Many popular destinations are defined by one or several unique characteristics that attract travelers, whether it’s the landscape, culture or a specific site. Memphis draws people with its barbecue food and blues music, Versailles is known for its breathtaking namesake palace, Siem Reap for the nearby Temples at Angkor, Pisa for its leaning tower and Venice for its canals. While the latter is arguably the most famous city with streets of water, there are a number of other destinations around the world with a similar claim to fame. The eight destinations on this week’s Bucket List are also canal towns, and while they might not be as famous for their waterways as Venice, they rightfully earn can’t-miss status.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
1 of 8
Thailand's capital city is located in the Chao Phraya River Delta and is home to some 50 districts and countless attractions spread across them. The river and the corresponding canals are truly the arteries of this bustling South East Asian metropolis and help carry locals and visitors through the city, thanks in part to a convenient water taxi system that can deliver you to many of Bangkok's best sights. Along with a visit to the city's breathtaking palace, temples and markets, don't miss a trip down its waterways. There are numerous canal tours available that will float you past some of Bangkok's most notable attractions, as well as the lesser-traveled backwaters. Look for a tour that includes a trip through one of the city's floating markets, where locals sell goods straight from their boats.
Photo by Roberto Faccenda, CC BY-SA 2.0
2 of 8
Dubbed the Venice of Savoie and for good reason, Annecy is an idyllic town located in southeastern France within the northern stretches of the French Alps. It earned its nickname for the canals that cut through it. Annecy's waterways and the colorful buildings that line them aren't the only reason to visit, there are a number of worthwhile draws as well. The town serves as the capital of Haute-Savoie and sits on the shores of Lake Annecy, which is one of its star attractions. People visit to swim in it, sail on it or bike around it. Annecy Castle (Chateau d'Annecy) and Palais d'Isle, a palace turned prison that now serves as a museum, should not be missed either.
Photo by Daniel Jolivet, CC BY 2.0
3 of 8
Fenghuang in Hunan Province is truly a destination unlike anywhere else. This ancient Chinese water town, whose name translates to phoenix, sits on the Tuojiang River. The banks are lined with traditional stilted buildings featuring impressive local architecture. A single-ticket can be purchased to explore most of Fenghuang's sites, including Hong Bridge, East Gate Tower, Wanshou Temple, Gucheng Museum and more. For some seriously idyllic views and one of the most serene ways to enjoy the city, opt for a boat ride down the river, which is also included in the single-ticket. Another perk to visiting Fenghuang is that it's located less than 10 miles from the Southern Great Wall.
Photo by Andrey Samsonov, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
4 of 8
Amsterdam is known for many things and one of them is its canals. The capital of the Netherlands has enough of them to earn the unofficial title of Venice of the North. The city's waterways contain more than 1,500 bridges and are lined with canal houses and house boats aplenty The canals are as worthy an attraction as the city's other popular stops like the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum (State Museum). While you can't miss them during your visit, ample canal cruises of different varieties are available for those looking to explore them a little closer.
Photo by Luc Mercelis, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
5 of 8
In the early 1900s, developer Abbot Kinney set out to recreate Italy's famous canal town in southern California. Today, Venice Beach remains a popular destination as a result. Though not technically its own town, Los Angeles' seaside neighborhood has a unique feel that sets it apart from the rest of the city. Its canals remain one of the most popular attractions, along with Ocean Front Walk, Abbot Kinney district with its cafes and boutique shops, as well as the famous Muscle Beach.
Photo by Armin Rodler, CC BY-NC 2.0
6 of 8
Alappuzha (also called Alleppey) might get pushed from the itineraries of time-crunched backpackers rushing between Darjeeling, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Mumbai and India's others big name stops, but it's absolutely worth a visit. Located in the backwaters of the southeastern state of Kerala, Alappuzha is known for its abundance of canals and the countless boats that occupy them. In similar fashion to many of the other cities on this list, Alappuzha has been dubbed the Venice of the East. The thing to do when visiting the municipality is rent a house boat and tour the waterways, whether for an afternoon or a week. If you happen to be visiting in August, don't miss the Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race. The annual tradition features an intense competition between iconic snake boats, which can carry more than 100 passengers each.
Photo by Liji Jinaraj, CC BY-SA 2.0
7 of 8
Stockholm is spread across 14 islands on Lake Malaren, divided by canals and connected by 50 bridges. In fact, more than 30 percent of Sweden's capital city consists of waterways. Stockholm and its surrounding area is home to countless attractions, including UNESCO World Heritage sites at Birka, Drottningholm Palace and Woodland Cemetery. Its canals are equally as impressive an attraction as the city's others and touring them is a must. Options include exploring the archipelago by kayak, or any of the numerous sightseeing or historical boat tours.
Photo by Thomas Fabian, CC BY-SA 2.0
8 of 8
Like Amsterdam, colorful buildings and canals have earned St. Petersburg, Russia the moniker Venice of the North. The banks of the canals of the Neva River are crossed by hundreds of baroque bridges and lined with historic mansions. The city's historic center is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to a full itinerary of other attractions, including the massive and world-famous art museum the Hermitage. One of the best ways to explore St. Petersburg is by canal and there are several boat tours available that will take you down the waterways and past a number of the city's noteworthy sights.
Photo by Mariano Mantel, CC BY-NC 2.0