Essential Amsterdam style

What makes this area unique is not just the beautiful architecture and canals, but the tiny alleys, gardens and stories hidden behind the historic facades of the houses. Canal houses offer a perfect vantage point to view the bustling canal area, where bicyclists, boats and tourists zip past. Many of Amsterdam’s canal houses were built during the height of the Dutch Golden Age, serving as home and workplace, and were distinguished by the striking gables and dual entrances.

There were generally attic and basement spaces to store goods such as cotton or cocoa, and hooks were affixed to the top of the long narrow houses to hoist furniture and goods up and through the windows. Watch closely as you wander - this tradition is still employed today!

Canal house museums

There are several museums that have set up shop in the canal houses. The Canal House Museum (Grachtenmuseum), located on the picturesque Herengracht, offers a multimedia history and showcases the Canal Ring expansion. The museum is also equipped to help you plan a personalised itinerary to further explore the area. The Museum van Loon, once home to the co-founder of the Dutch East Indian Company, is well preserved and features a piano nobile first floor and original coach house. Take a step into the past at Museum Geelvinck, showcasing 17th century patrician wealth in a well-maintained canal house built as a status symbol for a Golden Age power couple. The museum often hosts concerts, such as violin or pianoforte.

For a mix of traditional and modern, head to FOAM Amsterdam. Housed in a centuries-old canal house, the photography museum exhibits all genres of photography, from fine art to documentary and historical to contemporary. The interior mixes the original architecture with modern chrome and glass.

Tip: You can visit most of Amsterdam's canal house museums for free with the I amsterdam City Card

The 3D-printed canal house

In a quest for more sustainability and flexibility in architecture, the world’s first 3D-printed canal house is currently being constructed in Amsterdam-Noord. Exhibition, research area and building site in one, the house is open for the public to explore while it evolves. 

Canal house accommodation

What better way to get the complete canal house experience than by staying in a hotel in one of these historic buildings! There are several in Amsterdam, varying from basic one star accommodation to five star grandeur. The acclaimed Pulitzer Hotel was constructed by combining 25 canal houses. And hotels like Hotel Orlando and The Toren pride themselves on personal service and stylish interiors.