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Walk or cycle around the Canal Ring for half a day and you’ll come across countless monuments, restored warehouses, houseboats and fine examples of the gabled homes that are typical of Amsterdam. The quickest way to tour the Canal Ring is by a canal boat cruise, which is also a great way to hear interesting facts and stories about the history of the Dutch capital.
The inner canal district, between the IJ River and Singelgracht, is an internationally protected heritage site. The first canals dug around the Dam in the 13th century protected the city from inland waters from the North Sea. The Singel was the city’s outer edge during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, the industrious Amsterdammers built the semi-circular Canal Ring that you can still see today. Barges used the canals to bring goods from all over the world to inner-city locations. The ring consists of three main canals, the Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht.
Hundreds of bridges span the canals, connecting the cobblestone streets and main thoroughfares of the old city. Illuminated at night, the arched bridges are a romantic sight. When the sun is out, the canals fill up with pleasure boats. Twice a year, during the Gay Parade and the King’s holiday, decorated boats full of dressed-up party people entertain the crowds.
For the Dutch, a good winter is when the canals freeze over and they can ice skate instead of cycle to work. This time of year vendors sell hot chocolate and oliebollen, the Dutch equivalent to doughnuts. Any other times of year, the canal cruises show tourists the best spots in the inner city, such as the Seven Bridges viewpoint and the Golden Bend with its elegant mansions. Various tour operators offer English-narrated canal boat cruises, with the Canal Bus allowing you to hop-on and hop-off at the main tourist attractions.
If you rent a bike you can cover most of the Canal Ring loop in one day. There are over 1,500 monumental buildings to admire, including leaning gabled houses with ornamental staircases, inviting old shops and churches.
Located in Canal Ring, this historic hotel is steps from Begijnhof and Amsterdam Museum. Royal Palace and New Church are also within 10 minutes.
Across the street from the Amstel River and 150 metres from the famous Floating Flower Market, this Amsterdam hotel is 50 meters from the sidewalk cafés surrounding Rembrandt Square. Royal Palace and Dam Square are 1.5 km away.
This Amsterdam hotel is composed of 25 canal houses on the Keizersgracht canal, 500 meters from the house of Anne Frank and a five-minute walk from Dam Square.
Located in Canal Ring, this apartment is steps from Spui and Begijnhof. Amsterdam Museum and Flower Market are also within 10 minutes.
Located in Canal Ring, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Heineken Experience and Skinny Bridge. Rembrandt Square and Stopera are also within 15 minutes.
Located on the picturesque Prinsengracht canal, this intimate hotel is set in a renovated historical building, retaining much of its rich Amsterdam flavour.
This centrally located hotel connected to a shopping center overlooks the Singel Canal and is a brief walk to bustling Dam Square and yet close to the major sites of The Royal Palace, Flower Market and Anne Frank House.