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.

Known for

Shopping, Museums and Biking

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Top hotels in Canal Ring

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Eden Hotel Amsterdam
Eden Hotel Amsterdam
3.5 out of 5
Amstel 144, Amsterdam
NZ$207/night
25 Aug. - 26 Aug.
3.8/5Good! (2,272 reviews)

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 ...

3.8/5Good! (2,272 reviews)

"Good size bathroom and bedroom. Water from shower tended to go all over the bathroom floor. Lighting was ver dim in bedroom"…"

Reviewed on 19 Aug. 2019

Eden Hotel Amsterdam
Image for Hotel Notting Hill
Hotel Notting Hill
4 out of 5
Westeinde 26, Amsterdam
NZ$188/night
25 Aug. - 26 Aug.
4.4/5Wonderful! (1,341 reviews)

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Heineken Experience, Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug), and Royal Theater Carre. Rembrandt ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (1,341 reviews)

"Location was quiet, centrally located for sight seeing, and the property was very nice."…"

Reviewed on 16 Aug. 2019

Hotel Notting Hill
Image for Hotel Estheréa
Hotel Estheréa
4 out of 5
Singel 303-309, Amsterdam
NZ$360/night
27 Aug. - 28 Aug.
4.7/5Exceptional! (1,529 reviews)

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

4.7/5Exceptional! (1,529 reviews)

"The decor was beautiful. Beautiful wallpaper and comfortable beds. Clean and updated bathrooms."…"

Reviewed on 18 Aug. 2019

Hotel Estheréa
Image for Pulitzer Amsterdam
Pulitzer Amsterdam
5 out of 5
Prinsengracht 323, Amsterdam
NZ$616/night
28 Aug. - 29 Aug.
4.7/5Exceptional! (822 reviews)

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of The 9 Streets, Anne Frank House, and Herengracht Canal. Madame Tussauds and ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (822 reviews)

"The Pulitzer is in a beautiful location on one of the major canals. It is a lovely, quiet oasis in the bustling city. Rooms are spacious and well appointed. Staff is courteous, helpful, warm and professional. Kudos to the amazing concierge staff and to the reception and wait staff. Everything was ..."…"

Reviewed on 13 Aug. 2019

Pulitzer Amsterdam
Image for Hotel Mercier
Hotel Mercier
4 out of 5
Rozenstraat 12, Amsterdam, Noord Holland
NZ$218/night
1 Sep. - 2 Sep.
4.5/5Wonderful! (275 reviews)

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of The 9 Streets and Anne Frank House. New Church and Madame Tussauds are also within ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (275 reviews)

"Had a fantastic stay with my Wife for our 20th wedding anniversary. Room had everything we needed, the Nespresso machine was a great addition as I do like a coffee to get me started every morning. We didn’t eat at the Hotel but used the bar which do some awesome cocktails, Hope to return some ..."…"

Reviewed on 16 Aug. 2019

Hotel Mercier
Image for citizenM Amstel Amsterdam
citizenM Amstel Amsterdam
4 out of 5
Sarphatistraat 47, Amsterdam
NZ$223/night
1 Sep. - 2 Sep.
4.6/5Wonderful! (18 reviews)

Located in Amsterdam City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Royal Theater Carre, Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug), and Hermitage Amsterdam. Artis and ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (18 reviews)

"Legit the best hotel I've stayed at in Europe. Everything about it was incredible."…"

Reviewed on 18 Aug. 2019

citizenM Amstel Amsterdam

Other areas in Amsterdam

De Pijp
Image for De Pijp

De Pijp

Romantic, Museums, Dining

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.

Zuidoost
Image for Zuidoost

Zuidoost

Romantic, Skyscrapers, Live Music

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

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