The best houseboat accommodations on the Amsterdam canals
Amsterdam is a city that never disappoints when it comes to entertaining visitors in unique, exciting ways. One of those ways is the use of houseboats as a form of accommodation. The extensive canal network in the centre of Amsterdam is also a unique residential area. The colourful houseboats along the banks of the canals offer all the comfort of an ordinary house and some of them can be rented for a truly unique stay in Amsterdam! Of course, renting a houseboat can be a bit pricy, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Amsterdam Houseboats are a typical phenomenon for in the Netherlands. You will find these floating houses in various canals all over the city and in total there are 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam. According to the Amsterdam municipality, this number is not growing anytime soon, because the municipality has set the limit at 2500 boats. Nowadays, houseboats in Amsterdam are connected to the electricity grid and sewage system.
There are different types of houseboats in Amsterdam. Many are built as such, but there are also cargo ships and yachts converted into houseboats, and you can stay on the houseboats in the winter as well as in the summer. It is not possible to sail with houseboats, they are fixed at their own berth and are connected to the electricity grid and the sewer system of the city. Houseboats have everything a house has: a normal water supply, toilet and bathroom; all houseboats are well heated during the winter months and most have central heating.
Bookable houseboat accommodations in Amsterdam
Interested in staying in a houseboat in Amsterdam? Check out our list below with some of the best houseboat accommodations, in different price categories. We’ve only selected the finest houseboat bed & breakfast places for you. They are all screened on their permit from the government and their Chamber of Commerce registration. Are you determined to stay on a boat accommodation during your stay? We strongly recommend checking availability on BookaHouseboat.com, a local booking site dedicated to floating accommodations in and near Amsterdam!
Sachsen-Anhalt – retired cruise ship in a quiet part of Amsterdam
This former cruise ship is now permanently moored in the Eastern Docklands, east of the city centre of Amsterdam. This fairly quiet neighbourhood makes this accommodation a great fit for (small) families, or travellers that enjoy a break from the hectic city. At the same time, within a few hundred metres from the houseboat, any required facilities can be found; bars, restaurants and supermarkets. The location is also great in combination with a bicycle, you can blend in with the Amsterdam locals and explore the entire city by bike. Alternatively, you can also use public transport; there’s a tram and bus stop within 100 metres from the vessel.
The boat itself is comfortably fitted with all you can wish for; a bathroom with shower and bathtub, a tiny kitchen and of course Wi-Fi. The modern interior of the accommodation can be described as quirky, but functional. A nice extra to this accommodation is plenty of outdoor space on the terrace with a fireplace, where you can sit back and relax after a long day. A maximum of three people can be hosted, there’s one double bed and a sofa bed, and for babies and toddlers, there’s a baby bed available. Both the accommodation and host are praised by happy guests for their hospitality!
Romantic classic houseboat in the centre of Amsterdam
Right in the centre of Amsterdam, you’ll find this romantic, historic houseboat. It is moored at a superb location, close to city hall. This offers a great opportunity to explore the city by foot or by bike, as most highlights are within walking distance, and there are plenty of connections with public transport in any direction.
This 100-year-old shipping barge is completely rebuilt for its second life as a classic houseboat in Amsterdam. The interior is done in the classical Amsterdam style. It is comfortable, yet simple and reminds us of the style seen in the classical brown cafes. The houseboat features a living area, a bedroom with a king-size bed and a bathroom with shower. On top of that, the boat also features a tiny terrace where you can sit outside and enjoy the passing boats and typical Amsterdam landscape. Do note; that to enter this cosy accommodation, you will need to climb a relatively steep stair, so it might not be the best fit for people with impaired mobility.
B&B Mar – comfortable, modern houseboat
East of the city centre, you can book your own little studio on a houseboat. This houseboat is moored in a fairly quiet street but yet within walking distance from highlights in the centre such as Dam Square, the Red Light District and Amsterdam Central Station. Therefore, this accommodation is an ideal hideaway for anyone looking for a city trip to Amsterdam to explore its highlights by foot or by bike.
B&B Mar is a studio on board of what we call in Dutch a “woonark”. Basically, this type of houseboat was never built to sail but has always been built for the purpose of being a floating house. This comes with some perks in terms of comfort, as the sole purpose of the “boat” was always to comfortably house its inhabitants or guests. This is perfectly reflected in this accommodation; it’s modern and luxurious. The floor-to-ceiling windows give you a magnificent view over the canal, where you can watch the boats pass by as you’re having breakfast. The warm, wooden interior will make you feel at home instantly!
Excelsior – ECO-friendly Houseboat
Away from, but close to the busy city centre, you will find this eco-friendly, luxurious houseboat where you can rent your very own loft. This fully renovated shipping barge now has two separate rooms that can be rented for a unique stay in the city of Amsterdam. The boat is permanently moored in “Oude Houthaven” which literally translates to “Old Wood Harbour” towards the west of Amsterdam. It’s a quiet part of the city close to Westerpark. The accommodation is great for travellers who are looking for a rest in a peaceful hideaway. Getting to the city centre can be done on foot 20-40 minutes or by bicycle which will take 10-20 minutes. Rental bicycles are available at the accommodation.
The rooms on the boat are compact yet fitted with everything one can possibly wish for. There are kingsize beds, space to sit and eat and a fully fitted, modern bathroom that features a bathtub, with windows overlooking the water. The interior is completely modernized with only the windows with water views that remind you of being on a former shipping barge. The owner and host of the boat has also invested in making the ship eco-friendly reducing emissions for heating to zero!
50’s style houseboat apartment – 2 bedroom family getaway
In Zeeburg, a quiet neighbourhood away from the busy city centre, you can book this comfortable two-bedroom houseboat. From the accommodation, it’s best to use a bicycle or public transport to make your way to the city centre. The boat itself has a unique story to it, as it’s in fact part of modern history. This concrete vessel was built to transport ammunition and fuel over the British channel to help the Allied forces free Europe from German occupation. The current owners of the barge have had it completely renovated and fitted with anything needed to make it a comfortable home.
In its current state, this houseboat has all the comfort one can wish for to make it a wonderful accommodation for families. The boat has two bedrooms, one with a double bed and one with two bunk beds, that kids will love! The interior and bathroom are modernized and the floors are comfortably heated. To top it off, the boat also offers some outdoor space in the form of a terrace where one can sit back after a long day in the hectic city.
Luxurious, modern houseboat – on the Prinsengracht
In the heart of the city, near the popular Nine Streets, you’ll find this wonderful, new houseboat. Due to its excellent location, this accommodation will let you explore all of Amsterdam’s highlights on foot. Pretty much everything is within walking distance. Major museums such as the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum can be reached with a fifteen-minute walk to the Museum Square. However, you can of course still choose to rent a bicycle and blend in with the locals.
The accommodation itself is modern and fitted with all the comfort one can wish for, including floor heating. The owners of the houseboat live on the boat as well, but your privacy is guaranteed in your own private suite with a private entrance. On this houseboat, there are two of those suites available; a Van Gogh suite and a Rembrandt suite. Both suites have their own private bathrooms and romantic views over the beautiful Prinsengracht. All-in-all this accommodation is a great choice for a romantic get away!
Houseboats: the floating homes of Amsterdam
The original houseboats are beautifully restored ships that remind us of the shipping and trade history of Amsterdam. Many of these ships are more than 100 years old and still have the old characteristics in addition to modern facilities such as electricity, heating and tap water. Modern houseboats also appeared in the 1960s and 1970s to meet the growing demand for housing. This type of houseboat is built on a floating pontoon and usually has no motor. Luxurious houseboats, sometimes with multiple floors and equipped with terraces and gardens, are located in the most picturesque canals of Amsterdam.
Living on an Amsterdam Houseboat
Amsterdam houseboats became world-famous in 1988, after being in the news when the Dutch men’s football team, Orange, was celebrated in the capital city after winning the European Football Championship that was hosted by Germany. Festive Orange supporters were dancing on top of the houseboats, causing a number of boats to be severely damaged. Both the celebrations and the damages made the news, and from there, Amsterdam houseboats were introduced to the world.
Living on a houseboat in Amsterdam has always been popular since the 19th-century. The canals cross the city everywhere, the perspective on the water is calming and boats offer a lot of privacy. Over the centuries, more and more canals have been built with expansions of Amsterdam. The centre once had 74 canals, of which 18 were unfortunately filled in at the end of the 19th century to make the city more accessible to traffic. With city expansions in the 19th and 20th centuries, a further 22 canals were dug around the old city centre.
Apart from water management and habitation, it is also clear from a houseboat that the canals are often used as a route to make city tours. Canal boats are constantly sailing through the most popular canals. In recent years, it has also become very popular among the residents of Amsterdam to sail around with small boats during the summer months. Weekends are often dedicated to sailing around with friends and families with drinks and food on board.
In the summer there is the annual Amsterdam Gay Pride, where the canals are full of boats, colourful visitors listening breathlessly on the bridges and the fascinated onlookers watching from their windows. There is also the annual Amsterdam Light Festival in the winter where artists from all over the world install their creative works of art on the canals for visitors to admire.
Houseboats in Amsterdam are permanently located at a specific address. A special mooring permit gives the owner the right to moor his boat at a specific location. They are popular permits and, like everywhere else, the value of a houseboat is partly determined by a good location. Houseboats on the Herengracht and Prinsengracht usually go for a lot of money.
Where can you find houseboats in Amsterdam?
Around 2,500 households are lucky enough to live on one of the houseboats on the historic waterways of Amsterdam. Some of the most expensive and luxurious houseboats can be found in the neighbourhoods in the city centre, such as the Jordaan. During a canal cruise, which every visitor should experience, you will see some of the most beautiful houseboats in the city. A lot of Amsterdam houseboats are located on the main canals like the Prinsengracht and the Herengracht, and also in other parts of the city, like the neighbourhoods surrounding the Amsterdam Central Station and opposite the Heineken Brewery.
Tip: To find out more about living on a houseboat, you can visit the Houseboat Museum on the Prinsengracht. There you board a boat that was built in 1914 and one which housed a Dutch family for more than 20 years. The original living space gives a lot of insight into this way of life.
Amsterdam Houseboats: Accommodation on the canals
Nothing beats sleeping on a houseboat, your own quiet place in a busy city. Houseboats have also become a unique place for visitors to Amsterdam in recent years. Book an overnight stay on a canal to experience the convenience of a downtown location and let yourself be lulled by the water. And the next morning, be awakened by croaking ducks by your window.
Sleeping in an Amsterdam Houseboat
Looking for a nice and original accommodation in Amsterdam? Then spend the night on an Amsterdam houseboat. Below we listed some popular websites where you can find available houseboats in Amsterdam for rent. Most of them can be booked via Booking.com. At the moment Booking.com offers 32 different houseboats in Amsterdam.
Why should you rent a houseboat in Amsterdam?
Let’s be honest; we all try to do something different when we travel, but usually most of us end up doing the same. Travelling should be about new experiences and booking a houseboat in Amsterdam is certainly a lot more exciting than another night in a hotel. Below are some reasons why you should definitely book a houseboat on your next visit to Amsterdam.
1. Get a new perspective of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is quite a contrast with most cities in Europe. As you know, bicycles are preferred over cars and apart from the red-light district, famous museums and liberal drug laws, the city is best known for some really beautiful canals.
But what is so special about the canals? Well, they look simple, but more importantly, they offer a completely different perspective of the city. That means that everything looks different from the water, in contrast to the nearby streets or the cycling paths that run on either side of the canal. Streaming from left to right in every pocket of the city, these canals are also lined with colourful brick buildings, lush elms and friendly residents.
Renting a houseboat in Amsterdam is a great way to discover the heart of the city. These canals are, after all, the heartbeat of Amsterdam or at least the bloodstream. Everything feels connected on the water and there is clearly more to see when you look out of the window of your houseboat as opposed to one of the nearby hotels.
2. On a houseboat, see and hear the beauty that is the city of Amsterdam
When you rent a houseboat for the first time, you will realise why Amsterdam is such a beautiful city. As your houseboat is moored along the quay, you watch the waters flow, ducks and geese swim by and a large variety of boats pass your temporary floating holiday home. These sights also come with sounds. There is nothing as beautiful as the sound of quacking ducks to wake you up in the morning.
Apart from staying in a houseboat, you can also rent a boat to sail on the numerous canals in Amsterdam. As you make your way through the canals, the environment constantly changes, revealing the beauty of the city of clogs, her picturesque bridges and the sights and sounds of the old Amsterdam. You can feel the wind change with the weather and float from one neighbourhood to another, the facades are always colourful with vintage shops, coffeeshops, art galleries and historical monuments at every turn. That beauty is really something unique that can only be seen and heard from the old canals.
3. You get your money’s worth
When it comes to new experiences, renting a houseboat in Amsterdam is certainly the most unique accommodation option, not to mention the canal is the most interesting way to explore the city. With this in mind, renting a houseboat is always worth the money (if you make sure to rent with the right people).
4. Booking a houseboat is safe, easy and super fun
Houseboats in Amsterdam are heavily regulated by the municipality so they are very safe, and people who have (and rent out) houseboats usually need a permit to do so. Houseboats are usually equipped with all necessary facilities. The bathrooms have a shower, toilet and sink and the kitchens are fully equipped with a coffee maker, refrigerator, two-burner stove and kitchen inventory.
While staying in a houseboat, you will sleep as you do in a cabin with a double bed or a bunk bed. The terrace (and the roof terrace) of your houseboat are equipped with garden furniture. Many of the houseboats are also child-friendly so your children will definitely love staying there.
Renting a houseboat on the aforementioned websites is also very easy and fun. While booking, you can filter by price, rating and recommendations. And then you will get an extensive list of available houseboats in Amsterdam or in your vicinity.
Tip: take a moment to sit on your houseboat’s balcony and take in the surroundings with the many animals and boats passing by. You would love it!
Have you ever stayed in an Amsterdam houseboat? Did you like it, and would you recommend it to your family and friends? Let us know in the comments.