Europe’s Most Beautiful Canal Towns

It’s no secret that Europe has more than its fair share of stunning historic towns. That’s the very thing the “Old Continent” is most famous for, in addition to its excellent food. There are, however, various types of towns in Europe, originating from former fortresses or expanded along river banks or something else entirely. In this post, with these top 5 most beautiful canal towns in Europe; we’ll highlight some of the prettiest European canal towns you can visit.

Top 5 Most Beautiful Canal Towns in Europe

Visiting the canal towns, is a great way to explore more of Europe. From Scandinavia to the Benelux to Italy, the top 5 most beautiful canal towns in Europe are, not surprisingly, found in flat, coastal areas. All of them boast a wealth of history, excellent restaurant scenes and simply stunning architecture. Whichever town you decide to visit, make sure to give it at least two full days of your time. A weekend, for example, would be absolutely ideal for the following towns.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark

The Danish capital of Copenhagen does not lie on the European mainland, but on an island connected to the rest of the continent by bridges. The town is home to many beautiful canals and historic landmarks, making it one of the greatest canal towns in Europe. The best example of Copenhagen’s maritime past is Nyhavn, an old harbor district lined with colorful buildings.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark - Top Europe Canal Towns
Nyhavn in Copenhagen

4. Annecy, France

Unlike the other canal towns in Europe in this list, whose canals are fed by rivers, those of Annecy get their water from the Lac d’Annecy, France’s third-largest lake. This exceptionally walkable town has some of the cleanest water in all of Europe, thanks to the area’s strict environmental regulations. Its main landmark is the Palais d’Ile, a fortified palace that’s the centerpiece in the town’s main canal.

Annecy, France - Beautiful European Canal Towns
Annecy waterfront

3. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and it’s easy to see why. There’s so much to see and do in this town you can easily spend a week there. Visit iconic historic sites such as the Anne Frank House, a museum like the Rijksmuseum or the Vondelpark. Explore the world’s most famous Red Light District and wander its charming alleyways. But most of all, go for a canal tour, possibly the very best way to see the city.

Canal in Amsterdam - Most Beautiful Canal Towns in Europe
Canal in Amsterdam

2. Bruges, Belgium

Undoubtedly one of the greatest canal towns in Europe, Bruges is basically a living fairy-tale town. Beautifully preserved, this medieval town was once one of Europe’s wealthiest trade towns. A dense network of canals crisscrosses its historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gorgeous architectural highlights abound in Bruges. Literally everywhere you look, you’ll see wonderful old buildings.

Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges - Beautiful Canal Towns in Europe
Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges

1. Venice, Italy

The epitome of a canal town, Venice is one of the world’s most breathtaking cities. Located in the Venetian Lagoon, an archipelago made up of several small islands and islets, it’s unlike anywhere else on earth. Countless picturesque bridges span canals small and wide, while medieval churches, merchant’s houses and government buildings dot the city. It’s just a sensational town.

Scenic dining in Venice ,Top 5 Most Beautiful Canal Towns in Europe
Scenic dining in Venice

What other canal towns in Europe are worth visiting? Let us know in the comments below!

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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    Really a very nice post. You have shared the world’s best holiday destinations. My favorite cities for vacation are Utrecht and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Soon I will make plans to travel to all European countries. Many thanks.


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