Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise – Which Is Better?

In Amsterdam, canal cruises are the best things to do, and light festival cruises are one of a kind. 

In this article, we’ll navigate the waters of Amsterdam and help you choose between Light Festival or the regular canal cruises. 

You can explore the illuminated artworks put up during the Light Festival or savor the timeless beauty of Amsterdam’s iconic landmarks. 

Let’s weigh the options and pick the perfect choice for your unforgettable Amsterdam adventure.

So, Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise-  Which is better?

Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise- Our Recommendation

Making the choice between the Amsterdam Light Festival Cruises or Regular Cruises? Here’s our advice. 

If you’re a fan of mesmerizing light displays, opt for the Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise. 

Taking a Light Festival Cruise is a magical experience. It takes you around all the illuminated artworks. 

Regular cruises are your go-to choice for a classic and serene canal exploration. 

If you take a regular cruise, you will watch as Amsterdam’s architecture and streets pass by.  

Cruise Prices

You can choose from various cruise types that take you around the Amsterdam canals. 

Here is a breakdown of Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise prices:

The cruises are a little expensive but worth it during the Light Festival. Both a closed boat tour costs and an open boat cruise will cost you €29.

One of the best Amsterdam Light Festival cruises is a cruise with food options, this will cost you €34. 

If you want to experience luxury, opt for the Luxury Amsterdam Light Festival Canal Cruise, priced at €28. 

You can also find regular cruises that run all year long. A classic day cruise in the canal costs €16, while a 4-course dinner cruise costs €80.

If you travel alone or want to enjoy the clear sights and learn more about the city, take a guided day cruise for €35. 

If you want a more intimate experience, take romantic cruises, while those who wish to cruise with only family and friends can opt for private tours.

Where Do You Get The Most Value For Your Money?

Both of the cruises are equally awesome. The Light Festival Cruises are the best way to admire the city’s transformation into an art giant. 

They give you an excellent value for your money. It is a slow-moving cruise. 

This makes sure you get enough time to admire the installations showcased. 

Regular canal cruises are best if you visit the city anytime else during the year. They provide good value for your money. 

Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise- What Is The Difference?

You can experience Amsterdam’s waterways in two distinct ways. You can choose a Light Festival Cruise or a classic Regular Cruise.

Light Festival Cruises only take place during the annual Light Festival in Amsterdam. 

The artworks lined up along the canals turn the city and canals into a breathtaking art gallery. 

Regular Cruises offers a timeless journey through historic canals. They showcase Amsterdam’s iconic architecture. 

The key difference between the two cruises lies in the atmosphere. 

The Light Festival adds a touch of modern artistry and vibrant colors. The Regular Cruises provide a tranquil and traditional canal experience. 

Features of Light Festival Cruises

Features of Light Festival Cruises
Image: Getyourguide.com

The Amsterdam Light Festival Cruises promise a dazzling adventure where the city’s iconic canals transform into a radiant art show. 

Picture yourself gliding along the waterways where a mesmerizing display of illuminated artworks will surround you. 

These enchanting creations are carefully curated for the festival and paint the night with vibrant colors and captivating designs. 

The Light Festival Cruises offers a unique blend of art and ambiance, allowing you to witness Amsterdam in a new light.

As you drift through the canals, each installation tells a story. This creates a magical atmosphere that captures the spirit of the festival. 

These cruises showcase whimsical sculptures and dynamic light installations. You will find that every moment is a journey into the world of creativity. 

Features of Regular Cruises

Features of Regular Cruises
Image: Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Regular cruises in Amsterdam offer a leisurely exploration of the city’s canals. 

These laid-back journeys provide a front-row seat to Amsterdam’s architecture and historic charm. 

You will glide through the waterways and pass by 17th-century bridges and canal houses!

The regular cruises provide a relaxed pace, allowing you to soak in the ambiance. 

A knowledgeable guide shares exciting tidbits about Amsterdam’s history. 

You can also opt for open-air or glass-covered boats. These cruises operate year-round and offer versatility in different weather conditions. 

The regular cruises cater to all. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, they provide a cozy and intimate setting.

As the boat meanders through the canals, you’ll witness the daily life of locals. You’ll also see charming waterside cafes and the city’s iconic landmarks. 

Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise – Where Do You Get The Best Experience?

Decide between Light Festival Cruises and Regular Cruises in Amsterdam. Base your decision on the experience you want. 

Opt for the Amsterdam Light Festival Cruises during the festival season. You get on a magical journey through lit art installations along the city’s canals.

It’s a dazzling spectacle that adds a touch of enchantment to your cruise. 

On the flip side, Regular Cruises offers a classic exploration of Amsterdam’s charm. It provides a tranquil ride past historic landmarks and picturesque scenes. 

Ideal for those who appreciate the city’s beauty without the festival lights.

You may be drawn to the vibrant energy of the Light Festival. Or, you may prefer the serene ambiance of Regular Cruises. 

Both options promise an unforgettable experience. So, which one – Amsterdam Light Festival Cruises or Regular Cruises?


The regular canal cruises and light festival canal cruises have different routes. They are also curated differently.  

The regular canal cruise will take you across all landmarks and famous buildings. The Light Festival canal cruise will take you across the art installations!

Here is what you will see during each of these cruises:

Sights during a Regular Canal Cruise

On a Regular Cruise, you will see bridges, houses with charming facades, and historic landmarks.

The Anne Frank House stands as a poignant reminder of history. 

The vibrant Flower Market showcases Amsterdam’s floral abundance. 

Glide along the elegant Keizersgracht and Herengracht canals, lined with 17th-century merchant houses. 

Capture the postcard-perfect scene of the leaning houses at Damrak. Let the soothing waters guide you to the historic Westerkerk with its majestic spire. 

A Regular Canal Cruise is a leisurely exploration of Amsterdam’s enchanting sights. It offers a tranquil and immersive experience.

Sights during a Light Festival Canal Cruise

During the Amsterdam Light Festival Canal Cruise, the city’s canals transform into a kaleidoscope of shimmering lights. 

The installations, done by artists from all over the world, are placed around the canals.

Watch these artworks go past. Light dances along the water’s edge, creating a surreal atmosphere. 

On this cruise, you will see iconic landmarks like the Anne Frank House and the Skinny Bridge.

The dazzling reflections in the canal enhance the beauty of these unique artworks. They provide a whimsical and unforgettable experience. 

Cruise beneath radiant archways and through illuminated tunnels. Each one tells a story of creativity and innovation. 

Opening hours

Light Festival Cruises typically operate during the annual Amsterdam Light Festival.  The festival illuminates the city’s waterways with dazzling displays. 

These special cruises usually run from 5 pm to 11 pm. Evenings are the best time for you to witness the vibrant light installations.

In contrast, Regular Cruises offer flexibility.  

Regular Cruises often operate throughout the day. This gives you various options for timings, meals, type of boat, etc.  

You can also choose from different types of regular cruises. It depends on the occasion! 

Expected Crowd

Navigate Amsterdam’s waterways with insight into expected crowds on Light Festival Cruises. Also, consider Regular Cruises. 

During the Amsterdam Light Festival, expect a livelier atmosphere. Numbers are higher, especially in the evenings. The illuminated artworks come to life. 

Crowds can peak during weekends and closer to the festival’s opening. 

In contrast, Regular Cruises offer a more relaxed experience. They have moderate crowds throughout the year. 

You should pick a weekday to try a cruise, as weekdays usually see fewer people. 

So, Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise vs. Regular Cruise – Which One?

Your choice between Light Festival Cruises and Regular Cruises in Amsterdam depends on the experience you desire. 

If you’re looking for a nighttime cruise of the city, choose Amsterdam Light Festival Cruises. They feature artworks which are lines along the canals. 

The illuminated artworks bring the canals to life, creating a magical atmosphere. 

On the other hand, if you prefer a more classic and serene exploration of the city, Regular Cruises are your go-to. 

Glide through Amsterdam’s historic waterways, enjoying the timeless beauty of its architecture. 


1. Is it worth doing a canal cruise in Amsterdam?

Absolutely! Canal cruises offer a unique perspective of Amsterdam’s beauty. 

They glide through picturesque waterways, pass historic sites, and showcase the city’s charm.

2. What is the best time of day to go on a canal cruise in Amsterdam?

Sunset provides a magical ambiance, casting a warm glow on Amsterdam’s landmarks. Evening cruises also allow you to witness the city’s lights come to life.

3. How to enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise?

Bundle up and book an evening cruise during the festival. Immerse yourself in the enchanting light installations. 

They transform the canals into a captivating art gallery.

4. Where is the light festival cruise in Amsterdam?

The Amsterdam Light Festival cruise departs from various points in the city center. Check with local tour operators for departure locations and times.

5. How long does an Amsterdam canal cruise take?

Standard canal cruises typically last about 1 to 1.5 hours, providing ample time to absorb the city’s beauty and history.

6. Do you need to pre-book a canal cruise in Amsterdam?

While walk-ins are possible, we recommend you pre-book your tickets. This way, you get your preferred time and ensure availability.

7. Can I walk to the Amsterdam cruise port?

Yes, most cruise departure points are centrally located. This allows convenient walking access from various parts of Amsterdam.

8. Where do the cruise ships stop in Amsterdam?

Cruise ships typically stop near central locations. For example, Damrak and Prins Hendrikkade.

9. How long is the Amsterdam Light Festival cruise?

Amsterdam Light Festival cruises often last around 75 to 90 minutes. This is ample time to enjoy the illuminated artworks along the canals.

10. Are Amsterdam Light Festival cruises free?

No, Amsterdam Light Festival cruises are not free. Tickets are required to enjoy the specially themed light displays during the festival season.

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