Amsterdam is world famous for its many canals (grachten) which have led it to being called the "Venice of the North".
There are many tour operators that have sightseeing cruises along these canals taking in attractions such as the well preserved 17th century merchant homes and also the famous red-light district.
Amsterdam has big canals like Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. Besides these waters there are a lot of smaller ones to explore.
My personal favorites:
-Bloemgracht and Egelantiersgracht
If you visit Amsterdam for the first time, a walking option is a guided tour.
The late August Sunday afternoon we took our canal tour was very busy on the canals. Our commentator informed us the students were partying on the canal as university term commences next day. Rain , alcohol and boats do not mix together and there were several close calls. When the rain was heavy the uni students sheltered their open boats under a bridge, thus closing the canal to water traffic.
I guess we were all young once.
Amsterdam is famous with its canals. So any tourist takes one or two picture of canals from a bridge. I did take, too. Now I think they are the best views of Amsterdam.
I recommend you to find a bridge, beware of bicycles, take a good position and take the pictures of canales with the reflections of the boat houses, old houses and trees in the water.
A large part of Amsterdam's charm are the beautiful narrow but ornate multi storeyed houses that line the canals. One of the quirky features is that many have a picture on a plaque located on a beautifully decorated gable. This was because historically most people couldn’t read and the pictures were the only way of establishing who lived in the house and often what their job was.
The second unusual feature are hooks protruding from the top of the building. These are used to hoist furniture and large items up though the higher floor windows. I have actually watched this being done and it is fascinating.
I loved the town houses in Amsterdam. Some were terribly grand, while others were smaller and cosier. A great many are built on reclaimed land, and preserving them is an expensive business, as the foundations move so much over the years, as can be seen from this house.
where the Houseboats catch your eyes, bridges need to be walked, camera always ready. saturday afternoon in Amsterdam walking along the Canals, someone looks after the Geraniums, a colourful bird calling, pretty boy.
The canals and the narrow tall houses in different colours give Amsterdam its characteristics.
Many lucky people live in the boats and have their balcony outside or even on the roof of the boat. Many have planted numerous plants and flowers to make their own floating home look like a little paradise.
The best way to see both the canals and the houses around them is to take a canal cruise.
If it is too expensive, buy a normal one way ticket (like bus- or train ticket); you don't have to take a special cruise if you don't want to. Many of the boats are in usual everyday traffic at usual bus/boat prices available for everyone.
With over 75 km of canals and 1400 bridges, it is easy to enjoy the atmosphere of walking along the water. What a great lifestyle to live along the canals of Amsterdam in one of the many houseboats. Their seems to be plenty of boat tours, but we really enjoyed just strolling along the many canal banks.
Just take a ride and/or walk and discover the beautiful city of Amsterdam.
It's a very charming city. I just had wished I discovered the place many years earlier and stayed for a few more days on this first trip to Amsterdam.
“The Jews who have arrived would nearly all like to remain here, but learning that they (with their customary usury and deceitful trading with the Christians) were very repugnant to the inferior magistrates, as also to the people having the most affection for you; the Deaconry also fearing that owing to their present indigence they might become a charge in the coming winter, we have, for the benefit of this weak and newly developing place and the land in general, deemed it useful to require them in a friendly way to depart, praying also most seriously in this connection, for ourselves as also for the general community of your worships, that the deceitful race -- such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ -- be not allowed to further infect and trouble this new colony to the detraction of your worships and the dissatisfaction of your worships' most affectionate subjects.”
— from a letter, dated 22.September.1654, from Peter Stuyvesant to the directors of the Dutch West India Company
At Herenmarkt, off Brouwersgracht, is West-Indisch Huis (West India House), which in 1623 became the Dutch West India Company’s headquarters. In the courtyard of is a fountain topped by a bronze of Peter Stuyvesant, the one-legged governor of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch colony on the USA’s east coast that is now New York City.
Lots of canals everywhere in Amsterdam. I didn't take a boat ride, but I would love to.
The buildings, I read, are tilted forward towards the water so furniture can be hauled up and into the front windows without hitting the building too much.
On some of the canals, you’ll notice that there is an abundance of houseboats. I don’t know if it is still the case, but apparently this was a way to avoid taxation. No land no taxes. It’s only surprising that there aren’t more boats.
Upon arrival in Amsterdam we decided, because of limited time, to spend some of our time just walking along the various canals in the city. In Venice, Italy the canals are all haphazard, put in place where the water was, here in Amsterdam it is all in straight lines, all dictated by man. You realize one of the problems having a city built around canals when you see something on the other side of "the street" (read canal also) and you have to continue down the canal till you find a place to pass over the canal, then backtrack to the place you want to go.....
There's nothing more romantic than going for a wander at night and viewing the many canals all lit up with night lights.
We only got to do this the first night in Amsterdam in between the drizzle. I may have got enough video footage and stills to make a quick video....so stay tuned.