Kayaking in Amsterdam, is that even possible? Of course it is, but it is not very popular to go kayaking or canoeing in the heart of Amsterdam. The canals are just too busy. So most Dutch people prefer the countryside for a relaxed tour. Those who have once paddled in Waterland will not regret having moved their tour outside the city. Nature lovers who make a city trip to Amsterdam should plan at least one day for Waterland. This area is also ideal for leisurely canoe trips with children. Waterland is characterised by pastures and moors. Because of the flat grass and the few trees and bushes, the animal life can be observed here particularly well. From cows and geese lingering on the pastures to numerous sea birds such as grey herons, there is always something to observe on the trip.
As Waterland is located not far north of Amsterdam, access by public transport is easy. An ideal starting point for the tour is the village of Watergang. From the train station Amsterdam Centraal it takes only 10 minutes by bus to reach this village.
Right at the bus stop Watergang there is a hotel called “Hotel Watergang“, which rents out kayaks and canoes. Although the rental is not signposted, as it is primarily aimed at the hotel guests, they also rent to all other tourists.
The owner of the hotel, who also takes care of the rental, is very friendly and accommodating. Also the prices for the boats are very reasonable. For example, we paid for the first hour 10€ and each additional hour 5€. The daily price was limited to 30€.
There is also the possibility to join a guided tour if you book this in advance. But those who prefer to explore the canals on their own in peace and quiet can do so as well. Due to the many canals, you can quickly get the impression that you can simply lose the orientation, but this is not the case. When renting a kayak or a canoe you gets a map and due to the flat landscape, most of the times, you can see the starting point relatively well from a distance. Moreover, in some places, the channels are signposted.
We started our tour already early in the morning at 7 am. The light and the silence on the canals is just magical at this early morning. You could also do the tour in the evening in order to paddle during the sunset.
Starting point of the tour is directly at the Hotel Watergang. We paddle north to the end of the village and pass numerous small bridges. Some bridges areso low that during the passage, you have to bend very flatly forward in order to get through. But those who are agile enough will not mind these little challenges but will even have fun with that.
After leaving the village and soon after a short canal section, a small lake called Nonksloot follows. Even if you haven’t paddled much yet, it’s worth a stopover here. Because on the right side there is a landing stage with a bench where you can perfectly land on with your canoe. We used this stop to have a small breakfast picnic. The landscape that surrounds you is how you imagine the Netherlands to be. Flat green grassland with animals as far as the eye can see and even a small windmill that is located on the meadow.
After this stop, we leave the lake via the canal on the right and follow the path to Broek. Already from a distance you can see the village and its church tower. It is also worth staying attentive during the trip. There are not only many ducks and geese to watch, but also cows grazing directly on the shore. During our tour at the end of May, the fishes also mated and were constantly jumping around wildly in the water.
Broek is at least as idyllic as Watergang. Already during the entrance to the village there are beautiful houseboats on the banks and you have a view into one or the other nice garden of the houses. The canal finally ends on the small lake Het Havenrak. Here you should also stop with your boat and have a walk through the village. Depending on the time of day, you can pass by the restaurant Het Broeker Huis, where you can enjoy a delicious meal in the courtyard.
For the way back it is possible to take the same route, but we recommend you to take a parallel channel for a little more variety. From the distance, you can orientate very well to the church tower in Watergang, whereby it is actually impossible to get lost.
The tour was without doubt the highlight of our Amsterdam trip and that should mean a lot, as the city itself has a lot to offer. It is simply the landscape that yo find there, how one imagines the Netherlands to be. The two villages Watergang and Broek also had a lot of charm and we had the possibility to have a picnic in the green on the way. Not to forget the fact that we were almost alone in the canals, although we did the tour on a Sunday.