Canals and rivers used to play a vital role in communities’ livelihoods as they transported people and essential goods – Canals were built in England for commercial use at the height of the industrial revolution. When modern modes of transportation relieved most of the world’s canals from freight traffic, canals became places for recreational enjoyment. Today they provide a welcome escape from busy city lives for people to take walks, run, and bike on trails along the waterways; relax and connect with nature and wildlife.
Canals have rich stories to tell. Venice, with its gondolas and dazzling architecture, transport visitors to the 14th century. Amsterdam’s canals demonstrate how the city continues to literally stay afloat through ingenious engineering. Whether natural tributaries, or artificially built waterways, canals reflect their communities’ civic, cultural and economic development.
Self-Guided Canal Tours
Geotourist streams stories of canals that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. For visitors who happen to be near a canal, the app provides a GPS-led, immersive experience to take in history, architecture, nature and wildlife.
Here are a few select stories featured on Geotourist:
Canals of Birmingham, England
The Roundhouse, a Grade II Listed building in Birmingham, was revitalised and restored in 2021, through a landmark partnership with Canal & River Trust, National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Trust.
The Roundhouse offers five self-guided tours for a chance to #SeeTheCityDifferently, and to connect locals and visitors through the unique stories of places around the canals.
Regent’s Canal, London, England
The tour of the Smoke Ring, a 46.5 mile circular walk around London linking green spaces with historic and modern sights, is divided into five stages. The 3rd stage runs from Highbury Corner to Greenwich, including a walk along the Regents canal near Whitmore Bridge.
Ashton Canal, Manchester, England
East Manchester Community Boat Project, a Charitable Organisation, offers canal trips for disabled and disadvantaged people, helping to improve and enhance their conditions of life.
Canals of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Bridge houses that used to control canal traffic have been converted to boutique hotels by the SWEETS hotel. Presented by World Architecture Festival, the tour explores the history and architecture of these tiny structures.
Canals of Venice, Italy
Our walking tour of Venice takes visitors along the twisting network of canals to experience sites away from the crowds.
El Rio Canal in Boca Raton, Florida, USA
The Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum presents a driving tour of historic Boca Raton that explores the El Rio Canal that was created to control the flow of water.
Desjardin Canal, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
A tour of the town of Hamilton covers the story of Desjardins Canal on Lake Ontario. It tells the history of the canal and its impact on the area’s ecology and the environment.
Contact us to tell your destination’s stories, whether it is on a canal, or on any waterfront: