No visitor should miss out on a water-borne tour of the splendid canals of Amsterdam. The canals, which were declared a UNESCO monument in 2010, aren't just a picturesque attraction, but were essential to defense and transport in 17th-century Amsterdam. With the arrival of the automobile, hundreds of canals were filled in nationwide to accommodate the new mode of transport, but Amsterdam has retained 165 of its historic canals, more than any other Dutch city. (Leiden, a South Hollandish university town, comes in at second place.)
A canal tour makes for a wonderful first impression, as the tour boats take in much of the monumental architecture that lines the Canal Belt, the four concentric semi-circles that loop around the the historic Center. While any canal tour will be an experience to remember, the options are plentiful: hop aboard an open-top boat from the St. Nicolaas Boat Club, or charter a private boat or a special themed or catered tour.
Amsterdam's Historic Canals