Without canals, Amsterdam wouldn’t be Amsterdam. It is also called the ring of canals. The 17th century waterways give Amsterdam a unique character. Landfill, sewerage, extinguishing water and tourism are all functions that the canals have or have had. We tell you where to find the most beautiful canal boats, the best facts about the canals, the history of the canals and much more!
If you look at Amsterdam from above, Amsterdam has a special shape. Most cities with canals have a rectangular shape. Amsterdam, on the other hand, has three main canals. Each canal consists of five pieces. These pieces together form a semicircle. This makes the city lively and unique compared to other world cities.
Facts about canals
Of course the canals have some nice facts. In total there are 165 canals, which are 75 km long. The oldest canal has existed since 1385.
Of the 165 canals, the Singel is the longest. The Singel is 6.3 km long. The widest canal is the Keizersgracht. This canal is 31 meters wide.
The ring of canals also has many bridges. There are 128 in total. These high numbers even surpass those of Venice and Paris. The most famous bridge in Amsterdam is the lean bridge. This bridge slightly over the Amstel river and was built in 1934. This bridge has been renovated several times. The first bridge was built in 1691. This was such a narrow bridge that here the name: lean bridge comes from. In the evening this bridge is illuminated with 1800 lights. It couldn’t be more romantic.
Since 2010 the canals are also on the UNESCO world heritage list. Amsterdam also does its utmost to maintain and protect the canals. Every year 6000 bicycles are taken out of the canals. Bizarre, isn’t it?
What role do the canals play?
The canals were dug years ago to get dry soil. The soil that was released was used to raise other soil. In the past, the canals were also used as rubbish tips, sewers or fire extinguishing water. After the digging of the canals the canals became very important as a kind of traffic road. For goods and people this was super easy. The canals are still used intensively today. Not only tourists, but also locals can regularly be seen sailing through the canals.
Every year there are recurring festivals on and around the canals. You can go to King’s Day, the Canal Pride (Gay Pride) and the canals festival. During King’s Day you look at the canals through orange glasses and at the Canal Pride through pink glasses. Are you standing by looking at the side or are you on a boat? It’s party time everywhere. Finally, the canals festival. This festival is a music festival, where music is played from the canals. Along the water you can enjoy the nice weather and the beautiful music. Really enjoy!
In winter, when it has frozen hard, you can skate on the canals. The locals pull their skates out of the closet and everyone gets together.
For many, a cruise through the canals of Amsterdam is one of the highlights to do in Amsterdam. That’s completely understandable, because from where you can see the canals better than on the canals themselves. The impressive bridges and medieval buildings along the water, you must have seen them up close. You can enjoy 75 minutes of stories from the audio guide and the beautiful route of the boat. The audio guide speaks several languages. The audio guide can speak Spanish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian. So everyone can enjoy this cruise. It tells about the history of the canals, the city, places of interest and much more.
If you book a canal cruise online, you will receive a ticket after purchase which you can download to your phone or print out.
When the sun goes down, you get on board this tour boat. In the evening all the bridges and many buildings are illuminated with lights. A cozy and cosy atmosphere. The audio guide on the boat, who speaks many languages, tells you everything about the canals, places of interest, the best restaurants, beautiful buildings and nightlife in Amsterdam. If you book a canal cruise online, you’ll receive a ticket after purchase which you can download to your phone or print out.