5 Canals You Cannot Miss in Holland

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In Holland, the best way to travel is the waterway

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In Holland, the best way to travel is the waterway. No trip would be complete – or nearly as charming –without gently gliding down a tree-lined canal, under arched bridges, passing quintessentially Dutch houses and historical sites. Amsterdam alone has more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of canals. With a nearly infinite number of water routes to take, you’ll want to make sure you navigate your boat down these ones.

Herengracht by night

THE WATERWAY: Herengracht

WHERE: Amsterdam

WHY: Herengracht is one of the three main canals that form concentric circles around Amsterdam, and if you boat down all three, you will pass a total of 1550 monumental buildings! But while Keizersgracht, the Emperor’s canal, and Prinsengracht, The Prince’s Canal, are undoubtedly beautiful… it is Herengracht, the Gentleman’s Canal, that has earned its reputation as the most elegant canal in Amsterdam. It will take you down the “Golden Bend,” where the wealthiest have taken residence in stunning doublewide mansions complete with inner gardens and coach houses.

 

THE WATERWAY: Reguliersgracht

WHERE: Amsterdam

WHY: Dug in 1658, this canal route will float you down the famous Seven Bridges of Amsterdam, one of the most photographed – and most beautiful – views of the city. The bridges illuminate at night, creating the perfect ambience for a romantic boat ride along twinkling waters.

THE WATERWAY: The Oudegracht

WHERE: Utrecht

WHY: The Oudegracht, or "Old Canal,” runs through the heart of Utrecht and offers an experience unlike any other. Wharves were built as a second street along the waterline, where cellars have been converted to restaurants and cafes right on at the water level, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to dock and dine.

 

Dorpsgracht

THE WATERWAY: The Dorpsgracht

WHERE: Giethoorn

WHY: You have not known true tranquility until you have drifted down the waters of Giethoorn, an idyllic Dutch village that remains vehicle-free. The verdant greenery, wooden arched bridges, and thatched cottage farmhouses (and complete absence of vehicular noise) will make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

 

THE WATERWAY: Oude Delft

WHERE: Delft

WHY:  The Oude Delft is possibly the oldest canal in the Netherlands. In fact, the name “Delft” derives from “delven,” which means “to dig a canal.” A boat ride down this picturesque waterway will guide you past the Oude Kerk (the Old Church) whose famous brick tower leans over the waterway.

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