When you have a family, you suddenly understand the importance of making vacation or holiday time relaxing. Those days off of work and school are few and far between, and the   last thing you want is to come back wishing you had an extra few days to recover from what was supposed to be your time to recharge your batteries.

relax with canal boating in EuropeFor these reasons, travelling parents from overseas may not place Europe high on their lists of places to visit, at least not until their children are older or they’ve saved up more money. The hustle and bustle of sight-seeing in big cities can be enough to take it out of anyone, but there is an alternative! Canal boating in Europe allows you to see the softer sides of many beautiful countries. Best of all, it’s relaxing and affordable.

If you make the effort to visit Europe, taking long flights as many of us do, you won’t want to miss landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or the Roman Coliseum. But a great tip is to balance out your sight-seeing and time in the city with a trip down the canals.

The rivers and waterways of Europe pass through many important regions, so you can easily climb on board near a larger city. After the crowds and traffic of a busy metropolis, the slow pace of a canal boat and fresh country air is the perfect anecdote. This will also allow you to spend quality time with your family or friends, simply relaxing in each other’s company.

Imagine the joy of discovering tiny French villages along with artisanal cheeses and fine wines from local vineyards. Or, cruise through Holland and see its historic windmills, picturesque cottages and fields of tulips along a beautiful winding canal. You can also travel through Italy’s Friuli region to reach Venice, or enjoy a completely relaxing boating experience on Portugal’s Grande Lago.

If the idea of renting a canal boat and setting off in a foreign country sounds daunting, don’t worry! The boats are easy to reserve, and you’ll receive a full overview on how to operate it when you pick it up. The canals are mostly calm and quiet, and the boat only goes a maximum of 4km per hour. They are so easy to manage that there is no special certification required. It may take a bit of practice to learn how to perform specific tasks but with a little practice and patience, you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Canal boating is easy and safe for all ages- kids love getting to know the boat and helping to steer, and elderly relatives can enjoy relaxing on deck and watching the scenery go by.

Once on board, you won’t have to worry about accommodations or eating out for every meal. The boats have comfortable berths for both small and large groups. You’ll also have a fully functional kitchen for preparing meals, as well as hot showers and flushing toilets.

This is truly a fun adventure in Europe, and one that will allow you to really get a feel for the culture of the country you are visiting. Experience true relaxation as you stroll through small villages where things haven’t changed for hundreds of years. Sample traditional cuisine and local spirits at waterside restaurants and pubs, and chat with the locals to find out more about daily life in their corner of the world.

Canal boats are available in many many locations, so why not do as many Europeans do and take to the water?

Sonia Moran is an avid boater and writer for LateBoat.com. She enjoys exploring the canals of Europe as often as possible, and thoroughly recommends this option to both local and foreign tourists.