Cities on the canals: the most beautiful to visit at least once

10 city ​​on canals, built on islands, peninsulas and lagoons, with fairytale atmospheres and the charm of bygone eras

Ancient buildings overlooking the water, lagoon plazas, floating markets and houseboats. These are some of his miracles cities emerging on the canals and which extend to islands, peninsulas and lagoons.

They are paintings worth admiring while traveling in traditional boats along the ancient waterways, once used for trade and the transport of goods and people.

Venice it is perhaps the most beautiful city on the canals of all, and therefore many other cities in the world are inspired by it, immersed in fairy-tale atmospheres with the charm of bygone eras. Here’s our pick of 10 of the world’s most beautiful canal cities.

Venice

Venice is a charm that unfolds before the skeptical gaze of every traveler. Whether it’s your first or umpteenth visit, Venice will always make you daydream.

Serenissima is a unique city in the world, declared, together with its lagoon, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 435 bridges connect the 118 islands on which the city is located, which are crossed by 176 canals. Crossroads of peoples and cultures, Venice has preserved its eternal beauty unchanged for centuries.

A romantic city to be lulled into on a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, passing under the arches of the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge. Piazza San Marco with its basilica, bell tower and Doge’s Palace make up what Napoleon called the most elegant salon in Europe.

The monumental Basilica of Saint Mark at that time testifies to oriental influences, especially Greco-Byzantine, completely integrated with the Italian artistic tradition. As you cruise the canals by gondola or vaporetto, admire fascinating noble palaces such as the Palazzo Grassi, aristocratic residences reminiscent of the Doge’s era, and marvels such as Palladio’s Church of the Redentore.

You will really get to know Venice when you lose yourself among the streets and canals, the dead-end streets and the piazzas on the lagoon, where you can stop among taverns and bacari for a cicchetto and a spritz, among handicraft shops and silent corners . it echoes Vivaldi’s baroque. It will be hard to come back to reality.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam
Amsterdam

Amsterdam is called the Venice of the North for its 75 kilometers of canals, over 1,000 bridges and around 2,500 houseboats.

Amsterdam’s magnificent canals date back to the 17th century and were widened over the centuries to encourage trade and transport, but also to reclaim land, encouraging the city’s expansion. For their historical and landscape value, the Grachtengordel, the ring of the three most important canals in Amsterdam, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Grachtengordel was designed in the 17th century to support population growth and consists of the Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal), the Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) and the Herengracht (Lords’ Canal), which is the most interesting because on its banks the most beautiful villas of the city stand.

Among the most impressive bridges that cross the canals of Amsterdam, we highlight the Torensluis, the oldest and widest in the city built in 1648 in the Singel, the Blauwbrug, decorated with fish sculptures and decorated with lampposts above the imperial crown, and the Magere Brug , illuminated by over a thousand lights. So don’t miss a cruise or a boat ride between canals and ships.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges
Bruges

Bruges is a water magic with Gothic buildings, bridges and churches reflected to admire along the canals. The Belgian city is therefore considered one of the most romantic in Flanders.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bruges is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities, criss-crossed by a maze of navigable canals with a fairytale atmosphere.

A cruise along the canals will allow you to discover the most unusual views, the most romantic panoramas and the ancient palaces of the 12th and 15th centuries. The merchants’ houses, the old castle, the Belfort, the Church of Our Lady and in general the medieval architecture, characterized by stepped gables, will take you back in time, when the canals were used for trade.

There are five ports in Bruges where you can start a cruise, including Rozenhoedkaai, one of the most photographed in the city.

Annecy, France

Annecy
Annecy

It is called the Venice of the Alps, Annecy it enchants with its picturesque pastel houses overlooking the canals and the turquoise lake surrounded by mountains, known to have been depicted in many paintings by Cézanne.

It is a hidden gem in the Haute-Savoie department, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, about an hour’s drive from Grenoble. It is a medieval town of great importance in the region because for centuries it was the residence of the Counts of Geneva and the Counts of Savoy. Only in 1860 was it annexed to France, during the reign of Napoleon III.

Then explore the Vieille Ville, among alleys, cobbled streets and canals with timeless charm. Walking along the canals you will see evocative passages, bridges and hidden corners. You can get postcard photos of the Palais de I’Île, located at the intersection of the two canals in the center.

Suzhou, China

Suju
Suju

Suju is a historic city in eastern China, nestled on the banks of the Yangtze River and the shores of Taihu Lake.

Due to its geographical location, over time the city was equipped with stone bridges connecting its approximately 20 canals that gave it the nickname of the Venice of the East.

Today Suzhou’s canals have a mainly practical function, allowing residents to move from one part of the city to another and to transport goods. Along the canals, notice the historic buildings and quaint houses overlooking the water that evoke images of China in the past.

The city has been defined since ancient times as an “earthly paradise” due to the mild climate and great fertility of the land. It is the cradle of Wu civilization where you can discover its ancient history. In Suzhou the pace slows down between boat trips through the canals and walks in the ancient gardens, there are 65 of them, 9 of which are UNESCO heritage sites.

Alappuzha, India

Alapuza
Alapuza

Alappuzha, also called Alleppey, is a city in the southern state of Kerala in southwestern India. Located on a narrow spit between the Arabian Sea and the Vembanad Lake, it is known as the ‘Venice of the East’.

This ancient city of Kerala features numerous canals, lakes and lagoons overlooking over a thousand houseboats, inspired by those once used to transport rice and spices.

Therefore, the best way to discover Alappuzha is to take a canal tour on a ‘houseboat’, traversing all the waterways that branch through the city until you reach Vembanad Lake after admiring vast paddy fields, lagoons and lush green nature .

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok
Bangkok

The capital of Thailand fascinates with its canals where the world-famous floating markets are located.

Bangkok’s canals date back to the 18th century and have been the most important communication route for centuries.

In ancient times the so-called klongs were the place where the sewage of the city converged, once used for the transport of goods and people and for floating merchants. Even today the canals are vital to entire communities living near the Chao Praya River, which is why they are extremely polluted.

But to this day, most of Bangkok’s canals have been turned into roads, with the only survivors on the west side of the Chao Phraya River.

St. Pietroburgo

St. Pietroburgo
St. Pietroburgo

Among the most beautiful canal cities in the world, St. Petersburg stands out, the city of the tsars and the ancient capital of the country. A city built on 42 islands, surrounded by water and criss-crossed by a complex network of rivers and canals, marking the boundaries of different neighborhoods.

Many tours pass the Fontanka River, the Griboyedov Canal, the Moika River, diagonally past the Mikhailovsky Garden, the Admiralty and other important historical buildings, to the Neva River.

From the Neva you can admire the most beautiful views of St. Petersburg, including the view of the Peter and Paul Fortress or the Winter Palace Hermitage Museum.

Returning to the narrower canals, you can then notice the Church of the Spilled Blood with its typical spiers and the imposing golden dome of Isaac’s Cathedral.

STOCKHOLM SWEDEN

Panorama of Stockholm
Stockholm

Spread across 14 islands in the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is another city that calls itself the ‘Venice of the North’. The Swedish capital boasts an archipelago of over 25 thousand islands reaching from Lake Mälaren to the Baltic Sea, to be discovered by water taxis and historic boats.

The city overlooks Riddarfjärden Bay and the historic centre, known as Gamla Stan, the old town, is located on the island of Stadsholmen where you will see cobbled streets, ancient churches and historic buildings such as the Royal Palace. Around it are the smaller islands of Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen and Strömsborg, where there are other historic buildings and monuments.

With a boat cruise it is also worth discovering the charming villages of Vaxholm, Nynäshamn and Norrtälje or the wonderful islands of Viggsö and Fjäderholmarna, near Stockholm.

Cape Coral, Florida

Cape Coral
Cape Coral

It has been nicknamed the Waterfront Wonderland since it was founded in 1957 by brothers Leonard and Jack Rosen.

Cape Coral is a city in Florida designed to grow on a network of canals. Today it hosts one of the largest canal networks in the world with a total length of 644 km.

Cape Coral overlooks a lagoon that offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation: from kayaking to cruising along the downtown canals.

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