Amsterdam is known for its canals, and they are well celebrated at the Museum of the Canals, or Het Grachtenhuis, which opened its doors in 2011. The museum showcases a series of exhibitions devoted to the history of Amsterdam’s canals and the city development project behind them, from miniature city models to 3-D video projections.
The Museum of the Canals is located inside a townhouse dating back to the middle of the 17th century that's been the home of numerous Dutch merchants. While the exhibitions on the canals are the main draw, the museum is also worth visiting for its interiors—one room features wallpaper dating back to 1776.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This museum holds special appeal to those with an interest in urban planning and history.
- Tickets are free for children under 3 and reduced for those ages 4-12. Certain city pass cards also entitle bearers to free admission.
- To better understand the museum, grab a free audio guide at the entrance of the museum.
- The entire museum is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Museum of the Canals overlooks the Herengracht canal in central Amsterdam, about a 20-minute walk from Centraal railway station. Trams No. 2, 11, and 12 stop near the museum (get off at Koningsplein, a 3-minute walk), while Metro No. 52 stops at Rokin, a 5-minute walk from the museum.
When to Get There
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, but temporary exhibitions close an hour early. It's also open on most holidays, except for Christmas Day and Kingsday (April 27). Visit during the third weekend of June, during the annual Open Garden Days to explore Het Grachtenhuis' manicured gardens.
Amsterdam's Canals on the UNESCO World Heritage List
In 2010, the 17th-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which prompted the opening of the museum. The canals are an excellent example of town planning, hydraulics, and civil engineering at work, providing an early framework for the construction and development of artificial port cities.