Rent a Houseboat Amsterdam
Rent Houseboat Amsterdam

How to rent a houseboat in Amsterdam?

‘Can we rent a houseboat with you?’ is a question that we get a lot. We wish the answer were yes, as renting houseboats in Amsterdam is probably more profitable than winning the lottery. The boats that we rent are a lot smaller. And not very suitable for living and sleeping on, we can assure you. On the other hand: for making your own canal tour our boats are a lot more practical than a houseboat…

Anyhow, the fact that we don’t rent houseboats doesn’t hold us back from having an opinion on it. And we’re more than happy to share it with you. So that you do not only enjoy your small boat rental with us, but also your large houseboat rental with others. Here’s our advice for renting such a houseboat in Amsterdam:

1. ‘It’s all about location, location, location’ also applies to houseboats

Yes, your houseboat will float, by definition. But where does it float? Be warned: not all houseboats locations have the perfect central yet quiet canal house background you may have seen on postcards or travel magazines. So make sure to check if the location matches your preferences.

Houseboats in Amsterdam are literally scattered all over town, from the very heart of the city center to the most remote and dodgy outskirts of Amsterdam. Your houseboat could be squeezed in the middle of two adjacent houseboats or it could be utterly lonely with no other sign of life around. It could be on one of the most popular canals like Prinsengracht, but also on the Amstel river. In both cases we would be perfectly happy.

But remember: the most popular canals are also the busiest. On spots like that, at the end of your stay you might be able to reproduce the audio guide of the large tourist boats that pass your houseboat all day long. And the favorite songs of the party boats that do so all night long…

2. Book your houseboat well in advance and avoid the peak season

Over the last years Amsterdam has shown an immense growth in tourism. Occupancy rates are high and so is the cost of accommodation. Unfortunately for you, looking to rent one, houseboats are no exception. In contrary: renting a houseboat is extremely popular, especially with travelers with deep pockets. And while all agree that demand will continue to grow steadily, supply will definitely not: the city council simply does not allow any new houseboats.

So anyone that knows some basic economics should know: don’t wait for any last minute offers on houseboats! Instead of that, for more choice and better rates: try to book well in advance. And even better, avoid peak times (summer holidays, Christmas holidays, … well basically any holidays, and weekends) if you can!

3. Avoid hernias and concussions: check the height of your house boat

Renting a houseboat can be a bit of a claustrophobic experience. But hey, don’t blame the wharf for that. Their job was to build a solid means of transport, not a comfortable hotel room. Take this into account and inform about the height of the ceiling when selecting your houseboat in Amsterdam, particularly if you’re as tall as the Dutch are. And if you forgot to ask, make sure to bring a helmet…

4. What can you see from inside your houseboat?

Many of the choices we make are based on outer appearance, right? When looking to rent a houseboat you will see many favorable pictures of the boat itself. But what can you see when you’re actually on (or even: in) your houseboat? Will you have a wide canal or river view, or will you be somewhat disappointed by the unexpected presence of an industrial area or a blind wall?

It’s also good to realize that many of the older houseboats only have small portholes. That could be a brilliant option if you’re a fan of authenticity, or if you’re a nudist… Otherwise, you might want to look for more recently build or renovated houseboats with nice panoramic windows. So you can fully appreciate the surroundings of your houseboat, whatever they may consist of.

5. Does your houseboat have an outdoor terrace?

Chilling inside is good, chilling outside is better. For enjoying your breakfast or for relaxing after a long day in the city, there is no better place than your own outdoor terrace. Some houseboats have one on top, others even have a nicely decorated terrace floating on the canal. Be sure to inform, if this appeals to you.

6. Do you rent the full houseboat or only a part of it?

Houseboat accommodations come in all sorts and sizes, ranging from small rooms with bunk beds -for the old school boat crew experience- up to entire boats with a surface of 200+ square meters including all captain’s privileges.

Apart from the type and state of the amenities another aspect to keep in mind is your privacy. So make sure to find out whether the boat is all yours, whether you share it with other tourists, or if you stay with the owners (B&B&B: boat & bed & breakfast).

7. Explore the other Amsterdam canals with a private electric rental boat

From the fact you’re looking to rent a houseboat instead of a regular hotel room it’s safe to make some assumptions about your preferences. Apart from being interested in the canals and authentic, original experiences, you seem to be open for some adventure, away from the mass tourism and a little of the beaten track maybe? Then you qualify for hiring one of our electric canal boats. The best way to explore all the other canals in town!

If you haven’t booked your private boat rental yet, this is the time to do so!

8. Rent your houseboat from a trustworthy houseboat agent

Like I mentioned before, that houseboat agent is not us: we rent small self-operated boats and no houseboats. A houseboat rental agency with a good reputation is Book a Houseboat. They are fully focused on renting houseboats. Of course they get a commission on every houseboat rental. The good thing for you is that the house boat owner pays the commission.

For you a dedicated house boat agent means a wide range of clearly presented options, a reliable contract partner, clear terms and conditions and support with your booking and during your stay. Should this houseboat specialist not work out for you for whatever reason, there’s always the travel giants like and If you can’t find it at the delicatessen, you might try the supermarket…

9. The middle option between a houseboat and a hotel: the Amsterdam Botel

Our last tip is the Amsterdam Botel, which is not a houseboat but a large boat turned into floating hotel. Here you will also definitely get the experience of staying on a boat, combined with the usual hotel amenities and service.

The location is at the popular and lively NDSM-Wharf, some 20 minutes by free ferry from Central Station. Highly original are the modern letter shaped accommodations on top.

We hope this article has helped in your orientation for renting a houseboat in Amsterdam. We wish you a good stay in Amsterdam, and we also hope to welcome you at our boat hire!!