Last updated on May 15, 2024

Are you interested in a houseboat (or cruiser- boat) holiday in Ireland? Good idea! The island is a dream and there are really big and beautiful houseboat areas. So, let’s go!



“Yes, but…” You still have questions? You’re not alone in that.

This article is about exactly that: what questions are frequently asked about houseboat holidays in Ireland – and above all – what are the answers?

By the way, my family and I live in Ireland (second home). In summer we run our motorbike rental business at our location south of Dublin ( and also offer nice guest rooms. We have travelled the Irish island many times in all directions and therefore know it well.

So let’s get going:

Frequently asked questions and answers

Do I need a driving licence to drive a houseboat in Ireland?

No, you don’t need a licence to drive a houseboat in Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, you must be of legal age (18).

Can I drive a houseboat without experience?

Yes, this is not a problem. In fact, most houseboat renters in Ireland have never driven a houseboat before, so they are beginners. You’ll get a thorough briefing from the rental company and you’ll probably do a little trial run together. Don’t worry, if you can drive a car, then boating is not difficult.

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Can I also go house-boating with children?

Yes, children love a holiday on a boat. Especially if they can go swimming, ride bikes or do other activities in between.

Do I need to bring a life jackets ?

Life jackets are compulsory and are provided by the rental company.

Can I go swimming on the way?

Absolutely, the water quality in Ireland is generally excellent, both on the coast and on the lakes and rivers.


Can I also bring a bicycle on the houseboat?

Yes, that is actually a very good idea! Several rental companies offer bicycles that you can rent as well. Then you are a bit more mobile on land if you want to go shopping or visit something.

Can I also fish from the houseboat?

Yes, you can do that without a fishing licence. However, you will probably have to buy a permit. Your houseboat rental company can help you with this.

Can I bring my dog on the houseboat?

At several houseboat rentals you can bring your dog on the boat without any problems. It is best to check with your rental company beforehand.


Where can I go houseboating in Ireland and Northern Ireland?

The largest areas are the River Shannon with its lakes and the River Erne with its lakes. Both are connected by the Shannon-Erne Waterway. You can also cruise on the Grand Canal and the River Barrow, as well as the Lower Bann.

How do I find a good route? How do I find my way on the water?

Houseboat rental companies will usually have several good route suggestions for you. You will also get maps on the boat.

Are there any rules of the road on the water?

There are also traffic rules on the water, as well as signs and markings, comparable to road signs. You will receive a briefing from the rental company and an overview to read along the way.

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Can I rent a houseboat in one direction?

Yes, there are rental companies with several rental stations. There you can choose where you pick up your boat and where you return it, i.e. round trip or one-way route. If you choose the one-way route, the rental company can also help you with your transfer.

What do I need to bring for the houseboat holiday?

Apart from your passport, bank cards and mobile phone (with travel adapter for English sockets), you only need to bring your personal luggage. Don’t forget warm and waterproof clothing for rainy days, but also sunscreen and sunglasses for good days – and don’t forget your swimming trunks! You can still buy food and other supplies in Ireland.

How are the rental houseboats equipped?

The houseboats are like mobile homes on the water and are also equipped in a similar way. This means that there are usually one or more cabins (rooms) with several bunks (beds), a galley (kitchen) and a small bathroom with toilet, shower and sink. Cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery are on board, but you have to buy your own supplies.


Can I stop along the way with the houseboat?

Yes, there are jetties and small boat harbours everywhere where you can stop or moor up and spend the night.

Are there locks and how do they work?

Yes, there are locks, but don’t worry, your landlord will explain how they work. Driving a lock takes a bit of practice, but you will learn quickly.

Where can I rent a houseboat in Ireland or Northern Ireland?

I have written a separate article about this, which I will link to at the bottom of the text for you.

How much does it cost to rent a houseboat in Ireland?

The prices depend on the time of travel, the type of boat, the route and the duration of the trip. For a week you can expect to pay between €700 and over €3000. Check the websites of the rental companies and choose your travel dates to see availability and prices.


How do I get from Dublin Airport to the houseboat rental?

You can take a long distance bus from Dublin Airport to the rental location, for example: Carrick-on-Shannon. Or you can take a transfer, which many rental companies will organise for you.

Can you take the houseboat out for a meal, go shopping or do some sightseeing?

Yes, no problem. Every place along the way has a small harbour where you can moor and then explore the place on foot or by bike and do your errands.

What else do I need to know beforehand?

It’s best to read the pages of the houseboat rental companies at your leisure, you’ll find lots of information there. If you have any special questions, just call the landlord. The Irish are nice and helpful and will be happy to help you, even if your English may not be perfect.

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So, I hope I have been able to answer some of your questions.

The houseboat rental companies on Shannon and Erne are used to customers who have little or no experience with houseboats.

And yet hundreds of enthusiastic holidaymakers spend a wonderful holiday on the waters of the Irish island every year – so take heart, you can do it too!

Let’s go to Ireland!

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Image credits: cover photo by Lajos Szabo on Unsplash.

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg