The Houseboat Museum (Woonbootmuseum) is a unique and independent museum in the centre of Amsterdam showing what it’s like to live in a traditional Dutch houseboat.
There are around 2,900 houseboats in Amsterdam though prices are somewhat similar to buying a standard house. Bear in mind that insurance and maintenance charges can be significant.
There are generally 2 types of houseboat in Amsterdam – the traditional iron freighter ships with holds converted into houseboats; or the more modern concrete-based rectangular houseboats which require less maintenance.
The houseboat museum is the Hendrika-Maria, a 23m (75 foot) vessel built in 1914 and originally used as a freighter transporting timber, sand and gravel. In 1967 it was converted into an 80m² houseboat and remained inhabited until 1997.
From then on it became exclusively a museum open to the public run by owner Vincent van Loon and in 2008 it underwent a major restoration.
The boat contains a number of rooms – you first enter the stern into the Deckhouse with 2 very small bed compartments and a water pump in the corner. Amazingly, this space used to sleep a family of 4!
You then head into the Kitchen which used to be the cargo-hold of the ship and is now used as the ticket office and souvenir shop. Have a sit down in the cosy Living Room area which is authentically furnished with 1950s decor and heated by a wood burner.
Continuing on around the partition wall you will encounter a small exhibit of houseboat models, the bathroom (which includes toilet and shower, closed to visitors) and a sleeping nook with a double bed. The wall above has an illustrated history of the boat.
At the front of the ship you need to crouch down (watch your head) to enter the projector room which shows a continuous 4 minute presentation of houseboat images. It has a window looking into the bow (fore-cabin area) where the anchor chain is stored and servant’s berth was located. Here you can see how the boat is constructed by riveted steel plates.
A laminated self guided tour is available in Dutch and English and will guide you through the boat. Due to its small size there are capacity limits to visitor numbers and you may have to wait a short time for people to leave. Hot drink facilities are available on board.
Note, the boat exterior and gangways are off-limits to visitors.
Overall, the houseboat museum is a cheap and fun place to visit. Walk-ins are accepted so no need to reserve in advance.
Houseboat Museum Essential Info
|Opening Times||1000-1700, Tue-Sun.|
|Admission Prices (2023)||€4.50 for adults, €3.50 for children 5-15 and Museumkaart holders, €2.50 for children 5-15 with a Museumkaart. FREE entry for children 0-4 and Iamsterdam City Card holders.|
Order the Iamsterdam City Card online here which includes free entrance to the Houseboat Museum and a host of other attractions.
|Getting There||The Houseboat Museum is on the Prinsengracht canal near Elandsgracht in the Jordaan area. Trams 13 and 17 stop at Westermarkt, get out and walk a few minutes south on Prinsengracht.|
Houseboat Museum, Prinsengracht 296-K, 1016 HW Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 427 0750, houseboatmuseum.nl
Last updated 8 September 2022. This article was first published in 2013 and has been regularly updated.