World's Most Beautiful Canal Cities
Hideo Kurihara / Alamy
This small town outside Amsterdam grew up in swampy marshland, and the solution of 12th-century peat farmers was to dig canals to transport their goods. Giethoorn still possesses four miles of waterways, crisscrossed by more than 150 wood footbridges and with lush front yards sloping from thatched-roof houses down to the water’s edge. Roads do not extend to the central old town, so 2,500 residents get around mostly by punting.
How to Do It Right: Venture out on your own by renting a battery-powered “whisper boat” from B&B Mol Groenewegen.