With all of the different canals in Amsterdam, taking a canal cruise is a great way to see the city and learn about its architecture as well as its history. We had also taken a walking tour of the city, but touring by boat was truly enjoyable. Most tours will take you by famous sites like the Anne Frank house, but you also see various other areas of the city that you might not otherwise see.
Our tour provided headsets in order to listen to the audio presentation of the tour. We learned about why the buildings lean toward the water and have hooks suspended from the roof. Because the buildings are so narrow, furniture is hoisted from the street level up to the windows in order to get them inside and the buildings lean so that the items can be raised without hitting the walls. The buildings are narrow because they are taxed based on the width of the building, so most of them are narrow and tall.
People don’t just live in the buildings along the canals, but they also live in houseboats on the canals. Most of them never move and some of them don’t even have engines. There are various styles from simple and small to large and luxurious. In a city that is made up of hundreds of canals, house boats are a great way for people to live downtown and enjoy everything that city has to offer. Needless to say, in a city where bicycles outnumber residents, it isn’t uncommon to see bicycles on the decks of the houseboats. There were even some whimsical boats and a few that were half sunken, but not repaired.
There are many choices of canal cruise tour companies to choose from in Amsterdam and the size of the boat will determine what canals you can see and which ones you can’t. There are even small tours that offer drinks and food, which makes it more of a fun excursion rather than an actual tour. We chose a medium size tour boat for our tour, but if we ever do it again, we’d probably choose a private tour with wine and the famous Dutch cheese.