The ultimate LOVERS guide to the Amsterdam canals

10 January 2023

With over 70 years of experience on the Amsterdam canals, we can confidently say that we know our way around the city. We know the history, the best sights, the hidden gems and where to go in Amsterdam for the best photos. And we look forward to sharing the city with visitors every day, and sharing some of our best tips as well.

The canals of Amsterdam: a history

Any good guide of the Amsterdam canals will start with a brief history lesson of both the city and the canals as the two cannot be viewed separately. The earliest canals date back to the 12th-century, when they served as defensive moats, this also explains the circular nature of the canals. As the city grew, moats became waterways in the city itself instead of sitting beyond the city limits.

But the real growth of Amsterdam and its canal system happened from the late 16th- to mid 17th-century. The city prospered due to all sorts of trade and some of the city’s most famous canals were created during this time. Specifically the UNESCO World Heritage listed canal ring, including the Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht.

Museum of the canals of AmsterdamThe canals of Amsterdam were created to be both functional and beautiful to attract wealthy merchants. The canals were lined with grand houses, built in a variety of architectural styles, reflecting the city's prosperity and cultural diversity. Today, these three canals form the heart of Amsterdam’s canal system. But they are flanked by many smaller canals and linked together by 1,500 bridges.

A great place to learn more about the Amsterdam canals is at the Museum of the Canals. This museum sits inside one of the beautiful merchant houses along the Herengracht. Interactive exhibits, films and audio show you the history of the canals and their meaning to the city today.

The best Amsterdam canal cruises

We won’t deny it, we are biased in favour of our own cruises. And for a reason, as our canal cruises are designed for the optimal guest experience. Our Amsterdam Canal Cruise is the most popular of its kind in the city, with comfortable individual seats, glass-top roofs and an expert audio guide. It is the boat tour in the city to try on your visit.

Our top 5 of Amsterdam canal cruises:

Attractions to visit along the Amsterdam canals

City Sightseeing Amsterdam boatThere are many attractions and museums you can visit that have found themselves a home along Amsterdam’s waterways. One of the easiest ways to visit these places is when you tour the city with the Amsterdam City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off boat. This boat has stops near some of the city’s best attractions, so that you can easily visit them while cruising through the city.

Amsterdam’s biggest museum sits on the edge of the water. The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands and features works by masters as Vincent Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt van Rijn. Through art and historical artefacts the museum portrays the story of 800 years of Dutch history.

If you are travelling to Amsterdam with kids, you will want to stop at NEMO Science Museum. This is where you can get hands-on with science. Kids can perform experiments (under supervision) in a chemistry lab, they can blow bubbles big enough to stand in, and much more.

Other museums to visit that stand along Amsterdam’s water ways include the famous Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht, photography museum Foam on Keizersgracht, the Rembrandt House Museum near the St Antonie lock, and the National Maritime Museum with its 18th-century replica merchant ship. There is an attraction for everyone on the Amsterdam canals.

The perfect picture of Amsterdam

View near the Armbrug in AmsterdamWhen you visit Amsterdam you will want proof to share with your family and loved ones at home, or your followers online. We know exactly where you should go take the best photos during your visit, and we are happy to share our tips with you. Of course, you will be able to take amazing photos from our cruises, but sometimes you just want to stand still and take it all in from the shore.

One place we recommend to take some time at is the terrace of Cafe De Regent van Amsterdam, near the Armbrug. Here your photos will have a backdrop where the canal houses appear to float above the water. Another great place for such a shot is on the Damrak, though the photo is harder to take because there is more happening on the shore.

When there are leaves on the trees, you will want to visit Amsterdam’s Lomanstraat, near the westside of Vondelpark. On this street, the trees cross over the street as their crowns have grown towards each other. If you walk along this street and look up, you might just think you are in a forest.

If you want your photo to include not only canal houses but also house boats, you should visit the Papiermolensluis and the Lekkeresluis, which connect the Prinsengracht and the Korte Prinsengracht. On the end of the Prinsengracht you can visit one of Amsterdam’s oldest cafes ‘t Papeneiland, which is known for its Dutch apple pie. Making this tip a great place for both photos and a Dutch treat.

Art and the canals: Amsterdam is filled with both

15 August 2023

Seeing art is as much a part of visiting Amsterdam as taking a canal cruise is as art and Amsterdam have gone hand in hand for centuries. When the city constructed its famous canals, Rembrandt van Rijn painted The Night Watch. During the last years of Van Gogh’s life, the Rijksmuseum was built.

Art along the canals

Prinsengracht 70 by The London PoliceArt exists in many shapes and forms and many types can be seen as you cruise along the canals. While your eye might be drawn towards the impressive canal houses, you can also spot street art and murals. For instance, on the side of Prinsengracht 70, where The London Police have created a mural which bridges the gap between urban art and the classic, typically Dutch architecture of the building.

You should also be able to spot some temporary and permanent sculptures and installations on the edges of the canals. Also fun to keep an eye out for are the green, living artworks that have been popping up lately. As the city renovates and strengthens the quay walls, there is more room for greenery around the canals.

And That Weird Plant Guy, known from TikTok, knows just what to do with those spaces. He has created living willow tables, living willow benches, and even a minidome with stairs for a duck’s nest. Though many expected the city to want to remove these creations, the city actually loves them as they are exactly what they want to have instead of, for instance, parking spots.

Amsterdam Light Festival

All the art mentioned above can be seen year round, but winter is a special time for art around the Amsterdam canals. In December and January, the Amsterdam Light Festival takes over the city’s waterways. Special cruises are organised well into the evening to give everyone a chance to see the light art of the festival.

This festival has become a tradition in the Dutch capital, reaching its 12th edition in 2023. Each year the light art is centres around a specific theme, meaning the art is different every year. While you can walk along the canals, the art is best seen from the water.

Combine a canal cruise with a museum visit

A great way to experience all the best Amsterdam has to offer is with a combination ticket. That way you can combine a cruise through the city’s waterways with a visit to a museum. You can, for instance, combine your cruise with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, or with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum.

One of the newest museums you can combine your cruise with is the STRAAT Museum. Here you will see street art and graffiti in a way you won’t see it anywhere else, with context by the artists. Inside the former NDSM wharf, you’ll come face to face with art made on location yet big enough to be at home on any building in the city.

Make the most of your trip to Amsterdam

23 May 2023

Amsterdam is a city filled with many fun attractions and interesting museums to visit. It can be hard to decide where to go and what to spend your money on during your Amsterdam city break. Of course, we always recommend a canal cruise in Amsterdam, to see the city’s iconic sights. But there are plenty of other activities we can recommend to you.

An easy way to explore Amsterdam without breaking the bank and see as much as possible is with the Explore Pass. With Explorer Points, you can select from a variety of over 35 attractions and tours. You will save money on regular admission prices. They have even made possible itineraries to make the most out of your Explore Pass.

Canal cruise with the Explore Pass

Explore Pass as seen on a phoneWith the Explore Pass you can choose four of our canal cruises in Amsterdam. The 1-hour canal cruise is the most popular in the city. It will take you along the most famous canals of Amsterdam.

When it's warm, you can also opt for a semi-open boat cruise. This boat tour provides an even better view of the city centre. The Explore Pass also offers two of our food and drinks cruises.

Take the New York Pizza Cruise to enjoy a delicious pizza! Drinks and dessert are also provided. As you eat, the canal boat will take you through the canals. Or experience a Wine and Cheese Cruise! Taste Dutch cheeses and different kinds of wine while admiring the iconic canals.

Activities to discover in Amsterdam

While we offer some combination tickets, such as with the Van Gogh Museum. With the Explore Pass you can combine your canal cruise with even more different activities in Amsterdam. There are other tours through the city you can explore.

Such as the Fatbike Tours and the City Sightseeing Amsterdam bus, which you can use for free with the Explore Pass. Take a tour through the historic Heineken brewery or discover the Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter.

You can even visit several of Amsterdam’s best museums with the Explore Pass. The Rijksmuseum, for instance, which is the national museum of the Netherlands. As well as the Stedelijk Museum and Moco Museum, both filled with modern art, can be visited with Explorer Points.

If you want to find attractions that are suitable for children, the Explore Pass has you covered. It offers ARTIS Royal Zoo, NEMO Science Museum, and Madame Tussauds. Other family-friendly options include THIS IS HOLLAND and the Pancake Cruise.

These are just a few of the many activities you can do with the Explore Pass during your stay in Amsterdam. And you don’t have to use all your Explorer Points in one day either, as you have a whole year to use up all your points on the pass. This makes the pass a great option for both tourists and locals.

King’s Day on the Amsterdam canals

5 April 2024

If there is one Dutch party you don’t want to miss it’s King’s Day. On this national holiday, the Netherlands celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. On 27 April, and the night before, Amsterdam becomes an even bigger party city than it usually is.

This giant orange party can be a bit overwhelming but with a few tips you are sure to have an incredible time in Amsterdam. This year King's Day is on a Saturday, so everyone will be ready to party all day long. The most important tip for this day: wear something orange to celebrate the House of Orange!

King’s night parties in Amsterdam

The birthday celebrations start the night before with King’s Night. Clubs host special events in special locations. For instance, event organiser Lola and Pllek team up for a night of disco, house, Italo and everything in between.

It’s not only the clubs that get the party started early though. Young talent from the Dutch National Opera Academy, will bring Opera to the street with a performance on the Oranje Vrijstaatplein in Amsterdam Oost. And throughout the city, from the city centre to the suburbs, the streets and cafés will fill with people for street parties.

Top tips for King’s Day in Amsterdam

From 6.00 in the morning flea markets pop-up all over the city from streets to parks, where locals will sell their second-hand items. There are special flea markets for kids, for instance in the Vondelpark, where only kids can sell items. In the days leading up to King’s Day, you’ll see spaces on the street marked as people try to claim the best spots.

If you want a live music festival, then King’s Day offers several in Amsterdam. There is Kingsland in the RAI, Oranjebloesem in the Olympic Stadium, Loveland van Oranje in the Meerpark, and the Urban Music Legends Festival can be found in the Rhonepark. Make sure to get your ticket as the festivals tend to sell out quickly.

Because of the many people of all ages in the city during the King’s Day celebrations and safety reasons, the sale of alcohol is limited even for supermarkets. One alcoholic beverage per person at a time, so no sixpacks or cases of beer for anyone.

Getting around the city on King’s Day is a little different from other days. Though public transport will run, big parts of the city will be shut down for all forms of traffic. Metros will follow their normal routes, but trams and buses will use alternate routes.

Cruising on the Amsterdam canals on King’s Day

Can you still take a canal cruise in Amsterdam on King’s Day? Yes, you can! LOVERS Canal Cruises has boat tours in the morning before handing the canals over to the locals and their boats in the afternoon. However, City Sightseeing Amsterdam’s Hop-on Hop-off boats will not be sailing at all on King’s Day.

Best discounts on canal cruises in Amsterdam

The canal tours from LOVERS Canal Cruises are the best priced canal cruises in Amsterdam and this is where you will also get the biggest discount on these tickets. Not only that but LOVERS Canal Cruises have also been tested as the best in Amsterdam by Top-X in August 2022 (in Dutch). In fact, Top-X entire top 5 of canal cruise experiences can be booked with LOVERS Canal Cruises.

LOVERS Canal Cruises best in test and best price

Best canal cruise in test and in price

The very best in test is the Canal Cruise from Amsterdam Central Station. This one hour cruise gives you great value for money as there is space to sit inside and outside, there are tables to relax at between the individual seats and there is an audio guide in 19 different languages, insuring that most everyone can learn more about the Amsterdam canals.

When you book your tickets online you get over 20% discount on your tickets to this canal cruise in Amsterdam. Top-X gave this canal cruise a 9.5 out of 10, the only downside they could find was that only tickets bought online can be cancelled for free. Meaning that if you book online with us, there are only upside to this incredible Amsterdam canal cruise experience with LOVERS Canal Cruises.

Other great canal cruise experiences in Amsterdam

New York Pizza by LOVERS CruiseTop-X didn’t only look for the best canal cruise in Amsterdam, they also looked at specific types of canal cruises. They found the New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise to be the best canal cruise with food. True pizza lovers can’t miss this canal cruise experience, which you can book with 20% discount here on the LOVERS website.

For those who want to take unobstructed photos of the city, the sightseeing tourists, Top-X recommends the Semi-Open Boat Cruise. With the adjustable roof, you are sure to enjoy the sunshine on sunny days, while you remain dry if the Dutch weather turns. This canal cruise is available with a 20% discount right here on the website.

Wijn & Kaas rondvaartIf you are looking for a great way to close out a beautiful day in Amsterdam and prefer to do so with a glass of wine in hand, the Wine & Cheese Cruise is the best choice. Not only can you enjoy multiple glasses of different kinds of wine as you cruise through the city centre of Amsterdam for 90 minutes but also a variety of local cheeses. The Wine & Cheese Cruise can be bought right here with a 13% discount.

All of the Canal Cruises by LOVERS start in the heart of the city, from there each cruise takes a different path through the city, depending on the amount of traffic on the canals and the size of the boat. Sights you will definitely see include the World Heritage-listed 17th-century canals and the cities iconic architecture. Enjoy the sights along the most famous of the waterways, the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht.

When it comes to hopping on board a boat with kids, the Pancake Cruise is the best choice according to Top-X, which you can book right here with an 8.5% discount. This 75-minute cruise stays on the IJ river but comes with an unlimited Dutch pancake buffet. And in the hull of the boat there is a massive ball pits where kids can certainly have the time of their lives.

Enjoy food and drinks on the water in Amsterdam

Water is as much part of the Dutch capital as the historic buildings and the people, and enjoying a meal or snack on the water is a quintessential not to be missed Amsterdam experience. That is why we offer several different types of Food & Beverage cruises for you to enjoy when you are in Amsterdam.

Dining on the Amsterdam canals

Our most elaborate food cruise is the Amsterdam Dinner Cruise, which will take you on a 2-hour cruise through the canals while enjoying a delicious dinner. As the canal boat starts cruising through the canals, service starts with a drink and hors-d’oeuvres of freshly baked bread with butter and oil. Next is a delicious creamy pomodoro soup, to whet your appetite for the main course for which you can choose between a meat, fish and vegetarian option.

The dinner ends with a delightful homemade tiramisu. What you see outside the window during the cruise depends on the time of year you choose to take the dinner cruise. You’ll either enjoy the last rays of sun and a sunset on board or experience the canals in the dark of night, both the golden hour and night time on the canals are magical and provide their own unique ambiance.

Pizza cruiseNew York Pizza meets the Amsterdam canals

For a more informal and earlier dinner option, the New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise is the way to go. During this 75-minute cruise through the Amsterdam canals you’ll be served with a mouth-watering pizza, a cookie dough ice cream, and the drinks are included as well. You can choose between five different kinds of pizza and there is a smaller pizza option for kids as well.

There is a quick stop at the start of the cruise behind Amsterdam Central Station to pick up the pizza’s hot and fresh from the New York Pizza ovens. Once everyone has their pizza the cruise takes you through the city’s UNESCO World Heritage listed canal belt, with its historic bridges and picturesque canal houses that give the city its charming and iconic character.

All-you-can-eat traditional Dutch pancakes

The most child-friendly of the food cruises is the Pancake Cruise on the IJ River, with a gigantic ball pit on board. Unlike the other food and beverage cruises, this boat tour does not take you along the Amsterdam canals as it stays on the IJ River which separates the city centre from the northern city district. Depending on the day there are both lunch and evening cruises available, so it is easy to fit into any trip to Amsterdam.

During the cruise, you’ll have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of Dutch pancakes, including mouth-watering toppings like Dutch cheese, syrup, bacon, fruit, chocolate, marmalade and much, much more. Eating traditional Dutch pancakes is something you can't miss out on when you visit the Netherlands. The pancakes are usually larger and much thinner than their American counterparts yet a little thicker than crepes.

Wine tastingA wine and cheese tasting on the water

The perfect cruise to relax with friends after a full day of sightseeing is the Wine & Cheese cruise. Whether you want to take a break before a night on the town or just want to enjoy the company of your friends in a unique location, our wine and cheese tasting could be exactly what you are looking for.

During the cruise you can choose between multiple red, white and rose wines and switch whenever you want. Along with the wine there will be a selection of local cheeses, grapes, bread and figs to enjoy. The Amsterdam Wine & Cheese Cruise is truly the perfect way to enjoy a unique and fun evening in the Netherlands.

Fun facts about the Amsterdam canals

5 April 2022

The Amsterdam canals are our home and we love to share it with you, show it to you and tell you all about it. The canals make the Dutch capital unique and there are plenty of fun facts that any visitor should know about them.

Always growing

The Amsterdam canals date back to the very origins of the city and have been expending ever since. The oldest canals were once defensive moats, as the city grew the moats became part of the city instead of surrounding it. Today, Amsterdam has over 100 kilometres (or 62 miles) of canals and as the city continues to grow, new waterways become part of the city as well.

The city has over 160 canals, which separate Amsterdam into 90 individual islands. The islands are connected by over 1,700 bridges (that is 1,300 more than Venice). About 80 of the bridges are in the city centre and cross the UNESCO World Heritage listed seventeenth-century canal ring.

Amsterdam aerialFacts about the city centre canal ring

The canal ring in the city centre consists of a network of canals to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port that encircled the old town. The most famous canals of the canal ring are the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Singel. Because space for housing in the city centre is limited a lot of people live in houseboats on the canals, in fact there are around 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam.

The canals themselves are monumental but the islands they surround are home to over 1,550 other monuments. Several of them are must-see sights, including the Westerkerk, the Anne Frank House, the Gay Monument and Museum van Loon. And then of course there are the picturesque and unique, 17th-century townhouses build during the Dutch Golden Age.

Though the quality of the water in the Amsterdam canals has improved immensely in the last decades, swimming the canals is not recommended. You’ll actually risk a fine of € 140 if you do it outside of permitted locations. There is one yearly exception, when you can legally swim in the Amsterdam canals: the Amsterdam City Swim.

Canal Cruise at Maritime MuseumThe Amsterdam City Swim is an annual fundraising event for the Dutch ALS foundation, to raise funds for research into treatment of this debilitating disease. The event consists of a 2 kilometre swim through the canals, from the Keizersgracht to the Marineterrein near the National Maritime Museum.

Getting around the city and the canals

If there is one way locals love to make their way around the city it is by bike. That however does not mean that everyone takes very good care of their bike, in fact between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes are removed from the Amsterdam canals every year.

The best way to make your way around the city, at least we believe so, is by boat. Seeing Amsterdam from the water is a must for everyone at least once in their life. Whether you choose a 1 hour canal cruise, combine your journey through the canals with a drink and something to eat or use the Hop On Hop Off boat, it’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Fall in love with the Amsterdam canals in spring

5 March 2024

After the cold and dark winter months, brightened up by the Amsterdam Light Festival, spring brings life back to the Amsterdam canals. Almost all top things to do in Amsterdam in spring lists include taking a canal cruise and there is a good reason for that! Spring is the time of year to fall in love with the Amsterdam canals.

Locals sit outside in the sunAs the sun comes out from behind the clouds, people spend more and more time outdoors. The terraces along the canals will fill with people who are enjoying a drink while they people watch. As the trees along the canals grow their green leaves, more people will stroll under them or take a seat on the quayside with their feet dangling above the water.

In April, especially, you can feel spring all around you in Amsterdam. From the city squares, the its streets, bridges and canals all are decorated with hundreds of thousands of tulips for the annual Tulip Festival. And later in the month the tulips that have been planted in the ground will also come into bloom.

In summer, Amsterdam’s waterways can feel crowded but in spring you can enjoy that lovely sweet spot of a warm spring day and a quiet city. The best way to enjoy the canals and get a true sense of them is, of course, with an Amsterdam canal cruise.

Spring canal cruises

Throughout the season there are several canal tours to choose between. The Semi-Open Boat Cruise is perfect for a sunny day even in early spring. With unobstructed views of the city, the sun can also reach your face as you sail through the canals. Don’t forget your sunscreen with a good SPF factor cause even in spring the sun can burn.

Do you prefer to travel through the canals in a smaller group? Than we recommend you try Cruise like a local with its open boats, which departs near the Anne Frank House and near Central Station. Because this canal cruise makes use of smaller boats, you will also see those canals which cannot be reached with the big canal boats.

Westertoren at sunsetThe colours of the setting sun on the canal houses make for gorgeous pictures. And in the evening you can marvel at the lights shining off the iconic gabled houses of the historic centre and the bridges lit up by thousands of lights, and simply let the evening ambiance sink into your bones. If you want to book a sunset or evening cruise, keep in mind that the sun sets in spring between 7 and 10 in the evening.

You can also choose for the unique experience of enjoying a delicious New York Pizza as you cruise through the canals, with the New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise. It is the perfect combination of eating out and seeing the historic canals from a different perspective. You can choose between six different types of pizza and the drinks are included as well!

Other Amsterdam in spring attractions

After you have enjoyed your canal cruise, there is much more to make you fall in love with Amsterdam in spring. Discover the city the way the locals do with a bike tour, you can visit the new born animals at the zoo. Wear something orange on King’s Day and join the street parties, or visit one of the many festivals the city hosts in spring time.

Winter on the Amsterdam canals

17 November 2023

Winter might actually be the best time of year to visit Amsterdam. You might not be guaranteed good weather but that isn’t guaranteed at any time of year in the Netherlands. The streets and attractions will be less crowded and the city atmosphere is just lovely at this time of year.

The season of sparkling lights

Like most western cities, Amsterdam is lit up by Christmas decorations throughout the holiday season, this includes everything from the streets and squares to the canals. But in the months of December and January the city centre is brightened further by the Amsterdam Light Festival. Each winter a section of the canals is decorated with light art and light installations by international artists, designers and architects. This year there will be 24 works of art along the route.

The best way to enjoy the festival is with a canal cruise, especially so because the light art is not only along side the canals but also above and in the water. This means that from the canal boat, you’ll have a first-class view of the light art while you can relax and look around. There is even a special audio guide to tell you all about the artworks and the artists who made them.

Warm and comfortable

Just because the winter weather is cold, doesn’t mean you’ll be so throughout your visit. Especially not when you step on board of a canal boat. During a LOVERS Canal Cruise you’ll be sat inside a comfortably heated boat. The windows might be a little foggy at the start, due to condensation but that will go away quick enough for you to properly take in the sights along the route.

Every canal cruise can follow a different route because the captain decides where to go based on the amount of traffic on the canals. From the UNESCO World Heritage listed Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht to the Amstel and IJ rivers. The audio guides on board use GPS so that what you hear is always about what you can see outside the window, no matter where the boat takes you in the city.

Skating on the Amsterdam canalsFrozen canals

Though it doesn’t happen as often as it once did, the Amsterdam canal ring does still freeze from time to time. When a period of freezing cold is expected, the city closes of certain sections of the 17th century canals so that there is no current there, boats can’t enter and the water can freeze over.

On these rare occasions, you can skate on some of the Golden Age canals (it was last possible for a couple of days in February 2021 and March 2018). Because the city blocks off certain parts of the canals for these special occasions, the rest of the canals remain open to canal boats. Which is why, even when you can skate on the canals, you can still enjoy a canal cruise even in the heart of winter.

National Tulip Day

In the middle of winter, the Netherlands starts looking forward to spring. With the third Saturday of January being National Tulip Day, celebrating the national flower and the start of tulip season. This is the best time of year to visit Amsterdam for tulips, as on this day Dam Square is usually turned into a pop-up tulip picking garden, where everyone can pick flowers for free.

From this day onwards tulips start popping up al over the city including along the canals. The Netherlands produces and sells most of the tulips in the world. And every year from the third Saturday in January, 1,7 billion tulips travel around the world to brighten up tables, window sills and gardens.

Discover the sights of the Keizersgracht

2 November 2021

At the start of the 17th century, the city of Amsterdam started the process of digging out its three grandest canals, the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, which together form the UNESCO World Heritage listed Canal Belt. The Keizersgracht, or Emperor’s Canal, was named after Emperor Maximilian of Austria, and is the widest canal in the centre of Amsterdam. Like the Prinsengracht, the Keizersgracht is crossed by 14 bridges but it offers its own unique sights to discover.

9 Streets

9 Streets

The Keizersgracht runs through the heart of the 9 Streets (9 Straatjes), a part of the Jordaan neighbourhood consisting of picturesque streets which connect the different canals and are filled with unique boutiques, stylish cafés and galleries. The area, tucked away behind the Royal Palace on Dam Square, is popular with shoppers hunting for speciality products and unique gifts.

De 9 Streets is the ideal neighbourhood to get to know Amsterdam in all its variety and richness. The area offers a great overview of the architectural styles in the city. From the very beginning these 9 little cross streets were dominated by trade and culture. And it continues to be a lively neighbourhood after 400 years.

Gay monument

The Gay monument (Homomonument) in Amsterdam was the first of its kind in the world. The monument commemorates all gay men and women who were killed during World War II, and all LGBTI people who have been or still are being persecuted by government regimes. Almost immediately after the war there were calls to establish a memorial but it truly gained traction in the 1980s. In September 1987, the monument was officially unveiled.

The Gay monument consists of three pink granite triangles on the bank of the Keizersgracht canal in the centre of Amsterdam, together they form a larger. The three points of the triangle are symbolic: one corner points towards the National War Memorial on Dam Square; another points across the canal to the site of the Anne Frank House; while the third corner points towards COC Amsterdam. It remains the largest monument in the world dedicated to homosexuality and remembrance.

Skinny Bridge

Skinny bridge

Possibly the best known and most photographed bridge in Amsterdam can be found at the end of the Keizersgracht, where the bridge crosses the Amstel river. The Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) is meant for pedestrians and cyclists only. It was once so narrow that it was hard for two pedestrians to pass each other, hence the name.

The bridge is considered as one of the most romantic bridges in Amsterdam, especially at night when thousands of lights illuminate it. A local legend even claims that a kiss between lovers while on or passing under this bridge will ensure that they will be in love forever.

Church of Our Lady

Also known as the Syrian orthodox church, the Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk) was designed by Theo Molkenboer, the leading architect for Catholic churches in the Netherlands in mid-19th century. It was the first church he ever designed based on the principles of classical gothic construction.

The Roman Catholic community was the original community served by this church when it was built between 1852 and 1854, shortly after the ban on the building of Roman Catholic churches was lifted. As the numbers of Roman Catholics in Amsterdam dwindled, the church was sold to the Syrian Orthodox Catholic community, who allow other denominations to use the church as well, including the Surinam Roman Catholic community and the general Roman Catholic community.



Near the southern end of the Keizersgracht, you can visit Foam, an internationally renowned photography museum located in a 18th-century canal house with an airy atrium. The museum displays all facets of contemporary photography from both world-famous photographers and up-and-coming talent in everchanging exhibitions.

Foam shows a wide variety of genres ranging from historical pictures and art photography to street photography and fashion photography. Famous names that had an exhibition in Foam in the past include Helmut Newton, William Klein, Ai Weiwei and André Kertész. Foam also acts as a creative hub where photographers can meet and participate in forums and symposiums.

Museum van Loon

On the opposite side of the canal from Foam stands Museum van Loon, former home of the regent Van Loon family. The museum was once a private residence, its first resident was painter Ferdinand Bol, a student of Rembrandt. The last residents of the house were the Van Loon family, who bought the house in 1884. Two centuries earlier during the Dutch Golden Age the family‘s ancestor, Willem van Loon was a founding member of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company.

The interior of the house has remained largely intact during the last centuries and still evokes the splendour of the 17th century. Inside the rooms a large collection of paintings, fine furniture, precious silvery and porcelain from different centuries is on display. Behind the house lays a beautiful garden, an oasis of quiet in the modern inner city.

Delight in the Amsterdam canals in autumn

15 September 2023

As the leaves on the trees in the city turn red, orange and yellow, and umbrellas become a standard when leaving the door, the number of visitors to the city dwindle down meaning that you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals without being crowded by other people.

Amsterdam canals in autumn coloursEnjoy a canal cruise

Amsterdam is home to over 400,000 trees, many line the city’s famous canals, their brilliant autumn foliage transforms Amsterdam’s parks and canals into a magical place. You could take a stroll along the canals to see this gorgeous sight but you’ll get the best views from the water. A traditional canal cruise is the way to go, with their glass roofs and heating the canal boats offer you the ability to enjoy the views in comfort.

If you want to enjoy the extended autumnal golden hour on the canals, you can also opt for a pizza cruise. With a delicious New York Pizza, hot from the oven and a drink in front of you on the table, and the gorgeous, UNESCO World Heritage listed Amsterdam canals outside the window it is a truly memorable experience.

If you prefer to take a cruise after the sun has gone down and the city is lit up by sparkling lights, there are three fun cruises to choose between. The Evening cruise, with its audio guide; the three course Dinner Cruise; or the Wine & Cheese Cruise for a late night tasting session.

Apple pie and hot chocolate

When the Dutch heavens open for an autumn storm, head for a traditional brown café for a slice of apple pie (preferably topped with whipped cream) and a mug of hot chocolate. The crumbly crust, the filling of chunks of cinnamon flavoured apple and the irresistible aroma make it one of the most sought-after treats in the country.

Some of the best apple pie can be found at Winkel 43, a cosy neighbourhood café in the Jordaan with plenty of seating for all both inside and outside on the terrace. Or try the mouth-watering pie at Café ‘t Papeneiland, one of the oldest cafes in the canal belt dating back to 1642. And if you are looking for something a little more modern, then head to Café de Jaren, with its two spacious floors there is always room to take a seat and enjoy some pie.

Learn more about the canals

Head to the Museum of the Canals to adventure into Amsterdam’s past and present, by exploring the history of the city’s canals. You’ll start your journey of discovery by traveling 400 years into the past. The museum’s multimedia exhibition illustrates the evolution of Amsterdam through the lens of its canals, which have been and continue to be central to the movement of the city and its inhabitants. 

Of course, Amsterdam’s other world renowned museums are also well worth a visit as well. The beautiful Rijksmuseum is the country’s national museum and houses treasures such as Rembrandt van Rijn’s Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s Milkmaid. The Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of paintings, drawings and letters by Vincent van Gogh. And there are many more amazing museums in Amsterdam.

Pompkins for Halloween in Amsterdam

Catch a fright

At the end of October, after the Amsterdam Dance Event has let people dance their hearts out, the city gets ready the face its ghosts. Halloween is gaining popularity in the entire country but the Dutch capital has been celebrating the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky event for some time now. You’ll find corners along the canals in the city decorated with pumpkins throughout the city as well as parties, ghost tours and fun for every age and fright level.

Will you come and enjoy Amsterdam in autumn?

Safely enjoying a Pizza cruise on the Amsterdam canals

28 September 2021

Slowly but surely we are returning to a world we all remember. Now you can enjoy a New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise without worrying about being exposed to COVID-19.

Some of the measures we have now lived with for 18 months are being lifted but to truly make it out of the pandemic safely there are still a few measures we will have to live with for a while. Gone are the days of social distancing in the Netherlands. Instead, in order to enjoy activities such as eating out, going to a movie or a show requires you to show a COVID-19 Certificate.

Time for a pizza cruise and stunning views

Pizza cruise

Here is what to expect from a New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise. As we leave behind the LOVERS quay and cruise to the IJ river, you can enjoy your first drink of the evening. What will you have? A nice cold Heineken, some wine or maybe a soft drink or some water? The choice is yours, as the drinks are included on this pizza canal cruise in Amsterdam.

As we make a quick stop on the IJ river to pick up your pizzas, hot from the New York Pizza ovens, you can enjoy the views of the striking architecture of the Eye Film Museum or ponder swinging on the roof of the A’DAM Lookout.

As we serve your pizzas, we’ll make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Amsterdam canals. Sit back, relax, enjoy the views, your pizza and the occasional fun fact from the captain about the canals and its inhabitants. For instance, did you know there are over 800.000 bikes in Amsterdam. Sometimes they fall into the canals. More than 10.000 bikes are fished out of the canals every year!

Finished your pizza? Don’t worry the cruise isn’t over yet. It’s time for desert, some delicious Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip ice cream. Are you read to hop on board and enjoy a pizza cruise through the Amsterdam canals? Book your pizza cruise tickets here.

COVID-19 Certificate, what and how?

Everyone who can show a COVID-19 Certificate is either vaccinated, recovered from a COVID-19 infection or tested negative within the last 24 hours. That means that it is highly unlikely that a fun night out turns into a super spreader event and you can just have fun without worrying about keeping your distance from people or getting infected with the Coronavirus.

The COVID-19 Certificate that you need to have is QR code, what the venue you are visiting sees when they scan the code depends on the type of certificate you have. If you have a Dutch corona admission ticket, they will see a green tick, the first letter of your first name, the first letter of your last name, your day and month of birth (not year).

Non-Dutch EU citizens can use the Digital COVID Certificate, depending on the certificate the scanner will show the type of test, the date of testing, and the test result, or; the type of vaccine, the vaccination date, and the test result, or; the recovery certificate details; your first and last name; your date of birth.

Non-EU citizens should always get tested through Testing for Entry (Testen voor Toegang). Even if you are fully vaccinated. The test result can then be uploaded in the CoronaCheck app to create a Dutch corona admission ticket. Getting tested is free for everyone.

Sights and sounds of the Prinsengracht

7 June 2024

In 2010, the iconic Amsterdam canal belt was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Prinsengracht is one of the four main canals that make us this sight. The canal got its name from the Prince of Orange, a title carried by the heir apparent to the Dutch throne.

Construction of the Prinsengracht started in 1612, during a time when the city grew exponentially. The canal is 3.2 kilometres long and runs parallel to the Keizersgracht. The canal is crossed by 14 bridges, is home to a LOVERS Canal Cruises dock and offers plenty of sights and sounds to enjoy.

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

Our dock on the Prinsengracht is right next to the Anne Frank House, the former house and hiding place of the world famous, Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. It is the 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands and a must see when you are in Amsterdam. It was here where Anne Frank and several other people were in hiding in a secret annex during World War II, as they hoped to survive the war.

The current entrance to the museum is just off the canal, facing the market and Westertoren, but the door to Prinsengracht 263, the original house, can be seen from the water. In 1955 the building was almost demolished, as there was an intention to build a factory in its location but a campaign to save the building and list it as a protected building was successful. The building was first opened as a museum in 1960.

Noorderkerk and Van Gogh & Rembrandt

Further north along the canal, lies the Noorderkerk (Northern Church) in the Jordaan district of the city. This Protestant church was build in the early 17th century and designed by Hendrick de Keyser, who also designed the Westerkerk and Zuiderkerk. While the Westerkerk was created for the wealthy citizens of the canal district, the Noorderkerk was built for the poorer labourers who lived in the Jordaan.

These days the Noorderkerk is more than just a church. Throughout the week the immersive son-et-lumière show Van Gogh & Rembrandt in Amsterdam takes over the church, with a show unlike any other. Visitors will see and hear how Van Gogh was inspired by Rembrandt, inside a church that they both visited.

The Noorderkerk sits on the Noordermarkt square, which also features a cosy and colourful market. There has been a market here since the 17th century, it started as a pots, pans and patch market, but today it offers plenty for the modern consumer. On Monday mornings and on Saturdays, the range of offerings here is quite unique, with antiques and curiosities, books and prints, special textiles, glass and crockery, jewellery of your own design, vintage clothing, paintings and graphics, bags made of recycled canvas and so on.

Notable gables

The gabled canal houses in Amsterdam’s Canal Belt are some of the city’s most picture perfect features. You can find several types of gables along the Prinsengracht. For instance, on the corner with the Brouwersgracht, you can spot a crow-stepped gable at Prinsengracht 2-4, which is a stairstep type of design at the top of a triangular gable-end building.

Over at Prinsengracht 300 you can see the perfect example of a clock gable, the building’s nickname is the red fox as there are two on the building. One above the door and the other above the top window in the gable. Meanwhile Prinsengracht 833-839 feature identical neck gables and Prinsengracht 556 offers a typical example of a 19th century so-called Ojief spout façade.


Just a stones throw away from the Anne Frank House stands the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands, the Westerkerk (Western Church). Unlike the Noorderkerk, which had the same designer, the Westerkerk has a more traditional basilica design. Famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn is buried in the church, though the exact location is unknown.

The tower of the church, known as the Westertoren is the highest church tower in Amsterdam, at 87 meters, and can be seen from some distance even in the densely populated city of Amsterdam. The tower is topped with the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I.

Just above the clock-faces on the tower, sits the carillon, which has 51 bells. It is the only carillon in the city to chime all twenty four hours, as well as every half hour and even a short tune at the quarter of the hour. And every Tuesday at noon, the city’s carillonneur gives a one hour recital which can be heard far and wide.

Prinsengracht Concert

Every August, since 1981, the Prinsengracht features a free, open-air concert of classical music. The orchestra takes its place on a pontoon anchored in front of the Hotel Pulitzer and the canal fills with the boats of the audience. Traditionally the concert end with a rendition of “Aan de Amsterdamse grachten” one of the city’s unofficial anthems.

Since 1988, the concert has been part of the Grachtenfestival, though it is still independently organised. The Grachtenfestival is a ten-day festival spread out across the city, featuring classical music, jazz and music from other cultures.

The history of the Pride Amsterdam Canal Parade

3 July 2024

Amsterdam is celebrating Pride Amsterdam for the 27th time, the famous Canal Parade is set to take place on 3 August. Since the very beginning of Pride Amsterdam, in 1996, the festival has included a Canal Parade through the city’s 17th century canal ring, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because we always adjust the routes of our cruises depending on the amount of traffic on the canals and the size of the boat, we can continue to offer cruises even during the Canal Parade.

1996: the start of Pride Amsterdam

Amsterdam Pride, as it was known then, was never intended as a demonstration for equal rights. Instead the event was meant to promote Amsterdam as a gay nightlife city and to celebrate the freedom and diversity of the city.

The idea for a Canal Parade came from the bid book for the Gay Games of 1998 which was presented in 1992. The event became part of Amsterdam Pride, two years prior to the Gay Games, on 3 August 1996, consisted of at least 45 boats of different sizes and was attended by 20,000 spectators. From then on the event grew in size and popularity, in 1997 the number of spectators had already tripled.

Through the years

The Canal Parade has become an annual highlight of the festival which has grown into a nine-day event and is one of the best and largest celebrations of its kind worldwide. Since 2001, Pride Amsterdam has chosen different themes for the festival to draw attention to specific aspects or celebrate special occasions.

In 2001 the theme was “Tolerance”, this year was the first time boats representing the Arab and Jewish community were part of the parade. It was also the year when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex civil marriage and grant same-sex couples adoption rights.

While Pride Amsterdam is not a demonstration, the organisation does not shy away from drawing attention to LGBT+ acceptance throughout the world and what steps still need to be taken to improve it. In 2005, the first boat in the parade showcased a large photo of two Iranian boys who were hanged because of their sexual orientation.

In 2011 the boat parade was led for the first time by a boat with uniformed soldiers from the Dutch Ministry of Defence as well as former American Lieutenant Dan Choi and British naval officer Mandy McBain.

Canal Parade2015 was the 20th anniversary of the Amsterdam Gay Pride, as it was known by then, and the question: “what has been achieved in twenty years and what has changed?” was considered in many ways. That year the Canal Parade drew attention to the situation of homosexual refugees, the homeless and the overseas territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In 2017, the festival changed its name to Pride Amsterdam in order to better serve all those who identify as LGBTQIA+, to strengthen the content and to be inclusive for everyone. Many participants seized upon the year’s theme “This is my Pride” to discuss serious, hard-hitting topics during the famous boat parade, which included an Iranian boat and a Suicide Prevention Boat.

2019’s Pride Amsterdam theme was “Remember the past, create the future” in memory of the Stonewall riots that broke out in New York 50 years prior, an iconic moment that should never be forgotten. That year members of Pride Amsterdam even participated in the parade in New York during World Pride. 2019 was also the year Pride Amsterdam was added to the Inventory of Intangible Heritage in the Netherlands.

Pride 2024: Together

This year, Pride Amsterdam recognises that society is becoming more polarised, often even pitting members of the LGBTQA+ community against each other. This years theme “Together” has been chosen to remind everyone how to find each other again. Because “Together” means stronger both despite and because of differences.

On 3 August at noon, 80 boats will depart from the Oosterdok for the Canal Parade, to make their way through the city. Via the Nieuwe Herengracht to the Amstel River, under the Skinny Bridge, and continuing via the Prinsengracht, the boats will sail all the way to the Westerdok.

You can find out exactly which events will be part of Pride Amsterdam this year on the organisations website. We can’t wait for the canals to again be filled with 80 official boats and many others celebrating the freedom to truly be yourself and to love who you want.

An Amsterdam summer of a lifetime

14 May 2024

Get ready to experience the summer of a lifetime in Amsterdam! We are here to help you explore the city this summer with the best canal cruises and other attractions. These are our tips for the summer months of June, July and August, that are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories!

Enjoy a Semi-open Boat Cruisesemi open boat

The Semi-open Boat cruise is possibly the very best summer canal cruise option available. On sunny days, the boat is open to give you unrestricted views of the merchant houses and city architecture in the sunshine. And when the Dutch weather turns, the boat is easily closed with a glass-top, ensuring you continue to delight in Amsterdam’s unique charm.

The Semi-open Boat Cruise lasts about one hour and takes you to the most important sights in Amsterdam. On this boat tour, you’ll sail down the UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal belt, which dates from the 17th century; then wind past not-to-be-missed attractions such as the Western Church, the Anne Frank House or the Hermitage.

Do you prefer to travel through the canals in a smaller group? Than we recommend the open boats from the Cruise like a local canal cruise, which departs near the Anne Frank House and Central Station. Because this canal cruise makes use of smaller boats, you will also see those canals which cannot be reached with the big canal boats.

Cool down in the Amsterdam Icebar

There are summer days in Amsterdam when it is just too hot to be outside on the city streets or in the parks, such as the Vondelpark or Amsterdamse Bos. A great place to cool down is the Amsterdam Icebar, it is literally the coolest bar in town. At the Amsterdam Icebar you join the crew of 16th century Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz on his journey to Nova Zembla, an island in the Arctic.

A visit to the Amsterdam Icebar includes 3 free drinks. The bar provides you with a warm coat and gloves so you don’t lose all of that nice summer warmth in the -10° Celsius bar. From the walls, to the sculptures and the glasses you drink from, everything in the icebar is made from ice!

Snack on a pizza or enjoy a wine tasting while cruising

If you prefer your canal cruise later in the day, then why not enjoy a delicious New York Pizza while you watch the city go by. The New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise gives you a chance to add an extra dimension to your canal cruise. It is the perfect combination of dinner with a view, as you sail through some of the city’s 100 kilometres of waterways.

You’ll have your choice of mouth-watering pizzas and even the drinks are included, from an ice cold Heineken beer to wine and soft drinks. And dessert hasn’t been forgotten either, you’ll finish this cruise with a Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip ice cream.

Another option later in the day is the Wine & Cheese Cruise. During this cruise you can choose between multiple red, white and rose wines and switch whenever you want. Along with the wine there will be a selection of local cheeses, grapes, bread and figs to enjoy. The Amsterdam Wine & Cheese Cruise is truly the perfect way to enjoy a unique and fun evening in the Netherlands.

Pride Amsterdam on the canals and everywhere elseAmsterdam Pride

The biggest party in the city happens at the end of July and the start of August. During the nine days of Pride Amsterdam, the city and everyone in it celebrates freedom in Amsterdam, the freedom to truly be yourself and to love who you want. The festival has grown into a world-renowned event where the LGBTQIA+ community truly sets the standard in the city.

There are different events every day, with street parties, art, shows, a Pride Walk to draw attention to the situation of LGBTI's in countries where homosexuality is illegal and, what is often considered the main event, a big parade on the Amsterdam canals, which usually goes from Westerdok over the Prinsengracht, the Amstel river, the Zwanenburgwal and the Oudeschans to Oosterdok.

Music festival on the canals

The yearly Grachtenfestival is a ten-day festival in August spread out across the city. It’s the summer festival for classical music, jazz, as well as music from other cultures. Young musicians from all over the world surprise you with their own musical story. If you want to get to know the rising stars of the future, the Grachtenfestival is where you need to be.

Throughout the festival there are concerts in parks, popular tourist attractions, hotels, churches and, yes, concert halls and other traditional music venues. Past, present, and future come together in contemporary combinations of musicians, genres and locations. The city of Amsterdam, from east to west and from north to south, serves as the festival playground.

City Sightseeing Amsterdam Hop-on Hop-off BoatExplore the city by Hop-on Hop-off boat

While Amsterdam is a very walkable city, some times you just want to get off your feet, especially on warmer days. Luckily you can also move between different parts of the city with the City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off boats. With this boat tour you can hop off at eight stops around the city and hop back on when you are ready to move on to the next part of the city.

You can choose between a ticket that is valid for 24 hours or 48 hours. There are stops near some of the best attractions in the city, including the Rijksmuseum, the Amsterdam Icebar and the Anne Frank House. With the free app, you can see exactly where the stops are and where the boats are as well.

Top things to do in Amsterdam

7 May 2021

The city of Amsterdam is known around the world for her canals, museums and the Red Light District. And while these surely are must sees on your visit to Amsterdam, there is so much more to see and do in the Dutch capital. The city offers history and adventure as well as the unexpected and the unbelievable. These are our favourite attractions in Amsterdam.

Take a canal cruiseLOVERS Canal Cruises

There is no need to deny it, we are passionate about the canals of Amsterdam and truly believe that the best way to see them, learn about them and enjoy them is with a cruise through the canals. LOVERS offers several different types of canal cruises and each cruise experience is different from the one before.

Whether you are looking for a traditional canal cruise, an open boat experience or if you want something to eat while enjoying the sights, LOVERS has the cruise for you. As you travel through Amsterdam's neighbourhoods, such as the Jordaan, the Nine Streets or the Pijp, you’ll see sights like the Amstel river which gave the city its name, the Anne Frank House and the iconic Skinny bridge.

Visit the national museum

The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands and holds over 8000 artistic and historical objects covering 800 years of Dutch history. Inside you’ll find some of the most famous works by the Dutch masters, such as Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.

But the beauty is not just inside the Rijksmuseum. The building itself is worthy of a photo or two as well. Located at the Museumplein, or Museum District, and with definite renaissance and gothic influences, the Rijksmuseum is truly the height of architectural talent, designed by the same man, Pierre Cuypers, who designed Amsterdam Central Station.

Take a look beneath your skinPlastinate at BODY WORLDS Amsterdam

In the city centre, on the Damrak, you can learn more about yourself, your body and how you can influence how happy you are at BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project. With 200 real, plastinated, human bodies on display, BODY WORLDS will take you on a fascinating journey through the human body.

The exhibitions are interactive and thematically arranged, with areas devoted to the heart, life cycle, diet and the role happiness plays in shaping our bodies and lives. A ticket to BODY WORLDS includes a free InBody Scan, which measures whether your body really is in balance. Age, gender and body type are all taken into account when calculating your body composition.

Explore the Arctic

The Amsterdam Icebar is one of the city’s most unique attractions as everything there is made of ice. This amazing bar is kept at a constant temperature of -10 degrees Celsius, giving you the opportunity to truly experience what exploring the Arctic could be like. At the Amsterdam Icebar, you join the crew of Dutch Arctic explorer Willem Barentsz, who at the end of the 16th century tried to find a quicker route to the Indies.

Sadly, Barentsz and his crew got stranded on the island of Nova Zembla for over a year. So it is a good thing that your ticket to the Amsterdam Icebar includes 3 free drinks and they’ll give you a warm coat and gloves too. The drinks are served in glasses made of ice and so is the art that surrounds you in the icebar.

Discover the secrets of the Red Light DistrictRed Light Secrets windows

The Red Light District is probably Amsterdam’s best known and possibly most renowned neighbourhood. And yet there is so much people don’t know about it and the people who live and work there. Red Light Secrets is the world’s first Prostitution Museum and answers many of you questions you might have.

At the Museum of Prostitution, you’ll see the inside of the prostitute’s rooms, hear their stories and learn all about the secrets of the world’s oldest profession. The museum is housed in a famous brothel in Amsterdam that is still in its original state. You’ll even get a chance to sit behind one of the windows to feel what it is really like to be watched from the streets.

Learn more about the world’s most famous beer brand

Everyone recognises the famous green beer bottles (or cans) with a red star from the world’s most famous beer brand, Heineken. The Heineken Experience is a state-of-the-art interactive tour in the historic brewery of one of the world's largest beer brewers. Originally built in 1867, this cavernous building was converted into a museum and visitor centre in 1991. Since then, it has become a wildly popular tourist attraction.

The Heineken Experience is informative, hands-on and delicious. You’ll learn about Dutch beer drinking traditions, witness the Heineken brewing process first-hand and savour the nutty flavour of barley. During the self-guided tour you'll see how this once small, Dutch brewery became the world’s most premium beer brand.

See Sunflowers and Starry NightsSunflowers

Van Gogh is quite possibly the most famous amongst the Dutch masters, though many outside the country's borders mispronounce his name. At the Van Gogh Museum you can learn about Vincent van Gogh's life, read his letters, and see his paintings and drawings. A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a unique experience.

The museum is home to the largest collection of work by Vincent van Gogh in the world, including over 200 of his paintings, 500 drawings and more than 750 letters. It provides the opportunity to keep track of the artist's developments and compare his paintings to works by other artists from the 19th century, such as Gauguin, Manet and Pissarro. The museum also presents exhibitions on various subjects from 19th-century art history.

Believe the unbelievable

Amsterdam is home to many peculiar and unbelievable sights, such as the narrowest house, which is only 2 metres wide. But if you want to truly surround yourself with unbelievable sights and stories, you will want to visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Amsterdam, where you can marvel at hundreds of rare and unusual artifacts and get hands-on with unbelievable interactives.

At Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Amsterdam you enter the world of the unbelievable and the bizarre. Here the world’s most remarkable collection of natural, scientific, artistic, and human oddities are on display. You will be immersed in artefacts, incredible art, animal oddities, pop-culture memorabilia, and interactive games that are hard to believe yet true. From genuine shrunken human heads to the world's longest fingernails, people say it’s one of the weirdest spots in the city.

Valuing the water in Amsterdam

2 March 2021

On 22 March of each year we celebrate World Water Day, which celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis. As Amsterdam is a city filled with water and canals, the quality of the water is important to everyone in the city. With over 100 km in canals and over 1900 bridges, the city of Amsterdam knows a thing or two about water management.

Once upon a time, the city's Dam Square was an actual dam between the River Amstel and the Southern Sea (or Zuiderzee), this dam gave the city its name. Yet today it is one of the few places in the city which you cannot reach by boat, the closest you can get is Damrak, Oudezijds Voorburgwal or Singel.

Canals in Amsterdam

The first canals were dug for water management and as city defences. As the city grew and its walls were moved further out, successive defensive moats became part of the inner city and the moats were repurposed as canals to help with the local transport of merchandise. This gave the city its unique look and canal belt.

In the 17th century Dutch trade grew exponentially, during a time that become known as the Golden Age for the country, and an ambitious project was started that took 50 years. This project created the city's four main canals and the canal houses that stand on their shores, the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Singel.

Water qualitybikes pulled from the canals

In the past, Amsterdam and her citizens did not properly value the water that flowed through the city. For hundreds of years the canals were treated as garbage dumps and sewer systems and through to the mid-19th century the water in the canals was stagnant, which did not help to get rid of the smell.

But today the water in Amsterdam is cleaner than it has ever been. Cleaning the canal system properly started with the building of the steam-powered pump station Gemaal Zeeburg in 1879. The pump station flushed the city with clean water from the Southern Sea. And the situation was further improved when the inner city was connected to the sewer system in 1935, though it took till 1987 for the entire canal belt to be connected.

Today, 14 of the 16 existing water locks around the city close three times per week so that clean water from the IJsselmeer can be pumped in. The current created by the pumps pushes the dirty water out through the open locks at the other side of the city.

But there is more than dirt in Amsterdam's waterways, one of those things is very specifically Dutch. Each year, between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes are pulled out of the canals by barges with cranes mounted on them. Locally this cleaning process is known as bike fishing.

The cleaner water has brought life back to the canals. About 20 different species of fish and crabs live beneath the surface and they attract water birds like herons, ducks, coots, gulls and even cormorants. But its not only fish that swim in the canals.

People, too, now swim through the city on occasion. Such as during the Amsterdam City Swim, a charity event which raises money to fight ALS. Important to note: swimming in the canals is illegal and you run the risk of a €140 fine. If the Amsterdam heat is getting to you in summer, pay attention to the locals and follow their lead on where to swim.

The most romantic bridges in Amsterdam

6 February 2024

The Dutch capital might not be known as a particularly romantic city but it sure has its romantic spots. Especially among the many canals the city is known for throughout the world, often even dubbed the 'Venice of the north'. The city has over 100 kilometres in waterways and because the national mode of transport is the bike and not a boat, Amsterdam also has a lot of bridges.

Over 1900 of them in fact and while many have names, they all have a number, counting from the city centre to the suburbs of the city. To make a list of the top bridges in the city is nearly impossible but we can name the most romantic bridges in Amsterdam. And we can recommend some romantic canal cruises for your Valentine’s Day date.

Skinny Bridge

As possibly the best known and most photographed, the Skinny Bridge, or Magere Brug, is a good place to start. Only pedestrians and cyclist can use this crossing spanning the Amstel river between the Kerkstraat and the Nieuwe Kerkstraat.

According to local legend a kiss between lovers while on or passing under this bridge will ensure that they will be in love forever. Our canal cruises often pass under this bridge, so you can try it out for yourself. When the bridge is lit up at night with 1200 light bulbs, the legend is easy to believe. 

Counted as number 242, this wooden, double draw bridge has a rich history dating back to the late 17th century. It's earliest iteration had 13 arches, whereas today there are 9 arches. The middle arch is used by canal boats and other river traffic to pass underneath.

Wine & Cheese Cruise dateWine & Cheese Cruise date

Of course, every canal cruise is a fun experience to share with loved ones. But some canal cruises are that bit extra special, one perfect way to see the canals while on a date is the Wine & Cheese Cruise.  This cruise offers you the chance to take in the city from the water with a glass of wine in one hand and a piece of cheese in the other.

There are several different types of wine to choose between, three white wines, two red and two roses, so that everyone can have what they enjoy. The cheeses on offer are locally sourced. They include the smooth and creamy flavour of ‘Old Amsterdam’ cheese, based on a fiercely-guarded family secret, as well as the specially selected cheeses ripened by ‘Reypenaer’, and other young and ripened cheese.

Love bridge

From eternal love it is easy to jump to one of the smallest bridges in the city, which is often used for wedding proposals and wedding photoshoots. The Liefdesbruggetje, number 172, spans across a drainage system in Sarphatipark. No boats pass underneath it but plenty of people cross it on foot.

Surrounded by greenery, standing on this wooden foot bridge gives you an unobstructed view over a large part of the park. When you look at the bridge from the park you can see a glacial erratic beneath it. This rock was brough to the area by land ice during the penultimate ice age.

ReguliersgrachtReguliersgracht bridges lined up

This short canal, a little over 500 metres long, connects the Herengracht to the Lijnbaansgracht, crossing the Keizersgracht and the Prinsengracht along the way. The canal is crossed by seven bridges (#31, 39, 40, 72, 73, 74 and 81) which can best be seen from a canal boat as you can see all seven at the same time if you know when to look.

All seven are single arch bridges and at night they are lit up, which adds to their romantic and almost magical character. A cruise along this canal often sees a hidden kiss or even wedding proposal underneath a bridge.

The Dinner Cruise experience

For a full dinner on the water, we offer the Amsterdam Dinner Cruise. This 2-hour long cruise consists of a 4-course dinner and even the drinks are included in the price. In February, this cruise takes place long after sunset, so that you can enjoy the sight of the canals twinkling in the darkness as they are lit up by thousands of lights.

You can choose between a meat, fish and vegetarian menu when you book your tickets. All three menus have the same dessert: a delicious tiramisu with chunks of stroopwafel. This dinner is sure to be a memorable date!


This classic Dutch draw bridge (nr. 227) crosses the romantic Groenburgwal canal. Up to 2015 many lovers hung locks on the bridge's guy-wires, sadly the locks damaged what had become known as the Dutch Pont des Arts and were removed by the city. Today the city regularly removes newly hung love locks.

Standing on the Staalmeesterbrug, looking down the tree lined canal you have an amazing view of the Zuiderkerk, a 17th century Protestant church. Many great artists have painted this romantic view, including Claude Monet.

Christmas on board with LOVERS

16 December 2022

Here at LOVERS we love the holiday season, as this video certainly shows. And a cruise through the Amsterdam canals is possibly the perfect family activity for this time of year.

With the dock at Prins Hendrikkade 25 and the canal boats decorated for the season, everyone steps on board with a smile on their face. Whether you choose a daytime cruise or decide to view the city after the sun has set, Amsterdam shows itself from its best side when you view it from the water.

When the sun is up you'll have a great view of points of interest such as the Westerkerk and the canal houses along the city's major canals: Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. As the Dutch often keep their curtains open and love to decorate their homes for the festive season, you will be able to enjoy not just the city's sights and Christmas decorations but also those of the people who live in the city.

Christmas on the Amsterdam canalsIn the evening, or in these winter days late afternoon, the city sparkles with all the lights both from the bridges, such as the famous Skinny bridge, the Amsterdam Light Festival, and the twinkly lights from the Christmas decorations. During an Amsterdam canal cruise you can sit back, relax and enjoy your surroundings and the company from your family or friends.

Each LOVERS canal cruise is unique as the captain changes the route through the city depending on traffic on the canals and the size of the boat. The canal tours are exactly long enough for a fun family outing and short enough to avoid the Christmas tradition of a family argument.

As you sit back and enjoy the sights you can listen to the audio guide to find out more about what you are seeing or ask the captain what he knows about this beautiful city, such as how many canals does Amsterdam have. Or ask the captain to play a Christmas song, though that might cause them to sing a long, so tread carefully.

What is a comfortable modern boat?

4 November 2020

Lovers Canal Cruises has the largest fleet of the Netherlands. It consists entirely of comfortable, modern boats, but what do we mean by that?

In 2016 the entire fleet underwent a substantial upgrade with the installation of new interiors and a fresh coat of paint. On board of our boats you have your own seat instead of sharing a bench with other passengers. This ensures that other passengers do not get into your personal space, leaving you room to relax and enjoy the views. And we haven’t been idle since then. Our fleet is constantly being improved and developed.

For the colder days of the year, our boats are heated. The captain controls the heating, so feel free to mention it if you’re a bit too cold or warm. A consequence of the colder weather combined with warm bodies and wet coats is condensation on the windows. As anyone with single glazed windows or who wears glasses knows, this cannot always be avoided. Our newest boats and new to be build boats have double glazing which helps to stop the fogging up of the windows so that in future we can offer fog free windows on all our cruises.

Fortuitously, if you just want to go outside for a bit, 80% of our boats have a deck on the back. Some big some small, but it is the perfect place to go to take beautiful photos of the city.

Take pictures from the back deckDuring the summer months, when even in the Netherlands the sun can be burning down on us, all the windows on the boats can open up or you may find yourself on the biggest open boat of the city. Leaving you with a comfortable breeze from the water while surrounded by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the canals of Amsterdam and no need for an environmentally unfriendly air conditioning system. Even during colder months there is no need to be cut off from the fresh air on our boats. Weather permitting, we also sail with semi-open boats and sloops.

Currently 70% of our fleet is electric and we aim to have this at 100% in 2025. Already, Lovers Canal Cruises, together with its parent company and sister companies, is completely energy neutral. Lovers Canal Cruises promotes environment friendly business with 4500 m2 of solar panels at the main office and an active tree planting programme.

Light festival

Book a canal cruise that follows the route of the light tour of Amsterdam. This winter the light festival will be held in the Dutch capital with beautiful light installations. You can discover these during a nice boat trip provided by LOVERS canal cruises.

What exactly does the light tour involve?

The light tour is an art festival that takes place in the winter of 2019-2020 in Amsterdam. For this light festival 20 artists from different countries designed beautiful works around a theme. What is the theme? Disrupt! Are you curious how the artists converted this into a light installation? Then discover it during a pleasant cruise along the light tour in the canals of the capital.

Which cruise do you choose?

The canal cruises follow the light route on the water. There are various options. Are you starting your cruise near Central Station or Leidseplein? We also offer a canal cruise in a semi-open boat so that you can easily take pictures of the works of art in good weather. Enjoy the light tour in all comfort with friends or family.

Book your tickets online

Would you like to discover the beautiful light tour? Thanks to the audio commentary you will learn everything about the radiant works of art and the artists on our boat trips. Book your tickets online now for one of our cruises. By the way, if you get there on time, you'll enjoy an early bird discount! 

Championship cruise with Ajax kids club

On Sunday 14 July, together with the AJAX supporters association, we organised a great championship cruise through the Amsterdam canals for 3 winning youth teams.

The tour boat was equipped with snacks, drinks and champion bowls to wave along. The members of the Ajax Kids Club could win this prize with their champion winning team by participating in a photo contest. The day was a great success!


Can I safely book a cruise now?

4 September 2020

No one can deny it, the world has changed in the last months. But what hasn’t changed is our human desire to explore and discover new sights and sounds. We just want to do so safely. And you can! Cruises, tours, attractions and museums have all taken measures to protect your health. Which measures have been taken? Let’s take a closer look at one of our new canal cruises: New York Pizza by LOVERS.

Safely cruise the Amsterdam canals

Before you board the cruise you are asked if you have any Covid-19 related health issues, like a cough, we also ask you to disinfect your hands by using the disinfection spray and we check your temperature at your wrist. On board we limit the amount of people so we can maintain proper social distancing rules and we ask you to remain seated at your allocated table throughout the cruise.

New York Pizza by Lovers

Time for pizza and stunning views

As we cruise to the IJ river, you can enjoy your first drink of the evening. What will you have? A nice cold Heineken, some wine or maybe a soft drink or some water? The choice is yours. As we make a quick stop on the IJ river to pick up your pizza, hot from the New York Pizza ovens, you can enjoy the views of the striking architecture of the Eye Film Museum or ponder swinging on the roof of the A’DAM Lookout.
As we serve your pizza’s, we’ll make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Amsterdam canals. Sit back, relax, enjoy the views, your pizza and the occasional fun fact from the captain about the canals and its inhabitants. For instance, did you know there are over 800.000 bikes in Amsterdam. Sometimes they fall into the canals. More than 10.000 bikes are fished out of the canals every year!
Finished your pizza? Don’t worry the cruise isn’t over yet. It’s time for desert, who doesn’t love Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip ice cream?

Are you ready to book your New York Pizza by LOVERS cruise?

Best Outing of the Netherlands 2020

This year, Rederij Lovers has been nominated for the Best Outing of the Netherlands 2020. The public award on behalf of 4.5 million ANWB members. We would of course like to win this great title. We need your help with that!

Do we have your vote?

Leukste uitje van Nederland.

ANWB the 'Nicest outing in the Netherlands' election

Every year, the Country of ANWB organises the election of the nicest outing in the Netherlands. Voting is possible until 3 November 2019. Can we count on you again this year? The winners will be announced at the beginning of January.

Early Bird Discount for the Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise

17 October 2023

From 30 November 2023 to 21 January 2024, Amsterdam's ring of canals will be transformed into the unique setting for the 12th edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival. Artists from eight different countries have created 24 artworks and installations that will illuminate Amsterdam's city centre. Until the start of the festival, you can now benefit from an Early Bird discount on the Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise from the Prins Hendrikkade.

Amsterdam Light Festival cruise: early bird catches the worm

Sales of the Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise have already started, this year earlier than ever! Would you like to take advantage of the Early Bird discount offer? Then don't wait too long and order your tickets online quickly and cheaply.

For this edition, the festival has chosen the theme 'LOADING... Revealing Art, AI and Tech'. With this theme, the festival asks you to think about the impact of technology and artificial intellegacy on humanity. Stephen Hawking once warned that AI could mean the end of the human race, but others actually think AI will help humanity forward.

Amsterdam Light Festival: do not hesitate!

If you want to take advantage of the Early Bird discount for the Amsterdam Light Festival, it's best not to wait too long before you order your tickets. After all, popular days and times sell out quickly! But the most important reason not to wait too long is of course the fact that the discount offer is only valid for a limited time! So grab your chance to enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival with a 25% discount and book online.

Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise

All the Amsterdam Light Fesival canal cruises from LOVERS follow the official route of the Festival on the Herengracht and include an audio guide about the artworks. The artworks are illuminated from 5pm and stay on until late in the evening. It is not only the best way to get more information about the works of art, but a canal cruise is also one of the most enjoyable outings according to both locals and tourists.

With the comfortable and well-heated boats of LOVERS Canal Cruises, you can sit back and enjoy the impressive views. Come and experience it yourself with the Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise from LOVERS Canal Cruises! Book your tickets online here.

Efteling boot vaart door Amsterdamse grachten

Kaatsheuvel, 20 februari 2019

Collaboration between two of the biggest attractions of the Netherlands

Over the next two years, an Efteling cruise boat will sail through the canals of Amsterdam. In this way the Efteling wants to seduce tourists visiting our capital to make a day trip to the amusement park in Kaatsheuvel.

The cooperation between the two biggest attractions in the Netherlands is obvious, explains general director of the Efteling Fons Jurgens: The Efteling is an international holiday destination, but guests can also simply drop in from Amsterdam for a day trip. Many tourists who want to discover the Netherlands make a tour of the canals with LOVERS Canal Cruises and the boats themselves are also an attraction. It is very nice to give shape to our cooperation in this special way'.

Yesterday, Fons Jurgens and Little Red Riding Hood made their first trip on the Efteling boat. At least until 2020, it will sail daily along the Skinny Bridge, the Anne Frank House and other Amsterdam tourist attractions.

Take a virtual canal cruise through Amsterdam

6 October 2020

At the end of summer LOVERS Canal Cruises joined with Tiqets to celebrate it’s Awakening Weeks. During these weeks, we celebrated the reopening of many attractions and museums worldwide. LOVERS Canal Cruises captain Anthony took viewers on a virtual canal cruise through the city of Amsterdam on a lovely sunny day.

You can now rewatch this virtual cruise and get a sense of what awaits you when you do get to Amsterdam and take a cruise in person.


Marry an Amsterdammer for the Day: Amsterdam’s response to overtourism

We, LOVERS canal cruises, are participating in an exciting new event called Marry an Amsterdammer for the Day. This Wednesday, the 5th of June Amsterdammers and tourists can enter a symbolic marriage for a day. This initiative by the Untourist Moment was launched to improve relations between tourists and locals. Wed & Walk will organize the ceremony in the church Posthoornkerk at the Haarlemmerstraat in Amsterdam.

Why the event is hosted
The event Marry an Amsterdammer for the Day is Amsterdam’s response to the commotion around overtourism. Together with 200 hotels, guides, artists, social enterprises, museums and other organizations they created a movement that is willing to turn overtourism into something positive by giving tourists a meaningful encounter with a local. The outcome: let visitors explore someplace new and experience something that is helpfull– for the city, the world, Amsterdam and each other. 

Information about the event
Marry an Amsterdammer for the Day is the perfect start to turn overtourism into something positive. And you can join the festivities by marrying an Amsterdammer for the day! On Wednesday the 5th of June from 01.30 PM till 02:00 PM you can get married in the church Posthoornkerk. Wedding attire is available upon arrival. After a short speed-date, the couples are created and the marriage will take place. And after the ceremony, you will go on a honeymoon! Ok, sorry guys – not a real holiday. But, you will go to a nice activity with your freshly married Amsterdammer. You can either visit a museum, meet your new stepchildren or eat some pancakes.

Everyone involved with the event is doing this on goodwill base – meaning they volunteer. So take your chance and marry (symbolically) a handsome Amsterdammer!

If you want to learn more about the event hop on one of our canal cruises and let our skippers invite you personally.

Visit the Anne Frank House with the Hop On – Hop Off Boat Tour!

21 March 2023

Everyone knows the famous red Hop On – Hop Off buses from City Sightseeing that you can find in all the main cities around the world. In Amsterdam, we’ve got them too, but we also got something different, something unique: we’ve got Hop On – Hop Off boats! Because of all the canals in the city centre, a boat is an excellent way to get around.

While you get from point A to point B with the Hop On – Hop Off boats you’ll also have an amazing sightseeing experience. Enjoy the beautiful historic canals with the 17th-century canal houses along their banks. You will sail past many sightseeing highlights such as the Westerkerk (Western Church), the Rijksmuseum and the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge).

Anne Frank House

The Hop On – Hop Off boat has several stops around the city. One of the stops, for example, is right in front of the Anne Frank House. This makes it very easy to make your way to and from the Anne Frank House.

This museum tells the story of Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. The building is the exact house that Anne Frank and her family hid in during the war. Even the hidden rooms at the rear of the house are still intact, and you can visit them.

Other stops of the Hop On – Hop Off boats include the Rijksmuseum, Central Station, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam Icebar and much more. That makes the Hop On – Hop Off boat a fantastic means of transport to discover the city.

A great deal

We offer you a great value deal on the Hop On – Hop Off Boats. We offer this product in a 24-hour ticket or a 48-hour ticket, so you can choose the ticket that fits your itinerary best. You can also buy a combination ticket, which gives you access to both the City Sightseeing buses and boats.

The buses can bring you to places that are more difficult for the boats to go to, such as the Jewish History Museum and the Heineken Experience. So with the combination ticket, you can make sure that you can reach all the famous places with just one ticket. This way, you get even more value for your money.

Visit the Anne Frank House and go on a Canal Cruise!

1 June 2021

A lot of canal cruises leave near Amsterdam Central Station, which is great, because it is close to the city centre and easily reachable. But sometimes you are somewhere else in the city and you feel like taking a relaxing cruise along the Amsterdam canals. A canal cruise takes about an hour, which makes them easy to combine with other activities. That’s why we offer multiple locations where you can board one of our canal boats.

One of these locations is right next to the Anne Frank House. This museum is the former house and hiding place of the world famous, Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. It is the 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands and a must see when you are in Amsterdam. It was here where Anne Frank and several other people were in hiding in a secret annex during the World War II, as they hoped to survive the war.

When you leave the museum you might feel like taking an Amsterdam canal cruise to let all the impressions from the museum settle in your mind while you see more of the city sights along the Amsterdam canals.

Tour the Amsterdam canals

The Anne Frank House, stands on the corner of the Westermarkt and the Prinsengracht from where our Amsterdam Canal Cruise leaves. The Prinsengracht is the fourth and longest of the main canals in Amsterdam. The canal houses you’ll see along the way were mostly build during the Dutch Golden Age, which makes them of great historic value.

Other famous buildings you’ll see during the Amsterdam Canal Cruise are the Noorderkerk (Northern Church), the Noordermarkt (Northern Market) and the Westerkerk (Western Church). But this cruise doesn’t stay on the Prinsengracht. Though each cruise is unique, you are likely to also visit the other main canals of the canal belt in the historic centre of the city, the Keizersgracht and the Herengracht.

The 17th century canal ring has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2010. During the cruise, you’ll also see famous sights like the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets), the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) and the Amstel river which gave Amsterdam her name.

A great value deal

With the boarding location of our Amsterdam Canal Cruise so close to the Anne Frank House and a nice online discount, this is a great value deal. The boat has frequent departures on every day of the week. The modern boats have an audio system in 19 languages, so you can hear all about your surroundings in your own language.

Do you want to board somewhere else to cruise through the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Amsterdam canal belt? We also offer Amsterdam Canal Cruises from near the Central Station and from the Leidseplein (Leidse Square).

Everything you need to know about the Amsterdam canals

6 April 2021

The Dutch capital is known for her waterways but why does Amsterdam have canals? How many canals are there in Amsterdam and what is their combined length? Here is some of the most important information you need to know about one of the city's main attractions before your visit to Amsterdam.


Though the area of the Netherlands now known as Amsterdam was first settled over 4600 years ago, it wasn’t until late 12th or early 13th century that the dam after which the city is named was built in the Amstel river. After the city was given town privileges in the 13th century, it also gained the right to put up defences including moats. These first defensive moats are the origins of the Amsterdam canals.

As the city grew, the defensive moats became part of the city and new moats were dug, increasing the number of canals in the city. The city’s grandest canals were created in the 17th century. As trade grew exponentially during the Dutch Golden Age, the county’s capital needed to grow too. This lead to the creation of the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Singel.

Canal belt

The Amsterdam canal belt is a system of streets, quays, bridges, and buildings on fairly identical plots of equal length with enclosed courtyards around the four grand canals, which run parallel to each other from the Brouwersgracht to the Amstel river.

The canal belt was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1 August 2010, which made it the ninth UNESCO site in the Netherlands. The canal belt made the list because it met three criteria to do so. It represents a masterpiece of human creative genius, it exhibits an important interchange of human values, and it is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble which illustrates significant stages in human history.

Fun facts

These days there are over 160 canals in Amsterdam with a length of over 100 kilometres, or 60 miles. The city is home to over 1900 bridges, which combined with the waterways have given the city the nickname ‘Venice of the north’. The canals separate the city into 90 different islands and give room to around 3000 houseboats.

Today the water in the Amsterdam canals is cleaner than ever, especially as they were once used as garbage dumps. Every year the city removes between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes from the water and the cleaner water has resulted in several different kind of aquatic life settling in the city, including 20 different kinds of fish and crabs.

Amsterdam Light Festival 2023 – 2024

27 November 2023

The Amsterdam Light Festival celebrates a new edition in the winter of 2023-2024. Discover how beautiful light installations colour the water and transform Amsterdam into a city of light. With a LOVERS Canal Cruises boat trip you will see the city as you have never seen it before.

See the beautiful artworks of the Amsterdam Light Festival 2023 – 2024

The theme of the Amsterdam Light festival 2023-2024 is LOADING…Revealing ART, AI and Tech. From 30 November until 21 January, 24 new works of light art will stand in and along the Amsterdam canals. The artists, from eight different countries, have each given their own interpretation of the theme.

There is no doubt that technology and artificial intelligence have had and will continue to have a significant impact on the human experience and our societies. The art works look at the reality we live in now, the future that technology and AI may bring and how it affect humanity. Whether our growing connection with tech and AI will be positive or negative remains to be seen.

Discover an oasis of light in the capital

Are you curious to know what form these light installations take? Then discover them from the front row with a boat trip along the route of the Amsterdam Light Festival 2023-2024. During our professional boat tours with audio guide you will learn all about the light installations and the artists.

LOVERS Canal Cruises offers three options to enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival. You can hop on a boat from two different locations just outside Amsterdam Central Station, at the main LOVERS dock and by Restaurant Loetje. The third option combines a regular daytime canal cruise with an Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise to see the canals from all its best angles.

Atlas by Jon VossNot to miss light art festival

As you cruise through the canals keep an eye out for Atlas by Jon Voss, who has transformed from a titan carrying the sky into technology carrying a village. The work Is it really you? by Studio Mast reminds us of the unintended consequences of using AI. And Cell Phone by Liam Campbell confronts us with our dependency on our mobile phones.

Atelier Haute Cuisine took things a step further for Artificial Humans, a piece in part created with AI generator Dall-E 2. Pool of dreams by Vibhor Sogani is filled with dreams of a perfect technological utopia. And a piece that will be hard to miss will be shown on the National Maritime Museum, which will become a canvas for Waves by Florian & Michael Quistrebert.

Book your Amsterdam Light Festival tickets online with a discount

It promises to be another dazzling edition, bringing an oasis of light to the dark winter months. Experience it up close with your family and friends or plan a romantic date with your partner. Book your tickets online now and experience the Amsterdam Light Festival 2023 - 2024 from a warm and comfortable boat.

During the Amsterdam Light Festival, LOVERS guests can exclusively park their car at a discount at the Prins Hendrikkade parking garage from Qpark. For availability and reserving a parking spot check the Qpark website. Do you have any questions? Then check out our special Amsterdam Light Festival FAQ.