Have you ever dreamed of staying on a houseboat in Amsterdam? I always wanted to wake up on the canals when I visited the city and just recently we did it! I broke every rule of building up expectations. I was extremely excited about this experience. And I was not let down. It was a beautiful way to spend a long weekend in Amsterdam.
The romance of Amsterdam’s canals
Amsterdam has its fans for many reasons but for me it is all about those gorgeous canals, art, flowers and coffee. But mostly the canals. There is something so magical about a city built on or around water that attracts people no matter where they are from.
A few years ago I read Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist set in and around 17th century Amsterdam’s bustling canals and I’ve been plotting a way to enjoy canal living ever since.
Houseboats of Amsterdam
Moored along the canals you will find many beautiful houseboats. It seems like there are thousands of the unique dwellings. Actually, there are actually only 2,400 houseboats allowed in Amsterdam. This is policed via a permit system. In the central canal system, you find only 750 houseboats. So it really is quite a special experience.
There are two types of houseboat in the city. The first type are older wooden ships converted into dwellings and the second are called house arks and are built on concrete pontoons.
The first type are incredibly romantic however require a lot of maintenance so the house arks are understandably popular.
Our Amsterdam houseboat
I say OUR houseboat but of course, it was merely on loan to us for a short while. We were extremely comfortable on the boat which is fitted out with everything you could possibly need for your stay. We enjoyed a full-size bed, space for our travel cots and a comfy couch to relax and watch the passing boat and duck traffic.
Our boat also had a sparkling kitchen and bathroom and all the modern conveniences you expect these days such as wifi. Best of all were all the vases of tulips around the boat and on the deck. I love flowers and these were the perfect homey touch.
My favourite part of the houseboat was the deck. Here we could sit and watch the passing boats and bikes. Our children loved waving at the tourists on the passing canal boat tours and feeding the ducks.
The boat actually belongs to a lovely guy called Fake (pronounced Fah-keh) who was an incredible help with our car, kids and luggage. He has an amazing music collection on vinyl and we spent the afternoons reminiscing to 70s and 80s classics.
Where to find our houseboat in Amsterdam
Really we were so lucky. The location of the houseboat was amazing. We were just a few steps from the Anne Frank house and right on the edge of the Jordaan neighbourhood. Famous for its cafes, galleries and weekly Noordermarkt organic farmers’ market, the Jordaan was the perfect neighbourhood for us.
We loved the buzz of the cafes and locals going about their daily lives but it was quiet enough in the evening to enjoy a good night’s rest. As it was Easter we woke to the sounds of the bells of the nearby Westerkerk. We could not have wished for a more atmospheric stay.
Planning a trip to Amsterdam? Learn more about staying in the Jordaan and 4 other Amsterdam neighbourhoods
Recently I wrote about how we like to vary our accommodation choices when we travel. We have stayed in many unique places over the years. But the experience of staying on a houseboat in Amsterdam was a dream come true. I will remember our quiet afternoons watching the world go by from the deck and lounge of that houseboat for many years to come.
Amsterdam house boat rental
Would you like to stay on a houseboat in Amsterdam? No problem!
A quick search of AirBnB or Booking.com will give you some amazing options for renting a houseboat on Amsterdam’s canals.
Some boats are quite particular about the age of children staying on their boats and their ability to swim. Make sure you check the fine print if travelling with small children.
If you don’t manage to stay on a houseboat you can learn more about them at Amsterdam’s houseboat museum. Or simply enjoy looking at these unique city dwellings.
Don’t forget to wave at the kids on the boats!
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As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own based on personal experience.
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