The Ultimate Guide to Canal Cruise in Amsterdam


Amsterdam Canal Cruise Route – These are your Options!

Amsterdam Canal Cruise Route

Floating down Amsterdam's iconic canals offers the ideal vantage point to soak up the city's one-of-a-kind charm. From quick one-hour tours to three-hour odysseys gliding by 17 sights, we outline the top canal cruise routes to take in the Dutch capital's quintessential atmosphere.

Amsterdam is a city literally defined by water – winding canals and tree-lined rivers wend their way through the Dutch capital, acting as liquid highways full of history. Getting out on a boat is one of the best ways to experience Amsterdam’s essence and charm, from the grand Golden Age merchant houses that line the canals to world famous sights like the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum. But with over 60 miles of canals and 1,500 bridges spanning the waters, all the potential routes to explore by boat can seem overwhelming.

Luckily, several classic cruise itineraries have emerged that showcase Amsterdam’s most scenic and iconic waterways as well as its top attractions. Whether you opt for a leisurely one hour tour floating by the flower market and skinny bridge or embark on an expansive three hour adventure traversing past 17 sights like the National Maritime Museum and iconic Blue Bridge, there is a perfect Amsterdam canal cruise to suit your interests. 

Read on to discover the options when it comes to these iconic sightseeing cruises – the best vantage points to take in Amsterdam’s one-of-a-kind cityscape and architecture from the idyllic perspective of its vestigial canals. We’ll outline the most popular routes and highlights as well as handy tips for getting the most out of your time aboard a classic Amsterdam canal cruise.

1 hour Amsterdam canal cruise route

The classis 1 hour Amsterdam canal cruise (like this popular cruise by “Lovers”) starts near Central Station and winds through the city’s famous 17th-century canals, including the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. As the boat floats through neighborhoods like the Jordaan, Nine Streets, and the Pijp, passengers can see iconic Amsterdam sights like the skinny bridge, the Amstel river, Anne Frank House, historic merchant houses, gothic churches, medieval buildings, and museums.

An audio tour in 19 languages provides commentary and insights into the city’s history and architecture along the route. The exact route may vary slightly based on canal traffic and boat size, but will showcase Amsterdam’s essential sights and scenic waterways that gave the city its “Venice of the North” nickname. Key highlights are the 17th century canal network, iconic Dutch architecture, and passing by landmarks like the Anne Frank House and skinny bridge.

2 hour Amsterdam canal cruise route

The typical 2 hour Amsterdam canal cruise starts at the Westerdok dock and first travels along the famous Prinsengracht canal, passing highlights like the Anne Frank House, 9 Streets shopping area, Westerkerk church, and Houseboat Museum. It then continues onto the Amstel river, sailing under the iconic Skinny Bridge and passing the Hermitage Amsterdam and Amsterdam Museum.

At this point, the cruise has two possible return routes. One option is returning via the Keizersgracht canal, passing FOAM photography museum and Museum Van Loon. The alternative is returning along the Herengracht, considered Amsterdam’s most prestigious canal, passing sights like the opulent Golden Bend and Canal Museum.

Regardless of the return portion, the comprehensive 2 hour route showcases Amsterdam’s most famous canals and rivers, as well as 12+ top attractions and architectural landmarks that give the city its famed picturesque scenery and “Venice of the North” charm.


3 hour Amsterdam canal cruise route

The classic extended 3 hour canal cruise usually follows the same initial route as the 2 hour cruise along the iconic Prinsengracht, passing the Anne Frank House, 9 Streets, and other top attractions. It then diverges to wind through the Entrepotdok and Oosterdok canals, sailing past cultural institutions like the National Maritime Museum, NEMO science center, Rembrandt House Museum, and the iconic Blue Bridge.

The cruise loops back towards the city center along the Amstel river and glides under the Skinny Bridge, also passing by the Amsterdam Museum and Hermitage Amsterdam. At this point, passengers can return via the grand Keizersgracht canal or the equally impressive Herengracht, Amsterdam’s most prestigious canal lined with Golden Age architecture.

All in all, the comprehensive 3 hour journey glides by 17+ of Amsterdam’s most famous landmarks, museums, bridges, and canals that give the city its quintessential charm. The extended route provides an immersive overview of Amsterdam for first-time visitors.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus and Boat canal cruise route

The hop on hop off canal cruise is an open boat tour that makes 8 stops at major Amsterdam sights and attractions. The boat route connects most of the city’s iconic canals including the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht, and Amstel River.

Key stops and sights along the 90 minute roundtrip route include:

  • National Monument on Dam Square
  • Anne Frank House and Westerkerk church along the Prinsengracht
  • Begijnhof hidden courtyard
  • City Hall on the Amstel river
  • Royal Palace
  • Nieuwmarkt square
  • Rembrandt House Museum
  • Waterloo plein square

The full loop takes around 90 minutes. Passengers can choose to hop on and off at any of the stops to explore different Amsterdam neighborhoods like the Jordaan, De Pijp, and city center. The open boat provides scenic views and informative audio commentary along its canal route through Amsterdam’s UNESCO-protected 17th century city center.

More useful information about Amsterdam Canal Cruises

We are a group of travelers who love to explore and write about Amsterdam. Over the years, we have gained extensive experience with cruising over the Canals in Amsterdam. Here, you could find all the essential information you need to know about Amsterdam Canal Cruises, including the different types of cruise, prices, tickets, operating hours, departure points, and many more.


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