Do you have a short amount of time to Amsterdam? The best place to start is by taking a canal cruise! There are many options, from bigger boats with covered surfaces that serve dinner to smaller, open-air boats.
Me personally, I recommend the latter. You run the risk of having your cruise rained out, but there’s nothing that compares to the unobstructed views of the city from this angle.
Any time of year is a good time to cruise the canals of Amsterdam, day or night. I booked with a company called Friendship Amsterdam. Making a reservation online was easy and the price was right at just 15 euro for a one hour cruise. I like that the company is open late, till 11pm most nights. Also, the service itself is intimate, with 20 passengers as opposed to the 50+ I saw in most other boats. Being small gave us an advantage when it came to fitting under lower bridges, so we got to se the city in a way other boats did not.
It was chilly when I went in early November. If you choose Friendship Amsterdam don’t fret about the weather though–they have heated blankets and warm beverages.
Initially, I’d planned on an evening tour upon arriving in the city but it was raining that night. It must have been fate because I saw some gorgeous views the next morning. And nothing can’t quite capture what it felt like to just cruise along the canals of Amsterdam with the sun shining and a drink in hand.
If you’re debating whether to go day or night, why not try both? They’re supposed to be distinct experiences and the city has many lights at night, not all of them red.
Also note there is a lover’s tour available, taking you under the Bridge of Love where couples leave love locks on the bridge (to the dismay of local government). While not officially sanctioned, this is a good alternative for all those looking to replace the Pont des Arts bridge in France.
Legend has it that if you kiss while cruising under the bridge, you’ll be together forever. Needless to say, pick your cruise mate wisely!
Finally I want to share a view from underneath the bridge. Our guide told us that if we touched the panels while passing by it was good luck, so naturally I took it upon myself to touch away–I’m not one to be scoffing at gratuitous luck!
This picture captures perfectly the beauty of my afternoon on the water. It was taken just as we approached the one point where you can see straight forward and underneath seven consecutive bridges. I’m very much an amateur photographer, but Amsterdam makes taking good pictures easy.
Don’t miss a canal cruise in between your partying. There are boats available to accommodate even the strictest schedules and your orientation to Amsterdam will be sorely incomplete without one.
Till next time, safe travels!