Paap’s Private Canal Tour: Exploring Amsterdam the Right Way

Amsterdam’s canals are packed with boats taking tourists on the same set routes. Get a more personalized experience with Rederij Paping and their solar-powered boat.


If you have followed this blog for even a short time, you have probably realized by now that both Chris and I love Amsterdam. It’s one of our favorite cities in the world. We have rented apartments and stayed for extended periods of time on several occasions now, and I might even go as far as to say that it has become our second home! At the very least it is our option of choice when we are looking to take a break from our crazy travel schedule.

Amsterdam is of course famous for its canals, and despite having spent so much time walking along them, we had not actually taken a boat trip on them. This is often one of the first thing tourists do and there are dozens of long boats giving tours to large unappealing to us! One day on our last visit, we finally hit a spell of good weather (well, the temperature was up in the 90s at least) and so we decided to investigate smaller alternative canal tours. The idea of cruising on the water with a glass of wine seemed like the perfect way to cool off, if we could find the right tour.

Luckily for us, we came across ‘Rederij Paping’ a small company offering private tours on a solar-powered boat. We exchanged a few emails with Paap (the skipper) and were soon booked in for an afternoon cruise. We arranged to meet at the dock close to Anne Frank’s house, and wondered how we would identify the boat amongst the thousands of others in this city. We needn’t have worried however, the boat was easily recognized thanks to the solar panels on its roof and the friendly welcome given by Paap.


Paap runs the company with his wife Clara and they both turned out to be likable people, as well as good tour guides. They are more than happy to customize the route and take your interests into account, and Paap says that every trip is slightly different. The boat’s small size is another advantage, as it allows you to travel down some of the smaller canals which the large boats can’t access. This means we got a very unique canal tour – completely different from the overly touristy ones we were hoping to avoid. Paap willingly took us to some of the most picturesque canals, and we got some great photos of the city from angles previously unavailable to us. He would even slow down to help me line up the perfect shot!

Rederij Paping encourages you to bring your own food and drinks aboard so we brought a bottle of wine, and some cheese and crackers. Sitting back and watching the beautiful buildings and bridges go by, was the best way to take it all in. Over the course of the hour, Paap gave us lots of great insider information about the history of the city, and interesting stories about the places we passed. As this was a customized tour, they were even happy to drop us off wherever we chose, talk about convenience! By this point, we really felt like we had made two new friends.


Rederij Paping started when Paap’s friend got sick, and he decided he wanted to show her around the city. He bought a boat and soon found himself giving tours to all his friends and acquaintances. Seeing a business opportunity, he started offering tours to strangers and Rederij Paping was born. His boat is fully electric which means there are no exhaust fumes and the ride is quiet. Apart from Paap giving you interesting information, the only sound you hear is water lapping against the prow. The seats are very comfortable and there is a balcony at the back of the boat. This, along with the removable front section of the roof, means that on nice days, you can sit outside and enjoy the sun.

His boat is fully electric which means there are no exhaust fumes and the ride is quiet. Apart from Paap giving you interesting information, the only sound you hear is water lapping against the prow.

An hour long private tour for up to 6 people costs €72, with each additional person costing €12. They run everyday but will not be take place between January 16 and February 6 (2017). Finally, tours are in English or Dutch, although Paap and his wife do speak a bit of German and Spanish.

As we returned to our apartment we were satisfied that we had made a good choice. We had enjoyed the good weather with some great company, and had seen the canals without sharing them with a horde of tourists. As canals are such a central feature of Amsterdam, if you spend any time there you sort of have to experience them. A trip with Paap might just be the best way to do it.


For more information or to make a reservation, follow the link below: