’s less busy, and you can rest more on the boat after visiting the nearby attractions.
Is the Amsterdam Canal Cruise Better At Night Or Day?
It depends on personal preference.
A day cruise offers better visibility, and the natural light during the day provides excellent lighting conditions for capturing the city’s beauty.
An evening canal cruise offers a romantic and enchanting atmosphere, with the city lights illuminating the canals and landmarks. It is also a good option if you want to see the sunset views in Amsterdam. It’s more relaxing, too, since fewer people are on the street than in the daytime.
Taking A Big Boat or A Small Boat Cruise In Amsterdam?
It depends on what you prefer and what you like; here are the pros and cons of taking big and small boats:
Pros And Cons Of Taking A Big Boat Canal Trip
- More affordable as more guests are on board
- Have multiple language audio guides for the guests, great for people who need more confidence in English.
- Have semi-open boats, which means you won’t get wet or need a raincoat when it rains. The captain closes the deck once it rains and opens it when it’s sunny.
- The heating system is on in winter; there is no need to bring an extra coat to get on the boat.
- More than 80 people are on board, and the guests don’t get much interaction with the captain/guide
- The trip is with an audio guide, not a live guide
- The standard route might be a bit boring for some people
An excellent choice for people who see comfort as their first priority.
Pros And Cons Of Taking A Small Boat Cruise
- More chances to interact with the guide as there are much fewer guests
- Have a live guide on board
- Some tours include drinks and snacks
- Some tours might be canceled due to heavy rain; please check the details when reserving the spots. However, don’t worry about it from May to early September
- Although some boats have a heating system and most provide blankets, it might still be cold for some guests.
- It’s highly recommended to reserve before leaving for Amsterdam, as there are limited spots only.
A perfect option for people who like fun, interactive tours and want to have local experiences.
Best Canal Cruise Tours In Amsterdam
Here are the best canal cruises in Amsterdam; they are with high rating reviews, and I experienced some of them ourselves:
Cheapest 1-Hour Canal Tour In Amsterdam
Big boats are the cheapest option since more people are on the boat.
**Here is the special deal for my readers if you book with Tiqets, use the link below to get the lowest price. The link is already applied with the dicount code (CANALCRUISE10).**
Suppose you book the canal tickets together with Rijksmuseum or Heineken entrance tickets. In that case, you get the highest discount for the canal cruise!
Pro Tip When Getting On The Boat
Take the seat in the middle of the boat! It’s a bit noisy at the front since the captain is constantly on the intercom checking the traffic, and it’s smelly if you sit in the back.
Luxury And Environment-Friendly Canal Boat Tours
Friendly, knowledgeable staff made this comfortable canal cruise very enjoyable. I would recommend this tour.Irmgard_C (read more reviews)
If you prefer a luxury boat with a maximum of 30 guests, this tour is for you.
You can sit comfortably with the cushion by taking this electric, gas-free boat. In addition, there’s a live guide introducing the landmarks in Amsterdam, so you can ask any questions you have!
A big boat trip costs EUR 18, but this tour with a much smaller group only costs EUR 22. It comes with great value and good ratings; no wonder it sells out quickly.
My Experience With This Tour
I took this tour in late November, and I loved it!
Most canal tours come with an audio guide, but this tour has a live guide, which makes it much more enjoyable for a tourist. In addition, it’s with an electric boat, so there is no lousy air, and there are only around 15 guests on that day, so the quality is excellent.
The guide was funny and interestingly shared the old Amsterdam story. If you like interaction with the guide, there’s no problem. I sat next to the guide, so I asked him many questions.
If you decide to join this tour, book the tickets in advance as it is popular. In addition, be sure to get on the boat 10 minutes before departure to get a good spot.
Their boat departs from Central Station, Anne Frank House, and Rijksmuseum!
Fun And No Smoking Canal Tours With Food And Drinks
Can’t say enough how I recommend this tour! James did an awesome job in giving us a tour, with just enough historical information that didn’t make it boring. The food was light but tasty. Dr inks were plenty. A.must do activity!Annette_T (Check the more reviews)
This is the best canal tour I’ve joined. It has a high rating from past guests as well.
You get to interact highly with the tour guide and ask any questions you have during the cruise. Most important of all, you get on a non-smoking electric boat!
I don’t like smoking and even hate the smell of it; this tour does not allow guests to smoke, while some other small boats only prohibit it if the guests mind.
Their boat departs from Central Station and Rijksmuseum!
Smoking allowed Canal Boat trip With Drinks
Very funny and informative boat ride; not only could you smoke/drink on the boat, but our guide, Anthony and Graham, were amazing. Anthony was a hilarious host and even rolled a customers joint for them! Which I thought was pretty good customer service; the boat itself is stocked up with drinks, and it’s electric, so you can charge your phone, etc, while on tour. Would 100% recommend it as an eccentric alternative to a regular canal cruise!Morad_A (read more reviews)
Want to take small boats in Amsterdam but also plan to smoke and have drinks? You need a smoke-friendly boat tour!
This tour is more than just a smoke-free boat trip; the tour guides ensure you have a fun ride and see plenty of Amsterdam in a chill way!
Since it is a top-rated tour, be sure to book the tickets in advance in case it is fully booked.
Usual Boat Trip: Pedal Boat
If you already experienced the canal cruise or want a different experience in Amsterdam, the pedal boat is for you.
Most tours come with a captain navigating the boat; this time, you can pedal the boat yourself.
You can design your own route and explore Amsterdam at your own pace. In addition, while most small tours do not allow bringing your own food, you can do that if you rent the pedal boat!
The best part is that one pedal boat can have a maximum of 4 people; it’s also an excellent choice for small groups and families!
There are two locations for the boat: Rijksmuseum and Leidseplein.
Hop-on And Hop-Off Canal Boat Ride
Amsterdam is a canal city; it is perfect to experience it by taking the hop-on and hop-off boat service.
It is ideal for people who want to enjoy a different type of transportation in Amsterdam. There are 8 stops in Amsterdam city center, so you can easily access the attractions by boat!
After Covid, only one company offers unlimited hop-on and hop-off boat service.
You can also buy a combination ticket to enjoy the Amsterdam street view by taking their sightseeing bus!
Private Canal Tours With A Tour Guide: For Small-Groups And Families
If you travel as a family or with friends, joining a private tour with a guide, who is also your captain, is a great idea.
Why not navigate the private boat yourself? There are many private and tourist boats in Amsterdam canals; you need quite some skills or talent if you are new. Besides, with a local guide, you can fully immerse yourself in Amsterdam and enjoy the beautiful canal view like a local.
Remember to bring your own food and drinks as they are not included in the tour!
Evening Dinner Canal Cruise
After a long day traveling in Amsterdam, you should have some good food and quality time to have a perfect ending to the day! That’s why the Evening Dinner Cruise is popular!
This 2-hour tour lets you enjoy a fantastic canal evening view and symbolic buildings in Amsterdam while savoring the local three-course menu dinner.
I joined this tour with some colleagues a few years ago, the atmosphere was cozy, and it was an evening I will never forget.
Luxury Dinner Cruise
If you wish for more privacy and a quiet evening dinner, join this 3-hour long three-course dinner tour with a maximum of 16 guests only. Most importantly, a private table is guaranteed!
Romantic Private Canal Cruise For Couples
Amazing! Relaxing and informative! The tour guide was patient, knew everything about the area, and included complimentary drinks and blankets. Absolutely wonderful would definitely recommend it.Jason_G (Read more reviews)
Want to have an unforgettable canal tour with your loved one?
This private tour is only for you and your partner, no other guests onboard. Besides, the guide can customize this 90-minute route based on your preference, giving you a special and unique canal cruise experience.
In Conclusion: Which Canal Tour is The Best?
Many options exist, but I like Captain Jack Canal Cruises after taking big and small boat tours.
If you prefer to take tours without drinks, join the Flagship luxury boat tour, which has a high value in terms of price!
If you wish to have a dinner canal cruise, this tour offers a great experience. This private table dinner canal tour is perfect if you want more privacy.
Want a romantic evening with your loved one? Book this romantic private tour with a customized canal route!
Want to explore Amsterdam in an unusual way? Pedal Boat is for you!
hope you enjoy this post; you can read more about Amsterdam travel tips.