Exploring Holland by boat affords travellers views of the landscapes depicted by some of the world’s best painters and the famously beautiful city of Amsterdam from totally unique angles.
There are hundreds of different routes you could take for a canal holiday in Holland, but using Amsterdam as a hub from which to stretch out provides a great cross section of everything the canals have to offer. It is the nation’s capital and the most common destination for flights to Holland. From here, to the north is the city of Edam, home of the famous cheese. And south is Utrecht, the religious centre of the Netherlands which also has ambitions to become Europe’s city of culture.
Canals of Amsterdam
But one of the highlights of any boating holiday in Holland is the canals of Amsterdam themselves. Anyone who has visited Amsterdam knows the bicycle is king, but it is closely followed by the barge. The city has more than 100 kilometres of them, criss-crossed by around 1,500 bridges. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, were dug in the 1600s and form concentric rings that ripple out from the city’s centre. These waterways are now the UNESCO World Heritage List and afford wonderful views of some of the city’s oldest and most beautiful streets. Singel canal dates all the way back to the 1400s and was originally the city’s defensive moat before being consumed by expansion in 1585.
Another Amsterdam canal of note is Zwanenburgwal. This canal and street in central Amsterdam used to be home to Rembrandt and the philosopher Spinoza and has been labelled by many as one of the Amsterdam’s most beautiful streets.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Most barges double up as accommodation but Amsterdam is packed with some of the best hotels in Holland. The Best Western Apollo is in the city centre and has great views over the Stadhouderskade and the city’s most famous shopping street. Or there is the Hem Hotel Amsterdam sits a little outside of the city but is well positioned for getting to and from the airport. Alternatively, try the upmarket Mercure Hotel Amsterdam Aan de Amstel has lots of local restaurants and shops nearby where you can hang out with the locals.