One of the great treats of living in London is how close we are to such a wide variety of destinations. While I enjoy flying off to places further afield, it’s also delicious to hop on a plane and in an hour or two and be somewhere completely different!
Last month Matthew and I did just that and headed over to Amsterdam for a couple of days in the Dutch capital. We’d both visited before, but this was our first time visiting together.
There are so many lovely ways to explore the city – there are great public transport links, it’s hugely walkable, and there are bikes everywhere – but my favourite way to sightsee has to be from a boat on the canals that crisscross the city.
From various points around the city (we travelled with Amsterdam Canal Cruises, and embarked from just outside the Heineken Brewery, close to the Rijksmuseum) you can take a tour around the city, and you get such beautiful views of the streets, houses and attractions from the canal level.
We spotted so many sights – from beautiful churches to elegant hotels, museums to restaurants and bars. The boats move at a lovely, leisurely pace, affording you ample time to drink in your surroundings. There are also great audio commentaries available in more than a dozen languages, so you can learn a little about the history and culture of Amsterdam.
Our tour took a little over an hour and a half, and even in late autumn the light was great for seeing the sights – and snapping plenty of pictures, too!
Even though I’d been to Amsterdam before, I really feel like the canal boat tour gave me a greater understanding of the geography and history of the place. Having visited elements like the Anne Frank House previously (pictured above) it was an opportunity to see how these places wove into the wider story of Amsterdam.
One of the coolest bits of the tour had to be when we headed out towards the Ij, the huge body of water to the rear of the railway station. It’s vast – I was reminded of the huge grey sweep of the Hudson, in New York. Nothing like the small city rivers of the UK I’ve seen (although there are some big ones!).
I’m so glad we opted to explore Amsterdam with canal boat and would recommend it to anyone visiting the city!