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Your Best Houseboat Rentals in Europe

Are Houseboat Rentals in Europe for you...?

There’s no better way to explore the soul of a country than to experience a self-drive boating vacation with your family or a few friends. It’s like being in a motorhome on the water…

You pilot your own boat…you cook your own meals…but let’s be honest…most self-drive boaters have lunch and/or dinner at local pubs or bistros…or have gourmet take out from the many traiteurs and supermarkets.

You make your own entertainment… biking, walking, swimming, a little sightseeing or just relaxing…

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The benefits of renting your own houseboat

  • Far less expensive than the barge cruises...and you travel on the same canals.
  • You decide when you want to leave and where to stop…you’re the captain!
  • You enjoy many meals in bistros or pubs…or take-out from specialty shops and supermarkets…and you meet the locals.
  • No tipping at the end of the trip.

And some items to think about

  • You have to pilot the boat…maybe that’s a benefit…it’s fun and easy.
  • At times you have to open the canal locks yourself or work with the lock keeper…for English speaking travelers, it’s understandably easier to do this in England and Ireland than in France.

Answers to some of your major houseboat rental questions

  • Is it hard to drive a boat? How much instruction will I be given?

    It’s surprisingly easy (I tried it myself on the Canal du Midi in southern France) – it steers with a wheel, just like a car, and a single lever controls speeds for forward and back.

    You get as much instruction as you need…if you’re a newcomer or slightly nervous, the company will stay with you until you feel confident maneuvering the boat - steering, controlling your speed and approaching locks and moorings with confidence.

    You generally do not need a license.

  • What is it like living on water? Will the boat be rocking?

    It’s very comfortable…you only cruise on canals and sheltered waters. The boats are big and stable and range from 2 up to 10 passengers.

    All the creature comforts you expect in a holiday home are provided…fully equipped galleys (the kitchen), hot and cold running water, TV, a lounge, shower and toilet…some even have air-conditioning.

  • When should I go?

    The season is from March to October but think of the weather. In early spring and late fall it’s a lot more pleasant on the Canal du Midi in southern France than Ireland and England.

What should I think about when choosing the right houseboat rental?

  • How many will be traveling with you…think of the saloon (living room) space
  • Rent a boat with enough sleeping space for everyone, plus think about an extra cabin for storage.
  • Are you’re cruising with small children…get a boat with a sliding roof so they stay within the confines of the cabin
  • Do you want a sundeck for alfresco dining?
  • Do you want heating or air conditioning depending on the season where you will be “house-boating?”

Where in Europe should I rent my own houseboat?

  • France offers the widest range of cruisers covering all parts of the country from Normandy in the north, Burgundy in the east to the pretty Canal du Midi in the south.
  • In Ireland you can travel on the beautiful tranquil Shannon Erne waterways.
  • In Great Britain the famous Norfolk Broads, the River Thames and the Caledonian Canal in Scotland are popular.
  • On the Continent you can rent your boat in Holland (considered by many the waterways kingdom in the North), Germany and Belgium.
  • And even more to the south the Po delta and lagoons of Venice in Italy are possible.

Who is the Self-drive Boating Specialist

Le Boat is a major booking office for houseboat rentals in Europe.

So what is the best way to book your European Houseboat vacation?

  • Decide in which European country you want to rent a houseboat?
  • Choose the area in a country.

    I’d suggest first looking at brochures…or the book listed below. They all have a lot of very important information you need to know first.

  • Look at the web sites for information on types of boats, areas and prices. Prices vary by date...low season and high season.

Special Tip…

Do you want more information before you decide?

Cruising the Canals and Rivers of Europe is a great source. (via Amazon.com - also for individual countries)

This guide shows the important waterways on maps and offers the essential information for planning a cruise. It also gives you waterway details and specialized cruising techniques…locking, mooring and operating lift-bridges.

You’ll feel a lot more confident if you read this book before you go…which means you will enjoy your vacation a lot more!

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