18 October 2017
Travel to one of the world’s picturesque canal cities, and you’re in for a magical experience. These destinations feature idyllic waterways, charming cafes, iconic landmarks and lush greenery. Helping you craft your upcoming holiday itinerary, we reveal seven canal cities to visit on your next getaway.
The quintessential canal city, glamorous Venice is a treat for any traveller. Sail the city’s iconic waterways with a gondola ride or find a cost-effective alternative with a two-hour boat ride down the mesmerising Grand Canal. Stroll across the Bridge of Sighs to Piazza San Marco and tour buildings like gothic masterpiece the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica – a fine example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture. Wander down Venice’s backstreets and find family restaurants serving classic Italian dishes like lasagne, or head to Harry’s Bar – where the Bellini cocktail was invented.
Lose yourself in the Northern European city of Bruges, where winding waterways cut through the streets. Stroll along the banks of one of Bruges’ numerous small canals and discover hidden gardens, old stone bridges and medieval buildings. Include the Quay of Rosary – just five minutes away from the Grote Markt main square, on your itinerary to glimpse one of Bruges’ most scenic spots. Make the most of your time in Bruges by finding its historic attractions, like the 14th Century St Salvator’s Cathedral known for its gothic tower, or by sampling its most renowned export – chocolate.
See early-modern city-planning at its finest in Amsterdam. The city is renowned for its ‘belt of canals’ – a system of waterways laid out in half-concentric circles which was constructed in the 17th Century. Take one of Amsterdam’s popular canal cruises and tour the belt, as well as its other waterways, while passing the famed tilted ‘dancing houses’ which line the city’s banks. Walk along one of Amsterdam’s many bridges – it has more than Venice – such as the iconic draw-bridge Magere Burg. Stop at the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and the city’s oldest building, the 13th Century Oude Kerk church while you’re here.
You’ll find the longest navigable canal system – with over 400 miles of waterways, in Cape Coral. Visit these entirely man-made waterways and try to get a glimpse of the fascinating wildlife which call them home, including bats, iguanas and racoons. Go for a boat tour along the city’s canals which are lined with lush vegetation, enjoy fishing on the waters of the picturesque Lakes Regional Park or try water sports like kayaking in the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Cape Coral is also home to a range of relaxing beaches such as Bowman’s Beach – a seashell dotted sandy stretch of shore.
Experience the exotic delights of South-East Asia in bustling Bangkok. You’ll find canals – known locally as ‘khlongs’ – all over the Thai capital, which you can tour by small boat. Take a water shuttle down Bangkok’s primary canal Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem, spotting charming bridges and vibrant bougainvillea stands as you pass. It marks the boundary to Bangkok’s old city, and from here you can reach sites like the intricate Grand Palace, Wat Po where you can see the iconic reclining Buddha statue, the ‘crowned’ Wat Saket temple and more. Other must-see sites include the Bangkok National Museum – the largest in South-East Asia and the Wat Arun temple, among many others.
Situated on a group of islands, Stockholm features a range of scenic canals for you to explore. Travel them by boat and see the mishmash of historic wooden structures and effortlessly modern buildings which comprise modern Stockholm. For unbelievable views stroll along the canals at night when the lights from buildings are reflected in the water, or from Fjällgatan’s cliff edges. Stockholm is also the greenest city in the world – with lush spots such as the centrally-located island Djurgården and features 57 bridges, along with attractions like Drottningholm Palace on Lovön island, for you to see.
For something different head to Vietnams’s Can Tho near Ho Chi Minh City. Based on the Mekong River Delta, Can Tho is a warren of canals lined with sculpted gardens. Tour these waterways by canoe or bike and lose yourself in local scenery. The city is home to some of Asia’s best floating markets like the famed Cai Reng where you can buy local produce like coconuts and bananas. During your time here see other intriguing attractions like the colourful Nam Nha Pagoda – which has a unique place in Vietnamese history and the elaborate Thiền Viện Trúc Lâm Phương Nam temple.