Amsterdam is often called the Venice of the North, for its picturesque system of winding canals. Recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations cultural organization, these canals provide every visitor with some of the most unique and enjoyable ways to explore this magnificent city.
There are more than 100 kilometres of canals here, crossed by more than a thousand bridges. They were first planned out and created in the 17th century, and form belts around the Netherlands capital. Take a cruise along each canal, or walk, or bike, and you will see more than 15-hundred of the most historic, architecturally significant, and beautiful buildings in all of Amsterdam.
The very first canal to ring the old city was the Singel canal. It actually started out as a moat around Amsterdam back in the 15th century, and today, it itury, and today, as ad porer Maximilian of the Holy Roman Empire. The es some of the most beautiful gardens and mansions os the first of many concentric canals.
The Herengracht canal is often called the Lord’s Canal, and it was the first of the major canals planned and dug out in the 17th century. It is one of the most popular canals for boat tours and dinner cruises, as it passes by some of the most lovely gardens and mansions on the Golden Bend.
Boat cruises along all of the canals have been the most prevalent way to explore and enjoy the prettiness of this city ever since the very first pleasure cruise here, taken in 1621 by Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia. She was greeted by thousands of people lining the bridges and canals. Since that time, taking a relaxing boat cruise along these gorgeous waterways has been a highlight of almost every visit to this world class city. The Beatles cruised the canals when they visited, as have almost every other famous person and every day tourist who comes to the Netherlands.
Next is the Keizersgracht, known as the Emperor’s Canal and named after the Emperor Maximilian of the Holy Roman Empire. Then, the Prinsengracht is the Prince’s Canal. It is the longest of Amsterdam’s main canals, built during the Dutch Golden Age. The Prince’s Canal is likely the most visited in Amsterdam, as it passes by the Anne Frank House, the Noordemarkt and the tallest church in the city.
There are still more canals to explore. The Zwanenburgwal is a canal right in the heart of the city, and the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt once lived on its adjacent street. It is often described as one of the most beautiful streets in Amsterdam. The Brouwersgracht is also in the heart of the city, and connects many of the other canals, so can act as a great connector to get from one canal to another. The Kloveniersburgwal is lined with grand mansions. There are also four new canals on the outskirts of the city, many lined with modern versions of the classic canal houses.
If you’re planning to see the canals by boat, there is an almost unlimited variety of options. There are more than 200 companies offering every kind of boat tour, from romantic dinner cruises to saloon boats and pancake cruises, and even private cruises or theme excursions, such as a cheese fondue cruise.
There are also hundreds of places in Amsterdam to rent bikes, and there are excellent paths lining almost all of the city’s canals. There are also group tours, and organized bike excursions that can be booked, so you can get your exercise and still see all the highlights.
As well, the city offers many excellent walking tours around the canals, so you can stop at all of Amsterdam’s historic places, not to mention a café and shop or two, along the way.
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