Whatever the reason one may have in traveling to Amsterdam, there is no denying that the one constant that everyone takes back is the memory of seeing some of the most picturesque canals in the world. The beauty of Amsterdam’s Canals is simply breathtaking.
For those who may not know the location of Amsterdam, the beautiful city is nestled in the Western Netherlands. Amsterdam’s exact location is defined by being situated in the province of North Holland. It is a city most visited by Europeans. However, the city tourism agency does list a large percentage of tourists also visiting from the United States. In recent months, Europe’s high-speed rail train called the Eurostar began running a direct line from London to Amsterdam in less than four hours. The transfer free connection has become very popular among tourists and business travelers.
One may ask how many canals are located in Amsterdam? The city of Amsterdam has four main canals. They are called the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht canals. However, Amsterdam has far more than just four canals. The city of Amsterdam actually hosts one hundred and sixty five canals. Pedestrians, cyclists, trams, cars and busses all cross those canals on Amsterdam’s seventeen hundred and fifty three bridges. If you’re a fan of bridges, Amsterdam is the place for you.
Most visitors enter the city of Amsterdam though the main train station called Amsterdam Centrale. The first main Amsterdam Canal that visitors will come upon is the Single. The Singel Canal was originally constructed as a moat that surrounded the city of Amsterdam during the 15th century.
Amsterdam’s second main canal is called the Herengracht. The Herengracht is also known as the “Gentleman’s Canal.” The third large canal that flows freely through the city of Amsterdam is called the Keizersgracht. The Keizersgracht also goes by the name of the “Emperor’s Canal.” The last of the four main Amsterdam Canals is called the Prinsengracht. The name of the canal hints at the canal’s nickname also known as “The Prince’s Canal.”
As a visitor to Amsterdam, you will cross all four of those majestic canals. Amsterdam is a small city. You can walk across the city of Amsterdam in about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your pace. It is one of the most enjoyable cities to walk through in all of Europe. Just be careful of Amsterdam cyclists, as they rule the streets.
Many of the bridges that cross the major canals become very crowded due to swarms of tourist trying to take selfies with the canals. Try to avoid the main crossings for your selfies, There are so many canal crossings on the side streets that have empty bridges where you can take your time setting up your memorable photographs. Remember to be aware of your surroundings when shooting your pictures. The last thing you want is to be hit by an Amsterdam cyclist and have your camera or cell phone fall into the water. Trust me, this can happen easily in Amsterdam.
While all the bridges in Amsterdam have some sort of railing, the sidewalks that line the canals are mostly un-guarded. There are no rails of barriers between pedestrians. cyclists and the canals. This is another reason why you need to be alert at all times when walking through Amsterdam. I asked some locals about the unguarded canals. One very friendly local who ran a small food stand right next to a canal told me that at least once a week he watches someone fall into the canal by accident. While falling into a canal is usually not life threatening, it is an easy way to ruin a camera, cell phone, or anything that one may have on them at the time.
There are many more great ways to experience Amsterdam’s Canals. The city of Amsterdam hosts many tourist companies that run tour boats through the Amsterdam Canals. By taking a tour boat on the Amsterdam Canals, travelers experience a completely different view of the city of Amsterdam. One of our favorite tour boats was the Heineken Experience Boat which is tied into the Heineken Experience tour at the companies Heineken Museum.
Perhaps the most enjoyable way of experiencing the beauty of Amsterdam’s Canals is to take a seat at a canal side restaurant or bar and sit for a few hours enjoying the view. Make sure you find a restaurant that has an outdoor yawning, so you don’t become more cooked than the food your eating. And speaking of food, do not leave Amsterdam without trying there legendary herring or pancakes. Do not feel like you have to eat quickly, because they do not rush you in Europe. In fact, they will not bring you the check until you ask for it. So, take you time eating and drinking while staring at the beauty of Amsterdam’s Canals.
I have heard some people compare the Amsterdam Canals to the canals of Venice. While there are some small comparisons, they are two completely different cities that are dramatically different in so many ways.
One of the things that my son noticed about Amsterdam’s Canals was how the light of the Sun reflected off the water and illuminated so much of what surrounded the canals. You could see the glitter of the light reflecting on some of the amazing buildings that lined the streets along the canals. The powerful light of the sun shining across the water towards the life that surrounded the canals brought the wonder of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals full circle to those who truly revel in all its beauty.