Amsterdams canals
Amsterdams canals

De Amsterdam Canals

The Amsterdam canals are iconic for our capital. From tourists to Amsterdam locals, everyone loves this unique piece of cultural heritage. Many people like to rent a boat to discover Amsterdam from the water. It is from here that you can really see the facades in their full glory, without having to participate in the crowd that run through the city center. In short, cruising in Amsterdam is fun! If you know more about the canals, it is even more fun, so we would like to tell you more about the Amsterdam waterways in this blog.

The history of the Amsterdam canals

Our capital is known worldwide for its canals, they have even been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2010. The Amsterdam canals play a major role in the rich history of the city. During the Golden Age (1600 – 1700), the canals were built to facilitate the import and export of goods.

This is where the buildings around the canals owe their characteristic appearance from. Now they are historic office buildings, apartments and shops, but at the time these buildings were mainly used as warehouses. The hooks are now used to move Amsterdam locals to hoist the items in and out of the department store.

The days of merchant shipping have already passed, but the canals still play a very important role in the identity of the city. So they are one of the major tourist attractions, Amsterdam locals themselves enjoy various events on and around the canals.

The different canals in Amsterdam

The Amsterdam canalbelt runs through the different districts. The most famous canals belong to the canals with the main canals Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. After the canals, De Amstel itself is one of the most famous waterways in the city. It is home to the Amstel Hotel and Royal Theater Carré, among others.

The Burgwallen are known for their historical character and the Red Light District which is located on the Oude Zijde. There is also a so-called “new side”, but the Singel is the only canal that is not filled in.

The four other Amsterdam canals that were once part of the Burgwallen were the Martelaarsgracht, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal and ‘t Spui. Furthermore, there are the canals in the lively Jordaan, the Western and Eastern Islands and the Lastage, which covers all the canals on the east side of the Burgwallen.

A party on the Amsterdam canals

In addition to a rich history, the Amsterdam canals still play a major role in the city’s identity. Several times a year, the canals are the stage for various festivities. For example, the city is creatively illuminated every year during the Amsterdam Light Festival, the Amsterdam canals are full of revelers on King’s Day, the canals are in all colors of the rainbow for Amsterdam Pride, everyone comes together to listen to the Prinsengracht concert and there is also the annual canal festival to put this special part of the Amsterdam city in the spotlight.

Amsterdams canals at night

Hidden gems on the Amsterdam canals

There are a number of sights in the city that can clearly be spotted from the Amsterdam Canals. Think for example of the Oude Kerk, Hotel L’Europe, the Amstelhotel, Artis, NEMO and the Tropical museum.

But there is much more to see. There are several terraces and restaurants that serve you from the water. There are also sometimes hidden gems in the buildings on the Amsterdam canals.

For example, there is the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder that shows a church that dates from the time when no Catholic church services were allowed to be held. Then there is also the Biblical museum. Or how about fashion over the years with the Dutch Costume Museum and the Museum of Bags and Purses.

Cruising Amsterdam

We’ve talked about the canals themselves and things to do around the canals. But the best thing about the Amsterdam canals is of course that you can cruise on it! No matter how many times you have visited the capital, everything is different from the water.

Do you want to discover the Amsterdam canals up close? Then rent a boat or book a special package trough our website. From open boats and saloon boats with skipper to fully arranged arrangements, we can make your cruise extra special. Or for smaller groups take a look at our canal cruises.

Browse through our offer or contact us to discuss any specific wishes, we are happy to help you! Amsterdam has several nice cruising routes.

Warning! Do you want to cruise a route that also goes on the IJ, the Kostverlorenvaart or the Nieuwe Herengracht? Let us know, not all boats are allowed to cruise these routes.

Read our blog post if you want to know more about cruising in Amsterdam.

Varen op de Amsterdamse Grachten met boot