Are Canal Cruises in Amsterdam Worth it 2023: 7 Unique Tours

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Are canal cruises in Amsterdam worth it? Amsterdam is historically known for its beautiful canal systems that cover over 60 miles of the city.

When you walk along the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam, you are surrounded by these unique 400-year-old canals and monumental buildings. Canal cruises are extremely popular among tourists, and you will notice them all over the city.

⭐ No time to read the entire article? No worries, I’ve got you covered! My top pick for the best canal cruise in Amsterdam is the Amsterdam: Open Boat Canal Cruise. It has about 4,000 outstanding reviews and I personally booked this tour during our trip – so you can’t go wrong!

Right before our trip, I was speaking to somebody from the Netherlands, who lived outside of Amsterdam. We were discussing the best things to do in Amsterdam for our visit, and I told her that I had booked a canal cruise. She giggled and did a little roll of her eyes, and continued the conversation about which museums to visit and other must things to do.

Are canal cruises in Amsterdam worth it

After that, I couldn’t help to think to myself, are canal cruises in Amsterdam worth it? Or is it a tourist trap, and we should be focusing our time on other things to do in the city? We did follow through with the booked canal cruise and had a wonderful time exploring Amsterdam.

Continue reading, and I will discuss if canal cruises in Amsterdam are worth it, seven top tours that offer unique experiences, and helpful tips on booking your canal cruise.

My Top 3 Picks: Canal Cruises in Amsterdam

#1 TOP PICK

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Amsterdam: Open Boat Canal Cruise
✔️ 4,000 outstanding reviews
✔️ I personally booked this tour
✔️ Offers open boat from March to October

#2 TOP PICK

Amsterdam Canal Cruise Cheese and Wine
✔️ Enjoy tasty Dutch cheeses and wine
✔️ Sides have an optional covering

↳ Book it

#3 TOP PICK

Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise
✔️ Small group of 12 people
✔️ Snacks and open bar included

↳ Book it

Are Canal Cruises in Amsterdam Worth It

If it is your first time visiting Amsterdam, a canal cruise is absolutely worth it! A canal cruise allows you to see the city from a different and unique perspective.

As you glide along the historic canals, you will admire the stunning architecture of the city and learn interesting facts about Amsterdam’s history. The cruise is very relaxing and a must thing to do in when visiting Amsterdam.

I suggest booking your tour in advance to save time at the canals and to book the best experience for you and your group in Amsterdam.

When a Canal Cruise in Amsterdam is Not Worth It

When deciding for myself if booking a canal cruise in Amsterdam was worth it or not, I came across some negative reviews, and some of them I can agree with.

For example, there were some reviews that described the boats as “hot and stuffy.” “The plastic tops on the boat were worn and not clear, and you couldn’t see much in the boat.” Or the ride was “slow and crowded, and earphones barely worked.”

A canal cruise in Amsterdam

Luckily, I think by booking the right tour you can easily avoid all of these issues. If you are booking during peak tourist season between May and August, the canals can get crowded and may not be as enjoyable. I suggest booking your tour earlier in the day or later in the day to avoid the crowds.

Also, there are open boat tours of the canals, which is what we did, and I highly recommend it. An open boat allows you to enjoy the full experience! It is easier to see, and they are not hot and stuffy.

Another tip would be to book a smaller-sized tour. A small tour group is a great way to avoid an overcrowded boat. And you can hear your tour guide and not have to rely on earphones.

Top Canal Cruises in Amsterdam 2022

As one of the most popular tours to book in Amsterdam, there are numerous canal cruises and tour groups to choose from. Some offer different experiences, such as a dinner cruise, all-you-can-drink cruise, cheese and wine cruise, evening cruise, or an open boat cruise. Visit the iconic canals on one of these top cruises in Amsterdam!

⭐ First time in Amsterdam? Here you can find the ultimate guide to getting from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam City Center. Also, if there is Uber in Amsterdam and when Uber is not your best option.

1. Best Basic Canal Cruise Amsterdam

⭐ RATING: 4.7 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

What makes the Amsterdam: Open Boat Canal Cruise one of the best tours is that it offers a well-rounded tour of the canals. The tour is 60 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to cruise along the iconic canals and learn about the historic buildings that line the famous waterfront.

open boat canal cruise in Amsterdam
For one of the best canal tours in Amsterdam, book Amsterdam: Open Boat Canal Cruise

This was the tour that we decided to book. We really enjoyed the stories and knowledge of the skipper and guide. It’s a smaller boat, so the experience and the atmosphere felt more intimate, where we could ask questions and be involved in the conversation.

Another perk of this boat is that from March to October the tours are operated on open boats. Personally, I think this is what made our experience on the canals. On an open boat, you can see so much more of the surrounding canals and buildings. Also, they are not stuffy or have blurry windows you need to look through.

Loved loved loved it! We went right around sunset and it was perfect. Dusk with the city lights coming on! Definitely recommend and also the open boat. I had thought about the closed one in case it was cold but it would have taken away from the experience. The boat had blankets so those worked great.” -GetYourGuide traveler (see more reviews)

book a cruise on the canals in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The boat also offered refreshments for a fee and provided blankets and umbrellas in case it rained during our tour. I highly recommend this tour. They are a newer tour company and want to provide their customers with an excellent experience.

✅ Book the Amsterdam: Open Boat Canal Cruise here

2. Amsterdam Canal Cruise Cheese and Wine

⭐ RATING: 4.7 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

Enjoy some delicious Dutch cheeses and a glass of wine on your Amsterdam canal cruise. On the Amsterdam Canal Cruise Cheese and Wine Tour you will hop aboard the classic wooden boat. Your skipper will share the local history as you sail past by the many quintessential sights. Such as the famous Skinny Bridge, Maritime Museum, Anne Frank House, and more.

historic building along the canals in Amsterdam
Looking to add delicious cheese and wine to your canal tour? Book Amsterdam Canal Cruise Cheese and Wine Tour

The boat for the Canal Cruise Cheese and Wine Tour is covered, which can offer protection from the sun or rain. However, a great feature is that the sides have an optional covering, which makes the boat still feel open and airy.

Simply great! We were served very well. There were very tasty wines; White, rosé and red. Non-alcoholic drinks were also offered. The guides were very friendly and funny. The cheese was offered with delicious, sweet mustard. We thought the tour was great… And would book it again at any time.” – Regina (read more reviews)

The best part, and probably the main reason you would book this tour, is the unlimited cheese and wine! Fully indulge in the tasty Dutch cheeses and wine during your one-hour cruise. It is also a smaller boat of about 20 people. With this tour, you will also get a more personal tour than some of the larger cruise boats.

✅ Book the Amsterdam Classic Boat Cruise With Cheese & Wine Option here

3. All You Can Drink Canal Cruise

⭐ RATING: 4.6 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

For a boozy Saturday or a way to kickstart your night out in the city, you can book an all you can drink canal cruise. The Amsterdam: Canal Booze Cruise is an hour and a half open boat tour that takes you on a cruise into the heart of the city to the main canals. And of course, the drinks are unlimited!

Thoroughly enjoyed this booze cruise! It was easy to find by the bridge, left slightly after planned time no major delay, staff were very friendly and welcoming from the start of the experience. Alcohol / drinks actually were limitless, we were able to serve ourselves from the table & cooled boxes. The tour was also quite informative, telling us a lot of about the history of the city and random facts.” – GetYourGuide traveler (read more reviews)

The all-you-can-drink canal cruise is perfect for a small group of friends or family. The capacity of each boat is up to 10 people. The Amsterdam: Canal Booze Cruise offers three different experiences.

You can either book a private booze cruise of 10 or less, a shared booze cruise, or a private Saturday booze cruise. If you have a larger group of 10 or more, they can accommodate for that as well.

✅ Book the Amsterdam: Canal Booze Cruise here

4. Best Small Group Canal Cruise

⭐ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

This highly rated Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise is a great option for a group cruise! It is a smaller boat that only fits up to 12 people. However, this can create a more personal relationship with the caption and gives you the opportunity to get to know the other travelers on your boat. 

Also, a smaller boat and two-hour tour allow for unobstructed views and for you to see so much more of the canals.

A perfect way to view Amsterdam on a cosy boat with comfort and delicious refreshments. On top of that- a guide who is a bit of a star, Erik. Erik is a fascinating man who shared with us so much about the history and interest of Amsterdam; including his own family history. It was absolutely priceless. This made it an unforgetabke experience. Many thanks.” – Yael F. (read more reviews)

On your Small Group Canal Cruise, you will learn about Amsterdam’s sights and culture from the captain. And you can sip on drinks from an open bar and nibble on authentic Dutch treats like bitterballen and stroopwafel as you cruise the canals.

✅ Book Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise Plus Snacks & Drinks here

5. Amsterdam Evening Canal Cruise

⭐ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

Finish off a perfect day in Amsterdam with an evening canal cruise. Amsterdam is beautiful in the evening, and it can be so nice to sit back and relax on the canals after an adventurous day of touring the city. You can either book your evening tour during golden hour or experience the canals at night when the bridges light up the city.

An evening on the Amsterdam canals
See canals light up at night on the Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise

The Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise is a one hour tour on a small open boat with a maximum of 15 people. A smaller boat will give you the opportunity to interact with your skipper and the other people on the boat.

The staff on board were excellent. They very warm and friendly and yet had so much information and interesting facts. It was a lovely dry evening so we were able to appreciate the Xmas lights which were really beautiful. But even at another time of year the nighttime cruise is really recommended. Definitely one of the highlights of a 3 day visit to Amsterdam.” – Martin O. (read more reviews)

Your private skipper and guide will ensure that you have the best experience! You will learn about the famous landmarks, culture, and rich trading history as you glide along the famous canals. There is a bar on board if you are interested in sipping on a drink during your cruise. They also provide blankets for those chilly night cruises, so you will be warm and comfortable the entire time.

✅ Book the Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise with Bar on Board here

6. Luxury Dinner Cruise in Amsterdam

⭐ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

For a romantic and unique dining experience, you can book an Luxury Dinner Cruise in Amsterdam. A dinner cruise is a great way to end your day in Amsterdam with a relaxing night cruise with your special someone or a group of friends and family.

The atmosphere was fantastic The food and service was exceptional . The canal ride at night was a whole different experience.” – Randal B. (read more reviews)

a relaxing night cruise on the Amsterdam canals
Enjoy a three course dinner on the canal with this 2 hour Luxury Dinner Cruise in Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam Dinner Cruise includes three courses and an appetizer from a renowned Amsterdam restaurant and a chance to see the historic canal landmarks light up at night on a three hours cruise.

The numbers on the cruise are capped at 16 on board, so you will be sure to enjoy an intimate dinner without a crowd of people.

✅ Book the Luxury Dinner Cruise in Amsterdam here

7. Amsterdam: Smoke & Lounge 70 Minute Boat Tour

⭐ RATING: 4.7 out of 5 Stars | BOOK NOW 🛶

Probably the only destination in the world where you can find a tour that offers a smoke lounge on a boat cruise. Book the Amsterdam Smoke & Lounge Boat Tour for a very chill and relaxing boat ride on the canals with amazing views.

I’ve been to Amsterdam before, but never did a canal ride. I was with people that had never been to Amsterdam before and it was a great first impression. It was a great way to experience the city in a 420 environment with a beverage. BYOW with two drinks included. I highly recommend.” – GetYourGuide traveler (read more reviews)

The 70-minute boat tour includes two free drinks, a comfy lounge with heated seats for chilly nights, and hookahs onboard for an extra cost. You also do need to bring your own cannabis products. The tour accommodates up to 22 people and covers the main canals with Amsterdam’s iconic landmarks.

✅ Book the Amsterdam Smoke & Lounge Boat Tour here

*This tour is not suitable for children under the age of 18 years old

Frequently Asked Questions When Booking a Canal Tour

Do I Need to Book an Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Advance

It is possible to purchase tickets last minute at some of the canal cruise departure locations. However, I recommend booking your tour in advance to ensure that tickets are available for the day and time of your choice.

Booking before your tour will save time at the canals, and you can decide beforehand on the best experience for you and your group in Amsterdam. Also, canal cruises book fast during the peak tourist season between May and August.

How Much are Canal Tours in Amsterdam

A canal tour in Amsterdam is typically around $20 to $30 per person for a one hour tour. The price depends on which canal tour you choose to book and if your tour comes with any extras like an open bar or snacks.

How Long are Canal Cruises in Amsterdam

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is typically between an hour to an hour half long. Our tour was an hour, and we felt like it was the perfect amount of time on the canals. The tours that offer food, like the Amsterdam Dinner Canal Cruise or the Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise are two hours to give you a little bit of extra time on the canals.

Amsterdam Canal Cruise Day Or Night

What is the best time for a canal cruise in Amsterdam? There are pros and cons to booking a canal cruise in Amsterdam during the day or at night. It all depends on what is most important to you and your schedule.

The pros of a canal cruise during the day are that you will be able to see more of the historic sights and landmarks. However, if you are booking during the summer months, I suggest booking earlier in the day because the canals can be crowded and you may not get the same experience.

The shops and houses that line the canals in Amsterdam

Booking a night tour provides the unique experience of seeing the city and the bridges light up at night. There are fewer boats and people on night tours, so you can unwind and relax on your calming tour.

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In Conclusion: Are Canal Cruises in Amsterdam Worth It

Would you visit Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower? That is how I feel about exploring the canals in Amsterdam.

A cruise may be considered touristy, but the canals are a big part of Amsterdam’s history. I think that canal cruises in Amsterdam are worth it and you will not regret it!

Booking a canal cruise is a reasonable price, and most of the tours are only an hour long, so it does not take up a lot of time if you are only in Amsterdam for a short time. We really enjoyed our canal cruise in Amsterdam because we thought it was informative, entertaining, and a great way to see the city!

Besides the canals, there are so many more amazing things to do in Amsterdam like a food tour, exploring the 9 streets, visiting the Anne Frank House, and so much more.