What makes Amsterdam such a special city are the Grachten which crosses the whole (inner) city annular. “Gracht” is Dutch for canal. The Grachten are small waterways spanned by lots of bridges. The start of their building was in 1612 because of more comfortably transport of wares form one depository to another but also for drainage and defense.
The oldest Grachten are the Single and the Kloveniersburgwal which were built to protect the city from unwanted intruders. The Herengracht, the Keizersgracht and the Prinsengracht, also very old Grachten, which were built in the 17th century, originate like mentioned above from the cargo transport.
The waterway network is over 80km long and if you are in Amsterdam you maybe should take a Grachten-round trip. I did not take one when I was there but tell me your impressions, please. I preferred to walk through the picturesque streets and lanes and to watch the little boats or ships from a bridge (or beside it when it was open to let the bigger ships pass by) Also the ancient merchant houses along the Grachten are worth seeing.
If you are tired of strolling through the streets sit down in one of the street cafes which you can find on almost every (Grachten)corner, drink some ice cold Heineken and enjoy the view to the water in the middle of a city.