World's 9 Most Stunning Canal Cities

By: Angela Ayles
Aerial view of St Mark's square and city at sunrise, Venice, Italy Getty Images / Matteo Colombo

For most of us, the concept of canal cities seems to be connected to images of Venice, with gondola floating down the alleys of this popular Italian tourist destination. You would be amazed to know, however, that there are a number of canal cities in other countries of the world offering equally, if not more, breathtaking sights and sounds. If you are on the lookout for a scenic place to spend your next vacation in, take a look at some of these stunning canal cities:


1. Water Towns, China

Gubei water town in Beijing,China.
Getty Images / Fan Jianhua

Situated at an hour’s distance from Shanghai, China’s Water Towns are indeed a sight to behold. Combining natural scenery with a peek into the history of Chinese architecture, the six towns are considered to be one of the main tourist attractions of China. If you choose to visit the Chinese Water Towns, brace yourself for the majestic stone bridges, built during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. As you float across the Yangtze River Delta, you will be greeted with the sight of the signature red Chinese lanterns amid the historic temples.

2. Venice, Italy

Most beautiful and visited view from Accademia Bridge on Grand Canal in Venice, Venice is the major tourist destination in Italy, always crowded with tourist and visitors. Image taken at sunset with my Canon 6D on Jun 2016.
seng chye teo / Getty Images

Venice exemplifies the concept of canal cities. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, this canal city is on the list of must-visit places for every aspiring traveler. With its historical buildings coinciding with the serenity of its flowing waters, it would not be wrong to count Venice among the most romantic places in the world.

3. Cape Coral, Florida, US

Neighborhood water canal off the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, Florida.
Getty Images / John Coletti

Home to around 150,000 residents, this palm-lined city stands apart from other canal cities due to its planned layout. This ‘Waterfront Wonderland’, as it is rightly known, was designed during the 1950-60s era and comprises a canal network that spans over an area of 400 miles.

4. El Gouna, Egypt

Beautiful view to El Gouna architecture. Egypt
Getty Images / danilovi

Any mention of Egypt is usually associated with images of pyramids running through our minds. It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that even a spectacular place like El Gouna remains a relatively unknown Egyptian travel resort. Conceived during the nineties, El Gouna is a dream come true for beach lovers. The canals, channeling out from the Red Sea, connect the islands and breathe life into the desert sands. The area is filled with hotel facilities for tourists.


5. Annecy, France

Getty Images / © 2012 Federica Gentile

There is a definite charm about French cities. While Paris is widely accepted as the place where romance is abloom all year round, places like Annecy redefine the classiness associated with the French culture. As you travel across the canals of Annecy, you will find yourself falling in love with the French delicacies available readily at the eateries that line the city harbor. When in Annecy, make sure that you visit the Palais de l’Isle, the place that has served as a home, a prison, a courthouse, and more recently, a museum.

6. St. Petersburg, Russia

Landmark of St.Petersburg , Russia.
Getty Images / Chan Srithaweeporn

Russian history is known for its momentous ups and downs, and St. Petersburg bears testimony to every one of them. Standing by the Neva River, this historical canal city is home to a number of nineteenth-century cathedrals as well as the State Hermitage Museum. Depending on your budget, you can choose from a variety of watercraft to explore the waters surrounding St. Petersburg and even scoot off to St. Peter’s much-talked-about palace called Peterhof.

7. Kerala, India

A young woman kayaks through the backwaters of Monroe Island in Kollam District, Kerala, South India.
Getty Images / SOL STOCK LTD

This South Indian waterfront city represents the exoticness of India in the truest sense of the word. Built during the zenith of British rule in South Asia, the primary purpose of Kerala’s canal network was to aid trade and transportation of raw material. In today’s times, you can travel through these canals and witness the rice fields along with the strikingly colorful outfits donned by the locals.

8. Bruges, Belgium

Water town in Belgium.
Getty Images / Aubrey Stoll

Serving as the inspiration for the 2008 movie ‘In Bruges’, this Belgian city has a divine charm about it, spelled out by the Gothic artistry that defines this city’s persona. The canal system of Bruges seems to have been built in the form of a moat that surrounds the old city areas. Each of the canals is famous for its own attractions, may it be the greenery surrounding the Church of Our Lady: Groene Rei or the souvenir shops around Dijver.

9. Bangkok, Thailand

Awaiting the sunrise at Bangkok Wat Arun with beautiful subtle reflection of the early dawn mother nature.
Getty Images / Kenny Teo

If the flashy lights of a bustling metropolis are what you are looking for, then the Thai capital should very well be your next stop. Popular for its mouthwatering cuisine and mystic temples, Bangkok’s inherent character as a city is redefined by its widespread network of canals, which was built during the 19th century. Located in the central area of Thonburi, the canals are filled with gondolas selling a wide range of items, varying from clothes to artifacts.