A cruise along holland’s canals

Holland is synonymous with canals: this small country threatened by the sea has always pumped water from the land to build navigable waterways. So what could be better than exploring its visual, floral, cultural, gastronomic, historic and architectural riches aboard a self-drive boat?

Starting from the Loosdrecht Locaboat base, about 15 km from Amsterdam, there are several routes you could take. In fact, it’s true to say that there are so many canals in Holland that you have a huge choice of routes in every region. But to pass through Rembrandt’s home town aboard a Pénichette® will surely turn out to be an unforgettable experience. And, of course, you can grab the chance to stop off and see the artist’s house – a real step back into the 17th century, and then follow it up with a beer in one of the famous “brown cafés”.

Among the routes on offer in the Netherlands, some focus on the natural landscape (windmills, northern and southern lights), others on gourmet dining and culture. You’ll cruise along, heading for towns and villages with evocative place names, and surprising attractions. In Gouda and Edam, where you’ll obviously enjoy tasting the local cheeses, you will also discover a remarkable market-place, surrounded by magnificent façades, and the little back streets of a traditional village, with black and white houses.

Several of the routes pass through Utrecht, another important cultural centre. It’s less well-known than Amsterdam, but you’ll find that it’s a town with a huge amount of charm, and one that you can explore without even having to get off your boat. But in fact you’ll probably want to go and explore the famous Centraal Museum and stroll across the Main Square, especially on summer days when it’s very lively.

Lovers of wide-open spaces will want to opt for a nature route so that they can enjoy the bulb fields, especially in spring. They stretch as far as you can see around Leiden and Zaanstad, among the swing bridges and polders, in the kind of natural light that will take your breath away.

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