The Netherlands is known for its many canals with crooked houses on the side and besides Amsterdam there are lots of Dutch cities with similar views. Of course you can walk along the canals and admire its beauty on foot, but what better way to explore these cities and canals than by kayak?! There are lots of opportunities to do so, but are you allowed to go kayaking in every city? And what are the best cities for kayaking in the Netherlands? We took our inflatable kayak to some of these amazing cities and wrote down our top destinations. In this blog, we’ll give you all our tips!
Our absolute favorite city for kayaking in the Netherlands is Utrecht. It is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, and at first sight the canal views can be compared with the famous Amsterdam canals, BUT without the crowds and less touristy! What we loved about Utrecht is that they have double docks, a higher dock, and a lower dock. Underneath these higher docks there are cellars that lead to the lower docks and the canals. Nowadays many cafes and waterfront terraces are located here. These lower docks are great for entering the water in your kayak, that’s why Utrecht is our number one of the best cities for kayaking in the Netherlands!
We would recommend starting at Oude Gracht aan de Werf where you can find one of these lower docks. Exact location here! When you come by car the nearest parking garage would be Parking Springweg which is only a short stroll from the canals.
Middelburg is a rather unknown city for many, but it’s the capital of the province Zeeland. It’s a small city without feeling like a city at all and it has beautiful canals as well! We loved the beautiful folding bridges which will raise for the boats that won’t fit underneath. The small town vibes were something we really liked as well. Everyone was super friendly over there, there are lots of cute small streets and canals, and it was super quiet when we were there, and that’s what makes this Dutch city great for kayaking!
You can park your car at Dam 38 parking and use the wooden boardwalk in the small harbor to jump into your kayak. This small harbor is a great location to take beautiful shots. Exact location here! From there you can then have a nice kayak ride over the Binnengracht (Inner Canal).
Giethoorn is also called ‘Venice of the Netherlands’. This small polder town has lots of canals that are used as roads to get to the stunning old thatched-roof houses. Many footbridges crisscross over all the canals towards the houses and this altogether makes the views very idyllic. Just like Venice, it can get very crowded with tourists, and the waterways can fill up pretty quickly especially during summer. It’s better to visit before or after peak season for a more peaceful kayak ride.
There is a free parking spot close to the supermarket (Plus) and just north of the parking place is a small canal where you find many boat rental companies. From here you can kayak eastwards and head for the iconic canals with the old Dutch country houses on the side. Most of the canals are a one-way stream, so you can just follow the rental boats around. Exact location of parking here!
Between Rotterdam and The Hague, two big cities, you can find the city of Delft. Like most of the other old Dutch cities, Delft is filled with crooked houses and many canals with cozy terraces on the water. It’s actually built around the canals, so it’s great for kayaking! Delft is also known for its Delfts Blue Porcelain and tiles. So after your kayak ride go check out the city for a bit as well!
You can park your car at Phoenix parking. There is a canal right beside it and there are a few stairs down into the canals to jump in. From here you’ll have great views on the crooked tower of the old church. Exact location to park is here and the exact spot at the canal where we took our shots is here!
Lastly, we haven’t been here ourselves yet but we’ve heard good stories about Leiden. It’s also one of the best cities for kayaking in the Netherlands with many canals that go all around and through the city center. The city is quite big but still has lots of history and a laidback vibe, due to it being a popular student city.
The best place to get in the water with your kayak is at Dok 2. Exact location here! When coming by car you can park it at parking garage Haarlemmerstraat or at the cheese market.
Why is Amsterdam Missing in the Top 5 of These Dutch Cities?
You might wonder why Amsterdam isn’t in this top 5? We actually love Amsterdam, but it’s so touristy and crowded that it didn’t make the top 5 of best cities for kayaking in the Netherlands. We would rather inspire you to explore some of the lesser-known cities as well, cities where you can feel more of the real Dutch vibes.
Our Kayak Gear
We have our own inflatable two-seater kayak from Aqua Marina, the Laxo 320. It’s a sturdy heavy-duty kayak great for going on the canals, but also for rivers and lakes, and ideal for both beginners and advanced paddlers. It has 3 inner air chambers (2 sides and the bottom) and these are fitted in a sturdy, premium polyester outer cover which makes it long-lasting design. The bottom floor of the kayak has a V-shape for outstanding tracking ability and the kayak seats are even adjustable, have a high backrest, spongy cushion, and multiple storage pockets!
Because the kayak is inflatable it’s super easy to transport and take with you. You can put it in the car or even take it with you on the train or bus, which makes it so much easier to take a kayak with you to one of these wonderful Dutch cities or anywhere you want! We also have 2 paddles and we always bring our GoPro for capturing all the beautiful views while we are on the water. The great thing about having your own kayak is that you never have to rent a kayak again, which saves you lots of money in the long run!
Another tip is to go supping on the Dutch canals!
↠ Also read: Travel With a SUP: How to Do It
Bonus Spot: Plansee (Austria)
In case you are done exploring the Netherlands, or rather visit the mountains we can totally recommend the alpine lakes around Austria and Southern Germany. We had a great time kayaking over the beautiful Plansee in Tirol when we took our kayaks with us on an exciting road trip through Europe! Another benefit of having your own kayak: you can take it on a road trip with you 🙂
Read all our other blogs about the Netherlands here!
We sincerely hope you love these recommendations and feel free to tell us your favorite spots for kayaking in the comments below, we would love to hear it!
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