As you meander the narrow streets and tree-lined canals of Amsterdam, you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to live here. To experience canal living in Amsterdam, in one of those tall narrow gable houses, each with a unique feel and personality. Better yet, to live on one of the houseboats, which line the canals and get the real feel of the city. That is the picture perfect dream I had over 16 years ago, when Alan and I first visited Amsterdam.
We finally made that dream come true, if only for a week. We recently visited, with our kids and were able to all experience canal living in Amsterdam. When we travel, we prefer to rent apartments over hotels. I know we are giving up some amenities and services, but are we really? We gain so much more space and often times the apartments have different amenities which hotels don’t offer, like a modern kitchen and a spacious living area. Key amenities for a traveling family of 4.
Knowing there are over 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam on the 100+ km of canals, we figured we could find something to suit us. We scoured the internet to try to find accommodation along the canals of Amsterdam. Our priority was to feel like we lived there and be right in a normal neighborhood with the locals. We found the perfect place through GowithOh and the reservation was made. We were going to do some canal living in Amsterdam!
Our Arrival To The Houseboat
We were provided excellent directions to the houseboat and it was very painless to use the public transport from the airport. Other than the long wait for the train into the city center, apparently 2 trains were cancelled last-minute. We arrived at the houseboat and were greeted with a smile and an adorable front entrance.
We were given a tour, shown the how to use a few things and were provided the house rules. We were set for our week of living like a local in Amsterdam. We quickly settled in and of course the kids immediately climbed out the window, to explore the floating deck attached to the houseboat. The place was absolutely beautiful and even better and more spacious than it appeared in the photos we had seen on-line. This was going to be a fun week.
The Local Neighborhood
We really couldn’t have asked for anything better for our family. Within a block we had a supermarket, several small places to eat as well as the stop for the tram into Central Station. We were within walking distance to much of the must-see areas in Amsterdam, Nine Streets, Jordaan, Westerpark, City Center and more. While we did enjoy loads of walking and gazing at all of the beauty, we also took advantage of the iamsterdam city card and had unlimited public transit available too.
Our first day there, we needed to take care of a little business right off the bat. We walked over to the Thai Embassy to drop off our passports and applications for Thai Visas. The Embassy is only open limited hours for drop off, so we were in a bit of a hurry, but that didn’t stop us from admiring each and every little flower covered and bicycle lined bridge we crossed and notice the care and pride everyone puts into their homes. It was a beautiful day and we were there walking around the neighborhoods soaking it all in.
The Houseboat Experience
I have to admit, as romantic as it sounded to live on a houseboat for a week, I was a nervous wreck about having motion sickness. I am a bit queasy with movement and boats, so as much as I wanted to be there I was a little anxious as well. I am glad to say this wasn’t a problem for our family. It was just like any nice apartment we’ve stayed at in the past, but with the extra charm of being right on the water. We are a water family and just love being around water.
We loved having loads of space and the kids had a blast with the floating deck and watching the birds play in the canal. I think one of Alan’s favorite highlights was figuring out how the oven worked. It was the greatest modern technology, with the oven suspended over the counter. We couldn’t find the door to open the oven, but he finally figured out that the down arrow, slowly lowered the oven open. It was a fun toy for us all, check out our video to see it in action.
My absolute favorite part was returning home after a day of exploration around Amsterdam (Getting scared at The Amsterdam Dungeon and having a blast at the Heineken Experience). We would all settle into our favorite spots, fix a little dinner and enjoy watching some boats pass by our window on the canal. It seemed to be a trend on the canals, to have a happy hour, dinner or even a party on a boat in the evenings. Of course it was light out until about 10:30 pm, so “happy hour” lasted much of the evening. We also enjoyed a canal cruise, just before sunset on the 9 pm cruise. It is a wonderful time to be on the water and see Amsterdam from a different perspective.
I also loved waking up to a sunny morning, with the canal waters smooth as glass and the birds chirping in the trees above. I was often up before the rest of the family, so this was my “ME” time and I just sat on the window seat gazing out and loving our choice in accommodation. It was so peaceful, comfortable and spacious.
What did we think of canal living in Amsterdam?
To be honest, we could have stayed for a long time. All four Wagoners give it a big thumbs up! I would highly recommend the unique experience of staying on a houseboat in Amsterdam. We had wonderful accommodation right on the canal and everything we needed was at our fingertips. We also were able to be there when the Netherlands made it into the semifinals of the World Cup. Now that was an experience, to be right in the neighborhood with all of the locals. The celebrating was exhilarating and we were happy to be part of it.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Share your experiences with us.
There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you. Click here to see their latest Amsterdam Deals!
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Disclaimer: We would like to thank GowithOh for sponsoring our stay. All of the reviews, recommendations and opinions are our own.