TOP 5 REASONS WHY the PEDAL BOAT IS BEST WAY TO EXPLORE AMSTERDAM CITY CANALS!

Dutch people are truly geniuses when it comes to building and making.

Amsterdam is a proper example of a a city built on water in every sense of the word.

In this article, I will explain you all the good sides of pedal boats and all the bad sides in comparison to Amsterdam Canal Cruise.

In the end of this post, I hope you will have a clear imagine of what’s best for you!

ABOUT AMSTERDAM CANALS

There are 165 canals in the city and 10 of them from 17th century are placed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. On each canal there are interesting and historic sights, most of them you can only see and experience fully from the boat’s point of view. (For example Reguliersgracht-7 bridges)

The city is just something else; much more special from canal point of view. That’s why taking a canal cruise is really a must when in Amsterdam.

However, keep in mind that Amsterdam Canal Cruise is the most popular tourist attraction in the country with over 200 tour boats and 3 million passengers a year. You can find all kinds and varieties of canal cruises of almost every form of entertainment that this city offers. But, you will find much crowd too.

Regardless to a huge choice of canal tours, I would always choose a pedal boat.

WHY?

You are about to find out!

Sooo, let’s get cruisin’! 🙂

Canal view under one of many bridges in Amsterdam
Canal view under one of many bridges in Amsterdam

1. THE MOST AFFORDABLE WAY

Amsterdam is the no. 1 cycling city in the world and you can even cycle through the canals. Since 1984 you can explore canals with mentioned pedal boats also known as pedalos, water bikes or even canal bikes. There are 100 of pedal boats around the city.

The cost of renting a pedalo for 1 hour is only €10 or €9 if you book it online. If you want to have it longer, you have to pay a bit more. Beware that upon arrival, a €20 deposit is required. You can even return your pedal boat to another location but in that case, but €10 will be deducted from your deposit or even €20 depending on the company.

When you compare the price to any other way of exploring canals, pedalo is the leading for being the cheapest.

Stromma pedal boat cruise around Amsterdam canals
Stromma boat renting company (photo by @dzo.da)


TRAVEL TIP: Last departure is at 16:00 hrs but depending on the weather operating times may vary so make sure to be there as early as possible. (opening at 09:00). Please check the official website for possible changes of working hours etc.

Canal cruising nexto to house boats in Amsterdam
There are around 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam
(photo by @dzo.da)

2. YOUR OWN PEACE

There’s nothing better than freedom, right? You can go exploring canals by pedalo with your friend, partner or even group of friends and family. Most pedalos are equipped to catty up to four passengers. That means, no unwanted passengers, noise or anything like that. Plus, you can choose your own tour and paths where you want to go.

Canal cruise in peace

TRAVEL TIP: As part of the rental you’ll be given advice on how to ride safely among canal traffic, a free guidebook including a map of the best routes through the city and the major attractions. I’ve read on the official website that stuff is giving you a rain hood if the weather turn unpleasant while you’re out on the water. We didn’t get it (it was a clear, summer sky), so make sure you ask for it if necessary because you’ve read it on their site.

You don't need a map, you have it on your pedal boat
You don’t need a city map, you have it on your pedal boat

3. IT’S HEALTHY FOR YOU

Okay, I know that many of you forget about healthy diets and way of living when you’re on vacation. But why not merging good with the useful?
Pedal boat is like free gym but also you don’t have to go fast. Pay a bit more, and cycle slower while enjoying the views.



TRAVEL TIP: It is true that pedal boat will be harder for people who are not in such a good shape, but if you go in group of three or four persons, you can always switch while others are resting.

I am resting here, while guys are cycling. :)
I am resting here, while guys are cycling. 🙂

4. YOU CAN TAKE NICE PHOTOS

Don’t get me wrong. You can take nice photos from any city, canal cruise but you will probably be bothered by the windows. I took once canal cruise with that long, red city boat for €14 accompanied with plenty of people. I got a seat next to a window but it was a window. A dirty window. The boat did had open roof but I couldn’t do much with it.


However, later I’ve seen other canal cruise options like semi-open boat cruise, dinner cruise, hop on-hop off bus + boat tour that are having less windows or none like private boat tour or electric, open boat tour, but they are all more expensive than pedal boat.

The views from boat in Amsterdam canals are amazing
The views from boat in Amsterdam canals are amazing

TRAVEL TIP: Get Amsterdam Pass if you want to see more attractions around the city because it will save you plenty of money!

Clog boat spotted in the canals of Amsterdam
It’s all about the clogs: clog boat


5. SUSTAINABLE AMSTERDAM CANAL TOUR

Personally, I think it’s very important to preserve the splendor of each city whether you are local or just visiting. That’s why almost all boats that are offering canal cruises are equipped with electric engines or are solar powered.

However, pedal boat doesn’t have an electric engine but it does have your legs that are ready to do some action! 🙂
Zero-emission!

TRAVEL TIP: Don’t get discouraged, you can do it! 🙂

The view from the boat on tram crossing over the bridge

The view from the boat on tram crossing over the bridge

BAD SIDES OF PEDAL BOAT

  • NO COVER: In case of rain, you are most likely to get wet if you don’t have a rain hood, rain suit or at least an umbrella
  • NO AUDIO GUIDE: While other city canal cruises are offering audio guides and headphones with up to 19 languages, in pedal boat you are your own guide. Unless you know a local person that will come with you or you can always rely on Google.
  • FREE DRINKS: Some city canal cruises are offering free drinks, but usually those are much more expensive. On the other hand, if you choose pedal boat and departure between 9-12 am at Stromma Leidseplein (Leidsebosje 2) it does include a free coffee or tea! Other Stromma pedal bike locations:  Stromma Shop Rijksmuseum, Stadhouderskade 520 & Stromma Shop Westerkerk, Prinsengracht 279.

Mokum is another name for Amsterdam (Mokumboot-Amsterdam boat)
Mokum is another name for Amsterdam (Mokumboot-Amsterdam boat)

Another impressive view from boat while cruising via canals
Another impressive view from boat while cruising via canals

In summer time, canals can get bit busy so make sure to start your cruise early
In summer time, canals can get bit busy so make sure to start your cruise early
Kayak people and bird on canals of Amsterdam
Or…maybe a kayak in Amsterdam? 🙂



To conclude, I was cruising Amsterdam canals with city-cruise boats, private boats and pedal boats so I wrote this article based on my impressions and a bit of exploring.
I hope this article was helpful for you to decide with what to cruise along canals of Amsterdam.

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13 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO AMSTERDAM

Windmills, tulips, clogs, canals, bicycles, narrow houses, Van Gogh…

All that is Amsterdam.

One of the reasons you can expect to encounter yourself with some problems getting around the city are large number of canals. Prepare to get lost because most of the canals will look similar to you and you will probably find yourself walking in circles. Besides, the city is very international too.

Even in the off-season you can see many of the tourists wandering the streets.

However, if you read this simple guide with tips and tricks that I created as a local to make your time in Amsterdam as quality and easier as possible, you will be starting & ending your visit much more satisfied!

Feeling ready for Amsterdam?
Soo, let’s get started! 🙂

 

1. THE LANGUAGE

Ever heard how Dutch language sounds? Hard! But don’t worry because Dutch people are very helpful, and the vast majority speaks English more or less fluently. Sure it’s always nice to know some basic words like: ‘Dankjewel’ or ‘Dankje’‘Thank you’ and ‘Dooi’‘Goodbye’

But if you really end up asking someone for a direction, make sure it’s a person who drives taxi. Otherwise, you won’t be having much of a help. Amsterdam has many streets and even locals are not very oriented. Use GPS, that’s the safest and fastest way!

Download offline Google Map of the city.

 

 

2. LEGAL (TRAVEL DOCUMENTS)

If you citizens of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you don’t need a visa to enter the Netherlands. However, if you are staying more than three months, you might need one so check out the informations depending on your origin. If you are coming from South Africa, you’ll need both passport and a tourist visa.

Good thing: like almost all the things in the Netherlands, you can sort your visa online. Croatian people – you are good to go!

 

 

3. WHEN TO VISIT

Astronomical figures show that around 14 million tourists visit Amsterdam every year, of which 4.5 million are Dutch tourists and more than 9.5 million are foreign visitors. How impressive is that?

Months from June to August are the best – but this is the time when the city is especially crowded with tourists. (ups!)

The best time to visit I reckon is spring – May especially and autumn, about mid-September, when the crowd is diminished, the days are actually having some light and accommodation prices are bit cheaper! Winter and autumn in Amsterdam it’s very magical too with all those foggy, mystical clouds and atmosphere above the canals, but be prepared for very cold weather and lots of ‘brrr’ kind of winds!

Winter in Amsterdam


 

4. THE WEATHER & HOW TO DRESS

You know that feeling when it starts to rain while you’re on vacation – it’s really a bad thing, isn’t it?

Well, the rain really, really loves Amsterdam! I believe this is the main thing to keep in mind when coming here. It really rains often so make sure you have suitable and comfortable clothes.

Be aware of the strong winds too especially from November to March. Dress in layers. Don’t dress to impress, it’s definitely not needed here. And ladies, forget about high heels. Amsterdam streets are made of those square bricks and sidewalks so you’ll most likely be struggling a lot to walk around plus they totally don’t match the spirit of the city.

An umbrella is always a good idea. Or a rain suit. And definitely a waterproof backpack. I advise you to check the weather before coming here on of the weather applications.

  Warm and useful winter Amsterdam hats

 

 

5. THE CURRENCY

Currency in the Netherlands is the euro (€). The most useful notes are the €10 and €20, less often €50 euro notes. I advise you to brake as much possible all the notes you have before coming to Amsterdam because it can be hard to change them in the city and lot of places won’t except notes above €50.

The country accepts both cash and card transactions and a wide range of international major debit and credit cards. However, many places won’t accept credit card. Beware of pickpockets, there are many thieves especially in the city center.

 

 

6. GETTING AROUND

Amsterdam is not such a huge city. Many of attractions are squeezed into the city center and it will take about 20 minutes to walk across all of them. It has a great public transport system with which you can reach into every corner of the city.

However, I highly recommended to rent a bike in any of the bike shops. The Netherlands has the most expensive public transport in the whole Europe, so renting a bike will cut lot of your costs. Plus, with the bike you can properly explore the city – as a local! It will cost you about €14 a day for the most basic type of bicycle.

There is also a metro running from north to south. A single fare on any part costs €3.20. Besides, there’s unlimited travel ticket of €8 per day, €13.50 for two days, €19 for three days and €24.50 for four days or better get a OV chipcard via internet to get discounts up to 40% and free rides each weekend.

However, this doesn’t include the price of the rail ticket between Amsterdam Schiphol airport and Centraal Station (around €5.00 each way) for a 20-minute journey. Don’t get stuck at the city centre. There are many places to explore in Amsterdam and the city is a lot more than just red light district and coffee shops.

 

 

7. DICOUNT CARD

There are GVB Card (only public transport) and OV chipcard (only public transport) or I Amsterdam Card (Amsterdam public transport + museums)
The most popular city pass is: I amsterdam City Card, which provides numerous savings, including a free canal cruise, a city map, free access to most of the city’s museums and unlimited use of the public transport system. It costs €60 for 24 hours, €80 for 48 hours, €95 for 72 hours, €105 for 96 hours and €115 for 120 hours.

Regional, public transport ticket without discount cards are quite expensive.
    However, you have an usb charger! lol

 

 

8. WHERE TO STAY

Try to avoid staying in or near the red-light district and centre overall if you want to avoid the noise and high prices. Check the surrounding neighborhoods and Amsterdam North too over the IJ river. Advance reservations are strongly advised for any kind of accommodation.

 

 

9. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Like any other country, the Netherlands has some public holidays when many businesses close and even public transport operates less often. Those are: New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, Liberation Day (5 May), Ascension Day (mid-May to early June), White Monday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

On King’s Day, however, which is on 27th of April, or 26th of April if 27th of April is a Sunday and Gay Pride day (25 July till 2 August) don’t expect to get any sightseeing done or to have a ‘normal’ day. It gets crazy, even more crazy than on New Year’s. Perhaps you like crowded, then this is a place for you.

Despite the fact that it’s overly crowded, King’s Day is a must to experience at least once.


                                                                                                    The streets during King’s Day

 

 

10. INTERNET CONNECTION

There is excellent coverage for mobile phones across the whole city, on the European GSM network. Some non-European phones may not be able to access the network, so make sure to check that before coming. On the other hand, phone cards are widely available, starting at around €5 and you can get them in shops or tobacco corners in the whole Amsterdam. My recommendation for a phone card is definitely Lebara.


    “Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” ― John Green


11. CANNABIS AND COFFEE SHOPS

In order to avoid misunderstandings, you need to know at least something about cannabis. Cannabis is technically not legal in Amsterdam, but it’s tolerated as long as you buy very small amounts for personal use: coffee shops are allowed to sell each person up to five grams per day.

You can smoke in the coffee shops, your place or outside in the streets but be careful not to do it near restaurants or cafes etc. because some places are strictly forbidding smoking weed in their area. You always have to have an ID when coming to the coffee shop. Behave. If you start to feel sick, drink some soda, juice or anything sugar like!


TIPS FOR STONERS – Don’t buy drugs on the road, actually don’t buy drugs in the shops too, not even herbal ones.
It doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause any damage to your body just because it’s herbal plus you can entirely ruin your visit by taking some. Please, but please research well in advance before you decide to experiment with anything here.

Get smart before you get high!


Dutch are more strict about alcohol than cannabis




12. DRINKABLE WATER

The Netherlands is one of the countries where the quality of tap water is one of the safest in the Europe for drinking.

However, the bottle of water can cost you around 2 to 3.5 euros! Make sure you bring your own bottle (insulated steel for example) so you can save some money by filling it with tap water – plus it’s environmental friendly. Why waste so much money on bottled water when you can safely drink tap water?

13. CYCLING IN AMSTERDAM

The main rules are:

– Always stay on the bicycle tracks.

Always stick on the right side unless you are fast and in hurry to be on the left – Never forget to use your hands to gesture before you turn.

Be careful of the tram tracks because bicycle tire can get easily stuck in one especially when raining – make sure you always cross over them on 90 degrees angle.

Bike paths are marked red/orange and there’s always white bicycle picture printed on it. If the picture of the bicycle is upside down, then you are on the wrong side of the road.

Always lock your bicycle because there are many thefts and try to lock it always in busy and moving areas. (Bikes with two locks are much safer).

Bikes in Amsterdam are usually on pedal breaks so in case you’re not used to pedal breaks, ask for a bicycle with normal breaks. You can rent one in any bike shop across the city or via apps. The traffic might seem confusing to you because there are cars, trams, buses, pedestrians and all kinds of two or three wheels vehicles. once again, I strongly advise you to download an offline version of Amsterdam’s Google maps so you can get around much easier.


However, don’t panic if you get lost. Trust me, it’s not such a bad thing to get lost in Amsterdam!


You can see plenty of unique and interesting vehicles in the traffic
of Amsterdam


Someone got really mad!
Be careful not to lock your bike with someone’s else bike!


 Another Flowerbikeman in Jordaan area


 

I hope this was or it will be helpful! 🙂

Do you have any questions!?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.