Amsterdam Canal Tour

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Amsterdam has 165 canals, more than Venice at about 150, with a total length of 31 miles (50km). The city also has three times as many bridges over these canals than Venice, 1201 compared to 409. Amsterdam’s canals were built in the 16th and 17th centuries as swampland was drained, a practice typical throughout the Netherlands. The artificial waterways became a means of transport, irrigation, water management and also formed part of the city’s military defense. In 2010, the canal ring around the city was named a UNESCO world heritage site, partly for it being a masterpiece of hydraulic and civil engineering and city planning.

A canal tour of the city is a highlight of an Amsterdam visit—night and day, canal boats carrying tourists and locals alike constantly are plying the waterways. We joined them by tender, entering the canal system off the IJ River right next to our marina and making a counter-clockwise pass through. It definitely was a great way to see the city.

Below are trip highlights from our Dec 25th, 2018. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at

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City Marina
View to Dirona moored at City Marina IJDok as we head out for our canal tour.
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One of many, many houseboats moored along Amsterdam’s canals.
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Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House, directly right of the house with the red roof, always has a crowd in front.
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Looking north along Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal) the longest and outermost of Amsterdam’s three main canals, completed in the early 1600s. Westerkirk is prominent in the distance.
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The canal boats that run tours through the canals are too long to make some of the 90-degree corners from one bridge to the next. Instead, they must go back and forth in the same spot in the marine equivalent of a three-point turn.
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Bicycles locked to the Keizersgracht bridge over Leidsegracht.
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We saw a few sunken boats along the canal, and many more that looked nearly in that state.
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Many of the Amsterdam canals are one way.
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Two Lamps
One of two huge lamps in Jeroen Henneman’s aptly-named Two Lamps display in the Amsterdam Light Festival.
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Ode Aan De Mol
Part of the Ode Aan De Mol Amsterdam Light Festival display. The complete work displays the words decided on by the US Department of Energy’s Futures Panel to warn those in the distant future who might stumble across a nuclear waste storage site because it was felt the standard nuclear radiation warning symbol might not be understood. The three visible panels read “The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours. The danger is to the body, and it can kill. The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.” The complete text is at This Place is not A Place of Honor.
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Having Fun
Enjoying the ride through the canals.
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Barely Fits
Some of the canal tour boats barely fit through the tunnels.
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Smoke Boat
The Smoke Boat, trailing a pungent aroma of marijuana.
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The tower Montelbaanstoren was built in 1516 as a defensive tower in the Wall of Amsterdam.
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Cranes dominate the skyline alongside the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, an academy of music.
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NEMO Science Museum
The NEMO Science Museum was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano who also designed The Shard in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. The science center building, originally built for the New Metropolis Museum, resembles the hull of a huge ship.
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Sea Palace
The multi-story pagoda-styled Sea Palace Chinese restaurant has great views over the Amsterdam canals.
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Night Vision
The Night Vision display at the Amsterdam Lights Festival. Boats passing through represent light entering the eye.
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Central Station
Amsterdam Central Station, opened in 1889, aglow in the afternoon sun.
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The section of the canal we’re in now is full of canal boats and their docks and booking offices. During the Amsterdam Light Festival, non-commercial craft are prohibited in the basin after 4:30pm, presumably due to the number of boats underway.
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A water view to that bicycle storage rack we saw on our first day here.
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EYE Film Museum
The distinctive EYE Film Museum, left, and the A’DAM Tower, a converted former Royal Dutch Shell oil company office building.
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Palace of Justice
Looking northwest between the two Palace of Justice buildings with City Marina IJDok on the left.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at


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