Amsterdam is one of those places that I’ve been planning to visit for years, but the trip never quite seemed to happen.
So when I finally made the hop across the North Sea last week, I was looking forward to wandering around the picturesque streets and exploring the canals.
And in fact, travelling by canal turned out to be one of the best ways to experience the city.
Amsterdam has both hop on hop off buses and boats, but the boats seemed like by far the best option. Here are four reasons why:
It’s incredibly relaxing
We clambered on to the boat in the morning, while the sun was shining and the sky was clear. The boats have sliding glass rooves, so you can tour the canals in open top style, snapping photos as you go, with the sunshine on your face.
The boats drift slowly through the water, giving you plenty of time to take in your surroundings and spot interesting details that you want to check out on foot later on.
You see the city from a different perspective
Like Venice, Amsterdam is a city that was made to be explored by water. The canals are such an intrinsic part of the city and its design that it makes sense to travel by boat.
With cars, trams and bikes all vying for space in the streets, Amsterdam can be a busy place to explore on foot if you aren’t used to it. We had to stop and check several times every time we wanted to cross the street, just in case we missed a bicycle barrelling towards us. But the traffic on the canals is much quieter, so you don’t have to worry about stepping out in front of an irate cyclist!
It’s also fascinating to glide past the city’s many houseboats and sneak a little look inside to see how people live there. I’d love to get the chance to stay on one if I go back to Amsterdam, it would definitely be a unique experience.
It gives an insight into the city’s history
As with most city tours, the canal boats offer earphones so you can listen to a guided tour of the area. It’s a nice way to learn a little more about the city and its history, and some of the buildings that you might otherwise pass without a second glance.
The tours also partner with some of the city’s tourist attractions, so they will stop close to the main sites, making it easy to get around. This is especially useful if – like us – you aren’t staying in the centre of Amsterdam.
Explore quieter areas of the city
One of the best things about the canal boat tour was it allowed us to stop at some of the less touristy parts of the city, which we might not have bothered to walk to.
We explored the market in the De Pijp neighbourhood, travelled into the diamond district and sailed past the NEMO Science Museum.
If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, I would recommend taking a boat tour of the city.