With its ring of canals extending over 62 miles (100 km) and featuring an incredible 1,500 bridges, it's no surprise that Amsterdam’s canal ring has earned itself the nickname ‘the Venice of the North’. The 17th-century canals, including the most famous waterways of Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan, achieved UNESCO World Heritage status back in 2010, and remain key landmarks for visiting tourists.
The Prisengracht, or Prince’s Canal, is the longest of Amsterdam’s four main canals, measuring around two miles, and one of the liveliest in the city. Here, colorful houseboats float by the riverbanks and the surrounding streets are crammed with cafés, shopping boutiques and landmark buildings. Admire the famous Eenhoornsluis (Unicorn Lock) at the entrance to the Prisengracht, then Cross over the Papiermolensluis (Paper Mill Lock’) to explore sights like the Anne Frank House; Amsterdam’s tallest church, the Westerkerk (Western church); the 17th-century Noorderkerk (North Church) and the quirky Houseboat Museum. Stock up on goods at the nearby Noordermarkt flea market, snap a few photos of Amsterdam’s narrowest house (measuring in at a tiny three feet wide), then stop for coffee at one of Amsterdam’s longest established brown cafes, Café Papeneiland, dating back to 1642. If you get chance, sneak a look at the café’s secret basement tunnel, built to aid fleeing Catholics in the 17th century and running all the way to the Posthorn Church.