The history of Amsterdam is intimately connected with water. Its 165 canals were created over the centuries to stimulate trade and transport and reclaim land to expand the city. They continue define the city’s landscape and in 2010 Amsterdam's canal ring was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Besides providing a stunning backdrop to the city’s historical centre, floating down Amsterdam’s canals is one of the most memorable ways to discover the city's sights and attractions. Whether you’re a first-time or frequent visitor, everything in Amsterdam seems a bit more magical when viewed from a boat.
Most canal cruises take around an hour, in which you'll explore Amsterdam's UNESCO protected canal ring and discover plenty of interesting facts about the city along the way. As well as the excellent one-hour options, other types of canal cruises available include practical hop-on-hop-off services, romantic candle-lit tours, child-friendly adventures and intimate guided boat tours for smaller groups.
A few of the best-known operators include Holland International, Canal, Blue Boat, Rederij Kooij, Rederij Plas and Lovers. If you’d like to break up your canal cruise with some sightseeing, then the ‘hop-on hop-off’ service offered by Canal Bus is an excellent option.
Exploring Amsterdam by canal boat is an enjoyable and convenient way to see the city’s sights whilst getting a real insight into Dutch history, life and culture. So read on for five essential reasons to see Amsterdam from the canals.