Originally used for defense, swamp drainage, and transportation of goods brought in through Dutch maritime exploration, the UNESCO-recognized waterways remain a beloved point of pride for Amsterdammers and a major point of interest for visitors.
A grand feat of 17th-century city planning, Amsterdam’s sprawling network of 165 interconnected canals is arguably the most iconic structural feature of the city.
These days, scenic boat tours give you a good sense of the canals’ history, and several major annual events, including the Queens Day Parade and Gay Pride, take place on their waters (beware of boat traffic). But to get closer to life on the historic Amsterdam waterways, try shacking up in one of the roughly 2,500 houseboats docked along their banks year-round.
Though it was once considered a sign of poverty to live on the water, today’s modern, electricity-equipped houseboats are some of the pricier properties in town, starting at around 250,000 euros minimum.
Next time you’re in Amsterdam, easily book a stay at one of these charming floating homes on Airbnb. From a refurbished turn-of-the-20th-century cargo vessel to an ultra-modern sun-deck paradise, here are seven spectacular houseboats you can rent today.
The Charlotte Johanna
Built in 1903, this one-time cargo boat sits on the Prinsengracht canal, the outermost of Amsterdam’s three original canals. Now a two-bedroom home, the 23-meter vessel comes complete with a kitchen and living room warmed up with a wood burner. The erstwhile wheelhouse, rejiggered into a communal lounge with a sun terrace, anchors the space and offers views of famed Dutch Protestant church the Westerkerk. $293 a night
Sitting smack in the center of Amsterdam’s arts district, this brand-new boat home is built from concrete with a wood finish and a simple exposed wood-beam ceiling. The bright but minimally decorated guest studio – there are two self-contained units, with the owner occupying the other – touts “uninterrupted views of the water” with large windows and a private outdoor terrace. $237 a night
This bright and airy rental gives your Dutch houseboat accommodations an Italian twist, with rustic furnishings and art. Located in the city center, Jordaan, the home is fitted with with oak wood floors; a modern, open kitchen; and a living room with a flat-screen TV. As for the name? There’s a cozy patio garden where you can enjoy a romantic dinner right on the water. Note: There is a minimum stay of two nights required. $381 a night
If you’re looking for a splurge, this pricey-but-worth-it houseboat located right in the middle of Amsterdam-Centrum is a simultaneously luxurious and cozy choice. Originally built in 1912, the 110-square-meter vessel boasts a newly renovated Bulthaup kitchen with Gaggenau appliances – including a teppanyaki cooktop, a wine cabinet, and a vacuum drawer, should you fancy something sous-vide – three bedrooms, and an outdoor area with sun chairs and a hammock. Netflix is also set up on all the TVs, so this is basically an ideal option. $1,467 a night
Amstel River Houseboat GP
Docked on Amsterdam’s iconic Amstel River, this new-design houseboat apartment occupies the front of a onetime cargo boat. The bright guest flat boasts high, wood-trimmed ceilings in the open-plan kitchen and dining room – also fitted with all modern appliances. There are several common spaces, including a living room and a sundeck with your own front-door access. With three bedrooms and three private bathrooms, it’s perfect for families or small groups of friends. $298 a night
Built in 2013, this well-appointed two-bedroom apartment comes with all the necessary amenities: a king-size bed (with two extra beds available in the living room), a spacious bathroom with views of the canal, a sunny water terrace, and a living room rigged with an idyllic hammock nook. Located in the trendy Oud West neighborhood near the city center, it’s accessible to major attractions including the Anne Frank House and the open-air Ten Kate market, but is private enough to retreat to at night. $221 a night
With rustic natural wood floors and retro furniture, this double-level houseboat gives off a homey apartment-meets-trendy-café appeal. Sitting on the water across from the famed Amstel Hotel, the boho-chic space includes a large kitchen and dining area, a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows, and two private bedrooms. $215 a night