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Best European Destinations for Canal Boat Holidays

What’s better than relaxing on holiday and watching the world drift by with not a care in the world? Indulging yourself in all of the above while on board your very own canal boat.

A canal boat holiday is ideal if you often feel restless in just one destination but don’t want to burn out by hitting the road too often. On the water, you can experience a whole region in just a week or two, enjoying that authentic feeling of freedom as you float past some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Plus, you can moor up whenever the mood takes, to sample the local sights and cuisine. Plus, it’s much easier than you think to skipper your own boat – even complete beginners will quickly get the hang of it.

Here are some of our favourite canal boat holiday destinations in Europe. Get that captain’s hat at the ready!


With around 8,000km (5,000 miles) of glittering rivers and canals to explore, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to canal boat holidays in France! Will you select the calm and tranquil waterways of Brittany, dotted with delectable creperies en route? Or swot up on your wartime history as you wend your way along the Canal de la Somme? Top-class cuisine and wonderful wine await in Burgundy, while you can’t beat the Canal du Midi for the quintessential French boating experience.

The Netherlands

If ever there was a country built for boating, it’s The Netherlands. Canal boating is a way of life here, thanks to the beautiful countryside, quaint architecture and well-maintained marinas that are easily accessible from the network of Dutch waterways. Explore the sublime landscapes which have inspired artists like Vermeer and Van Gogh over the years and get acquainted with cities like beautiful Amsterdam without necessarily setting a foot in the streets.


Sailors in Belgium have two delightful canal regions to choose from, depending on personal preference. The flatlands of Flanders are steeped in history and natural beauty with gently spinning windmills presiding over glorious meadows and wildlife-filled marshes. Alternatively, visitors might prefer to discover the undulating hills and rich, sweet waffles of Wallonia. Remember too that they don’t call Burges, the ‘Venice of the North’ for nothing! Here you can expect an abundance of waterways, topped with pretty bridges and lined with cobbled streets.


The mightiest waterways of Germany are the Danube, the Elbe and the Rhine – all are connected via an intricate network of charming canals that spider-web throughout the north and south of the country. Adventurous boaters can go wild amongst spell-binding regions of forest and farmland while city clickers can explore the lakeside areas of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg.

A canal boat holiday in Europe makes for a wonderful trip for families, couples and even those who like to travel with their four-legged friend! Just make sure you and your loved ones have the right travel insurance policy to guard against any eventuality. Turn to Medical Travel Compared – we can help you find the best deal for your circumstances, even if you need cover for a pre-existing medical condition.


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