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Amsterdam by Boat: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Waterway Gems

Matthew Whittaker • Wed, Jun 12

Amsterdam by Boat: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Waterway Gems

Amsterdam is known across the globe for its famous canals, drawing millions of tourists every year. Within these canals, lies many hidden gems that can be visited when you venture into the city of Amsterdam. Renting a boat is an excellent way to discover these spots and enjoy the city from an alternative perspective. Within this guide, we will uncover these lesser-known spots and provide tips and tricks on how to enjoy your time in Amsterdam.

How to rent a boat

Many companies offer boat rental within Amsterdam, below are the best options for these sunny days.

1.) Boaty Rental

A private boat company that has multiple options for different languages within the website. With this company, you can rent out a boat with your friends for up to four hours a day and accommodate up to six people, ensuring a good time with your friends. The boats do not require any license, making them ideal for any candidate who wants to enjoy the city.

2.) Canal Motorboat

Canal motorboats provide electric and motor-run boats, allowing for private and guided boat tours that also offer drinks to their passengers. Offering a wide range of boats with different speed settings, Canal Motorbaots allows you to swiftly pass through the Amsterdam canals on sunny days. The prices start at 50 euros per hour for private tours and 20 euros for group tours.

3.) Sloepdelen

Providing only electrical boat options, Sleopdelen allows for private boat rentals while considering environmental demands. Consisting of boats up to 12 seats, sloepdelen allows for great times with a large group of friends if that is what you require. Boats are also user-friendly, allowing for mobile activation with no past experience required. The rates vary from 50 to 80 euros per hour, depending on the boat chosen.

Amsterdam by Boat: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Waterway Gems

Hidden waterway gems

The Brouwersgracht

Brouwersgracht is often covered by the more famous canals, providing a scenic and tranquil alternative. 17th-century barns line the river, providing a scenic backdrop perfect for a peaceful boat cruise.

Oud-West canal

Away from the central tourist attractions, the Oud-West area offers tranquil canals such as Bilderdikgracht and Jacob van Lennepkanal. These areas are great for getting a local vibe, with cute cafes and boutique shops along the river.

Eastern Docklands and IJberg

Explore the Eastern Docklands and IJberg for a modern twist. These spaces reflect modern architecture and offer a unique perspective on Amsterdam’s development. The wide waterways and modern bridges make for a thrilling boating experience.

The Plantage

Home to Hortus Botanicus, the Artis Zoo, the Plantage area has lush vegetation and cultural spaces along the river. It is the perfect place for nature lovers and those interested in the botanical history of the city.

The Amstel River

Although not really hidden, you can go further along the Amstel to quieter and less touristy areas. Enjoy classic Dutch windmills and riverside meadows, offering a peaceful escape from the busy city centre.


Explore the lesser-known northern part of Amsterdam, including the tranquil waterways around the NDSM marina. The area is known for its artistic community and industrial chic touch, making it a unique destination for boaters.

De Pijp and the hidden waterways

De Pijp is known for its vibrant markets and cafes, but canals like the Boerenwtering offer peaceful access. Enjoy a leisurely cruise through this bustling yet peaceful neighborhood, taking in a mix of local life and competitive outings

Amsterdam by Boat: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Waterway Gems

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Tips and tricks for exploring hidden waterways

  • Rent an electric boat = To maintain the tranquil experience within the canals, renting an electric boat allows for noise reduction allowing the environment to shine
  • Timing = Arrange your boat tour for early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds and allow the experience to shine
  • Weather = Check the weather forecast beforehand, as Amsterdam is known for its rainy spells. A good app for the rain is Buienradar
  • Pick a picnic = Many of these locations above, allow for easy docking which allows for many canal-side picnics. Bring along local treats for the full Amsterdam experience

By venturing away from the general paths that private tours offer you allow yourself to enjoy a more authentic Amsterdam experience. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these secret spots on the canals provide a fresh perspective on the beauty and charm of this historic city.

For more insights on living in Amsterdam, check out our guides on 3 Month Rentals in Amsterdam, Flexible and Convenient Serviced Apartments, and Embracing Amsterdam's Diverse Neighbourhoods.