Barge your way along the canals and rivers of Europe

Barge your way along the canals and rivers of Europe

by DeeDee Doke
Stripes Europe

Taking to the water for a European holiday doesn’t necessarily mean either finding a pricey beachfront hotel or getting on a multi-story cruise ship where you have to dress up for dinner.

Imagine sailing up one of Europe’s lovely canals with you or your travelling companion at the wheel. Take in the sights along the shore at a slow, relaxing pace, and stop when you want to visit a vineyard in France’s Burgundy region, a quaint pub in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, or to see the sights of an enchanting village or a proud old city. Your onboard kitchen will allow you to cook your own food if you choose and enjoy the sunset watching waterfowl from your waterside “front porch.”

Taking your bicycle along will give you instant land transportation. Renting narrowboats and barges to explore inland waterways is a popular holiday option in European countries. You don’t need to be an experienced boat hand to take the wheel, and you don’t need a special license, either. Part of the fee you pay to rent barges and narrowboats goes to training you how to handle the boat, and it’s easy – you’ll learn everything you need to know before setting off.

If you’re wondering where to take your waterway vacation, consider Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (particularly England and Scotland), countries that are especially conducive to this kind of holiday. The routes you could take are limitless, depending only on the time you have available and what you want to see.

Prices vary, depending on the time of year you want to make your trip and the size of the boat. The highest demand is going to be in July and August, so expect to pay more then. And the more people a boat can sleep, the higher the rent will be. The price will also vary somewhat by country. Average rents range from the Euro or British pound equivalent of $1,000 a week for a boat that sleeps four to $3,500 for a really deluxe model during high season.

To learn more about renting a canal boat, narrowboat and barge options, check either with your travel agent or do a web search for “narrowboats and barges,” “boating holidays,” “self-drive boating holidays” where you’ll find numerous companies specializing in this type of vacation. 

All aboard!

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