Highlights from the Lovers 1 Hour Amsterdam Canal Cruise

August 31, 2022

Are you planning a mini cruise to Amsterdam, with a free canal cruise and want to know what to expect? A few years ago, we experienced this adventure for ourselves and would love to share with you!  

The Lovers Canal Cruise is a unique way to experience Amsterdam and see some of the city’s iconic sights. The 1-hour tour includes both cruising on water canals and spotting popular attractions – all while being immersed in Dutch culture! 

We don’t want to give away everything we saw and learned on our sail around the intricate canal network of Amsterdam, but some things were too good not to share. As the skipper determines the route, each cruise has its own unique spin, but whichever way you go, all routes are full of beautiful scenery that takes your breath away! Take a look at some of our highlights :  

Grand Centraal Station

One of the first sights to see, both when you arrive in Amsterdam and from the Lovers canal cruise, is Centraal Station. It’s the main spot for transport throughout the whole city; you can pick up trains, buses, trams, bicycles – you name it – from this point.

Did you know the station and the Rijksmuseum have the same architect?

The Basilica of St Nicholas

As you set sail on your canal cruise you quickly come across the Basilica of St Nicholas. St Nicholas was the patron saint of sailors and fishermen, and this beautiful Catholic church was built in his name over 125 years ago.

The Sea Palace

This floating Chinese restaurant is three stories tall and could actually hold 900 people. They only allow 700 in at one time because Dutch people are so tall! You can see Chinatown in the distance opposite the restaurant, which is also the oldest Chinatown in Europe.

The NEMO Science Museum

A big hit with families there is a whole new world of science and technology to discover inside the NEMO. Or if you prefer, you can just enjoy a drink in the sun – the café is on the roof!

Oude Schans Canal and Montelbaanstoren defence tower

The defence tower is no longer in use, but was constructed in the 16th century as part of the city defence system. The clock and bell tower were added at a later date, but the clocks all showed different times and the bells would ring spontaneously. As such, the tower earned the nickname ‘Silly Jack’. Sailing up the Oude Schans canal you will find yourself in one of the oldest parts of the Amsterdam. The houses here are built on wooden stilts, which is why so many of them lean.

Café De Sluyswacht on St Anthony’s Loch

Speaking of leaning buildings, Café De Sluyswacht is the instantly recognisable café on St Anthony’s loch. It leans more than the Tower of Pisa! The structure and loch are still used to clean the canals today which is why you can still swim in them. Even Queen Maxima herself has swam in the canals of Amsterdam. If they’re good enough for royalty…

Flea market on Waterloo Square

This huge flea market full of trinkets, bargains and all sorts of Dutch delights has been held every day in Amsterdam since the 17th Century.

Amstel River

The Amstel is the only natural canal in Amsterdam, and from this point you can see the Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam’s first Protestant church in the distance. The ‘Stopera’ is also located on the banks of the Amstel, both a city hall and opera house.

On the opposite bank is the coolest spot in Amsterdam, the Ice Bar, and further ahead is the most famous bridge in Amsterdam, the Magere Brug! Also known as the Skinny Bridge, it was allegedly built for two sisters with the surname ‘Skinny’. They lived on opposite sides and wanted a quick way to visit each other. The bridge was made famous by the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.


Houseboats are located on nearly all of the canals we sailed around. There are 2500 in total, all linked up to gas, water and drainage systems. Houseboats became popular in Amsterdam after the war when there was a housing shortage, so people took to the water. Because no more can be added, the 2500 that are there are very expensive! Houseboats, and any other type of boat sailing along Amsterdam’s canals are advised to be under 2 metres in height, or they wouldn’t fit under the bridges.


The Herengracht is known as the ‘gentlemen’s canal’ where, in the past, the wealthiest inhabitants of Amsterdam lived. Elegant houses line the Herengracht, with windows that get smaller at every storey to give the illusion that they’re bigger than they are. Nowadays most of the houses are banks, but the Lord Mayor’s house is still here, and his bicycle parked against the tree outside.

Top Tip: the Lovers Canal cruise is the perfect way to get a water level view of the 7 stone arch bridges. From the water you can see right along them all – a beautiful photo spot!

7 arch bridges


The Keizersgracht is known as the Emperors Canal and was previously home to well-off merchants and traders. You can see old canal warehouses lining the canal, all with hoisting hooks to transport goods easily.

It is also said that hoisting hooks were used by women to hoist their husbands if they came home drunk. They would leave them hanging overhead until they sobered up. This is where the term ‘hangover’ comes from!


Turning the corner onto the Prinsengracht canal and into the Jordaan district the first thing you spot is Westerkerk, the Dutch Protestant church and the burial place of Rembrandt. Next to Westerkerk is the iconic Anne Frank Haus and museum.

The Jordaan district of Amsterdam was originally a working class area, with lots of family homes. It is now brimming with cafes, small boutiques and art shops.

The Herengracht, Kaizersgracht and Prinsengracht are the three main canals that enclose the medieval ancient centre of Amsterdam and were dug during the 17th Century. Lovers Canal Cruises do a great job of showcasing both areas of the city and really help you to get your bearings and navigate the city once you disembark.

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