Giethoorn is in the province of Overijssel in the east of the Netherlands, a green and still area.
Giethoorn is at the centre of Overijssel’s canal system. Indeed, the little village is so dependent on its waterways, many of the houses cannot be reached by road. When the postman delivers the mail he travels by punt.
Giethoorn’s name originates from the first inhabitants discovery of hundreds of goat horns (gietehorens) in the marshland, remnants of a 10th-century flood.
Today no goat horns will be found here, but the vegetation is quite distinct still. Here you will find yourself on the edge of vast series of lakes and canals. The history of this province goes back to around 1200 when Franciscan monks settled in the area. It was founded by fugitives from the Mediterranean region in around AD 1230. Giethoorn was a separate municipality until 1973, when it became part of Brederwiede. It is currently home to less than 3,000 people, most of them living on their private islands. There’s approximately 180 bridges as it’s the only way to reach many houses, other than by boat.
It is so peaceful, so different and has such simple beauty that it hardly seems real – gently gliding along small canals past old but pretty thatched-roof farmhouses. You can turn down a “side street” (another small canal) and drift under a wooden bridge where an elderly resident may be strolling over to see a neighbour. No this is not Venice, or Amsterdam.
It is too quiet, too serene and remote. It is so calm that is also known as “Little Venice” or “The Venice of the North”. It has such simple beauty that it hardly seems real – small canals, pretty thatched-roof farmhouses and a fairytale-like gardens.
Here in Holland’s water village of Giethoorn the loudest sound you can normally hear is the quacking of a duck or the noise made by other birds.
Things To Do
Although for most the best thing to do in Giethoorn is to chill and admire the canals, ponds and the scenery, there are more possibilities to spend your free time here. The most obvious thing one can do is to rent a boat here and explore the waterways. But be wary that in high season, sometimes free boats are hard to come by, so make sure you rent one early in the morning.
But the boat is not the only way you can be on the water here. You can also rent an inflatable ball, and after you are positioned inside of the big transparent ball, you can literally walk on water … or float.
If you prefer to spend time on land instead, you can rent a bike and explore the village and its surroundings. By cycling, you will be able to explore the Dutch countryside with farm animals and endless fields.
But if you are more inclined to not do any sport or wearing activity, you can choose to stay in Giethoorn, relax, eat at some of the restaurants there or visit some of the museums.
How to Get There?
With public transport will take around 2.5 hours. From Amsterdam take train to Steenwijk, from there take the bus 249 to Giethoorn.
If you’re driving from Amsterdam, take highway A1-E231 to the A28-E232. Driving time is about 90 minutes :)
Where to Stay?
The village is tiny, most people suggest no more than 1 night because you could see everything in just a few hours but if you’d like to stay overnight, or even longer, there are several hotels and bed & breakfasts to choose from.