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Explore Amsterdam’s Canals Like a Local: A Guide to Renting a Boat

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I recently rented a boat as a group since I had friends in town visiting Amsterdam. This wasn’t my first time renting a boat in Amsterdam, but after this experience, I felt that I had enough lay of the land to showcase different perspectives on how to truly rent a boat for the right price.

After living in Amsterdam for a couple of years now, getting on the water is one of my favorite things to do in Amsterdam. Many of the canal tours are great, of course, but with two families in two with little ones, avoiding crowds is essential.

My friends (wife, husband, and baby) and my family, myself, wife, and toddler, wanted a fun day in the sun. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rent a boat and get out on the canals.

Choosing the Right Boat for Your Amsterdam Adventure

Amsterdam canal boat rentals with Mokumboot - Explore historic waterways and iconic architecture
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When we set out on our Amsterdam canal adventure, selecting the right vessel made all the difference. You see, Amsterdam’s intricate network of canals beckons with its charm and history, and the best way to immerse yourself in this experience is by gently gliding through its waters on a private boat.

The first consideration for our group, which included friends and their babies, my wife, and our toddler daughter, was safety and comfort. We found that electric boats are environmentally friendly and offer a smooth and quiet ride – essential for not startling the little ones. Renting a 100% electric boat meant we could converse easily without engine noise and enjoy the soothing sounds of the water.

Here’s a quick guide to help you choose:

Choosing the Right Boat for Your Amsterdam Adventure Graphics
  • Size Matters: Opt for a spacious enough boat to fit your party comfortably. For our group, a medium-sized sloop was perfect.
  • Features for Comfort: Look for luxury boats with cushioned seating and a canopy to protect from unexpected drizzles.
  • Skipper or Self-skippered: If you’re not experienced, choose a private boat with a skipper. It’s stress-free, and you’ll get insider commentary on the sights.
  • Fleet Quality: Select a reputable boat rental company in Amsterdam with a well-maintained fleet. This assures both safety and a pleasant experience.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the boat is accessible for everyone in your group, especially if traveling with children or elderly guests.

We settled on Mokumboot as they are known for its fleet of electric canal boats and decided on a private boat rental that catered to our personalized route.

See Related: Flower Bikes in Amsterdam to Visit

Booking Your Boat: What You Need to Know

A fleet of Mokumboot rental boats lined along Amsterdam's serene canal
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you’re gearing up for a unique experience with friends and family, securing the perfect vessel for boat rental in Amsterdam is essential. Let us guide you through the must-know details to ensure a seamless adventure on the waterways of this charming city.

Firstly, pinpointing the duration of your boat trip is pivotal. Ask yourself, do we want a brief excursion or a lengthy exploration? Typically, you can expect to rent for a few hours, allowing us to choose our route and soak in the Amsterdam vibe.

To embark on our aquatic journey, reaching out to Amsterdam boat rental companies is simple. They have a convenient ‘contact us’ feature where you can ask questions or request a quote tailored to your needs. Here’s what we will consider:

  • The number of people: We will account for everyone, even our littlest sailors.
  • Catering options: Do we want to picnic on the boat or savor the city’s flavors from local caterers?
  • Professional skipper or self-navigation: Do we have a license to navigate, or should we rely on a professional skipper?
  • Budget: Finding an affordable option that doesn’t compromise the experience is key.

My Experience Navigating the Canals

Experience Rondvaart Koou boat tour dock on Amsterdam's iconic canals with Dutch architecture and clear blue skies.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Living in Amsterdam offers us unique opportunities, including the chance to take the helm and captain our boat through the city’s historic canals. Amsterdam’s canals are a marvel of urban engineering and a testament to the city’s Golden Age; navigating these waterways gave us a fresh perspective of this city.

We glided past the charming facades of Jordaan, waved to onlookers on the bridges of Prinsengracht, and marveled at the stately homes along Keizersgracht and Herengracht.

  • Crew and Captain: Contrary to a conventional canal cruise in Amsterdam, we were in control, creating our own experience. Steering our boat was straightforward, with each bend in the canal revealing new sights.
  • Canal Experience: The waters were calm, and our electric boat was silent, enhancing the peaceful experience. As I took on the role of a local skipper, our friends enjoyed the scenery, and our little ones enjoyed the ducks and swans bobbing alongside us.

Our path took us through Oosterdok, where the modern cityscape contrasts the 17th-century canals. We ducked under low bridges and navigated tight corners, sharing knowing smiles with other boaters who were all part of this delightful dance on the water.

Boating through Amsterdam allowed us to witness the city’s pulse from an incredible vantage point that only the canals can provide. It brought us closer, not just to each other, but to the essence of Amsterdam’s heart and history.

See Related: Famous Landmarks in Amsterdam to Visit

Must-See Sights from the Water

Rijksmuseum from canal - Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you glide through the iconic Amsterdam canals, it feels like you’re navigating through the veins of history. We rented our boat, ready for an intimate sightseeing tour with close friends and our little ones – it’s an adventure that caters to all ages.

Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht form the main canals of the central Amsterdam canal network and are simply magnificent. With their storied roofs, the canal houses seemed to nod in approval as we passed. While on the canal cruise in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum emerged majestically before us. Seeing this Dutch treasure from the water added a serene grandeur to our experience.

See Related: Best Bridges in Amsterdam to See

Tips for a Smooth Sailing Experience

Love Me street art on historic canal-side brick wall in Amsterdam with lush greenery and red and white sign.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When we set sail on Amsterdam’s iconic canals, we prepared with a few essential tips to ensure a delightful day out on the water. We managed a seamless cruising experience, even with the little ones aboard.

First, we checked the weather forecast; clear skies and mild winds promised a perfect setting. Comfort on board is crucial, so we packed soft pillows and ensured a heater on our boat, ready to ward off any chill. To keep the atmosphere serene, we chose a quiet route, away from the bustling areas, and played soft music that complements the gentle lapping of the water against the hull.

Remember, a fun day out is about creating memories. We tried plastic fishing—a playful yet conscious activity that gave us a sense of contribution to keeping the canals beautiful. Here’s what we recommend bringing along for an unparalleled voyage:

Lastly, choose an open boat to fully immerse in the city’s vibe while the skyline paints a majestic backdrop for your aquatic adventure!

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