Amsterdam is a city of canals and why not experience those canals by staying on a houseboat. This is a fantastic choice of accommodation in Amsterdam and is surprisingly reasonably priced. We found accommodation in Amsterdam quite expensive, but renting a whole houseboat in Amsterdam was very similarly priced as hotels and apartments.
Why Stay in an Amsterdam Houseboat?
An Amsterdam houseboat is a glorified floating apartment complete with all amenities you would expect on land. Some of them look like boats and may even still be able to navigate through the canals. Most of them are floating boxes on concrete pads in the canal. These floating boxes have beautiful windows overlooking the canals, luxurious spa bathrooms, full kitchens, regular toilets and are connected to the water, sewage and electrical lines. You are no sacrificing comfort at all by staying on a houseboat.
For families and larger parties, renting a houseboat (like renting an apartment) can be the best option. You can find 1,2 and 3 bedroom houseboats giving yourselves lots of space. We really appreciate having a kitchen as well to cook some of our meals in, saving costs. It is also really nice to have a home to come home to when you are traveling. Many of the houseboats are located in real neighborhoods, away from the tourist establishments.
When we weren’t busy touring around the city, we really enjoyed relaxing on our floating home and watching canal life go by. There are lots of boats that ply the canals and we had swans that would come visit our window in the evenings.
Factors to Consider
Location is always our number one criteria and I spend lots of time researching when we want to base ourselves. Amsterdam has lots of great areas. Since we travel with kids, we want to make sure we are somewhere central that we can easily get to the main attractions from. Ideally we are located near public transport for those days when our feet get tired. I would recommend staying inside the Prinsengracht canal or at least inside Lijnbaansgracht canal.
The Jordaan neighborhood is one of the best well known in the city with its trendy cafes, winding streets and wonderful markets. The Anne Frank House Museum is located in this neighborhood and the city centre is close by. The houseboat we rented was located in this neighborhood and we really appreciated the feeling of staying in a real, working neighborhood.
There are a range of houseboats available from real, operational boats to the ones built on cement pads that lack any type of propulsion mechanism. The boat style can be very charming with cute cubbies to sleep in and ladders to climb. The floating apartment style tend to be more modern and look and function like a regular apartment. Consider what style you envision for your Amsterdam houseboat experience.
House boats commonly come in studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom varieties. This makes it a great option for families and groups as every one can have their own space. Obviously the larger the houseboat, the more expensive it will be.
We found some really budget houseboats if you were willing to sacrifice space, location and/or comfort. We have lived on a sailboat before so we were tempted to choose one of those tiny homes and save some money. In the end, we opted the splurge (for us) a bit and get a full 2 bedroom apartment style houseboat. It worked out to being not much more then we would have spent to stay in a hostel as a family (that was over $220 CAD/night).
How to Book
We have used VRBO a lot for house rentals and find there are really good quality properties on this site.
Family Houseboat – walking distance to everywhere, 2 bedroom, friendly host, real neighborhood, lovely canal
B & B Houseboat – great houseboat budget option, you are renting a room with private bath in this B&B houseboat, great host, it is located a bit further from the centre, but still a great location.
Canal Houseboat – 2 bedroom, 2 bath, located between the Old City Centre and trendy De Pijp, great for a family or two couples.
Bohemian Houseboat – quirky 1 bedroom, great location in the Jordaan, functional space, perfect for a couple of small family.
We love Tripadvisor to read reviews about potential accommodation, but did you know you can book directly through them? There are some houseboat vacation rentals listed on Tripadvisor and you can read reviews and book all in one spot. Here a few to consider:
Mallees Houseboat – good budget option, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, close to Vondel Park, fully winterized
Pantheos Romantic Houseboat – receives great reviews, located near the Jordaan, 1 bedroom/1 bath houseboat, friendly owner
Authentic Houseboat City Centre – completely renovated 2 bedroom, in a quieter area, but still close to all of the attractions
Houseboat Trijntje – 2 bedroom/1 bath boat style houseboat, located on the Princengracht, very unique and cute
We booked our houseboat in HomeAway and there quite a few listed to choose from. HomeAway offers holiday vacation rentals and we have always been really happy with the places we have booked on this site. You can sort by accommodation type and select “boat” to see all the houseboats available.
We stayed in the 2 bedroom houseboat “Forte” in the Jordaan area – Houseboat “Forte”
Click here to see HomeAway houseboats available.
Since Airbnb is so popular as a vacation apartment rental service, it is not surprising that they have tapped into the Amsterdam houseboat market. There is even a feature to select houseboats under type of accommodation on the Amsterdam Airbnb website.
Click here to see available houseboats for rent.
If you do not already have an Airbnb account, use this link to save $50 off your first booking.
We were so glad we decided to spend our time in Amsterdam on a houseboat. It was a really unique and special experience that we will always remember. The only downside was that I wished we had more time to relax at our houseboat. We were so busy touring around the city that we didn’t spend as much time in our cute little floating home.
If you are visiting Amsterdam, you might also like our Things to do In Amsterdam post.
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