Canal RingAmsterdam

Image for Canal Ring which includes a marina, a river or creek and a city

Walking, cycling or cruising around Amsterdam’s famous canal network offers a picturesque and invigorating way to view the city’s landmarks.

It’s not hard to understand why Amsterdam is known as the “Venice of the North”. The city is criss-crossed with waterways of every shape and size, but perhaps its most famous thoroughfares are the grand semi-circular canals constructed during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century.

Three main canals make up the Canal Ring: the Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keisersgracht. The inner canal district bordered by the IJ waterfront and the Singelgracht is today an internationally protected heritage site dating back to the 13th century, when the first canals were dug to protect the low-lying city from the North Sea. Over the centuries the network expanded along with the city’s importance, with barges from all over the world using the canals to transport goods inland. A trip round today’s Canal Ring offers spectacular views of the grand merchants’ homes and narrow gabled warehouses that line its banks.

A pleasant few hours can be spent on two feet or two wheels circumnavigating the ring, passing under and over the many bridges that connect the picturesque cobbled streets of the old city. The bridges make an especially attractive sight at night with their illuminated arches reflecting on the still waters of the canals. For a more relaxing way to see the sights, take a canal boat cruise and learn more about the history of the buildings as you glide past.

During the annual Gay Parade and the King’s holiday, beautifully decorated boats and their festive passengers fill the canals with colour and laughter, while when the canals freeze over in winter you can sometimes see intrepid Amsterdamers skating to work. Winter also brings the traditional Dutch treats of hot chocolate and oliebollen, or doughnuts, bought from canalside vendors and eaten al fresco.

Many canal boat cruises offer English-language narration so you can make the most of your voyage of discovery. Alternatively, the hop-on hop-off Canal Bus stops at all the main tourist attractions so you can plan your own itinerary. Hire a bike for a do-it-yourself day out, or enjoy a stroll at your own pace along the banks of these historic waterways.

Top hotels in Canal Ring

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Eden Hotel Amsterdam
Eden Hotel Amsterdam
3.5 out of 5
Amstel 144, Amsterdam
NZ$162
per night
5 Jan. - 6 Jan.

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Rembrandt Square, Stopera and Hermitage Amsterdam. Flower Market and Skinny Bridge ...

3.9/5Good! (2,292 reviews)

"Amazing location. Very clean. Great staff. Had an amazing experience."…"

Reviewed on 9 Dec. 2019

Eden Hotel Amsterdam
Hotel Estheréa
Hotel Estheréa
4 out of 5
Singel 303-309, Amsterdam
NZ$186
per night
15 Dec. - 16 Dec.

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this historic hotel is steps away from Begijnhof, Amsterdam Museum and The 9 Streets. Madame Tussauds and Royal Palace are ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (1,737 reviews)

"Very nice hotel. Like much in Amsterdam, the building is older but is beautifully maintained with a lot of charm. It is conveniently located so you can get to many locations with a short walk. The staff are professional and friendly. The bar is an excellent place to grab a quick bite or have some ..."…"

Reviewed on 5 Dec. 2019

Hotel Estheréa
Pulitzer Amsterdam
Pulitzer Amsterdam
5 out of 5
Prinsengracht 323, Amsterdam
NZ$494
per night
6 Jan. - 7 Jan.

This family-friendly Amsterdam hotel is located in the shopping district, within a 5-minute walk of The 9 Streets, Anne Frank House and Herengracht Canal. Madame ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (949 reviews)

"Wonderfully decorated with great service. Jansz restaurant was excellent. Highly recommend this hotel, I will be back!"…"

Reviewed on 2 Dec. 2019

Pulitzer Amsterdam
NH City Centre Amsterdam
NH City Centre Amsterdam
4 out of 5
Spuistraat 288-292, Amsterdam
NZ$209
per night
5 Jan. - 6 Jan.

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is steps away from Begijnhof, Amsterdam Museum and The 9 Streets. Madame Tussauds and Royal Palace ...

4/5Very Good! (2,087 reviews)

"Decent size room and bathroom. Delicious and plentiful breakfast options."…"

Reviewed on 20 Nov. 2019

NH City Centre Amsterdam
NH Collection Amsterdam Doelen
NH Collection Amsterdam Doelen
5 out of 5
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 26, Amsterdam
NZ$286
per night
9 Jan. - 10 Jan.

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Flower Market, Rembrandt House Museum and Willet-Holthuysen Museum. The 9 Streets ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (458 reviews)

"Amazing staff, extremely attentive to your needs and always willing to help."…"

Reviewed on 29 Nov. 2019

NH Collection Amsterdam Doelen
NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market
NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market
4 out of 5
Vijzelstraat 4, Amsterdam
NZ$230
per night
15 Dec. - 16 Dec.

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Flower Market and The 9 Streets. Dam Square and Heineken Experience are ...

4.4/5Excellent! (210 reviews)

"The hotel is in a good location for walking around the city centre and looks as if it has been upgraded fairly recently. Our room (at the back) was very quiet, nicely furnished and had good blackout curtains. The reception staff at check-in and check-out were very polite and efficient. The one time ..."…"

Reviewed on 9 Dec. 2019

NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market

Popular activities in Canal Ring

Anne Frank House
Image for Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

4.5/5(55 reviews)

Anne Frank’s world-famous diary chronicles the moving history behind this much-visited Amsterdam landmark.

Flower Market
Image for Flower Market

Flower Market

4/5(121 reviews)

Amsterdam’s historic Singel canal provides the picturesque backdrop for one of the city’s most vibrant and sweet-smelling attractions.

Top activities in Canal Ring

Amsterdam XtraCold Icebar Tickets with Drinks
Image for Amsterdam XtraCold Icebar Tickets with Drinks

Amsterdam XtraCold Icebar Tickets with Drinks

NZ$35

The “coolest” hangout in town, XtraCold Icebar, keeps it warm by kitting you out in parkas, so you can comfortably relax and sip drinks in this all-ice venue. Bundle up and head inside to chill out in a bar completely made up of ice, pairing your frosty beverages with thrilling stories of ice-bound explorers.

Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour & Canal Cruise
Image for Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour & Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour & Canal Cruise

NZ$36

Explore Amsterdam on an unlimited hop-on hop-off bus & boat tour.

Romantic Waters Boat Tour
Image for Romantic Waters Boat Tour

Romantic Waters Boat Tour

NZ$67

One of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to end your day with this intimate journey of discovery along the canals as the city winds down and reveals itself at its most alluring. This voyage is ideal for couples looking for a more personal way to visit Amsterdam than is possible with standard group tours.

Hop On Hop Off Bus & Boat 24 hrs
Image for Hop On Hop Off Bus & Boat 24 hrs

Hop On Hop Off Bus & Boat 24 hrs

NZ$51

Hop on - Hop off just got a whole new meaning! You can now combine discovering the canal ring from the water with exploring other Amsterdam neighborhoods by bus. And whichever means of transport you pick: feel free to hop on or hop off at any stop you like.

Amsterdam Walking Food Tour
Image for Amsterdam Walking Food Tour

Amsterdam Walking Food Tour

NZ$92

Get your stomach ready for an adventure into the culinary heart of one of Europe’s most celebrated cities: amazing Amsterdam. Start this gastronomic tour by joining a friendly guide in one of the oldest squares in Amsterdam.

Master Pianist Concert at The Royal Concertgebouw
Image for Master Pianist Concert at The Royal Concertgebouw

Master Pianist Concert at The Royal Concertgebouw

NZ$95

Visit: Concertgebouwplein 10 Museum Quarter, 1071 LN Amsterdam The Netherlands Master Pianists series The Master Pianists series has existed since 1987 and is organised by Riaskoff Concert Management, an internationally renowned management agency for classical musicians.

Other areas in Amsterdam

De Pijp
De Pijp featuring heritage architecture

De Pijp

Known for Romantic, Museums, Dining

4.5/5(12 reviews)

Thought to be named for its long, straight streets, this district was once the residence of artists such as Mondrian and is now one of Amsterdam’s trendiest spots.

Amsterdam North
Amsterdam North, Amsterdam, Netherlands
trover photo by Gail Paton

Amsterdam North

Known for Ferries, Architecture, Boating

4.5/5(3 reviews)

Cross the river IJ to find one of Amsterdam’s most artistic and innovative neighborhoods, with trendy facilities and art hubs in former warehouses and ultra-modern buildings.

Zuidoost
Amsterdam Southeast featuring boating and a river or creek

Zuidoost

Known for Romantic, Skyscrapers, Live Music

4/5(14 reviews)

For big entertainment, visit this multicultural district, home of the Amsterdam ArenA, Heineken Music Hall and the forested Gaasperpark where you can enjoy watersports.