Amsterdam Houseboats

Why are there Houseboats in Amsterdam Canals?

There have been houseboats on the Amsterdam canals for many years – the oldest of which are lovingly restored relics of the country’s seafaring days (many over 100 years old and retaining beautiful, original features). The majority of the houseboats that can be seen on an Amsterdam boat tour today were built as a response to the post-war housing shortage in the city. Although the original houseboats without electricity or running water served as accommodation for poorer Amsterdammers without the means to live in a proper house, today they are some of the most expensive property in the city. There are approximately 2500 houseboats.

Do Amsterdam houseboats move?

The majority of houseboats today are permanently moored to a specific site – known as ‘woonarks’ (living, or house arks), these houseboats are built on a floating but anchored pontoon and, without any kind of motor, cannot sail along by themselves. 

Houseboat owners have to buy a ‘ligplaats’ – a special permit which gives them permission to keep their boat moored in a specific spot. Given the high demand for these properties on the water, and their prime locations on the canal belt or river Amstel, the value of houseboats (or a ligplaats) is often very high. 

Why, how and where to stay in Amsterdam on a houseboat! 

Staying on a houseboat and waking up looking at the bustling Amsterdam canals is a great experience. There’s something truly magical about this water-filled city and being as close to the action as possible is definitely worth the money. 

These bohemian homes reflect a laidback Amsterdam lifestyle which few are lucky enough to enjoy year-round – but staying in one for a few days is a must-do for many people visiting the city. You can book a houseboat through a number of websites such as AirBnb or There are numerous options varying from simple hostel-style accommodation all the way up to luxurious multi story boats with gardens and all the modern conveniences. 

Want to visit an Amsterdam houseboat but don’t want to stay on one? 

For those who’d rather sleep on dry land but wish to visit a houseboat anyway, there are a number of options. The Houseboat Museum offers the opportunity to experience what life is like for those lucky enough to live on the canals and, for cat lovers, the Poezenboot is a one-of-a-kind floating cat sanctuary on the Singel!  

You can also see all the different houseboats from modern and luxurious floating houses to historic and beautiful boats from centuries past, on our Amsterdam Boat Rental cruise, where a host will tell you all about the history of the canal belt, it’s houseboats and much, much more! Click here to book your Amsterdam Boat Rental now!