Many people look at the continent of Europe, running their fingers over maps with dreams of visiting its many cities. When we think of a city break, we usually choose one city or town in one country, and stay there for the weekend. When you hire a boat rental for a weekend you have an endless stream of places you can visit. Beginning at one mooring spot, you can then plan a route that will last two or three days. Then, depending on how much you would like to see or the speed you want to travel at you can fit in a multitude of cities and destinations.
Reasons why you might want a boat rental for a weekend
A city break with more than one city
When it comes to renting a canal boat you can choose a certain waterway such as a canal or river, this waterway can take you for miles upon miles. The twist and turns of the canal or river will allow you to pass villages, towns, cities or simply the beautiful rolling farmland of the country you are travelling to. Famous navigable waterways crisscross much of western Europe these include such watercourses as the Loire River north-west France, the Canal du Midi in the south of the country or the Canal de Bourgogne in the east.
Ireland, home of the River Shannon, is another watercourse that invites boaters to explore the country via its beautiful rivers. And who can overlook the famous canals of the Netherlands, weaving their way through many famous Dutch towns and cities? All in all, weekend barge hire allows you to have the ultimate city break – seeing more than you ever thought was possible.
Our top destinations for a canal boat weekend
Canal du Midi & Camargue
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Canal du Midi is also one of the world’s most famous locations for boating holidays.
Burgundy Nivernais & Loire
A cruise in the Burgundy Loire Nivernais area, along the Burgundy or Nivernais canals, promises effortless boating holidays.
A whole new experience of bringing the family together
The idea of travelling across some of Europe’s beautiful waterways as a weekend holiday isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind, which is a shame! Beach holidays, caravan weekends and city breaks are what normally get the attention of families. Hiring a canal boat for the weekend , however, is not only a great way to spend a holiday, but it also brings families together. Navigating the canals and rivers is a team effort and though you don’t need a license to operate such a boat – there’s often a role for everyone.
As one family member drives the boat, another can read the map while others prepare the daily food and other such necessities.
Families with young children will also get so much more than a simple holiday out of canal boat weekends. Travelling through the country this way helps to educate young children about the different cultures, languages and histories of Europe all with the exciting sport of boating.
Having to live in close contact with each other in the hull of the canal boat also forces families to spend far more time together – bringing them closer together and reinforcing family ties. All of these new experiences can be gained at very little cost, compared to other holidays that cost the earth and you gain very little!
Enjoy a relaxing weekend break without the crowds
One of the biggest draws to a weekend on the water, travelling along Europe’s waterways, is the peace and quiet. Now, we don’t mean to the point where you and the family are going to feel alone; after all, the destinations you visit on land will have their fair share of locals. Yet, we know that many normal city breaks can be swapped by fellow holidaymakers seeking their own piece of paradise.
With boating holidays, however, this is quite the opposite. Although some busy canals and rivers can be popular, the open water is just that – an open space.
The pace of life goes by slowly and you are able to just sit back and enjoy the boating experience. Being out on the water and surrounded by nature has an undeniable calming effect on people’s outlook and even health.
This ‘Blue Heath’ thinking is backed by scientific research and has even given birth to a connection between urban blue spaces (areas dominated by surface water bodies or watercourses) and overall better health. So why not swap that stress-inducing inner-city city break for a weekend on the water? Not only will you have a great lifetime experience, but you may also even come away with an overwhelming sense of calm!
Where can you explore during a boat hire weekend?
River Shannon boat hire weekend in Ireland
The Emerald Isle is one of the perfect places to experience a weekend with a canal boat. The capital of Dublin is easy to get to by flight or ferry and connects you seamlessly with the rest of the island. Boating along the Royal Canal from Ireland’s capital will take you from the east of the country and through its picturesque midlands.
Boating holidays in Ireland are like nowhere else; it was as if the boat was the only way to travel through the rolling green hills of Galic western Europe. Whether you’re boating through a small river and canal inlet, passing by the odd farmhouse, or making your way through genuine Irish towns untouched by tourism, you will undoubtedly see so much more from the water.
It’s not only the towns and villages of Ireland that captivate the boater, the wilderness lands of inner Ireland and especially the farmland banks of the River Shannon or populated by stunning flora and fauna.
Wild Ireland is often hard to appreciate from the road, and by travelling quietly and gently along its lifeblood waterways, you can blend in with ease. Irish hare and pine marten are not unheard of, and the more abundant sika, fallow deer and red deer are magical to observe from the canal and river banks.
Shannon boat hire can be done from a number of places, all depending on which direction you want to travel. The Locaboat base at Carrick-on-Shannon allows you to travel along the Shannon-Erne Waterway right up the northern Irish border. On the other hand, you can start from the base at Banagher – this will open up the south section of the Shannon River, linking the number one city, Dublin, with the Irish second city, Limerick.
Canal boat weekend breaks through the Netherlands
If there is one country that screams out to be travelled through via its waterways, it’s the Netherlands. Long known as one of the Low Countries, the low water table of the Dutch lands means that much of the country is crisscrossed by waterways. Centuries of canal building means that major cities and humble villages are all connected by well-maintained canals – a symbol of Holland the world over.
Starting in the town of Loosdrecht, your way is open to choose your own perfect boating holiday in Holland. Heading north, you will soon come to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, home to an array of must-see attractions.
Whether this is the home of the young diarist Anne Frank or the exceptional museum dedicated to one of Netherland’s most celebrated artists Vincent Van Gogh. The city itself is a picture-perfect patchwork of canals, allowing you to navigate the capital with streamlined precision. Heading south from Loosdrecht, your boating holiday through the Netherlands takes a route through another of the Hollands major cities, Utrecht. With a long history and artistic culture, Utrecht cultural stamp on the Netherlands and Europe is only second to the capital Amsterdam. A canal boating weekend through Holland can include a huge loop of both the north and the south, taking in Amsterdam, Utrecht and even Alphen and the Hague. The interconnecting network of canals in the country means that travelling through the Netherlands can be a swift and quite an easy country to navigate.
Weekend boat rental through Southern France
Boating holidays through France are as multifaceted as anywhere else in Europe. The huge length and breadth of the country mean there are a multitude of routes you can take around France, from its heated south, gastronomic east and Gaelic northwest.
The south of France has to be home to one of the most famous canals in Europe, the Canal du Midi. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the canal is an impressive feat of civil engineering and connects waterways of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. This winding canal system can be started by travelling to the city of Toulouse; this city alone is a fantastic place to spend some time, with a long and rich history spanning many hundreds of years.
Running along the entire length of the canal, there are a number of Locanboat bases from which you can begin your boating holiday. Depending on how much time in the weekend you have to spend travelling along the Canal du Midi will all depend on which sections of the canal you travel. The western section from Toulouse to Narbonne is one of the most popular and is full of must-see sights. Top of these sights has to be the citadel at Carcassonne, another UNESCO site and a breath-taking medieval construction.
Don’t forget about the idyllic eastern waterways of France
Boating holidays in the east of France are just as rewarding as those in the south. The country’s famous Burgundy region makes for another fantastic weekend boating opportunity through French waterways. The Canal de Bourgogne can take you through the rich foodie region of France, offering you a chance to boat down through wine country and to the famous French city of Dijon.
By choosing a route down the Yonne River, you can join the Canal du Nivernais and experience the incredible chain of locks. A series of sixteen locks are sure to keep you and the family busy as you journey through the heart of France. This route also has a number of pristine nature spots, the best of which is Etang de Baye. Etang de Baye makes for a great destination to aim for, surrounded by calm waters, lapping lake shores and a variety of wildlife that can only bring calm to the whole weekend break.
Discover unbeatable river cruises through Germany
Germany is another nation that is adorned with a multitude of beautiful waterways, covering the length and breadth of the country. This includes vast swathes of countryside in the German lake district and even citywide exploration of the capital Berlin. The German northeast really is one of the best places to experience a weekend break on German waters. Not only is it the region of Berlin, Brandenburg and Potsdam, but it’s also the realm of Mecklenburg, the country’s lake region. These lakes of all sorts of sizes are connected by a myriad of rivers and waterways, including the famous Lake Müritz.
Combining the perfect city break to Germany’s capital Berlin, with an exploration of German lakes and rivers.
It is a unique and relaxing way to explore what would otherwise be a busy city exploration in a vehicle. Starting from Fürstenberg, you can head south towards the German capital, taking in the suburbs of Berlin as you go.
Boating through the Havel allows you to approach Berlin. You can enter the city at your own pace and moor in its very heart – this allows you to get and explore the city on foot, boating back toward the north or carrying on to Potsdam. If you leave Fürstenberg and head north, you will be boating towards what is known as the lake district of Germany. The great lakes of Mecklenburg are some of the most beautiful in all of Germany, especially Lake Müritz.