If Amsterdam were a country, “Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten” – an ode to the canals of Amsterdam – would certainly be its national anthem.
One of Amsterdam’s most iconic features is the old city’s historic semi-concentric “belt” of canals.
A canal cruise is the most popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam.
Taking a walk along the picturesque canals is very popular as well.
And during some winters you can even ice skate the canals.
What you should know about the Canals of Amsterdam
Tip: read up on the canals before you go.
Discover what role the canals played in Amsterdam’s early city planning. See how the “canal belt” grew along with the city. And find out why the seventeenth century canal district in on the Unesco World Heritage list.
Trivia buffs will like this: if you want to cross a different bridge in Amsterdam every day, it would take you 3.5 years to do so.
A much sadder statistic: Yes, people do drown in the canals.
And you’ll never guess how many bicycles end up in the canals.
The thaw has set in, and whatever ice remains on the canals of Amsterdam is now unsafe.
Most likely the ice skates won’t come out of storage again this year.
Each year 5.5 million Amsterdam visitors take a canal cruise, making a boat tour of the canals the city’s most popular tourist attraction.
No visit to Amsterdam — also known as ‘Venice of the North’ — is complete without taking to the water, hands down the best way to see the city.
In fact, many people take more than one cruise: a daytime tour is a good introduction. A romantic candlelight cruise at night creates another lasting impression.
And then there are the many specialty tours: dinner cruises, cheese and wine tastings, combination boat tour and museum entrance… whatever floats your boat.
One quarter of Amsterdam — ‘the Venice of the North — consists of water, including 100 kilometers (60 miles) of canals.
So it is not surprising that the city sees a number of drowning incidents each year.
What may come as a surprise, though, is the reason many victims end up in the water.
Updated to include the latest statistics.
Ask tourists what they like best about Amsterdam, and the historic belt of canals around the town’s medieval center is bound to be high on the list.
You’d be surprised how many bicycles a years fall, or are tossed, into the canals of Amsterdam.
The city’s Water Authority has a special bike fishing unit.