• Tracy Schatz

Amsterdam’s Canals: Everything You Need To Know

Despite what many people think, Amsterdam has a lot more water than the city of Venice. All that water also means that Amsterdam has a few more canals than the more infamous Venice canals that people are always talking about.





The oldest canals in the city are within the Red-Light District and that is one of the many things that makes Amsterdam unique. The reason for this is most old cities have a medieval center that includes a museum. However, in Amsterdam, their medieval center is one that sometimes holds a little bit of controversy.


There are three main canals within Amsterdam and the one in the middle of them all is Keizersgracht, or Emperor’s Canal. The digging of this canal began in 1612, although it wasn’t supposed to be located there. Originally, a wide street was planned for this area, but the locals wanted water in front of their homes. Therefore, a canal was created instead.

The most important canal in Amsterdam is Herengracht, which is also known as Gentlemen’s Canal, and it is one of the main canals as well. During the 17th century, all the influential people within Amsterdam lived along this canal. That really hasn’t changed much in recent years, because the wealthy people still all crave a home on this beautiful canal’s shoreline.

The last of the three main canals is Prinsengracht or Prince’s Canal. It took fifty years to create this canal and the population within the city grew to four times the original amount by the time it was completed.


Three Ways to Explore Amsterdam’s Canals


There are three ways to explore these canals by water. The first is to take one of the Canal Boat Tours. You can choose from a glass-topped boat or you can ride on one of the smaller boats that are open on top. It is best to ride these boats twice during your visit because the ambiance around the water changes as the day goes to the night.


Another option for riding along the canals in Amsterdam is to rent your own boat. However, maneuvering a boat through the canals takes some skill, so consider this option carefully during your visit. You may want to take a regular tour first to get your bearings and then rent a boat afterward.


The third option is to take one of the gondola rides that were made famous in Venice. There are plenty of gondolas to choose from and you may see some of the smaller canals with this option. You may want to consider taking a ride during the day, and at night, just like the other boat rides, so you can experience the change in the ambiance.


These are the three best ways to explore the canals in Amsterdam, besides simply walking, or bicycling, alongside them. You can easily choose the one that meets your requirements the most, but you might also want to consider mixing and matching for the best results.

I would love to help you plan the perfect trip to Amsterdam, so think about what you might love to do there, other than exploring the canals. Once you have a partial list, we can connect, and I can share all the little details you need to have the perfect vacation in this family-friendly destination.

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