The Herengracht is a famous street and canal in Amsterdam's historic Canal Ring district surrounding the Old Centre. It is one of 3 major canals built during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. When Amsterdam began to expand, the area became a fashionable address for wealthy Dutch merchants. They displayed their wealth by building double-wide mansions with opulent interiors imported from Asia.

    The half-circular Canal Ring and Herengracht are some of the loveliest neighbourhoods to discover Amsterdam's history and unique mix of modern and traditional architecture. Many of the buildings on Herengracht Street now house boutiques, cafes and restaurants, plus world-renowned museums. So whether you're interested in culture, architecture or old-world charm, there's something for everyone to enjoy along the Herengracht.

    Herengracht in Amsterdam - one of the highlights of 10 Fun Ways to Explore Amsterdam (Read all about Amsterdam here)

    What are the highlights of the Herengracht?

    The Herengracht (and the entire Canal District) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So you can expect to find historical and architectural gems at every turn. A top museum to visit is the Het Grachtenhuis (The Museum of the Canals). The museum tells the incredible history and building of Amsterdam's Canal Ring via audio, films and interactive displays.

    The most prestigious section of the Herengracht is the Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend). This area lies between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat. Lining the Golden Bend are magnificent mansions with gorgeous fronts. The best time to take photos of the buildings is before sunset when sunlight strikes the facades.

    The only canal house on the Golden Bend open to the public is number 497: Kattenkabinet. Besides exploring the beautifully restored mansion, you can visit an art museum displaying cat-related art. Movie fans might recognise the house as one of the locations in the film Ocean's Twelve (2004).

    What else can you do on the Herengracht?

    There are several museums worth visiting when you're exploring the Herengracht. The Biblical Museum houses a collection of Judeo-Christian relics, artefacts from ancient Egypt, and a copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls. At the Willet-Holthuysen Museum, you can explore a stately 17th-century canal mansion and see how the wealthy lived and lavishly decorated their homes. There is also a remarkable collection of art on display.

    Another highlight of the Herengracht is the Reguliersgracht on the southern end. It is one of the most picturesque canals in the city centre. Stand where Reguliersgracht joins Herengracht to see 15 bridges in all directions. This spot is a great photo opportunity and sought after by photographers – especially at night when the bridges and canals are lit up.

    Floating down the Herengracht canal on a boat is an unforgettable way to explore the Amsterdam canal ring. Options include guided boat tours, romantic dinner cruises and hop-on-hop-off services.

    Good to know about the Herengracht

    An excellent place to begin exploring the Herengracht is on the canal's northern side at Herenmarkt Square. It is only a 5-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal. You can also get there by bicycle, with rentable bikes available at the city's main railway station, Leidseplein and Dam Square, among other locations.

    As you make your way southeast along the Herengracht, check out several tourist sites along the neighbouring canals of Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht, and other smaller waterways. Recommended sites include The Anne Frank HouseWesterkerk and Rijksmuseum

    Shoppers can browse the boutiques, vintage stores and jewellers in a tiny neighbourhood called Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets). This area is off the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel canals. The quarter also offers a great selection of cafes and restaurants.

    Herengracht in Amsterdam

    Jacqui de Klerk | Contributing Writer

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