Top 10 Things to See on the Water in Amsterdam

After a second extended city break in Amsterdam, Liz and her husband are keen to share tips they picked up along the way to help others.



With its network of canals and waterways, wherever you are in Amsterdam, you are never far from water. Water makes up around a quarter of the city's surface area. Whether it's from the ever-changing perspective of a boat tour or viewing scenes from dry land, this Venice of the North offers a range of water-based options to experience this enchanting city. Discover for yourself why UNESCO added the canal belt to its World Heritage list in 2011. Here are my top 10 suggestions.

  1. Large tourist boats.
  2. Open boats.
  3. Travel in style.
  4. Smaller motor-powered options.
  5. Cycling and rowing.
  6. Solo power.
  7. Living on the water.
  8. Working boats.
  9. Quirky boats.
  10. Free boat trip.

1. Large Tourist Boats

If you are visiting Amsterdam for the first time, a canal cruise is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the city. Most cruises last for around an hour and have a multilingual guided commentary, giving you the opportunity to learn a little about the sights as you pass them. Some offer a hop on hop off option and others can be booked for a dining experience. There's also a Canalbus, with 11 stops along 3 routes and a Museum Line, offering an all-day ticket and the option of museum entries combined.

Our first visit to Amsterdam was in Spring. On a damp cool day, after an interesting visit to the Heineken Experience, we noticed a nearby landing stage and joined a canal cruise for a memorable experience. In an hour we got a great tour of the canal system and learned about the landmarks.

It's not surprising that canal tours in Amsterdam are the most popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands, with over 3 million passengers a year.


  • The boats are glass-topped, so you keep dry and warm in bad weather.
  • Commentaries are in several languages.


  • The glass reflects when taking photos.
  • Boats can be crowded and you might not get a window seat.

2. Open Boats

With a maximum capacity of around 20, these motorized boats offer a more personalized experience. There are several companies that ply the canals of Amsterdam. Equipped with cushions, blankets, and transparent umbrellas, open boats offer a more comfortable experience than you might expect.

Their smaller size means that they can offer different trips and wander slightly off the main tourist routes. Open boats are often manned by a young crew of 2-3, who give a good commentary mainly in English and are very willing to answer questions.

There is usually a 'bar' in the middle of the boat. Some trips include drinks, others charge extra for them.


  • There are no obstructions to taking photos.
  • Passengers are free to ask questions.
  • Drinks are included on some trips.


  • Passengers are exposed to the weather.
  • With little forward seating, benches tend to face inwards, so passengers have to twist around for views.
  • The commentary is mainly in English.

Our Experience

Having taken a canal cruise the first time we visited Amsterdam, I thought we had crossed this off our list and would not be repeating the experience. Little did I know. We actually ended up taking two. This time though we opted for the open boats.

First mini cruise

After spending several hours on a drizzly day visiting museums and dodging the rain, we came out of the Canal Museum, intent on heading to the nearby Bible Museum. An open boat had just moored up at a jetty nearby and my husband soon got into a conversation with a crew member. The weather could have gone either way, but before I knew it the opportunity to rest our feet and the lure of an all-inclusive bar (soft drinks, beer, and wine) was too tempting and we gratefully took our seats.

There were only 3 other passengers. The rain soon started again. I thought we were in for a soggy experience. But we didn't need the umbrellas for long and the weather brightened up. The crew were excellent. There was a good commentary and they were quick to answer any questions.

After a while, I noticed that 2 of the passengers were getting giggly. At first, I assumed that they had taken advantage of the free bar to excess. Then their companion explained that they wanted 'to go back to the coffee shop* again'. The crew warned against a return visit, explaining that taking another drug dose would make them very unwell. I wonder if they took the advice. We'll never know, as their circuit ended a little further on and we completed the trip on our own.

As a result, we had the pick of the seats, excellent bar service, and enjoyed a trip around the canal ring and the River Amstel, going to the Hermitage and the University. We saw parts of the city from the water that we hadn't seen before. It was a great way to take a break and take the load off our feet.

I would highly recommend BOATAMSTERDAM.COM.

* Not to be confused with conventional cafes, coffee shops in Amsterdam sell soft drugs, a novelty that some tourists find hard to resist.

Second Mini Cruise

The next day a boat trip was definitely not on the agenda. But, after a solid half-day exploring some of the viewpoints around Oosterdok and a walk into the center of the city in the sun, we were tempted once again. Near Westerkerk we noticed an open boat crew touting for business. It was cheaper than the previous trip, but the drinks were chargeable. People in front of us were offered a free drink, so we haggled for the same incentive. We also checked that the route would be different from the previous trip.

This trip took us further out onto the quieter canals. Interesting sights were pointed out, as we passed and we picked up information: The higher the gable on the house, the more money the owner had to spend. Canals are flushed through regularly. If your boat sinks, after two weeks you can claim on the insurance. Vegetation is encouraged on the outer canals to improve the quality of the water for fish and ducks. The similarity between the Rijksmuseum and Centraal Station was pointed out and explained. The two buildings share the same designer, PJH Cuypers.

An advantage of going further out was that the canals were quieter. There was a wide range of drinks available including spirits and mixers. Crew members were quick to offer them, but be warned, a tally is kept and charges levied at the end of the trip.

I was hesitant about a second mini cruise, but given a different route, cheaper price, and better weather conditions, this proved to be an excellent way of seeing more of Amsterdam from the water, in a relaxing way.

3. Travel in Style

If sharing a big tourist boat with many other passengers or taking your chance on the fellow passengers in an open boat is not your scene, maybe you can opt for a more exclusive experience.

Saloon Boat

The 5-star InterContinental Amstel Hotel, along with its eye-catching and imposing Renaissance-style building on the banks of the River Amstel, also boasts three classic saloon boats. All are over 100 years old and have been restored to a high standard, yet run on electricity and are equipped with modern comforts. Bespoke river cruises are available with 5-star catering options. If money is no object, it might just be the way for you to see Amsterdam.

Hotel Marina

If hiring out a 5-star hotel's saloon boat is a little expensive, maybe you could make do with a pleasant stroll by a hotel marina. Another 5-star hotel, the Hilton Amsterdam, setting for John and Yoko Lennon's 1969 'bed in for peace' protest, boasts a marina.

Stroll out of the back of the hotel onto the terrace, where you can relax in the peaceful setting of a small marina, watch the world float by on the water in front of you and daydream about owning one of the boats moored there. Highly recommended as a great place to unwind on a Sunday afternoon.

Cabin Cruiser

A good way of combining accommodation requirements with water travel in Amsterdam is to see the city from your own cabin cruiser. These floating recreational vehicles give you the option of seeing the city from the comfort of your own temporary floating home.

If you are fortunate to own a cruiser, you might want to include Amsterdam on a future itinerary. Another option might be to hire a cruiser in the Netherlands and take in Amsterdam as part of a tour of the Dutch waterways.

For the rest of us, less experienced sailors, it adds to the variety of craft on the water to see a well-equipped cabin cruiser sail by and we can but dream of a life on the water.

4. Smaller motor-powered options

If a cabin cruiser is a little too big or expensive, you might want to consider a smaller option. There are plenty of small motorboats that ply the canals of Amsterdam. Some are privately owned by locals, some operate as water taxis and others are available for rental. Some sailors get fully immersed in the party atmosphere, traveling as a group. Personally, I preferred to watch on from a safe distance either from the comfort of a larger boat or the security of dry land. The occupants seemed to be having a great time, though and I never saw anything untoward happen, despite some boats looking a little low in the water.

5. Cycling and Rowing


If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly option at the same time as getting some water-based exercise, you might consider hiring a pedalo. The bicycle is widely recognized as a traditional and popular Dutch mode of transport. The pedalo, or canal bike, is its water-based cousin. There are several hire depots dotted around the canal network. Pedalos offer space for two to pedal plus two passengers. Charges are per person by the hour plus a deposit.

The Rowers

For those of us, who are less energetic, there's always the option of watching others exercising on the water. There are several rowing clubs in Amsterdam, mostly located near the River Amstel in the south. It's not unusual to see rowers passing by, especially at the weekend. These were snapped from our window in the Hilton on the Noorder Amstelkanaal.

Rowers in Amsterdam.

Rowers in Amsterdam.

6. Solo Power

Forget sharing your floating means of transport with someone else. Maybe you want to go solo-powered exploring the canals of Amsterdam.


Several companies offer kayak tours of Amsterdam. You might be with a group of others in a flotilla navigating the canals with a guide, but you will be in charge of your own kayak. It's probably not for the faint-hearted, but not many tourists will be able to recount a tale of kayaking on the canals. Those that do describe it as an amazing experience.


I wish I had had a camera to hand when I glanced out of the Amstel Hotel early in the morning and saw a man heading to work on his paddleboard. In truth, I was so mesmerized by the sight that I only thought of a photo after he had passed along the River Amstel. After all, it's not every day, in our English village, that I see someone paddleboarding past the window to work.

Later in the week, I was quicker off the mark to capture the photo of a paddle boarder on the Uilenburgergracht from our room in the Holiday Inn Express City Hall.

If paddleboarding appeals to you, search for SUP, or Stand Up Paddle in Amsterdam and you will find opportunities for tourists to hire boards and have a go themselves.

Paddle boarding in Amsterdam.

Paddle boarding in Amsterdam.

7. Living on the Water

Not every boat on the water in Amsterdam is on the move. Houseboats line the banks of some canals and also stretches of the River Amstel. Some are converted cargo boats. Others are purpose-built. They became popular after World War II, in response to a severe shortage of housing.

There are now over 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam, which have postal addresses and are connected to mains electricity and the water supply. Originally sewage disposal was via the canals, which were flushed out every night. But you will be pleased to hear that, in recent years, houseboats have been linked up to the main sewer system.

If you fancy trying out life on the water, several sites offer houseboat rental for a unique Amsterdam experience.

8. Working Boats

As a tourist in Amsterdam, you would be forgiven for thinking that the purpose of the canals has always been solely for pleasure. The waterways of the city were originally used by merchants, whose houses lined their banks. Whilst the main canal ring is given over largely to tourist boats, it's possible to see inland barges sailing down the River Amstel, with some bridges raised to allow them through. These form a small fraction of the millions of tons of goods that are still transported on Dutch waterways.

To the northeast of the River Amstel, you can sometimes spot open working barges being towed along the network of canals.

9. Quirky Boats

As you sail along or walk by Amsterdam's waterways, keep an eye out for the more unusual watercraft. We spotted the teddy bear sailor, moored up in a homemade boat, as we passed on an open boat.

You might want to look out for the Catboat on the Singel. Since 1968 De Poezenboot has been offering refuge to stray and abandoned cats. It started in 1966, when a resident of Amsterdam, Mrs. Weelde, took pity on a stray cat outside her house on the Herengracht. Gradually she took in more cats until she ran out of space. The solution was to rehouse them in a boat on the canal outside her home. Over the years, the sanctuary grew and volunteers came to help. The original barge was eventually replaced by a specially fitted out houseboat.

The Sea Palace, a floating pagoda-style Chinese restaurant on Oosterdok, is an unexpected and unusual sight. The largest floating restaurant in Europe is conveniently located near Centraal Station and is an eye-catching sight with Amsterdam as its backdrop.

10. Free Boat Trip

Save time and money by taking the free Buiksloterweg ferry from behind Centraal Station to Amsterdam Noord. Regular ferries take around 5 minutes to cross the Ij. The landing is close to one of Amsterdam's more recent tourist attractions, Amsterdam Lookout. For a fee, you can enjoy stunning views of Amsterdam and the surrounding area from the observation deck. There's a panoramic restaurant, bar, and interactive Amsterdam experience at the Lookout. It also boasts Europe's highest swing, 'Over the Edge', which is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Another nearby attraction is the EYE Film Institute, where the Filmmuseum and other cinematic organizations have merged to provide a space for a film collection, recording the history of the Netherlands film industry. There are also exhibitions, film screenings in four cinemas and a waterside cafe-restaurant.

Get Your Bearings

Your Choice

Final Thoughts

Canals and waterways give Amsterdam its distinct character and contribute much to the picturesque nature of the city. With its 165 canals and 1,300 hundred bridges, the city deserves the name 'Venice of the North'. The variety of craft on the water offer multiple ways for visitors to experience Amsterdam and they also contribute to the ever-changing watery vistas.

If taking to the water is not your scene, why not pull up a chair at a canalside bar or cafe and watch the world float by? You will not be short of sights to see, especially if you are by one of the busier canals on the Grachtengordel (Canal Ring).



Explore Amsterdam

  • Top 10 Free Things to Do in Amsterdam
    Amsterdam, the 'Venice of the North', is a great destination for a city break. But city breaks can get expensive. Read on to discover a list of free things to do that will enhance your time in Amsterdam without costing anything.
  • 10 of the Best Museums in Amsterdam
    Amsterdam has an impressive number and range of museums, as well as its own Museum Quarter. The challenge is choosing which ones to explore. Read on to find out about 10 of the best and start making your list. One trip will not be enough.
  • How to Eat and Drink on a Budget in Amsterdam
    Food and drink are vital ingredients of a great tourist experience, but how can you enjoy Amsterdam, whilst not overspending on refreshments? Read on to find out, get money-saving tips and learn about our favorite eating places in the city of canals.
  • InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, a Thorough Hotel Appraisal
    Our trip to Amsterdam was inspired by the opportunity to stay in the InterContinental Amstel Hotel, a 5-star hotel in a palatial building overlooking the River Amstel. Read on to find out whether the experience matched up to our expectations.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Liz Westwood


Liz Westwood (author) from UK on September 10, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Peggy. I am pleased that you decided to drop by again. Amsterdam is a beautiful city. I hope that you can travel there one day.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 09, 2020:

I decided to enjoy your fabulous photos one more time and take a vicarious trip on the waterways of Amsterdam. It would be a dream vacation to be able to do this in person someday. Thanks again for sharing your travels with us.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 29, 2020:

We visited a museum, which explained how the canals and the city of Amsterdam were constructed. It would be a tall order with modern engineering, but it's amazing to realize that this was done many years ago without the aid of modern machinery and technology.

Robert Sacchi on July 29, 2020:

Yes, the best part is it's still functional.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 28, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Robert. The waterways give Amsterdam an extra dimension. The canal builders of many years ago did the tourism industry in the city a huge favour.

Robert Sacchi on July 28, 2020:

It's amazing how many options there are for enjoying the canals. I like the pictures too.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 27, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Vikram. That's an interesting suggestion. I shall bear that in mind in the future. At the moment I have a backlog of articles that I want to write. So it might be a while before I can do that.

Vikram Brahma from Assam, India on July 27, 2020:

Hey Liz, you have mentioned everything in details. It's really nice to read your articles in details. I saw you hub and I realized that you write many articles related to travelling. Please write one article and share your journey as a part of Hubpages. Thank you :) and looking forward to read your article.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 25, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Nithya. Your choice sounds like a great combination. On our first visit to Amsterdam, a few years ago, we spent a night on Boatotel, which was a little different. We chose it because it was recommended to us and because, at the time it was moored up at Oosterdok, within easy walking distance of Centraal Station. We had to get an early train to the airport, so the location worked well for us. I didn't mention the Boatotel in this article as, since we stayed there, it has moved further out of the centre and appears to be moored on the other side of the Ij. Also the rooms were quite small.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 25, 2020:

There are so many options to explore the city of Amsterdam through waterways. I would love a cruise on an open boat and staying in a houseboat for a couple of days would be a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the tour through your well presented article with fantastic photos, thank you for sharing.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 24, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Thelma. You are fortunate to have relatives living near Amsterdam. We also visited Leiden while we were in the Netherlands. It too had canals and canal trips.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 24, 2020:

I have been oftentimes in Amsterdam as my relatives live nearby but I have only done canal cruising. It was fun. I love strolling at the canals watching the people, mostly tourists. Thanks for sharing your wonderful article. Well done. I love the photos, too.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 24, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Denise. I think the canals are what cause people to make the link with Venice. Sadly there are no gondolas in Amsterdam. Maybe the canals are deeper there, so gondolas would not be appropriate or maybe the poles would get tangled up in the bikes that sadly I understand end up in the canals in large numbers.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 23, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Eman. At the moment I think virtual tours via articles are the safest way to travel.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 23, 2020:

Well, they aren't gondolas but they sure look intriguing. I'd love to do that someday. Looks like a real pleasure.



Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on July 05, 2020:

An amazing place to visit. Thank you Liz for the tour.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 03, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Devika. Amsterdam is a great place for a city break. I would highly recommend it. Even if the weather is not good, there are a lot of indoor attractions such as museums there to keep you occupied and there's always a glass-topped boat trip to consider.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 03, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Peggy. I enjoy taking photos and it's great to find a use for them. Before we went I wondered if we would find enough to do in Amsterdam on a second visit. There was plenty and I could easily go again. I thought the university I went to way back had a nice park setting with a lake, but Amsterdam's students have a great backdrop for their studies.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 03, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, FlourishAnyway. I was quite surprised to see the guy paddleboarding to work. I don't rate my chances of staying upright on one too highly, especially given my windsurfing attempts many years ago. Paddleboarding has gained in popularity and in recent years I have noticed them on the sea in Spanish resorts.

The Red Light District of Amsterdam is in quite a small area of the city. You can easily avoid it. I didn't notice the coffee shops, but I didn't go looking for them. Occasionally we caught the smell of drugs on the air, but not much more than in other places. I still recall visiting a park in a town near us several years ago and wondering what the strange smell was, until someone pointed out that a group nearby must have been using cannabis. I don't think 'seedy' is a word that you would associate with Amsterdam now.

Devika Primic on July 03, 2020:

Liz this is an amazing place with so many interesting scenes. I have not been to Amsterdam. However, your well-informed hub tells me everything I need to know and of how I should travel there.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 03, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Vidya. In one sentence you have captured and summarised Amsterdam well. I agree with you, especially at this time when travel is not so easy. At least we can all travel virtually and pull up a chair to gaze on scenes from Amsterdam.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2020:

Your articles always are a delight to read and see via your fantastic photos. This tour of the Amsterdam waterways was so much fun. I think that experiencing several of the boat trips such as you did would be the way to go. I am amazed that university students can keep their eyes on their books with such scenery below them.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 02, 2020:

Paddle boarding to work! That’s amazing! I guess that guy doesn’t take his work home with him. My husband and daughter took paddle boarding classes on the river and both were in excellent shape but said it was challenging to stay upright on a river with any speed or obstacles whatsoever. I miss traveling and look forward to the day when we can do it again. I’ve never considered going to Amsterdam. The seedy reputation unfortunately turned me off and I didn’t consider it beyond that. However I bet there is a lot to see.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 02, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, fran. I have always enjoyed taking photographs, but my camera is not very high tech and that's the first time my skills have been called 'professional'. Thank you. That's my fear too with kayaking and the water didn't look great to fall into.

VIDYA D SAGAR on July 02, 2020:

A great article Liz with amazing photography. I love to live by the water, go boating on every type of boat, or just simply pull up a chair and sit at a canal side or Cafe and watch the world go by.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on July 02, 2020:

Oh, Lis! Wonderful article. I hadn't realized how beautiful Amsterdam is. Your photography skills are truly professional. And 165 canals, that is impressive. I would not do a kayak, as I'm sure I would flip over and drown. Great article as usual.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 02, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Brenda. I think that we are all virtual travellers at the moment. I hope that, once restrictions on travel lift, you can take a trip to Amsterdam. From the comments of others it seems like whatever time of the year you choose to visit, Amsterdam offers a great experience. The glass topped boats are a safe bet whatever the weather.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on July 02, 2020:

You do such a wonderful job penning your articles.

It makes one wish to travel there right away.

I love all the details and photos.

I guess I can put it on my wish list for a later date.

The glass top boats sound amazing.

I would love to enjoy a cruise down the canal or just sit back for a bit watching.

Nice write.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 02, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Lorna. Our visits have been in Spring, which was great for the tulips, and late summer. Two people have commented about their visits in January. Your Christmas canal trip sounds very interesting. Clearly, Amsterdam is a year-round tourist destination.

I'm pleased that you enjoyed the virtual escape. It looks like we will have to put international travel plans on hold for a little longer and make do with virtual trips instead.

Lorna Lamon on July 02, 2020:

A wonderful insight into the canals of Amsterdam. One of my most enjoyable memories was a Christmas canal trip which had various Christmas scenes lit up along the bank.

We also visited the 'Cat Boat' which was delightful and a great way of taking care of stray and abandoned cats. I enjoyed this virtual escape Liz which brought back fond memories.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 02, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Dora. The glass-topped boats offer an all-weather experience. A trip on one of these is a good way of seeing the main canal sights in a short time, as well as learning a little about them. It's good that we can all travel a little virtually while travel restrictions remain in place.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 02, 2020:

I especially like the glass-topped boats. The houseboat is interesting but I'm not sure that I would live in one. Thanks for allowing us to share your visit to life on the water.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 02, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Chitrangada. I hope that you will be able to visit Amsterdam when travel is possible again. I could easily revisit, as there are more places that I would like to see. I take a lot of photos when we travel, so it's great to find a use for them on HubPages.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 02, 2020:

Fascinating article about Amsterdam and it’s beautiful water tours. Sounds so interesting, and a worth visiting place. I would like to go for an organised trip, with guides, so that I don’t miss out anything. There are so many options, as you have mentioned in your well presented article, and all of them are so good.

I have to visit this beautiful place once, but don’t know when.

Thank you for sharing another wonderful article about Amsterdam, with such amazing pictures, all of them.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Linda. I enjoyed putting this article together and using the photos as I revisited Amsterdam virtually while I was writing it.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 01, 2020:

This is an excellent guide to exploring Amsterdam's canals, Liz. Thank you for sharing all the photos and the information. I enjoyed reading your article very much.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Sp Greaney. It was a drizzly day when we took the big tourist boat trip the first time we visited Amsterdam. It was the weather that encouraged us to check out an indoor attraction like the Heineken Experience.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Pamela. I thought we had ticked the boat trip off our list, after taking the big tourist boat the first time we visited Amsterdam. I like to try out new experiences and didn't want to repeat what we had already done. I was wrong. The open boats were different and I'm glad that we tried them.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Eric. That sounds like quite an experience. Maybe you could put together an article from your memories of that trip. Staying on a houseboat sounds interesting.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Alan. Photography is a hobby of mine and I take a lot of photos now that I'm no longer restricted by reels of film.

We visited the Anne Frank museum the first time we were in Amsterdam around 13 years ago. We followed advice and got there early. It was a sombre and moving experience. Nowadays I understand that it's advisable to book online well in advance. When we passed by on our last trip, there were long queues outside.

It sounds like you had an interesting visit. You could make an article out of that.

I think a lot of visitors to Amsterdam somehow manage to get 'lost' near the Red Light District. It's become a bit of a tourist attraction.

If you visit Amsterdam in the spring, you could tie it in with a visit to the Keukenhof gardens, where you can see great displays of tulips. We went the first time we were over there. It's a train ride to Leiden and then a bus to the gardens. Leiden itself is also worth a visit if you have time. We spent the last night of our most recent trip near Leiden and really enjoyed looking around. It's a university town with character and canal trips.

If you're looking for the 'amber liquid' I'm thinking of, the Heineken Experience is worth a visit. I hope your travel plans work out and you can fit in a city break post-COVID.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 01, 2020:

I love how there are so many options to choose from when you want to travel the canal. I would prefer the saloon boat option myself just in case it rained. It's nice to see what other countries have to offer tourists.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 01, 2020:

I really enjoyed your artice and your pictures are gorgeous. I would love to visist Amsterdam. I would probably try a couple of different types of boats to cruise through the canals and see the sites.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Rosina. Amsterdam is a fascinating city. Its waterways add a lot of interest and make it very photogenic. With digital photography these days, it's very easy to take hundreds of photos there. I hope that you can visit Amsterdam. You will not be disappointed.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Louise. Amsterdam has a lot to offer. I take a lot of photos when we travel. It feels like I am revisiting places when I add the photos to my articles.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Mary. The big boat trip is an excellent way of seeing Amsterdam in a short time. You can see and learn a lot about the city that way. Hopefully you will be able to return for a longer stay in the future and try out an open boat.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Lisha. We were fortunate in having a river or canal view in each hotel that we visited during our time in Amsterdam so I could sit at the window watching the water traffic go by. It was fascinating.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Ankita. I hope you can visit Amsterdam. Each time I go, I find new sites to visit. I still have places that I would like to return to see.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 01, 2020:

Very cool trip. Fantastic photos. I sure would like to go back. We stayed with a buddy on his house boat, fun.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Bill. Amsterdam would make a good stopover for a few days on a European trip. I look forward to reading an article about kayaking on the canals when you go. Sadly, travel seems likely to be disrupted for some time yet. The UK airline industry has taken a big hit, as has tourism in general.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on July 01, 2020:

Your images are an education unto themselves, Liz. Good stuff! Did you get to the Anne Frank Museum?

Went with the Telegraph newspaper ads department on their annual 'sales jamboree', Liz, back in the early 90's. As Conrad Black owned the paper - he floated it in the late 80's - we stayed at the 'Conrad' (figures!)

Got to see some of the city, but as it was January nothing was doing in the way of tourist activity, although my room-mate went with me to look at one of the canals near the Red Light District. Educational's one word for it! Now i've got more cash to splash maybe when all this Covid-19 business is over I'll take the wife along and look around in spring or autumn. I enjoyed some of their 'amber liquid' in traditional surroundings.

Rosina S Khan on July 01, 2020:

I am intrigued by the different kinds of boats you show in this article for travel through water canals and water ways in Amsterdam. I am fascinated by the elegant pictures and descriptions. I feel tempted to go there for a visit and watch the world of boats pass by. Thank you for such a great article.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thanks for your comment, Niks. I am pleased that this article brought back good memories for you. The big boats are a good way to get your bearings, see a lot and hear about interesting sites in a short time. I didn't expect to do a boat trip on our second visit. I thought we had already crossed it off the list. But it was a very different experience in an open boat and I would recommend it for your next visit.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thanks for your comment, Linda. Houseboats vary a lot in quality. Some are old, whereas others look quite smart. I would imagine that the 2,500 are spread over quite a large area. There are a lot of miles of waterways in the Amsterdam area. Up until 2005 surprisingly it seems that there was no obligation for them to be connected to the city's sewage system. Canals were flushed through at night. Thankfully, the majority of houseboats are now connected.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Ann. I had heard that the canals can freeze in the winter. I would imagine that Amsterdam is a great place to visit at any time of the year.

I agree about the Dutch being friendly. Their English is very good too, which is just as well, because I would struggle to speak Dutch.

That's a good point about photos. I didn't see anyone with a camera in a kayak. I hope you get back to Amsterdam sometime. After nearly 34 years, we still haven't made it back to Corfu. Hopefully we will one day.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 01, 2020:

Amsterdam looks lovely. I'd love to go on a boat trip here. Thanks for all the lovely photos!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 01, 2020:

These are all exciting experiences. I was in Amsterdam two years ago but stayed only overnight. I have made the boat trip but not the open one going out into the quieter places.

Lisha C on July 01, 2020:

Another very interesting article about Amsterdam, Liz. You have covered all the different types of boats in great detail. Lovely pictures, too.

Ankita B on July 01, 2020:

I wish to visit Amsterdam some day. Excellent article.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, John. It has been fun reliving our last visit to Amsterdam while putting this article together. I hope you can visit one day.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Bill. It sounds like Amsterdam is just the place for you. My hesitation with kayaking would be down to the busyness of the waterways. I would have to pick a quiet time. Experienced kayakers would be fine. I would worry about rolling, especially as the water doesn't look too clean.

I remember a friend talking about the coffee shops in Amsterdam before I first visited. I just assumed they sold coffee until she explained.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Viraj. We found the open boats were a relaxing way to see Amsterdam.

It must be quite easy for Dutch people to take up rowing as a sport with so many waterways in their country.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 01, 2020:

Looks wonderful, Liz. I do think I would look forward to taking out a kayak to explore. Amsterdam looks beautiful, hopefully we can get there in the next few years once travel returns to some sense of normal.

Niks from India on July 01, 2020:

I had dun reading your hub. I'm feeling very lucky as I visited Amsterdam last year. I enjoyed a ride in the Large tourist boats. I'm looking forward to trying different boat rides the next time I visit the Netherlands.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 01, 2020:

There are all sorts of boats on the canals. I image of the houseboat looks kind of rickety old. I didn't realize there are 2500 houseboats on the canals and along the River Amstel.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 01, 2020:

This is a great selection of ways to see Amsterdam. I honeymooned there a long, long time ago and it was January, with many of the canals iced over. I loved the city and I like being by water. The Dutch are so friendly too.

I would choose an organised tour as I like to take photos and that's difficult when you're trying to keep yourself going!

Thanks for this comprehensive guide. I hope to get back there some day so it's a useful preview, Liz.


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 01, 2020:

What a delightful article, Liz. Amsterdam is one city I would love to visit. Beautiful photos and commentary. Thank you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2020:

I love kayaking so I would love Amsterdam. And I've always wanted to live on the water and this looks like a great city to do that. Not that I'm moving, but dreaming is nice.

Thank you for a wonderful tour of a spectacular city. I'll pass on the drugs, though. lol

Viraj Shah from Mumbai on July 01, 2020:

The Rowers and the Open Boats are the best!