Cities on Rivers: 16 Canal Cities in the World

by Jane Sophia
Cities on Rivers

Know these 16 Cities on Rivers, riverbank cities, canal-side cities, and canal-front villages around the world.

We all have seen Cities on Rivers and villages that literally sit on a riverbank or on just on the shores of a canal and backwater canals in the films.

The majority of us might have seen rivers or canals flowing in the backyard of the houses. Lucky residents of such houses take their bath; wash their clothes and pets in the water body daily.

Beautiful Cities on Rivers and canal banks

Big cities like Cochin in India and Venice in Italy should come to your mind when you think of canal-front cities where the houses, hotels, and in fact every building’s portico faces the canal.

Won’t it be a pleasant experience if you have to ride on a boat even to visit a friend’s house or to go to your office on a daily basis? You would be living in an unpolluted city in such cases.

Apart from Venice, Cochin, and Giethroon in the Netherlands, there several cities and small towns that sit literally on canal-fronts.

Let us pay a visit to a few of such Cities on Rivers, canal cities and riverside villages.

Cities on Rivers in India

  1. Alleppy Canal city, India

As you can see from the above video, Alleppey (Alappuzha in Malayalam language) is a small town that sits on the backwaters in Kerala. The estuary is located on Laccadive Sea.

Did you notice the houseboat on the video? Alleppey is a foremost tourist destination in India for scenic beauty, houseboat cruises, and ayurvedic health retreats.

As you go on a gondola or houseboat, you can witness small lagoons that surround natural river islands. On either side of the canal banks, rows and rows of coconut trees are planted.

These riverbank cities always attract large numbers of water birds.

Another big attraction in Alleppey is its beach and excellent seafood cooked in Malabar style.

  1. Cochin Canal city, India

This is a very big city in Kerala where the backwater canals flow throughout the city connected by bridges, piers, and ferry ports.

Cochin’s modern name is Kochi. It has many tourist landmarks that include:

  • Boathouse holiday
  • Kochi Island
  • Willingdon Island

Cities on Rivers Willingdon Island

  • Vypeen Island
  • Gundu Island
  • Bolgatty Island
  • Cherai Beach

Cherai Beach

  • The attractive and busy promenade named “Marine Drive”

Canal Bank Cities and Cities on Rivers in Europe

  1. Stockholm, Sweden

Cities on Rivers Stockholm

I am sure not many people know that the city of Stockholm is a canal city. The bustling Swedish capital comprises as many as 56 bridges and 14 islands!


  1. Venice Canal City, Italy

The world’s biggest canal city Venice in Italy needs no introduction. Venice is actually an archipelago comprising a whopping 118 islands that are interconnected by canals and bridges.

You might be surprised to know Venice has no roads, only waterways. You can get in a vaporetti (waterbus) at any one of the waterbus termini and get down at any other boat dock in Venice.

All the Adriatic Sea facing islands of Venice are connected by a mind-boggling 400 bridges!


Every house, building, cafeteria, and piazzas (public meeting place) is located on the backwater canal banks.

Piazzetta San Marco, Venice, at Dawn

Though Venice is a canal city, don’t imagine that it can be accessed only by sea passage from Rome. You can reach the ‘Floating City Venice by train from various cities of Italy such as Milan, Naples, Florence and most of the highly popular cities of Europe that include:

  • Zurich
  • Vienna
  • Munich
  • Paris

It will be an exciting train ride and an unforgettable one from Venice to Vienna, Austria.

  1. Giethroon, Canal Village, Netherlands

Giethroon is an incredibly beautiful village that has no roads and cars. There is only boat transportation on the canal on which the village stands.

Giethroon, Canal Village

This is a canal bank village that is almost similar to Venice and is also called “Dutch Venice”. In Giethroon, you have to use only small boats to move about.

The permanent residents of Giethroon possess their own boats instead of cars. Oh, they also possess a bicycle.

Imagine your daily snail mail will be delivered by the postmaster that also needs to move around in a boat delivering mails.

Giethroon, though a village with not many big hotels still attracts thousands of tourists who are simply bewitched by the serene beauty and calmness of the canal bank village.

The population of Giethroon is less than 2500 but the tourist inflow touches nearly 200K every year.

Cities and villages that sit just on the river or canal banks are a huge attraction-right?

  1. Utrecht Canal City, Netherlands

Cities on Rivers Utrecht Canal City

The Utrecht is a very big city in the Netherlands and once was more popular than the Dutch capital Amsterdam.

Utrecht canal city is a major religious center and an educational hub. The big Utrecht University attracts several students from the Netherlands.

Canal Oudegracht flows through Utrecht canal city but it not similar to Giethroon where a boat is the only mode of transport whereas, Utrecht is a sprawling metropolis with all sorts of four-wheelers.

Canal Oudegracht

There is a big rail network that also runs through the Utrecht canal city.


  1. Bruges Canal city, Belgium

Cities on Rivers Bruges Canal city

If you are an admirer of fine architecture and simply love the imposing churches, basilicas, cathedrals, and piazzas of Europe, come to Berlin and visit Burges canal city.

Take a leisurely boat ride in the narrow canals of Burges and you can fill up your heart with the images of exquisitely built huge buildings.

The medieval building of the Belgium city built on the canals earned it a UNESCO World Heritage status.

Here is an example of tall, spired buildings of Burges built on the Steenhowers Canal that has about 80 bridges built on the it.

Steenhowers Canal

I think these are castles. I read once that Burges has more castles than any other place in Europe. That speaks volumes for its historical importance.

Additionally, Burges canal city is known lace making.

Trivia: Do you know the highly popular “French Fries” should be known as Burges Fries as the dish is a native of Burges canal bank city, Belgium?

French Fries

From Belgium’s capital Brussels, the canal city of Burges is just an hour train ride away.


  1. Amsterdam Canal City, Holland

I think next to Venice, Amsterdam is considered as a ‘floating city’ though there are not as many canals as in Venice.

Nonetheless, Amsterdam’s most touristy attraction involves an hour boat ride on the zigzag canal network.

You must be aware Amsterdam canal city is a city of museums of high repute. The tourists can visit every prominent museum by traveling on a boat through the big city’s canals.

You must have a local guide when you take a boat ride in Amsterdam’s canal because only he can point out to you as many as 1500+ historic monuments and ultra-modern skyscrapers.

  1. Hamburg Canal City, Germany.

Cities on Rivers Hamburg Canal City

Oh, what a splendor!

When you look at the big buildings built along the Alster Lake and its canals in Hamburg, Germany, you would assume it is a big tourist attraction in Europe but sadly, it is not so. I would attribute to the lack of spoken English is the reason for poor patronage.

If you are a buff of Europe in general, and it’s immaculate medieval and ancient Gothic and Roman architecture, you would rate this German canal city as a big tourist attraction.

  1. Birmingham Canal City, England

Cities on Rivers Birmingham

Oh yes, who can forget the canal city of Birmingham, England that is historically famous and a very traditional English town.

On your mid-noon boat tour of Birmingham, you would identify several tall buildings of repute, English pubs, and bakeries.

Do the buildings reveal this is England at its very best and very old too-eh?

If you wish know to the industrial side of Birmingham canal city, you should take a local bus tour with an official guide.

However, if you wish to be a part of Birmingham’s evolution through the ages of canals, you should take a boat tour.

From London, you can reach the Birmingham canal city in about two hours. It is advisable to take the train ride because of its mind-boggling frequency from London.

There is a train from London to Birmingham almost every 12 minutes! Can you guess how many train ply between London and Birmingham daily?

The correct answer is 198 trains!

Some of the top tourist places to see in Birmingham are:

  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  • Sherborne Wharf
  • Spaghetti Junction ( a highway junction)


Spaghetti Junction

  1. Annecy Canal City, France

Cities on Rivers Annecy

This stunning image of this French canal city reveals that Paris is not all of France but there are numerous places to see in France.

If your style of vacation is spending a weekend on the banks of a canal or a river, or in a lakefront chateau, head over to Annecy, France on the border of Switzerland.

In order to visit the Annecy canal city in France, do not plan to go to any other city in France but go to Geneva city in Switzerland.

From Geneva, Annecy is just 42 km away! Yes, you will enjoy your vacation more as you can see Annecy and a few extremely beautiful places in Switzerland during a weekend!

The proximity to the Swiss Alps, several ski resorts, lovely and crystal clear Swiss lakes make Annecy canal town, a top tourist attraction in Europe.

Annecy’s canals are tributaries of River Thiou which also is fed the waters of Lake Annecy.

Canal Cities and Cities on Rivers in the United States:

Are there any such cities in the U.S. that are located on a canal or riverbank, similar to Alleppey or Burges?

Yes, there are two canal cities in America, in the state of Florida.

  1. Cape Coral Canal City, Florida, U.S

Very tranquil settings-eh?

If you have never visited the State of Florida, America’s most expensive and highly visited vacation destination, you would not have known about this gorgeous canal city called “Cape Coral”. The name itself is suggestive of its beauty to me.

Do you know that Cape Coral’s extensive network of canals aggregates to a staggering 640 km of length! I doubt not even Alleppy matches the canals’ length of Cape Coral canal city.

Some points of canals’ estuaries are meeting the Gulf of Mexico thus alluring passionate canal bank town lovers.

Next to a boat tour in the canal of Cape Coral, you can make a visit to “Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve” and spot several water birds that include ibis and herons.

  1. Fort Lauderdale Canal City, U.S.

Fort Lauderdale is a city of rich and famous. It is one of the highly sought after tourist destinations for the Americans.

All along the banks of this canal city, you can see in sheer awe, huge bungalows the belong to some of the richest people of America.

Fondly called the “Venice of America”, at various docks, you will notice mammoth personal yachts.

The total length of the canal water in Fort Lauderdale is 270 km.

The canals are part of the “New River” ( name of the river). There are always queues of people at the docking points where the gondolas and water taxis wait to take the tourist on a canal tour.

Cities on Rivers in Asia

There are a few canal cities in Asia that include:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Let us pay a visit to them now.


  1. Cities on Rivers: Suzhou City, China

Cities on Rivers Suzhou

It’s grand! Literally, it is the grand canal on which this Chinese city of Suzhou is situated. Not only that, the canal runs through Suzhou city making it one of the most beautiful canal cities in the world.

The Chinese big city Shangai and Suzhou canal bank cities are only 100 km apart form each other.

See a video clip below of the Suzhou canal city, the various bridges, and the beautiful Classical Garden hat was aesthetically landscaped several centuries ago.

The video tour of this floating city is an ample proof it is a major tourist destination in China.

The intelligent Chinese became more artistic and created small canal islands and pools along the waterway.

Your guided boat tour will reveal the following fantastic attractions on the canal bank:

  • Cloud Rock Pagoda
  • Crown of Clouds Peak
  • Tiger Hill

It was in as early as 100 Ad, this Chinese canal city was considered as one of the top 10 largest cities in the world! Since then, Suzhou gained importance and today is a big commercial city in China. That is the typical growth of Shangai and its surroundings.

This is a sample of ‘pagoda’ in China.


Here is the image of “Gate of the Orient” in Suzhou canal city, China.

Gate of the Orient

It is as high as 990 feet and it is strikingly beautiful!

Suzhou’s canal is not just a single one, buddy, but 24 canals zigzagging throughout the city.


  1. Cities on Rivers: Can Tho Canal City, Vietnam

Cities on Rivers Can Tho

Where else can you see a canal city in Vietnam than the mighty Mekong River delta? Similar to Thailand’s floating market and tea shops, you can find the same on the canals of Can Tho canal city in Vietnam.

Tourists to Vietnam make it a point to shop for several hours in one of the large floating market called “Cai Rang”.

Buy fruits, vegetables, hats, cotton apparels, and myriad handicrafts made by the hard working Vietnamese.

The large network of the canals in Can Tho is part of the “Hau River”.


  1. Cities on Rivers: Bangkok canal City, Thailand

Bangkok canal City

Bangkok being a big tourist destination is crowded perennially and 24/7 too!

This Asian canal city has big and small canals running for as many as 75 km within Bangkok steamy city of top-notch restaurants, bar, and unimaginably busy nightlife due to numerous massage parlors that are run by beautiful Thai women.

The River Chao Phraya runs through the city as canal and sub-canals numbering to approximately 100.

Be wary of not so clean water on the canals. The narrow cul-de-sacs can be risky too, especially if you a foreigner.

So, how do you like these 16 Cities on Rivers are in the world? Which one did you like the most? Leave your feedback please on the commenting box below.

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1 comment

Meenakshi December 4, 2019 - 7:53 am

Nice article 😀 I’m definitely bookmarking this one!


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