The second of Amsterdam’s three major waterways, the Emperor’s Canal (Keizersgracht) is the widest in the city. Its quiet waters wind through otherwise bustling neighborhoods, and it is lined with picturesque old houses—some of which have had famous residents. A boat trip along the canal lends itself to some wonderful photo opportunities.
The beautiful Emperor’s Canal provides a quiet respite from some of the busier parts of town, and is a great place to wander or go on a scenic boat ride. The waterway is lined with lovely old houses and interesting buildings, from apartment complexes housed in former whale-blubber storage depots to the Red Hat (Rode Hoed), which once served as a secret Catholic church.
Many of the city’s hop-on hop-off boat tours use this canal. You can also experience the canal via a private cruise replete with drinks and snacks.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Emperor’s Canal is a must-visit for history and architecture lovers, and all first-time visitors to Amsterdam.
- For an authentic experience, the canal is best explored by boat, but foot and bike are great modes of discovery too.
- Bring your camera—there are lots of picturesque houses lining the canal.
How to Get There
The Emperor’s Canal, which runs right through Amsterdam, is situated between two other major canals: Prince’s Canal (Prinsengracht) and Lord’s Canal (Herengracht). It is easily accessed throughout the city center, and its northern section is about a 15-minute walk from Centraal Station.
When to Get There
Like all of Amsterdam’s waterways, the canal is a year-round attraction. Though if you’re getting around by boat, you’ll certainly be more comfortable visiting in the warm summer months. In winter the canal can freeze over and double as a de facto ice-skating rink for daring residents.
Famous Keizersgracht Residents
Over the years, a number of historical figures have stayed in houses lining the Emperor’s Canal. Daniel Fahrenheit, the inventor of the Fahrenheit scale, stayed here, as did German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. John Adams, the second US president, allegedly lived here during his tenure as ambassador to the Dutch Republic.