In northeastern Italy, there lies a city separated by hush canals and linked by old stone bridges. This is Venice — a renowned European aquapolis that has drawn in so many tourists from around the world. Its distinguished vibe has led several countries aspiring to be called the Venice of the East or the Venice of the North — and to some extent, we can probably see why.
Among the long list of destinations holding this grandiose moniker, here is a closer look into the most popular Venetian-like cities in Northern Europe and North America.
15 cities that are known as The Venice of the North
1. Saint Petersburg, Russia
Previously, I learned that Saint Petersburg holds the title “the Paris of the East.” Unsurprisingly, this artistic city also presents itself as the Venice of the North. Saint Petersburg not only graces tourists with impressive architecture and art museums; it also stuns them with ever-flowing river at its heart.
Some must-see attractions in Saint Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Peterhof Palace, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Nevsky Avenue, Peter and Paul Fortress, Vasilyevsky Island
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
A quaint metropolis of canals and cafés, Amsterdam is recognized as another Venice of the North. In fact, this big city boasts of over 1,500 stone bridges and a 17th-century canal ring — the latter being a proud site in UNESCO’s World Heritage list!
Some must-see attractions in Amsterdam: Dam Square, Oude Kerk, Nieuwe Kerk, Kanalen of Amsterdam, Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam, Hermitage Amsterdam, The Red Light District
3. Giethoorn, Netherlands
Aside from Amsterdam, there is a smaller slice of Venice in the Netherlands: a lovely, flowering village named Giethroorn. But while Venice made transportation via gondolas popular, Giethoorn takes its waterways a step further — here, there are no roads. This said, this sleepy Dutch town only allows travel through foot (it dons stunning wooden bridges) or boats — making this village as tranquil and idyllic as can be.
Some must-see attractions in Giethoorn: Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus, De Weerribben-Wieden National Park, Giethoorn Center, Molengat, Weerribben Giethoorn, Histomobil
4. Bruges, Belgium
Another canal-based city, Bruges is hailed as the Venice of the North in Belgium. Like the Floating City, Bruges also helped in the development of its country through its ports of trade. Today, this charming town continues to reel travelers in with its dreamy storybook expanse: cobblestone streets, gabled houses, blossoming landscapes sprawl abundantly across Bruges.
Some must-see attractions in Bruges: Markt, Belfry of Bruges, Church of Our Lady Bruges, Basilica of the Holy Blood, Groeninge Museum, Bruges City Hall
5. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, another Venice of the North, is an iconic city in Sweden that is also hailed as the “Beauty on Water.” Having 30-percent of its area made up of water, Stockholm dons several bridges that cross over to vibrant landmarks and stunning structures. With its abundance of canals, this city is also famous during the winter: tourists flock to Stockholm to try out ice skate sailing in the frozen waters.
Some must-see attractions in Stockholm: Vasa Museum, Skansen, The Royal Palace, Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm City Hall, ABBA the Museum
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
Home to numerous stunning canals, Copenhagen draws tourists with its idyllic charm. Vibrant rowhouses line its edges, with boats ever ready to transport people across town. Aside from being a Venice of the North, Copenhagen is also known for being “the happiest city in the world.”
Some must-see attractions in Copenhagen: Tivoli Gardens, The Little Mermaid, Rosenborg Castle, Amalienborg, Christiansborg Palace
7. Hamburg, Germany
It’s no surprise that many people compare Hamburg to Venice. The city has over 2,300 bridges that hover above tranquil waters, after all! But beyond its waterways, Hamburg also boasts of many cultural wonders: museums, theaters, and world-renowned musical venues.
Some must-see attractions in Hamburg: Elbphilharmonie, Miniatur Wunderland, Reeperbahn, St. Michael’s Church, Townhall, Planten un Blomen
8. Manchester, United Kingdom
A highly urbanized area, Manchester hushes down its bustling streets with its stretches of water. At the heart of Manchester, there are approximately 10 miles of canals running through, leading tourists to art galleries, museums, and other attractions.
Some must-see attractions in Manchester: Old Trafford, National Football Museum, Science and Industry Museum, Etihad Stadium, The Lowry, Manchester Cathedral
9. Birmingham, United Kingdom
Like Manchester, Birmingham also dons a plethora of canals — so much so that many people have started believing that the city has more canals than Venice. While this isn’t necessarily true, Birmingham is nevertheless worth a visit. Its industrial canals are only the cherry on top of this quiet city of the United Kingdom.
Some must-see attractions in Birmingham: Cadbury World, National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Black Country, High Street, Thinktank Science Museum
10. Alesund, Norway
The quaint town of Alesund mostly makes noise because of it being the Venice of the North in Norway. Its city channel, Brosundet, makes one of the most photogenic spots in the country. Along the streets, beautiful colored houses, museums, art nouveau buildings, and cafés dot Alesund.
Some must-see attractions in Alesund: Atlantic Sea-Park, Sunnmøre Museum, Aksla, Alnes Fyr, Jugendstilsenteret, Godøy
11. Tigre, Argentina
The New York Times once described Tigre as “what Venice might have looked like before development” because of its islands and canals. Since then, the moniker stuck. Tourists now flock to Tigre to sneak a peek into this canal-based town. What awaits them are Victorian-inspired mansions, magnificent architecture, stilted houses, and, of course, soothing waterways.
Some must-see attractions in Tigre: Costa Cerrado, Museo de Arte de Tigre, Aquafan, Trilenium Casino, Museo Naval de la Nación, Catamarans Delta
12. Amiens, France
Turquoise waters run through Amiens, a curious small town in France. What especially is reminiscent of Venice in this city is the Saint Leu district, a fairytale-like area peppered with canal-side restaurants and flamboyant houses. Although less popular than its neighboring cities, Amiens certainly makes a top tourist destination.
Some must-see attractions in Amiens: Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens, Jules Verne House, Musée De Picardie, Zoo Amiens Métropole, Tour Perret, St. Pierre Park
13. Leeds, United Kingdom
Just recently, Leeds rose to fame with its free water taxis which travelers found fascinating. Mostly, the water taxis allow passengers to travel to and from the Granary Wharf and Leeds dock. With this rising feature, several people have started calling Leeds “the Venice of the North” — a promising additional title to this historical gem.
Some must-see attractions in Leeds: Harewood House, Royal Armouries Museum, Roundhay Park, Temple Newsam, National Coal Mining Museum for England, RHS Garden Harlow Carr
14. Annecy, France
“The Venice of the Alps” and “The Venice of France” are just some nicknames Annecy has claimed over the years. Three canals flow across this flourishing lakeside city; old town stone bridges crisscross the area. Most of Annecy sits on a glassy lake that runs through its cunning villages and flowering banks.
Some must-see attractions in Annecy: La Volière de l’Impérial, Basilique Saint-Joseph-des-Fins, Porte Perrière, Lake Annecy, Porte Perrière, Château d’Annecy
15. Stralsund, Germany
While Stralsund is famously called the “Gate to Rügen Island”, it is also often compared to Venice because of its rich culture, beautiful architecture, and many waterways. Dressed in North German Gothic brickwork, this Hanseatic town is a must-see in Germany. In fact, it’s been on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for years!
Other cities known as the Venice of the North
- Arendal, Norway
- Aveiro, Portugal
- Bamberg, Germany
- Bornholm, Denmark
- Bourton-on-the-Water, United Kingdom
- Bulandet and Værlandet, Norway
- Bydgoszcz, Poland
- Colmar, France
- Emden, Germany
- Friedrichstadt, Germany
- Gdansk, Poland
- Glasgow-Maryhill, United Kingdom
- Haapsalu, Estonia
- Henningsvær, Norway
- Kalisz, Poland
- Leeds, United Kingdom
- Lübeck, Germany
- Papenburg, Germany
- Passau, Germany
- Schwerin, Germany
- Skipton, United Kingdom
- Stralsund, Germany
- Strasbourg, France
- Svolvær, Norway
- Wroclaw, Poland
Which Venice of the East city will you be visiting first?