I will never understand why people feel the need to use the name “Venice of the North” when referring to various cities in northern Europe (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Hamburg etc). Yes, I know, they all have canals, they are all built on water and there is an extended use of boats as a mean of transportation. But, still, why do we have to compare them all with Venice? Venice may be very beautiful and romantic, but all of these cities are places in their own right, they are not “small” or “big” versions of Venice. There are no gondolas on their canals, or, if there are, they are probably the most kitsch things that you will see (or they were forcedly introduced by someone that feels the need to compare the city with Venice in the hope that they’ll get more money). If I could, I would ask to all the people that are writing tourist guides to give up once and for all calling Amsterdam “The Venice of the North”, (if only they would read my blog!)
I have heard tourists complaining about the fact that, “Amsterdam is not Venice, not by far!” Well, if you want to see Venice, you would go to Venice, I would argue. If you come to Amsterdam, you’ll see no trace of Venice (even if you might hear a lot of Italian spoken on the streets). You will see a lot of stunning canals and bridges, a lot of boats, houseboats, flowers and beautiful architecture. You’ll see beautiful, cosy neighbourhoods, if you go off the beaten path. You’ll see a crazy, swarming rivers of tourists if you stay in the centre. You’ll see beautiful parks, windmills, many bikes, coffee shops and the Red Light District. And many other things that make Amsterdam such a lovely and unique city. And then you will love or hate Amsterdam for what it is, but not for not being something else that it is not.
Now, let’s just admire some of the lovely canals of Amsterdam: