Amsterdam: The 8 most beautiful canals in the Northern Venice (2024)

Amsterdam is so attractive to visitors thanks to its canals’ unique charm. The combined 100 km of waterways that run through the Dutch capital make it a unique city. Here are the 8 most beautiful canals in the Northern Venice, for unforgettable trips through the city and unforgettable photos.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

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The flower market along the Singel

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The flower market along the Singel

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Huis Barlotti on the Herengracht’s quays

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The Keizersgracht canal

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Barges on the Prinsengracht

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Canal houses with neck gables along the Prinsengracht

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The bridge joining the Keizersgracht and Reguliersgracht canals

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Bridge spanning the Egelantiersgracht canal, in the Jordaan

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Canalhouse on the Bloemgracht

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Oranjebrug bridge on the Brouwersgracht canal

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Singel, the historic canal ringing the city

In the Middle Ages, the Singel fully enclosed the city of Amsterdam. It served as a protective moat and a route for transporting goods. When the municipality decided to extend the city beyond the Singel in the late 16th century, the Singel was enlarged and beautiful houses were built on its quays. This was the case with De Dolphijn, the “Dolphin House,” built around 1600 (at number 140-142). Along the Singel, you can also find the Bloemenmarkt, a famous flower market that has been in operation since 1862.

Herengracht, the “Lords’ Canal”

Amsterdam: The 8 most beautiful canals in the Northern Venice (13)

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Herengracht is the first axis of the Canal Ring, which was built in 1586 to expand the city of Amsterdam. Wealthy merchants settled in the fancy houses along its border. Of these, Huis Barlotti is one of the most beautiful, which has Amsterdam’s first neck-shaped gable (at number 168). Southward, the part of the Herengracht between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat is known as the Golden Curve: the elite of Amsterdam society resided here, in large houses. Most of them have now been repurposed by banks and institutions.

Keizersgracht, the “Emperor’s Canal”

The second canal of the 17th century Ring, it is now one of the most beautiful in the city. Quayside, the opulent houses of the Golden Age merchants can be seen reflecting off the water, such as Huis Met de Hoofden (at number 123), the “House of the Heads” (1622). The former Greenland warehouses at numbers 40-44, which have been converted into housing, are also worth a look.

Prinsengracht, the “Prince’s Canal”

This majestic 25-metre wide waterway closes the Canal Ring. Next to the Westerkerk, a 17th-century Gothic-Renaissance church, you can find the Anne Franck House at number 267, where the young Anne lived in hiding during the Second World War. To the north, the old warehouses and the nearby Jordaan give the Prinsengracht a more comfortable atmosphere.

Reguliersgracht and its series of bridges

This canal, dug in 1664, cuts through the Canal Ring. It offers one of the most beautiful views of the city: in the evening, from the bridge at the Kerkstraat, you can admire a string of seven bridges lit up by a thousand bulbs. What a magical sight!

Bloemgracht and Egelantiersgracht, the canals of the Jordaan

Built from the 17th century onwards for the working classes, the Jordaan has become one of the prettiest districts in Amsterdam. Some of its smaller canals have been drained, but the “Flower Canal” and the “Rosehip Canal,” peaceful and full of trees, have retained their typical charm. A postcard-worthy setting!

Brouwersgracht, the “Brewers’ Canal”

North of the Jordaan, this quiet canal owes its name to the many breweries that used to crowd its quays. It is worth a visit for the magnificent restored warehouses, whose colourful shutters are reflected in the water amidst the floating houses and barges. There is a particularly beautiful view from the small Oranjebrug bridge.

Amsterdam: The 8 most beautiful canals in the Northern Venice (14)

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Amsterdam: The 8 most beautiful canals in the Northern Venice (2024)

FAQs

Amsterdam: The 8 most beautiful canals in the Northern Venice? ›

The Brouwersgracht (Brewers' Canal) is often considered one of Amsterdam's most picturesque canals, thanks to its charming bridges and merchant houses built in the Golden Age of the Netherlands.

Which canal is the prettiest in Amsterdam? ›

The Brouwersgracht (Brewers' Canal) is often considered one of Amsterdam's most picturesque canals, thanks to its charming bridges and merchant houses built in the Golden Age of the Netherlands.

What is the purpose of Amsterdam's canals? ›

They originated in the 17th century when Amsterdam was looking for a way to transport food and other goods to the city center as quickly and efficiently as possible, while simultaneously controlling the water and keeping potential enemy armies at bay.

Why Amsterdam is called Venice of the North and what is the point of comparison between Amsterdam and Venice? ›

Located in the Dutch province of North Holland, Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the "Venice of the North", for its large number of canals, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amsterdam was founded at the mouth of the Amstel River, which was dammed to control flooding.

Which has more canals, Venice or Amsterdam? ›

The city has more canals than Venice

Amsterdam's 17th-century canals are so frequently compared to Venice that it earned the Dutch capital its nickname, the “Venice of the North.” In fact, Amsterdam is home to 165 canals with a total length of 50 km, while its Italian counterpart has only about 150.

What is the most photogenic canal in Amsterdam? ›

Herengracht: this famous canal rules the city

Herengracht is one of the four main canals in Amsterdam and widely considered to be the one of the prettiest canals and definitely the most prestigious.

Is it safe to swim in Amsterdam canals? ›

What are the Risks of Swimming in the Amsterdam Canals? Strictly speaking, canal swimming is discouraged and can come with a fine of up to E140. That said, many Amsterdammers take the risk each summer and enjoy a dip in the city's many alluring and refreshing canals.

Is Amsterdam very expensive? ›

No, Amsterdam cannot be as expensive to visit as other European cities. However, Prices for accommodation, food, and attractions are relatively high compared to some other European cities. But we have a great experience and extensive research to help you plan a budget-friendly trip to Amsterdam.

Are the canals in Amsterdam fresh or salt water? ›

Is the canal water seawater or freshwater? The canals of Amsterdam in contain both saltwater and freshwater: the saltwater enters the cities canals via the Noordzeekanaal, which connect Amsterdam with IJmuiden. The fresh water flows from the river Rhine, via the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.

Do people live on the canals in Amsterdam? ›

FUN FACTS. “Some locals actually live in houseboats on the canals of Amsterdam, in fact there are around 3,000 Houseboats bobbing around the waters” Gary tells us. “And we all know the Dutch love to cycle, but not everyone is careful and every year over 10,000 bicycles are retrieved from the canals.”

Does Amsterdam look like Venice? ›

Architecture. The architecture of Amsterdam and Venice could not be more different and a lot has to with their geography. Amsterdam is in Northern, Protestant Europe which tends to be more reserved and practical. While Venice has always been known as a city of excess and glitterati.

What is Amsterdam best known for? ›

Amsterdam, Famed For Its Picturesque Canals, Historic Architecture, And Vibrant Culture, Beckons With Iconic Attractions Like The Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, And Red Light District. This Dynamic City Embodies A Unique Blend Of Art, History, And Progressive Spirit.

Is Amsterdam sinking like Venice? ›

There are many cities that are at or below sea level. Amsterdam is protected by sea walls and dykes and a system of pumps. But if predictions of sea level rise over the next century prove true, it will face serious problems with flooding, salt water intrusion and subsidence.

What's unique about Amsterdam? ›

If you've ever dreamt of living on a houseboat, Amsterdam is the city for you. With over 165 canals, you can travel 100 kilometers (60 miles) along them without ever leaving the city limits or cruising the same canal twice. Impressive for a city that's only about 15 kilometers across.

What is the nickname for Amsterdam? ›

Amsterdam is also nicknamed Mokum, after the Yiddish word for 'safe place' – this is because it was considered a safe haven for European Jews during the Holocaust.

What are the 4 main canals in Amsterdam? ›

The canal belt

Historically, it has also included the Singel, Nieuwe Herengracht, Nieuwe Keizersgracht, and Nieuwe Prinsegracht, to the east of the river. The oldest of these four canals, the Singel, was originally the western part of the medieval canal that ran from the Amstel along Kloveniersburgwal and Geldersekade.

What is the most beautiful gracht in Amsterdam? ›

Herengracht is hands-down the prettiest canal (not that it's a popularity contest or anything…) The row houses that line this so-called “Gentlemen's Canal” were owned by wealthy merchants in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the country was thriving due to the rich Dutch East India Company.

What is the famous canal in the Netherlands? ›

Running in a concentric half-moon shape along the west side of the city, the famous canal district is formed by four main canals. In addition to the Singel, the others are: The Keizersgracht (the Emperor's canal), The Prinsengracht (the Prince's canal) and The Herengracht.

What is the most beautiful canal in the world? ›

The Grand Canal, located in Venice, Italy, is one of the most famous and beautiful canals in the world, known for its breathtaking views and historical significance.

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