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.
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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.
Explore Amsterdam on an unlimited hop-on hop-off bus & boat tour.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For big entertainment, visit this multicultural district, home of the Amsterdam ArenA, Heineken Music Hall and the forested Gaasperpark where you can enjoy watersports.