Amsterdam Sightseeing Cruise: The Top Attractions and Landmarks to Visit by Boat

An Amsterdam sightseeing cruise along canals is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the city. It’s the perfect way to experience the city’s beauty, history, and charm all at once. And the cities canals are not just a pretty backdrop; they are an integral part of the city’s history and culture.

The Canal Ring, a network of canals that were dug in the 17th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of Amsterdam’s most iconic landmarks. Along the canals, visitors can see historic bridges, charming canal houses, and some of the city’s most famous attractions.

In this blog post, we will explore the top attractions and landmarks to visit by boat in Amsterdam. From the historic Canal Ring to the striking modern architecture of the Eye Film Museum, there is something for everyone on an Amsterdam sightseeing cruise. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, we hope this guide will help you make the most of your time in Amsterdam and discover the city’s beauty from a unique perspective. So, let’s hop on board and explore the best of Amsterdam by boat!

The Must-See Landmarks and Attractions on an Amsterdam Sightseeing Cruise

One of the best ways to see Amsterdam’s famous landmarks and attractions is by taking a sightseeing cruise. Visitors can sit back and relax on a boat while enjoying the city’s stunning architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Here are some of the top landmarks and attractions to see on an Amsterdam sightseeing cruise:

The Canal Belt

The Canal Belt, or Grachtengordel, is an exceptional feat of urban planning and engineering. Constructed during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, the canal system served both practical and aesthetic purposes. It facilitated transportation, trade, and defence while also embodying the city’s cultural and economic prosperity. The canals were meticulously designed, with their concentric layout forming a semicircle around the medieval centre of Amsterdam. As you cruise along the Canal Ring, you’re witnessing the legacy of a city that flourished during a pivotal era in European history.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House holds a profound historical significance as the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne Frank, a Jewish girl, wrote her poignant diary while in hiding, providing a first-hand account of the hardships and hopes of those persecuted during World War II. The house itself was Otto Frank’s former business premises, and the secret annex where the family hid has been preserved as a museum. Visiting the Anne Frank House allows you to connect with the personal story of Anne Frank and gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.


Built between 1620 and 1631, the Westerkerk stands as an iconic symbol of Amsterdam’s Protestant heritage. Designed by renowned architect Hendrick de Keyser, this grand church played a significant role during the Dutch Reformation. The Westerkerk is notable for its striking Renaissance-style architecture, featuring a tall, slender tower called the Westertoren. The tower’s carillon, with its melodious bells, has become a cherished symbol of Amsterdam. Over the centuries, the Westerkerk has witnessed historical events and served as a spiritual center for the city’s inhabitants.

Magere Brug

The Magere Brug, or Skinny Bridge, holds a special place in Amsterdam’s folklore and history. The original bridge, dating back to the 17th century, was a narrow wooden drawbridge. Legend has it that the bridge was named after the Magere sisters, who lived on opposite sides of the river and used a small bridge to visit each other. The current bridge, a reconstruction completed in 1934, retains its iconic elegance. The Magere Brug is not only a functional crossing, but also a symbol of love and connection, evoking a sense of romance and enchantment for locals and visitors alike. Legend states, that if lovers kiss while passing under the bridge, their love shall be internal. If it’s true? Only one way to find out…

NEMO Science Museum

The NEMO Science Museum is a testament to Amsterdam’s commitment to innovation and education. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the museum opened its doors in 1997. Its striking, ship-like structure with a green copper roof represents a departure from traditional architectural norms. The museum’s design reflects Amsterdam’s long-standing relationship with water, as well as its forward-thinking approach to science and technology. By visiting the NEMO Science Museum, you engage in a hands-on exploration of science, sparking curiosity and inspiring the next generation of inventors and thinkers.

Maritime Museum:

Located in the former Admiralty storehouse, the Maritime Museum showcases the Netherlands’ rich maritime history. The building itself dates back to 1656 and served as a centre for naval operations during the Dutch Golden Age. The museum offers a comprehensive view of Dutch seafaring achievements, including exploration, trade, and naval warfare. Its exhibits feature beautifully crafted ship models, navigational instruments, and artefacts that highlight Amsterdam’s maritime influence on a global scale. By visiting the Maritime Museum, you delve into the maritime legacy that has shaped Amsterdam’s identity and prominence.

These are just a few of the top landmarks and attractions to see on an Amsterdam sightseeing cruise. With so much to see and do, a sightseeing cruise is a great way to get an overview of the city and experience its unique charm and beauty.

Types of Sightseeing Cruises in Amsterdam

Private Amsterdam sightseeing cruises:

Indulge in the epitome of luxury and exclusivity with a private Amsterdam sightseeing cruise. Step aboard your own private boat, accompanied by a knowledgeable captain who will serve as your personal guide to the city’s wonders. Together, you can craft a tailor-made itinerary, ensuring you visit the hidden gems and iconic landmarks that pique your interest. Glide through Amsterdam’s picturesque canals, away from the bustling crowds, as you savor the intimacy and privacy of your own floating sanctuary. With personalized commentary and insider tips from your captain, this bespoke experience guarantees an unparalleled journey through Amsterdam’s rich history and vibrant culture.

Shared cruises:

Embrace the spirit of camaraderie and shared discovery with a shared Amsterdam sightseeing cruise. Join fellow travelers from around the world as you embark on a voyage through the city’s enchanting waterways. These cruises offer a more affordable option without compromising on quality or comfort. As you mingle with your fellow passengers, you’ll have the opportunity to forge new friendships, exchange travel stories, and gain insights from diverse perspectives. It’s a chance to connect with like-minded individuals and create lasting memories while collectively marveling at the architectural wonders and captivating scenery that Amsterdam has to offer.

Hop-on-hop-off boat tours:

Unleash your sense of adventure and exploration with a hop-on-hop-off boat tour in Amsterdam. This flexible option allows you to curate your own unique journey through the city. With multiple stops along the canals, you can disembark at any point that catches your attention, whether it’s to visit renowned attractions or delve into charming neighborhoods. Take your time to immerse yourself in the artistry of the Museum District, wander the vibrant streets of Jordaan, or discover the cultural treasures nestled along the canals. Then, simply rejoin the tour when you’re ready to continue, ensuring you have the freedom to delve into Amsterdam’s captivating tapestry at your own pace.

Dinner and cocktail cruises:

Elevate your culinary experience to new heights with a dinner or an Amsterdam cocktail cruise on the canals. Step aboard a beautifully appointed vessel, where you’ll be treated to an exquisite meal or carefully crafted cocktails, accompanied by breathtaking views of the city’s illuminated landmarks. As dusk paints the sky with a magical palette, the canals transform into a shimmering reflection of Amsterdam’s romantic allure. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply savouring a night of indulgence, these cruises offer an enchanting ambiance with live music, ensuring an unforgettable dining experience that harmonizes the flavours of Amsterdam with its stunning water scapes.

Overall, there’s a wide variety of sightseeing cruises available in Amsterdam to cater to different preferences and interests, ranging from leisurely canal tours to romantic dinner cruises and hop-on-hop-off boat tours.

Benefits of Taking a Sightseeing Cruise in Amsterdam

Immersive Historical Commentary in the Amsterdam Sightseeing Cruise

Embark on an Amsterdam sightseeing cruise and immerse yourself in a captivating journey through the city’s vibrant history. Expert guides, well-versed in Amsterdam’s captivating tales, will regale you with captivating stories and intriguing anecdotes, transporting you back in time.

Learn about the city’s rise during the Dutch Golden Age, its storied canals that served as lifelines of trade and prosperity, and the resilience of its people during periods of turmoil. This immersive historical commentary adds depth and context to the landmarks you pass, offering a truly enriching experience that goes beyond surface-level sightseeing.

Unobstructed Views and Photography Opportunities in an Amsterdam Sightseeing Cruise

As you cruise along Amsterdam’s enchanting canals, be prepared to witness the city’s iconic landmarks and architectural wonders from a whole new perspective.

The unobstructed views from the water provide an unparalleled opportunity to capture stunning photographs that encapsulate the essence of Amsterdam’s charm.

From the graceful gables of canal-side houses to the imposing grandeur of historical monuments, every frame showcases the city’s distinctive character and timeless beauty. Let your creativity soar as you document unique angles and compositions, ensuring that your memories of Amsterdam are as extraordinary as the city itself.

Hidden Gems and Off-the-Beaten-Path Discoveries

Beyond the well-trodden tourist paths lies a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. An Amsterdam sightseeing cruise offers the chance to uncover lesser-known corners of the city, unveiling its best-kept secrets and off-the-beaten-path wonders. Accompanied by experienced captains and guides, you’ll be taken on alternative routes that reveal charming canal-side neighborhoods, picturesque bridges adorned with blooming flowers, and quiet canal bends that exude tranquility. These hidden treasures provide a genuine taste of local life and offer a more intimate connection with Amsterdam’s authentic spirit.

Overall, taking an Amsterdam sightseeing cruise is a unique and enriching way to experience the city. With its stunning architecture, rich history, and unique culture, Amsterdam is a city that is best experienced from the water.

Final Thoughts

An Amsterdam sightseeing cruise is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the city. From leisurely canal tours to active electric boat tours, visitors have a wide range of options to choose from.

A sightseeing cruise is the perfect way to see the city’s famous landmarks, such as the Canal Ring, Anne Frank House, Westerkerk, Magere Brug, NEMO Science Museum, and the Maritime Museum.

Additionally, the best time to take a sightseeing cruise is during the spring or summer when the weather is pleasant, and the city comes alive with festivals and events. With so much to see and do, a sightseeing cruise is an ideal way to experience the unique charm and beauty of Amsterdam!