Amsterdam is my home and there’s no other city I’d rather live in (ok, for now!). Amsterdam is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world with a vibrant arts, culinary and cultural scene, and it’s all within a relatively small area. There are world-famous museums like the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, and the city’s equally famous nightlife and tolerant attitude. One of the best things I enjoy about Amsterdam is its UNESCO World Heritage canals and the beautiful houses and buildings which line them. If there’s one thing to do in Amsterdam that I absolutely love and will never tire of, it’s a stroll along the canals at any time of the year or a leisurely cruise on a summer evening.

Amsterdam houses and bicycles.

The history of the Amsterdam canals goes back to the Middle Ages when they were created to manage the flow of water and for defensive purposes. During the city’s Golden Age in the 17th century, Amsterdam’s system of canals was expanded dramatically. More than 100 kilometers of canals (grachten) were dug and 1,500 bridges were built like a concentric web surrounding the old city centre, with the Dam Square at its heart. This massive project, completed in about 1660, expanded the size of the city by four times and allowed merchants from around the world to deliver goods straight to the houses of the city’s rich. This project changed the face of the city forever and is nowadays, arguably, the prime attraction in Amsterdam.

Search for flights to Amsterdam with KLM.

Photos of Amsterdam canals

Scrolling through my many Instagram photos of Amsterdam, I realised that I take LOTS of photos of the canals – I can’t help it and I’m sure you understand why! I sifted through my photos and selected some of them, taken during my walks throughout the year. I hope you enjoy these scenes as much as I did! I’ve also included a city map below to show you where these photos were taken. Feel free to also check out my things to do in Amsterdam guide.

amsterdam canal photo
Photo 1: This spot where the Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht canals meet is one of my favourites in Amsterdam. Love the beautiful gables and arched bridges here.
It’s also a lovely spot at night when the bridges are lit.
Photo 2: This is another gorgeous spot, in the Chinatown/Red Light district area. It’s one of the few places in the historic centre where the houses are at the water’s edge.
amsterdam canals
Further down the canal in the Red Light District

Explore Amsterdam at your own leisure with the IAmsterdam City Card which provides free public transportation, free admission to selected museums and attractions, a free canal cruise and lots of discounts.

Photo 3: A canal boat cruise is the best way to see the city. Many locals & visitors take their boat out (or they hire one) on a sunny day for some fun and sightseeing. This is the Brouwersgracht canal, one of the most picturesque.
Here’s another look at the Brouwersgracht.
Photo 4: My favourite time of the year in Amsterdam is the summer. I love strolling around the canals during those balmy summer evenings when the sunset and ensuing twilight seem to last forever.
Photo 5: when I studied at the University of Amsterdam, I often passed this canal, Oudezijds Voorburgwal, on my way to class.
Photo 6: Autumns are rather iffy in Amsterdam. It could be very wet and windy but there are also many sunny days when I have the chance to walk around and admire the colours of the trees.

Read about a luxury weekend in Amsterdam.

Photo 7: The trees soon lose their leaves and it becomes colder but the canals remain simply enchanting.
When the trees are bare, the beautiful canal houses become visible again.
Love these houses at Kloveniersburgwal near the Nieuwmarkt



De Waag castle at Nieuwmarkt seen from the Kloveniersburgwal canal.
Photo 8: The Groenburgwal is one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam – all year round!

Read about my favourite day trips from Amsterdam

Groenburgwal – one of Amsterdam’s most picturesque canals – in the summer.

Photo 9: Amsterdam looks absolutely magical in the snow. This is the Reguliersgracht.
Photo 10: A snowy Kloveniersburgwal canal
amsterdam winter canal
Photo 11: Reguliersgracht in the winter
Photo 12: … and if it freezes for a prolonged period, the canals are soon covered by a thick layer of ice and the locals go ice-skating!

Check out more photos of winter in Amsterdam

Photo 13: As it gets warmer, the trees begin to blossom.
The blossoms along the Amstelkanaal

Read about how I spent my birthday in Amsterdam

Photo 14: The highlight of the summer on the Amsterdam canals is the Gay Pride Canal Parade during the first Saturday of August.

Visit the Velvet Escape Travel Planning Resources page

And finally, one of the most iconic spots in Amsterdam: the row of houses that faces the Damrak, the boulevard that stretches from the Central Station to the Dam Square. I’ll never tire of taking photos at this spot, by day or night.

amsterdam canal photos
Photo 15: The row of canal houses that faces Damrak by day
canal photos amsterdam
And by night.

Spots to take beautiful photos of Amsterdam canals

View Amsterdam canals in a larger map

It’s a simply magical experience to stay in a houseboat on one of the canals or the Amstel River. My favourite is the 2 Houseboat Suites ( on the Prinsengracht canal. There are just two suites: Rembrandt and Van Gogh. In addition to the lovely hosts and a fantastic location in the historic city centre, this newly-built boat has large windows, a comfortable bed and all the amenities that will make your stay comfortable, such as an en-suite bathroom, heated floors, a Nespresso coffee-maker and mini-bar.

amsterdam houseboat view
Enjoying the gorgeous view of the Prinsengracht canal with a glass of wine at 2 Houseboat Suites (Rembrandt Suite).

Read about other places to visit in the Netherlands


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