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What are houseboats?

Houseboats are pretty unique vessels, essentially like floating houses, that are designed to provide a comfortable and convenient living space for their occupants. They are often used as vacation homes, but some people also choose to live on them year-round.

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Why are houseboats gaining popularity?

The earliest houseboats date back to ancient Egypt. People from that era used reeds and other materials to construct floating homes and markets on the Nile River. In recent years, houseboats have become increasingly popular around the world. They now range from simple to luxurious, fully equipped residences and come in various shapes and sizes. Some of these houseboats are moored, while others are designed for cruising

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Many people are drawn to the unique experience of living on the water and reaping all the benefits that come with it. Houseboats also offer a level of freedom and flexibility that is hard to find in traditional housing, and they can be a fantastic way to explore new areas and enjoy the outdoors. So, if you're looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation, opting for a houseboat is definitely worth considering. With so many options available, there's sure to be a houseboat that meets your specific needs and fits your budget. So, why not give it a go and experience it yourself?

Types of houseboats

  • Canal-style houseboat

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Also known as narrowboats, canal-style boats can be found abundantly in the canals of the UK, Amsterdam, and the rest of Europe. Since these boats are docked in narrow canals, they are usually less than 7 ft (2.1 m) wide. Their extended lengths compensate for the size reduction by the small width. Plus, the long and narrow shape of these boats makes for a charming sight against the backdrop of gorgeous European cities. A stay in a canal-style houseboat makes for a unique accommodation experience and allows you to witness the European vibe.

  • Pontoon houseboats

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Pontoon boats are characterized by large decks, which make for spacious houseboats. Apart from the windows inside, it allows its boarders to admire the landscape from the upper deck. The lower deck is also perfect for engaging in water adventures, such as fishing and wakeboarding. If it’s not a permanent houseboat, pontoon boats are easily navigable in freshwater without needing a lot of maintenance.

  • Floating-home houseboats

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Floating-home houseboats are non-cruising boats built primarily for residential purposes. These permanently moored houseboats are usually built with flat, barge-like hulls, which gives them more stability. Depending on the size, floating homes can be the most lavish houseboats, thus making for a perfect permanent residence for those who enjoy life on the water. You can find several floating-home communities on the west coast of North America, with plenty of houseboats in cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver.

  • Catamaran houseboats

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Catamarans, characterized by two parallel hulls, make for outstanding stability, which, along with their easy navigation, akes them ideal for open waters and sailing adventures. These spacious boats feature plenty of storage, making them ideal for carrying water sports equipment. The expansive space also makes plenty of room for lavish amenities, interiors, and dining spaces, making it perfect for a more luxurious experience.

  • Yachts

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Yachts are the way to go if you prefer to cruise instead of staying on a stationary houseboat. Moreover, yachts can be taken for cruises in different waters depending on their type and size. They can also be used for different purposes, including leisure and water adventure. For a long time, yachts have also been considered a symbol of luxury.

Benefits of houseboating

  • A unique experience of living on the water

Holidaying on a houseboat presents an eccentric experience — coupled with numerous advantages. One of the most significant pluses of spending a few days on a houseboat is that it provides guests with an insight into what it’s like to live on the water. Living on land and in houses is the norm, so to live on water takes things up a notch!

  • Opportunity to explore different waterways and scenic landscapes

Houseboating also offers the opportunity to relish the outdoors differently. You can spend a couple of days fishing, swimming, or simply relaxing on the deck — surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery. The serene and peaceful environment created by the water is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You can also explore stunning waterways and natural landscapes while enjoying the comforts of home.

  • Relaxation and tranquility of being surrounded by vast waters

Imagine the serenity of the calm waters enveloping you — this is exactly what living on a houseboat provides! By being on the water, you can transport yourself to a world of absolute tranquility. It poses some significant differences from living on land.

  • Freedom to move around and meet fellow houseboaters

One of the most significant advantages of houseboats is the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. By choosing a houseboat, you have the liberty to choose your docking location and move to new areas whenever you desire, enabling you to explore new surroundings and enjoy a change of scenery. This flexibility is especially appealing to families with children who may have different interests and energy levels.

Another benefit is the sense of community that can develop with fellow houseboaters. You may find yourself moored next to other families or groups, and this can lead to shared meals, games, and socializing. It's a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

Best destinations with houseboats

Destinations with houseboats in the USA

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It's no surprise that the trend of houseboating in the US has increased significantly throughout the years. Boaters — both experienced and novice — are learning new watersports as a result of this trend. Moreover, people are on the hunt for more seclusion, solitude, wildlife, and water to escape the urban center.

  • California

Whether you are taking a weekend trip from the San Francisco Bay Area or exploring fun things to do in San Diego’s Mission Bay, California makes for a pleasurable houseboat stay. If you are planning your stay in an urban setting, you can find Airbnb houseboat rentals near San Francisco or in San Diego. You can also admire the stunning natural beauty while staying in a houseboat rental near Los Angeles. For more comfortable on-water stay options, you can book one of the various houseboats in Mission Creek Channel.

  • Florida

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida is one of the best states in the USA for a houseboat stay. To make the most of its setting, you can find many houseboats for rent and Airbnb houseboats in Florida. For some of the most magnificent sights, you can find Airbnb houseboats and Vrbo houseboats in the Florida Keys. The stunning archipelago also boasts the vibrant city of Key West, which you can explore by staying on Airbnb houseboats in the city. For the most exciting time, though, you can enjoy waterfront dining and drink at a beach bar while staying in a houseboat for rent in Miami.

  • Texas

Texas boasts charming metropolises, such as Houston, Dallas, and Austin, and beautiful lakes, making for both an exciting and refreshing trip. A couple of the most charming lakes where you can find houseboats include Canyon Lake and Lake Travis. You can also find houseboats in and near Austin, which also allows you to explore electric urban life. For more unique accommodations, you can find nice houseboats for rent throughout Texas.

  • Massachusetts

This state in the Northeastern United States is known for its many lakes and rivers — including Lake Chaubunagungamaug, Charles River, Deerfield River, and Ipswich River. The summers here are quite warm, so staying in a houseboat is a perfect idea. For easy access and hassle-free connectivity, you can book one of the Airbnb houseboats in Boston. You can also travel north and stay in one of the Airbnb houseboats in Newburyport, which sits on the shore of the Merrimack River. The abundance of options makes Massachusetts the best for booking a houseboat for rent in New England, too.

  • North Carolina

Stay in this stunning state in the Southeastern United States, which is also home to several bodies of water — such as Lake Norman, Fontana Lake, and Lake Wylie, among many others. It boasts many houseboats you can check out, all docked in a serene location. You can also find plenty of Airbnb houseboats in and near Wilmington, which boasts the Cape Fear River, the Brunswick River, and several other creeks and channels in its vicinity.

  • Oregon

Travel to the wonderful Pacific Northwest, and make sure to check out the state of Oregon. Houseboats are also plentiful here, giving people the opportunity to be in a tranquil atmosphere, some of which are docked in Lake Billy Chinook, among others. The charming city of Portland, which sits on the shores of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, also features several Airbnb houseboats, allowing you to admire the lush greenery.

Destinations with houseboats in Canada

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With way more lakes than any other country, Canada is a paradise for water lovers and water sports enthusiasts. From bays and straits around Vancouver to four of the five Great Lakes in the province of Ontario, Canada boasts plenty to woo travelers. The abundance of water bodies also makes Canada an outstanding place to book a houseboat.

  • British Columbia

The West Coast province of Canada, sitting on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, boasts endless rivers, straits, inlets, and lakes. The abundance of lakes and water channels makes British Columbia one of the best destinations in Canada to book an Airbnb houseboat rental. For an urban vibe, you can find thriving houseboat communities and book a houseboat for rent in Vancouver. During your stay, you can also embark on one of the stunning hiking spots near Vancouver. Vancouver Island, which separates Vancouver from the Pacific Ocean, also features houseboats that allow you to make the most of nature. This island also boasts magnificent beaches and is known for some of the best surfing spots in the world.

  • Ontario

Sitting on the shores of Hudson Bay and four of the five Great Lakes, Ontario is one of the best Canadian provinces for water lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Overall, the province boasts over 250,000 lakes, which also make for numerous picture-perfect freshwater beaches. The province is also home to Algonquin Provincial Park and Algonquin Island Park, which allow you to make the most of nature. For a charming on-water stay during your visit to Ontario, you can book one of the few houseboats.

  • Quebec

Quebec’s largest city, Montreal, is sandwiched between two rivers, and the provincial capital, Quebec City, also sits on the shore of one of those rivers. Whether you are planning to enjoy an urban vibe or make the most of nature, you can find a houseboat on these rivers and lakes. If you are in or near Montreal on your houseboat stay, you can embark on a river cruise, take a free walking tour of the city, or admire nature at one of the hiking and trekking spots. Quebec City allows you to explore the centuries-old structures in Old Quebec.

Destinations with houseboats in the UK

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Are you up for a memorable trip to the UK? Then get on planning! The UK is brimming with life, from historic landmarks to stunning natural sceneries. You'll also find that on-water accommodations are pretty common, as you can find plenty of houseboat rentals in England and Scotland. They provide visitors with a terrific and distinctive way to enjoy some of the region's beauties. So, it's no surprise if you decide to book a stay at a houseboat when traveling here, whether you're seeking a more serene location or otherwise.

  • London

This bustling capital city in England is not just about crowded streets. It also features beautiful waterways that are one of the prime attractions of the city. The famous River Thames flows through London, offering stunning views of the city, which you can admire from one of the houseboats on the river. Out of the other houseboats in and near London, you can find some of the best Airbnb houseboats near Chelsea. You can also find a lovely houseboat community in Wandsworth, which features plenty of houseboat rentals. To make your stay more adventurous, you can engage in water sports and activities in and near London.

  • Liverpool

Liverpool is situated on the banks of the River Mersey — a popular spot for boat trips, cruises, and houseboats. You can spend your days cruising along the canals, stopping off at picturesque villages, and enjoying the local pubs and restaurants. So, what’s stopping you from booking a houseboat for your next vacation?

  • Norfolk

The eastern English county of Norfolk sits on the shore of the North Sea and boasts serene beaches and picture-perfect towns. While the county’s largest city, Norwich, straddles the River Wensum, the nearby towns of Wroxham and Brundall also sit beside rivers. You can also find several Airbnb houseboats in and near these towns in Norfolk, allowing you to make the most of the lush rolling countryside.

  • Essex

Essex is a county where you can indulge in utter peace, thanks to its gorgeous landscapes. Magnificent rivers and lakes also surround Essex, including River Stour and River Coln, which are perfect for boating and fishing. You may enjoy the mornings doing all sorts of water sports. Moreover, you may watch the sunset from the deck before settling in for a cozy night's sleep. So, if you're looking for a fun and memorable way to explore the Essex waterways, book a houseboat.

Destinations with houseboats in the rest of Europe

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Plenty of gorgeous European cities boast canals and rivers passing right through them, making them ideal for a houseboat stay in an urban setting. A few examples include the canals of Amsterdam, the Seine River in Paris, and the Vltava River in Prague. Keep reading to learn more about destinations with houseboats in Europe.

  • Amsterdam

With an extensive network of canals and gorgeous waterside streets, Amsterdam is one of the best places in Europe for a houseboat stay. During your stay, you can get off your houseboat and start strolling the streets to check out the vibrant street art and famous buildings in Amsterdam. Staying in a houseboat also allows you to visit the buzzing jazz bars in Amsterdam, which, along with various nightclubs, make it a charming place to enjoy the nightlife. Apart from Amsterdam, you can find several Airbnb houseboats in the nearby Utrecht.

  • Copenhagen

Connected to Sweden’s Malmö with a sea bridge, Copenhagen offers a gorgeous setting for tourists. Nyhavn, the central harbor in the city, beckons tourists with its iconic colorful buildings and house fronts. The surrounding central neighborhood, Indre By, which also houses the Danish Parliament, is one of the most sought-after places in the country to book an Airbnb houseboat. Checking out the glistening canals and amazing sites also makes for one of the best things to do in Copenhagen. Apart from the lovely Copenhagen, the nearby Egernsund is one of the top destinations for booking a houseboat in Denmark.

  • Berlin

The German capital, Berlin, is intersected by the tributary, Spree, right from the middle. It also boasts several other water channels and streams, all of which include houseboats. Staying on a houseboat makes for the perfect opportunity for travelers to explore both nature and the urban vibe of Berlin. Tourists can eat and drink at a beach bar on one of the several man-made beaches alongside the river. Those interested in learning about World War II can take a history tour and check out the famous landmarks in Berlin.

  • Paris

Millions of tourists visit Paris every year, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Even though the city is full of iconic hotels, budget-friendly hostels, and chic vacation rentals, none of them make for as charming an experience as staying in an Airbnb houseboat rental. Straddling the Seine River, Paris boasts plenty of riverside attractions and activities. Apart from the Eiffel Tower, the riverbanks also make for some of the most romantic places in Paris. Moreover, it also makes for the perfect opportunity for families planning a picnic in Paris.

Destinations with houseboats in India

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This country is blessed with natural beauty. As you find lofty mountains, you'll also find vast oceans and tranquil rivers. Houseboating is a wonderful choice for travelers in India, seeing as it provides a unique experience. You must grab the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of cities and see nature in its unadulterated state from these houseboats in the Indian waters.

  • Kashmir

Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian territory, Jammu and Kashmir, is perhaps one of the most exquisitely beautiful cities in the entire world. To be able to witness nature in its pure, raw form, you can check out these pretty houseboats in Srinagar. Dal Lake, which sits in the center of the city, is visited by tourists from around the country. The lake boasts colorful houseboats and offers tourists houseboat rides, locally known as Shikara rides. Tourists can also find a few houseboats in Nigeen Lake, opposite the Dal Lake.

  • Kerala

The waters are calm in this lovely state, and they look green, owing to the thick forests along the banks of the countless lakes. The houseboats are made tastefully and make for a peaceful stay with your loved ones. For easy access to the urban vibe, you can book a houseboat rental in Kochi and Ernakulam. For tranquil vibes and the best of nature, you can book a houseboat in Alleppey, which will relieve you of the stress and make you feel rejuvenated. For more wonderful on-water accommodation options in the backwaters of Kerala, you can book houseboats in Kumarakom and Kottayam City.

Destinations with houseboats in Oceania and Africa

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Australia, New Zealand, and other islands in Oceania feature easy access to the open ocean, making them ideal for a houseboat stay. African countries, especially those in the south and west, also have an abundance of rivers and other water channels, where you can find houseboats.

  • New South Wales

Home to lush rainforests, national parks, and the highest mountain range in Australia, the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales is probably the best Australian state for nature lovers. Apart from the natural attractions, the state also boasts charming coastal cities, such as Sydney and Newcastle. The cities come with scenic bays and crisscrossing rivers, which make them ideal destinations for a houseboat stay in New South Wales. For some of the best options, you can find houseboats near Sydney Harbor and in the rest of Sydney. Staying in a houseboat in Sydney also allows you to explore the beautiful beaches and embark on enchanting walks in the city.

  • Victoria

The southeastern Australian state of Victoria boasts the bustling metropolis of Melbourne, apart from several national parks, including the UNESCO-listed Croajingolong National Park. The state also features abundant floating accommodations in several destinations scattered throughout the state. To easily witness an urban vibe during your stay, you can book a houseboat near Brooklyn, a suburb of Melbourne. To admire the sprawling countryside, you can find a few Airbnb houseboats near Echuca and Mildura. For some of the most magnificent coastal landscapes, you can stay in an Airbnb houseboat in Gippsland Lakes. If you visit the charming state in the winter, you can also check out several places for snowboarding.

  • South Australia

While New South Wales and Victoria feature lush national parks and mountains, South Australia includes some of the most arid regions in the country. Apart from some freshwater lakes and rivers in the southeast, the state has several saltwater lakes. Among some of the best houseboats in South Australia, you can find several Airbnb houseboats in Mannum, which sits on the shore of the River Murray. Further upstream on the Murray River, you can also find some houseboat rentals in Renmark, which boasts plenty of orchards and vineyards. However, for the easiest access, it would be best to book a houseboat near Adelaide. The hidden artistic gem of Australia also offers plenty of attractions and things to do, including museums and lush gardens.

  • New Zealand

Sitting across the Tasman Sea from Australia, New Zealand boasts unmatched natural beauty. From rugged mountains to untouched, picture-perfect beaches, the country has it all. It also boasts plenty for those who love to stay on water. While the charming metropolis of Auckland features two major harbors, there are plenty of destinations along the Cook Strait on the South Island, where you can find plenty of houseboat rentals. You can also make your floating stay an intimate getaway with your partner as New Zealand has no dearth of romantic activities and attractions.

  • South Africa

Sitting strategically on the southern tip of Africa, South Africa has a long-standing history and a thriving culture of seafaring. With direct access to Indian, Southern, and Atlantic Oceans, the country is a major stopping point during long voyages. The seafaring culture has also long been rubbed off on local faring. Today, you can find plenty of houseboats in South Africa, which makes for a charming leisure for locals and tourists. The province of Western Cape, which sits on the southwestern tip, boasts several houseboats, especially in and around the stunning Cape Town. For more options, you can travel further north from Cape Town and find houseboat rentals in and near Langebaan. During your houseboat stay, you can also check out some of the most adventurous surf spots in the city.

Things to do on your houseboat stay

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  • Engaging in watersports

Depending on the location of your houseboat, you can engage in a range of water sports, including snorkeling, surfing, wakeboarding, and swimming. Destinations with easy access to beaches and high coastal tides make for exciting surfing spots, allowing you to have the most adventurous time. If you’re staying in a place where there is rich marine life, you can have a wonderful time snorkeling. Gentle, freshwater lakes make for the best conditions for swimming, and if you’re staying on a non-stationary houseboat, you can also have fun wakeboarding. If you’re planning on engaging in water sports, make sure to book a boat with ample storage for your gear and equipment.

  • Fishing

Houseboats with spacious decks allow you to sprawl out lawn chairs and have a pleasant time fishing. If your houseboat doesn’t have a deck, you can also visit nearby fishing spots to make the most of your stay. If you are planning on fishing, make sure to check the local laws on fishing and get a fishing license, if required.

  • Cruising

Given that your houseboat is not a stationary floating home, you can take it out for an adventurous cruise. Depending on the type of boat you have booked, you can sail in canals, rivers, and even out on the coast. Catamarans, for example, can even sail the rough seas, allowing you to embark on exciting voyages. Before you go sailing, make sure you are capable of navigating the given boat. If not, you can always hire a crew or book a chartered yacht if you want to sail the open waters.

  • Dining on the deck

Most spacious houseboats feature an open deck, with some even boasting a dining area. If your boat doesn’t have dining on the deck, you can always use the lawn chairs and have a charming al fresco dining experience.

  • Having a cookout

Some luxurious houseboats feature a barbecue grill out on the deck, allowing you to have a pleasing cookout on the water. Boats with on-deck dining and barbecue are perfect for families and friends looking to spend time together. Sitting on the deck while enjoying grilled delicacies, chatting with your loved ones, and admiring the view makes for the most unforgettable time.

  • Signing up for city tours

If you are a city person, you can find plenty of houseboats in urban settings, especially in Europe. These houseboats allow you to explore cities the same way you would while staying in a hotel or a vacation rental. European capitals, such as London, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen, and North American cities, such as Seattle, Vancouver, and Boston, allow you to witness the best of the urban vibe while having a unique stay on a houseboat.

Factors to consider when booking houseboat rental

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  • Costs involved in renting a houseboat

There are a wide variety of houseboats you can choose from, and you can choose one depending on your budget. If you want something luxurious and expensive, you can opt for a yacht. But if you simply want to experience on-water living, then any houseboat will do! No matter what you pick, you're sure to have a lovely time.

  • Location and setting

Depending on the setting you want to have your on-water stay, you can book your houseboat in a range of locations. If you are planning to stay in an urban setting, it would be best to book a houseboat in the canals and rivers of one of the charming European cities. If you are instead planning to make the most of nature, it would be best to book your houseboat in a serene lake or near the coast.

  • Activities available in and around the houseboat

Another important thing to consider when picking a houseboat is the number of available activities in and around here. Depending on the location you are in, you can enjoy a range of activities. While staying in a houseboat in destinations such as the UK, Netherlands, and Denmark, you can explore the culturally rich cities. In plenty of other destinations, you can engage in water adventures, such as swimming, fishing, and wakeboarding.

  • Common amenities and features of houseboats

Due to its more compact state, you can expect that a houseboat does not always have complete amenities. So, you can opt to do some research on the houseboats that offer essential things for a worry-free stay. Among some common amenities, you can find a kitchenette space and a deck where you can lounge and admire the views. Some houseboats also offer a TV or other sources of entertainment, such as board games and books.

  • House rules

Before you finalize your booking, it’s best to go through the house rules to make sure that you agree to every rule. Familiarizing with the house rules makes for a pleasant experience for both the host and the guest. Some houseboats follow quiet hours, so make sure not to make any loud noises or play loud music during quiet hours. Also, if you are planning on engaging in water activities, keep in mind that not all marinas allow swimming and fishing. So, apart from the houseboat rules, you also have to comply with the rules of the marina where the houseboat is docked.

Have a unique and pleasant stay in a floating house

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Houseboating is a wonderful way to experience a holiday — offering freedom, community, and a unique connection with nature. It's an experience that is sure to create lasting memories and one that you'll want to repeat year after year. So, which houseboat are you booking for your next holiday?

Houseboats in the USA

Houseboats in Canada

Houseboats in the UK

Houseboats in Other European Destinations

Houseboats in Asia

Houseboats in Oceania

Houseboats in Other Destinations

FAQ's about Houseboats

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