Whether it be rain or shine in Amsterdam, one way in which to see this beautiful city has to be by horse and carriage.
On a cold and wet day, you may need some form of transportation to show you this magical city without your view being obstructed of all the sights; a horse and carriage ride is the best way in which to do this. This is because you will have the shade of the top of the carriage to keep you from getting wet (way better than an umbrella) and the beautiful horses to transport you around the city whilst you take photographs.
Alternatively, on a hot or sunny day, you may be exhausted by trekking through the magnitude of tourists in the various sites and want to enjoy a quick tour in a premium manner of this gorgeous city; the best way in which to do this is unsurprisingly through your own private horse and carriage tour. In this review, I am going to provide you with a snapshot of some of the sights that you could see during each of the available tours.
A number of tours on offer from Dam Square
Horse and carriage rides tend to depart from Dam Square, which is close to the Damrak, a famous avenue in Amsterdam. Dam Square was created in the 14th century and is home to a 17th century Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) and a number of food stalls, restaurants and shops. Whilst being called a “square”, it is more of a rectangular shape and stretches about 200 metres (656 feet) from west to east and approximately 100 metres (328 feet) from north to south. When you arrive at Dam Square, you will find the horse and carriages located outside the Royal Palace, clearly because this type of transportation is the luxurious type albeit it is not only royalty that can enjoy it today.
There are a few different companies that offer horse and carriage rides from Dam Square, one being Karos Citytours, which has been offering such experiences since 1991. The horse and carriages from Karos Citytours are available everyday from 11 am to 6 pm and prices for a tour are per carriage, for a maximum of 4 people. If you would like a 25 minute tour, the amount is 45 EUR (48 USD), a 40 minute tour is 70 EUR (74 USD) and a 60 minute tour is 95 EUR (101 USD). It offers a variety of tours such as the Old City Tour, Canal Tour, Red Light District Tour, Jordaan Tour and the Big Amsterdam Tour.
Fancy an Old City Tour or a Canal Tour?
Fancy taking a shorter tour and seeing the major sights in the centre of Amsterdam? If so, the Old City Tour is perhaps best suited to you. This is because this tour will cover the main sights in the vicinity of Dam Square. Such sights may include Warmoesstraat, Beurs van Berlage and Trippenhuis. Warmoesstraat is one of the oldest streets in the city and was once the home to the richest shopping streets in Amsterdam; however, today it is rather different. The Beurs van Berlage was the Stock Exchange from 1898 to 1903. The Trippenhuis was the former home to two wealthy brothers named Trip in 1662. An Old City Tour will allow you to have that special feel of seeing the city from a different perspective and imagining how the aristocrats once enjoyed this area.
Fancy seeing a site that was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List? Well, then you know that the Canal Tour has your name written all over it. This is because Amsterdam is the most watery city in the world and its canal belt, with 165 canals makes a total of 100 kilometres (60 miles) is actually on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most famous canals, as they are seen from the centre of the city and outwards are Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. There are around 1281 bridges above all of these canals and connecting Amsterdam’s mainland. Not only will you have the opportunity to cross some of these bridges and see the canals, but you will also have the chance to admire the elegant merchant houses that line the canals.
How about a Red Light District Tour?
Feeling a little bit curious about the Red Light District albeit not necessarily keen to personally visit it by foot? Well, the Red Light District Tour by horse and carriage may just be the thing for you. This tour will allow you to pass by the area that is known as the Red Light District and see how it operates in the day-time. The Red Light District is split into three areas with the main area being Walletjes (which is between Centraal Station and Nieuwmarkt) and the other two being Singel (between Raadhuisstraat and Centraal Station) and De Pijp (which is behind the Rijksmuseum). You may or may not see all three areas and will need to discuss this with the coachman of the horse and carriage.
For those that are unfamiliar with what the Red Light District is, it is an area where sex is sold either through windows (as per the photograph) or in brothels, which are in more secluded and hidden parts of the Red Light District. In 2014, a former brothel turned into a prostitution museum known as the Red Lights Secret and you may pass by it on your tour too. You should note that it is strictly prohibited to take photographs of the women that are standing in the windows and soliciting men into their respective rooms for sex. You can, however, photograph the beautiful winding and narrow cobbled streets with charming architecture from the 14th century.
Want to see the local people in their neighbourhood, Jordaan?
Curious about seeing how the locals live? Well, if you’re one of those people, like me, who wants to steer a little bit off the tourist tracks and see more about how the Dutch live, then the Jordaan Tour is waiting for you. Jordaan is one of the neighbourhoods in the Netherlands that was developed in the 17th century. It is very different and distinct to the Dam Square area and Red Light District and has quite a quaint and heavenly vibe to it. It has an abundance of gorgeous canal houses, some of which have stone signs that show the profession of its inhabitants. There are also quite a few houseboats bobbing on the surrounding canals including a Houseboat Museum. There are over 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam and you will be able to spot quite a few colourful ones in Jordaan.
The streets are like a maze (and with some hidden courtyards), so a horse and carriage ride is a perfect way in which to enjoy it as you know you won’t get lost with your trusted coachman. The streets are lined with boutique stores and cafes with outdoor seating, as you can see in the photograph, and also a few museums such as the Anne Frank Museum, which is on its outskirts. The Anne Frank Museum is housed within the former home in which Anne Frank and seven others (including her family) lived in an annex for over two years during the German occupation of the city during World War II, before being discovered and sent to concentration camps.
Big Amsterdam Tour combines every other tour and more!
Enjoyed reading everything so far? How about if I told you that you could see all of those sights and so much more? Well, if you’re hooked on that idea, then the Big Amsterdam Tour is the only option that you should consider hopping onto. This tour, whilst much longer and more costly, will make you feel like an instant celebrity. Whilst you will be snapping photographs of all the sights, pedestrians will be pulling out their cameras to take photos of the horse and carriage that you’re sitting in! If the thought of being the centre of attention and feeling that extra bit special appeals to you, then this exceptional tour awaits you. You can enjoy Amsterdam and unwind from the busy streets of tourists and make sure that you get the best seat to see the spots.
You will be able to see so many incredible sights that you may not otherwise have been able to see by foot, boat or due to time constraints. This will include the national Opera & Ballet House, Flower Market and Amsterdam’s very own Chinatown, which is part of the Nieuwmarkt and the Zeedijk. The horses throughout this experience are very calm and well behaved and the coachman will be in complete control at all times whilst pointing out certain sights to you. I was impressed with the amount of skill that the coachman exhibited when navigating the horses and carriages through some tight corners. Hearing the horses hooves on the cobblestone as you travel through the streets trod by so many throughout time, is a very magical and romantic experience.
Rain or shine, you will have a great time!
If you have enjoyed hearing about the brilliant sights that you can experience with a horse and carriage ride, then I would suggest that you book a tour with Karos Citytours either online in advance or when you’re in Dam Square, approach the coachman. Indulge in this gorgeous city by enjoying every element of its picturesque streets, from the townhouses to the canals; with either the sunshine or the rain pouring down — you know that you will be covered.
You should also note that if you’re looking to visit only one destination, Karos Citytours can offer to act as a taxi for you too and take you to that one site. Now isn’t that a stylish way to get to a point of interest or arrive to a meeting with your family and/or friends? I certainly think so.
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