The majesty of Venice’s grand canals is truly astonishing and it makes for a unique travel destination. Did you know there are other equally charming floating cities? Water is the center of these city destinations and they grant the same ethereal feeling as Venice does (or even better!). Check out these 7 floating cities to plan your next travel destination:
Wuzhen Water Town, China
An ancient city full brimming with extraordinary history, Wuzhen Water Town is the place to travel to in China. The 1300-year-old town rests at the center of the golden triangle of three other ancient cities, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. Examples of fine traditional Chinese architecture, including old houses, bars and grand temples can be seen here.
The water canals frame this town beautifully, and when the canal’s streetlights are lit, the magical ambiance is taken up to a new level. The Wuzhen Water Town is revered by Chinese locals as well as tourists for its preservation of Chinese culture and heritage as well as its environmentally friendly ways of maintenance. Travel to Wuzhen Water Town for not only an incredible sight of a floating town, but also for rich Chinese history.
This Bavarian city island is framed by a gorgeous harbor. Lindau in Germany provides an optical illusion of a canal city, with its unique and open landscape. Lindau’s beautiful lighthouses are nautical wonders that frame the city perfectly.
One signature landmark is their Neuer Leuchtturm or “New Lighthouse” in German. Neuer Leuchtturm dates back to 1853 and their Mangturm (Old Lighthouse) dates as far back as the 13th century. While Mangturm can’t be climbed up all the time, the Neuer Leuchtturm’s tall height above the harbor makes it perfect for viewing the island.
The boardwalk envelopes the city while splitting the lake, making the town look as if it was floating on the water. As you step along the boardwalk, from harbor to the inner city, you’re met with a picturesque German town. Lindau’s cobblestone streets are filled with local markets and street vendors full of rich German foods. Along with posh restaurants and cafes, the old European architecture is a lovely sight for a travel lover, with quaint houses and towers on every corner.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Inle Lake in Myanmar features floating gardens scattered across the water, where locals grow native produce. Much of the town’s architecture is simple and very involved in the natural landscape, with wooden constructed huts and houses suspended over the water on bamboo stilts.
Kay Lar Ywa is the name of the community which resides on the small cities resting on Inle Lake. The Intha, or residents of Inle Lake, sail from one destination to another by boat. Thick heavy vegetation covers the waterways, making rowing difficult. So, Intha locals typically stand to row their boats to get a better grip on their paddles.
Along with harvesting crops from the land and the floating gardens, there’s tons of rice cultivation. The city is not only astounding for literally floating above Inle Lake, but also for the Intha culture. The Intha locals make any travel lover feel right at home, providing cozy hotels on the mainland, the freshest cuisine cooked with homegrown ingredients and hand-crafted textiles and carvings. The local market sometimes takes to the water, selling and trading on boats, now known as the “floating market”. Inle Lake is truly the lifeline of this wondrous town.
A Victorian town with canals running as its bloodstream, Bruges is a can’t-miss travel destination. Sail along Bruges canals to the old Elizabethan buildings, full of rich Belgium history.
Certain recreational areas are only accessible by boat, which makes them even more enchanting since they’re somewhat “hidden away”. You sail to private gardens, dock down and stroll around them and even have a picnic. Magnificent stone bridges much like ones you’d see along the Venice canals tower above you as you float along.
Bruges focuses on preserving its past with art and history museums. Bruges includes bubbly antique shops, the highly renowned College of Europe, and also, swans are frequent swimmers around the canals. Travel to Bruges for a canal town bursting with old European charm.
Ancient Mayan history is just around the corner on the island of Flores in Guatemala. As the island which holds Tikal, the most famous Mayan ruins in Guatemala, Flores is a floating city many people travel to.
One sky-high view of the island is enough to set it over the top, with almost all the buildings and houses covered in vibrant red roofing. Latin American cities usually have very colorful architecture, and the island’s buildings have varying hues which look beautiful against the waterways.
Tasty Guatemalan foods fill the town’s cobblestone streets, foods that locals fish and grow themselves. Also, street food is a must, with many treats to try, from homemade fried bread to scrumptious almond cakes.
While the city streets aren’t filled with water, Flores’ culture lies in its surrounding Lago Petén Itzá. There’s a cobblestone road path that encircles the entire island’s perimeter. So you can walk along that path and feel like you’re floating on a line between the land and water.
If you want a taste of European life without the hustle and bustle of Venice, Giethoorn is your place. Giethoorn is without a doubt a water village, where the water is right outside your front door. The visuals of this village are charming, with cottage-style houses and small wooden bridges. Most houses have nothing but a small lawn in front, while the canals act as the water road they travel on to other parts of town. Rent one of their boats in the morning and sail along the canals.
After grabbing a bite, sail further and visit their local “Her Olde Maat Uus” and “Museum de Oude Aarde” museums. Little wooden docksides frame the city districts, perfect for parking your boats along. Especially, there are the wooden fences around the land areas and native flora and fauna. There’s also enthralling Dutch countryside you can tour by bike, completing your experience at the intimate Giethoorn floating fairytale village.
Mexicaltitan is a seasonal island paradise, commonly known as the “Mexican Venice”. Right off the coast of Mexico, Mexicaltitan becomes a city full of canals as soon as the rainy season comes along. Conjuring up one of these floating cities is a neat trick indeed!
The city’s sidewalks and five main streets fill modestly with rainwater and the Mexicaltitan locals swap bikes for boats to get around. Handcrafted boats float along the streets, and curvy Mexican-style houses and buildings complement the pretty boats sailing by.
While the island population is small, markets across the island sell beautiful clothing and hand-crafted knickknacks. Also, seeing the waterways of the town lead you from one cultural hotspot to another, you’ll definitely feel at peace simply traveling along. Large palm trees and mangrove trees line every lane of Mexicaltitan, making it a tropical canal city to remember.
All of these floating cities rely on their waterways to thrive. These canal towns all have their own incredible history, culture and lifestyles which we could all learn from (even if our usual commute isn’t by sailboat). Check out these “Venices” of the world and prepared to be astonished by the splendor of the floating cities.