Amsterdam Canal Ring (Grachtengordel)
The district’s major canals are the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. From east to west, the major radial canals are the Brouwersgracht, Leidsegracht, and Reguliersgracht. The Canal Ring can be navigated on foot, by bike, and, of course, boat. A canal cruise is an excellent introduction to the UNESCO-listed canals, as glass-topped boats provide the best views of the city’s main sights. Options include hop-on hop-off boat tours and themed canal cruises that serve food and wine.
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Things to Know Before You Go
A number of cruise departure points are set along the famous canals, and tours are available in several languages.
Lined with beautiful historic buildings (“canal houses”), the Canal Ring can serve as helpful visual guidepost for getting your bearings.
The Canal Ring circles some of Amsterdam’s most important sites, including the Red Light District, the Anne Frank House, the Jewish Quarter, and the Museum Quarter.
Barges, powerboats, Frisian skutsjes (sailboats), and rowboats ply the canals at all times of day and night.
The Canal Ring is accessible for wheelchair users, as are many of the boats which sail around it.
How to Get There
The Canal Ring is located right in the center of Amsterdam, and is easy to reach on foot from most major destinations in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam's winding, cobblestoned city center can easily throw off your sense of direction, and the canals will always orient you back in the proper direction.
When to Get There
Because it’s part of the Dutch capital city’s landscape, as well as a mode of transportation and commerce, the Canal Ring is always open. The best times of year to enjoy a canal cruise are during the fine-weather summer months, and in the Christmas and New Year holiday season, when you can take an evening cruise during the Festival of Lights.
The History of Amsterdam's Canals
Built in the 17th century, the canals of Amsterdam were developed in the pursuit of growing the city beyond its bounds. Now, they're as quintessentially Dutch as Edam and tulips and have been UNESCO-recognized since 1999. Enjoy the canals at their festive best during the annual King's Day celebrations, when floats take to the water with performers and revelers.
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