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When we went to Amsterdam I was DYING to take a canal boat tour. I had dreams of cruising and drifting between those cutesy canal homes. But I had no idea there was such a thing as a small, open topped canal boat tour in Amsterdam, did you?

Originally I was looking at the larger boat tours by the more well-known and well-reviewed companies aka the ones that have free tickets included with the Iamsterdam card. (Because EVERYONE and their moms gets this card!) We were staying in the Netherlands for over 3 weeks so we didn’t really need the Iamsterdam card and for this reason we had more freedom to choose our canal boat tour.

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Fun Fact: The canal houses in Amsterdam are so narrow because the government used to tax on the width of the home. This is how you can tell some of the homes were once owned by wealthy merchants, their homes were sometimes twice the width of others.

Jimmy had been to Amsterdam before and taken the large canal boat tour so he suggested we do a small boat tour. One of his biggest gripes with taking the typical large canal boat tour was they run out of seats inside where the speakers are located. He had to sit outside, instead, where he was unable to hear any of the narration. This is where the research began and my mind was blown by the possibility of a different type of tour!

Needing a list of things to do, see, and eat in Amsterdam? Check out our detailed 3 day guide to Amsterdam!

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Why small canal boat tours in Amsterdam are better…

  • Less touristy vibe because they’re not as mass-marketed
  • Smaller boats can fit into narrower canals
  • The small motorboats are open top so you can see more of the canal houses
  • More intimate experience, you can ask the captain questions directly
  • Every seat on the boat is a great seat
  • You don’t have to worry about finding a seat where you can hear the speaker (because there isn’t one!)
  • It’s worth the price-the tickets are usually about the same for both smaller and larger canal boat tours
PRO TIP: If you’d prefer a more luxurious experience with Goldilocks sized boat, medium sized luxury canal boat tours are available as well.
One of the tunnels we went under. Some of these tunnels were so small that people sitting at the ends of the boat had to duck their heads.

There are several companies in Amsterdam that offer small canal boat tours, but we ended up choosing Those Dam Boat Guys. Do note that some boat tour operators offering “small boat canal tours” actually have more medium sized boats. Buyer beware, haha, make sure you’re actually buying what you want!

PRO TIP: Make sure you take a look at photos of the boats on their websites before booking so you know can see how big the boats actually are.

We settled on taking a tour with Those Dam Boat Guys for a few reasons…

  • Smaller boat, duh, of course!
  • The price was right! €27.50 per person for a 90-minute tour.
  • Their site shows that they have a sense of humor, that always helps doesn’t it?
The docking area for our small boat canal tour.

Our Experience with Those Dam Boat Guyz

Reservations & Booking

Their site was super easy to navigate and there were only a couple options so it was easy to find and pick the tour we wanted. We didn’t want to do a private tour, so naturally we picked the only option left, the public tour.

Fun Fact: Amsterdam is home to 165 canals; in total, they are 50km (~31mi). The most famous of them are Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Oude Singel.

There was a lot of availability left, we picked the date and chose a 5pm departure. Our tickets arrived shortly thereafter, in our email along with a receipt (in separate emails).

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The Perfect Canal Boat Tour

We met up with our group at the designated meeting point Cafe Wester, on Nieuwe Leliestraat 2. Per their request, we arrived 15 minutes early, 4:45pm for us, and were able to use the restroom at the cafe. The servers at the cafe are also familiar with the drill and will permit you to use the restroom in the back. You can also grab a quick drink there if you’d like! We didn’t so we waited outside to stay out of their way, the cafe is pretty small.

PRO TIP: Make sure you go to Cafe Wester and NOT Cafe Oude Wester, they are two different cafes!

Just before the tour started, a girl from Those Dam Boat Guys checked us in and walked us over to the boat dock and our captain.

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These swans enjoyed visiting our boat and begging for food.

Our captain helped us onto the boat and arranged us all so that the smokers were at the back of the boat and downwind. We appreciated this attention to detail because it ensured that we weren’t bothered by the smoke. He also gave us all ponchos to put on in case it began raining during our 90 minute tour.

He was a bit of a quirky guy and also began feeding the swans afterwards. The swans obviously knew him because they were already crowding around our boat, haha.

Our captain feeding the swans.

Fun Fact: Many of the canal houses in the Jordaan district were once used as warehouses to store merchants’ goods, some still have markings on the front stating the types of goods placed in them.

In the intimate group, we also did introductions and learned that most of the other couples on our tour were from the United Kingdom and the East Coast (United States).

Because the groups are smaller, there isn’t really a set route, but if you want to see a specific canal you can suggest it. None of the people in our party had an option so our captain pretty much got to take us around as he pleased, telling us about the city as we went along. One really cool thing was that he actually grew up in Amsterdam so he was able to tell us information that we might not have known otherwise. A lot of it being that the city has changed a lot over the years.

Fun Fact: Majority of the people who currently live in Amsterdam are not originally from Amsterdam.

Because we were still trying to get the lay of the land, I honestly couldn’t tell you the exact route he took us around. What I can tell you is that he took us through MANY canals and we got to see canals of all different sizes as well as the quaint canal houses alongside.

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We drifted from the Jordaan canal ring all the way over to Magere Brug by Waterlooplein.

Our captain told us about many of the sights he’d recommend visiting, including the Rijksmuseum, Vondelpark, and a canal house museum which I later visited (so worth it!). Check out our Amsterdam weekend itinerary for more about these sights.

It was very peaceful drifting along the narrow canals in the Jordaan district with an intimate tour group. We got a feel for the larger canal boats when we drove into the wider canals. There, we could hear all of the narration speakers and large motors going.

Even though the boats are small, It can still be difficult getting a shot without the boat or other members of your tour. It’s even harder when you’re trying to get a good reach while you’re in your poncho.

Fun Fact: Many of the canal houses were too narrow to transport large items upstairs through the home. Instead, hooks on the roof line were used as a pulley system to hang up items so that they could be placed into the house through the windows.

It started raining in the middle of our tour and he even provided some people with umbrellas. I’m sure they were regretting rejecting those ponchos earlier, haha. When there was a break in the rain, he took us to a canal intersection in the Jordaan district and helped us take photos!

PRO TIP: Remember to wear warm clothing, especially if you’re going on a tour in the evening or at night. It starts to get chilly when you’re sitting around and not moving.

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At the end of the tour, the sun was beginning to set and the lights around the canals were slowly beginning to turn on. We almost wished we had taken a sunset tour; however, either way the weather wasn’t really cooperating so we would’ve missed out on golden hour anyways.

Our captain also gave us amazing recommendations for Indonesian food at the end of the tour. And in case you were wondering, tips are appreciated but not required.

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Tour Information

€27.50 per person for a 90 minute tour

This included:

  • English-speaking captain & guide all-in-one
  • Small canal boat tour with a maximum size of 10 people

Tours are typically offered at multiple times throughout the day primarily between 11am and 9pm. You can book tickets online in advance. We noticed that the majority of the tours were 2 hours apart and offered on the hour though during high season we saw more times available.

Helpful Tips

  • It can get chilly while you’re on the boat, especially if you take an evening or night time tour, wearing layers is advised.
  • Tours happen rain or shine! They’ll also provide umbrellas and ponchos for ya. We needed and appreciated the ponchos because it started raining while we were on the boat. They’ll usually also provide blankets but I don’t think that’s the case when it’s raining.
  • Food and drink is permitted, and yes, this includes “adult” drinks like alcohol. Some of the people on our tour brought beers and wine. They even provide plastic cups for your wine!
  • Smoking is allowed, let them know and they’ll position you so that it doesn’t disturb other guests.
  • If you’re afraid of the weather and don’t want to be freezing in the canal boat in the rain or cold even with blankets and ponchos, they allow cancellation up to 48 hours in advance.
  • They also have an FAQ page if you have more questions!

Meet Up Point

This was our honest review on taking a small boat canal tour with Those Dam Boat Guys. We were not compensated or sponsored in any way. We wrote this review because we really enjoyed our experience and wanted to share it with our readers.

Needing to get out of Amsterdam? Try Leiden for a great 1-2 day trip

Enjoyed this small canal boat tour in Amsterdam post? Pin it for later!

Experience the Canals of Amsterdam while cruising the Jordaan Canal Ring in a small guided motorboat tour. These intimate small group canal boat tours provide you with the best way to explore the canals in Amsterdam. You'll get to see Prinsengracht, Leidesgracht, Singel, Amstel, and more all in the span of 90 minutes. #amsterdam #canalboat #boats #canalsofamsterdam #holland #netherlands #guidedtourExperience the Canals of Amsterdam while cruising the Jordaan Canal Ring in a small guided motorboat tour. These intimate small group canal boat tours provide you with the best way to explore the canals in Amsterdam. You'll get to see Prinsengracht, Leidesgracht, Singel, Amstel, and more all in the span of 90 minutes. #amsterdam #canalboat #boats #canalsofamsterdam #holland #netherlands #guidedtour

30 Comments

  1. Your facts are always interesting. I didn’t realise that was why some boats were so narrow! I’ve only been to Amsterdam once and I didn’t really do much (I was sick for most of it)… so I really would like to go back and see more than the bed! I personally wouldn’t have thought about going with a smaller boat so thanks for this post on it. Definitely feels a lot more personal and they do go the extra mile for you 🙂 Great tips!

    • Constance Panda Reply

      Awww thank you! You should definitely try to do Amsterdam again, I’m sure you’ll have a much better time. The smaller boat is definitely way more personal since all of your questions will be addressed individually, it’s super nice.

  2. I did a canal ride the first time I went to Amsterdam and it was definitely one of the most memorable parts of our trip! Love your photos and all the fun facts… I had no idea about most of those things!

  3. Aurelia Teslaru Reply

    A canal cruise in Amsterdam is definitely a must. It is the best way to see the city and feel its vibe!

  4. A small boat definitely seems preferable! What a fun way to see Amsterdam 🙂 I really wanted to do a canal tour but we didn’t have enough time since we were just there on a layover! Will have to check these guys out for a tour if we go back 🙂

  5. I love Amsterdam! And I absolutely loved our canal ride there :). Definitely a must-do.

  6. I’m visiting Amsterdam this fall, thanks for sharing this post. I will be adding the canal tour to my itinerary

    Stunning pictures

  7. Lena Elzayn Reply

    This looks so fun and pretty! We are hoping to go to Amsterdam this coming December, I hope it won’t be too cold to do this!

    • Constance Panda Reply

      From what I’ve heard, if the canals don’t freeze over it should be okay. But obviously double check with the tour boat company for confirmation 🙂

  8. I went on a boat tour when I was there and was a bit disappointed. I would love to try this one though, pinning for future reference.

    • Constance Panda Reply

      Jimmy took the normal boat tours and wasn’t pleased so he preferred this one much more. He actually suggested this one!

  9. I didn’t get a chance to do this when I was last in Amsterdam, but I do love smaller more intimate type of experiences so this might be ideal. It’s definitely quite different seeing the city from the canals as compared to walking around 🙂

    • Constance Panda Reply

      Riding in a boat in the canal is definitely the best way to experience Amsterdam!

  10. Indeed this is one the best adventures, we did something similar in Amsterdam but not in a small boat. It was the big tourist boats so it was crowded. I wish we had chosen a boat like yours instead 🙂

    • Constance Panda Reply

      Jimmy felt the same last time, so we did this when we went again together. Now you have another reason to head back to Amsterdam! 😉

  11. Julie Boyd Reply

    What a cool tour! My husband and I are always looking for ways to explore somewhere, without doing things that are ultra crowded and touristy. This small boat tour seems perfect! Thanks for sharing!

    • Constance Panda Reply

      The small canal boat tours are definitely not crowded! And way more enjoyable because Jimmy has taken both the larger boat tours and this one.

  12. Teresa "Tess" Reply

    I read every word of your post. So interesting and helpful. I think I want to book a trip to Amsterdam now just to take this tour, lol. I”m saving this for later in case I need to refer to it. And, thank you, for such an honest review. It’s difficult to find non-sponsored posts nowadays.

    • Constance Panda Reply

      So glad your enjoyed this post! We don’t know if we’ll do sponsored posts in the future (who knows what’ll happen in the future). But we won’t recommend anything we haven’t tried or don’t believe in. We believe in maintaining a strict code of ethics and honesty for the sake of our readers’ trust. 🙂

  13. Never been to Amsterdam, but this sure is a great reason to go! The history and the scenery were spectacular. Having the option to go on a smaller, less touristy boat is awesome. I enjoyed this post a lot!

    • Constance Panda Reply

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed this post! I hope you get to visit Amsterdam soon especially for this small boat tour 🙂

  14. This is such an awesome idea – I didn’t know you could do smaller boat tours. I like the fact they’re less-touristy and can get into the smaller canals. And there’s no bad seats as you can always hear the narrator. Your fun facts are great too! I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times and my first visit 10 years ago I did a bigger canal cruise so I’d definitely enjoy this smaller one when I revisit. Thanks for sharing!

    • Constance Panda Reply

      I’m so glad you loved this post! It’s a really great tour and we loved it a lot so we felt that we needed to share it with our readers. You totally need to go back and try this smaller boat tour, Jimmy loved it WAY more.

  15. I have great memories from my Amsterdam canal tour. I guess your experience allowed to get even closer to the canal experience. It’s something to keep in mind if I get back to Amsterdam. Thanks for the detailed description and nice photos!

    • Constance Panda Reply

      Glad you loved the photos, definitely try this next time you’re in Amsterdam. It’s so worth it!

  16. Love a good boat tour .. it’s a great way to see the city in a different perspective. Lucky you grabbed those ponchos to keep you dry during the tour. Great that the captain recommend places to visit – it’s always good to get a local recommendation. Interesting fact about the width of the houses along the canals! This tour is ideal as it’s a small group and all the seats on the boat are the best seats! Right i’m definitely doing this boat tour when I next visit Amsterdam.

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