Top 10 reasons to take a canal boat holiday

There are over 35,000 boats licenced for canal cruising in England and Wales, including over 1,000 hire boats.

With the current focus on domestic holidays, narrowboat holidays have never been more popular.  And many people are planning their first holiday on the canals this year.

You don’t need a licence to steer a canal boat, and tuition is included in all our holiday packages.  There are over 3,000 miles of inland waterways to explore, with hundreds of waterside destinations.

Ten reasons to take a narrowboat holiday


  1. It’s like a floating safari 

    Our beautiful network of inland waterways provides homes for many types of birds, plants, animals and insects. Look out for herons, kingfishers, ducks, swans, moorhens, coots, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, woodland birds and bats.  And if you are lucky, you might also see an otter or a water vole.

  1. You can moor up at a canalside pub

    There are hundreds of pubs to enjoy along our canals and rivers, many of them historic inns dating back over 200 years to the days of the working boats.

  1. We feel happier by the water

    Research carried out by the Canal & River Trust’s shows we feel happier and less stressed by our waterways.  And the longer we spend there, the more relaxed we become.

  1. It’s the fastest way to slow down

    With speed limits of just 4mph and hundreds of miles of tranquil unspoilt countryside to cruise through, a narrowboat holiday takes you back to a slower, more peaceful pace of life.

  1. You can take everything you need

    Our hire boats have everything you need to enjoy a self-catering holiday afloat.  This includes central heating, hot water, TV, fully-equipped kitchens, showers and flushing toilets.

  1. You don’t need a licence to steer a narrowboat

    Boat steering tuition is provided as part of all Drifters holiday packages, so it’s easy for newcomers to take to the water.

  1. It’s better for the planet

    As soon as you swap your car for a boat, you’ll be using a third of the fuel. So a waterway tour will reduce your holiday carbon footprint, especially if you opt for a departure base closer to home. 

  1. It’s a break from the screen

    Boating offers plenty of activities to keep all the family busy. From steering the boat, working the locks and planning the route, to exploring waterside attractions and watching out for wildlife.

  1. You can bring your pets

    We welcome dogs and many other types of pet on all our boats, so you don’t have to leave your furry friends behind.

  1. You can enjoy an outdoor workout

    Working the locks, as well as walking, running and cycling along the towpath, makes a narrowboat holiday great for keeping fit.