Located in the Weerribben-Wieden National Park in the northern Dutch province of Overijssel, Giethoorn is a truly magical and unforgettable town, where locals and tourists mingle to enjoy the best of nature.
Giethoorn is an idyllic village that never fails to amaze visitors with its many waterways, countless thatched farms, and small peat islands connected by over 170 small wooden arch bridges.
Little has changed here, allowing visitors to experience life in medieval times. The tall wooden bridges are still there, and gorgeous 18th and 19th-century farmhouses still stand.
When driving to Giethoorn, expect to leave your car outside this canal village, as this place prohibits vehicles from coming in. There are particular areas outside where you can park for free.
There are no roads (except for one main walkway) in the village, and where there are no roads, you are sure there won’t be noisy, careening cars around to disturb the peace. Cars and any motorized vehicles are not allowed inside Giethoorn.
As you arrive, walk on Binnenpad, the one-foot path in Giethoorn, to make your way to the commercial heart of the village. Rent your boat, board a guided cruise, visit a museum, check out the many restaurants and cafes, or visit the tourism center where you can ask for a Giethoorn village map.
The walk-on Binnenpad itself is already magical and quite picturesque. You will find yourself slowly strolling and enjoying the surrounding scenery.
Renting a boat
The most important attractions are the boats and boat rides on the picturesque canals. This is the best way to explore Giethoorn, popularly known as the “Venice of the Netherlands” for its lovely canals and romantic boat rides. It is easy to find a boat to rent as most hotels, restaurants, and even local residents offer several boat options for rent.
Giethoorn is best known for its whisper boats. These electric-powered punt boats are quiet, as their engines are muffled. You can easily distinguish these noise-free and eco-friendly boats on the water for their red color.
Electrically powered sloop boats are faster and stronger than whisper boats. Some say they are the luxurious version of whisper boats because their engines are stronger. They have leather cushions to make the ride more comfortable and are equipped with a steering wheel, making them easier to control and navigate than whisper boats.
You can choose from three types of sloop boats, depending on how many people you are with. There are sloop boats for four people, 8 and 12, which is the maximum capacity allowed.
Canoes for rent are for those who love adventure. Giethoorn’s waterways are safe and smooth, but canoes are best reserved for those who know how to use them. There are one-person canoes and two-person canoes for rent. When canoeing, avoid passing along the center of the village. It could get crowded with other boats of tourists. Take an alternative route since you are in control of your boat.
Guided cruises for groups and families are safe. A skipper will lead you to make sure you enjoy the cruise and learn about the history of Giethoorn.
Having a local private tour guide can be very helpful and fun. Your own private skipper will help you save time and avoid the hustle of competing for space with other excited tourists, especially during the high season.
Rent a boat in Giethoorn. Cruises cost around 7.50 euros per person per hour, while boat rental is 15.00 euros per boat per hour.
When visiting the Netherlands, one of the top things to do is see its many important and unique museums. The entire country boasts its cultural and historical heritage, and this is highlighted in museums.
In Giethoorn, visit Olde Maat Uus museum, a traditional museum that will transport you several hundred years back to see how peat harvesters first settled here and established Giethoorn. Locals created ponds and lakes, and people built houses and beautiful wooden bridges. You will also learn how the early settlers built narrow punt boats that they pushed on water using a long pole.
Another museum is De Oude Aarde, the oldest museum in Giethoorn. If you love gems and stones with bling, come here to see an exciting display of precious and ornamental stones of all kinds from over the world, including minerals and fossils.
You can’t miss De Oude Aarde as you arrive, as it is located along Binnenpad. Beside the museum is a gemstone shop where you can purchase some stones for sale. There are gems for every budget.
A third museum is the Art Pottery Giethoorn Floramics, nestled in a former stable beside a lovely canal in the middle of the village. This is both a museum and workshop found inside a more-than-100-year-old typical thatched-roof farmhouse.
Finding a place to stay
When in Giethoorn, choose from a number of hotels, B&B, or boathouses conveniently located near the canals. There are hotels for all budgets. Check out Hotel Harmonie, a four-star family hotel with 16 rooms, located on the Wieden nature reserve, near the Binnenpad.
Meanwhile, if you wish to stay in a forest area, visit the four-star Fletcher Hotel-Restaurant De Eese-Giethoorn on the edge of the Woldeberg and Eese nature reserves and on the border of Overijssel, Drenthe, and Friesland.
If you wish to treat yourself to a world-class boathouse, check out Water Villa Intermezzo, a luxurious recreation boathouse on the Cornelisgracht that is perfect for four people. It offers an amazing view of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park and the tourist center.
When on a budget, your choices are Tiny Hanseboat and Bed-on-a-Boat. Tiny Hanzeboat is a 3-star boat accommodation that includes a kitchen, living room, and refrigerator.
Bed-on-a-Boat, on the other hand, while inexpensive, offers a terrace with amazing views of the lake. It is located in an area near several hiking, cycling, canoeing, and fishing spots.
There are several budget boathouses in Giethoorn, and they are often hidden away down the creeks or docksides. You can ask local boat owners along the rivers and nearby canals for more information.
If you prefer a quick stay in a Bed & Breakfast, try Plompeblad Giethoorn, which is actually a farmhouse with two apartments equipped with a kitchen and private bathroom, with free parking and free Wi-Fi access.
Another option is Appartement “Haamstede”, also a farmhouse with one apartment for two. It is located along a canal from Steenwijk to Giethoorn, near Weerribben-Wieden National Park.
Also, check out B&B Mooi Giethoorn located on the Dorpsgracht in the quiet southern part of Giethoorn. It has two rooms with a shared living room.
You can’t get enough of Giethoorn, but if you wish to see more, you are not far from the bewitching De Weerribben-Wieden National Park. This is one of the top nature reserves in this part of the country. Come here if you wish to hike and cycle in nature or set up camp in forests, flower fields, and along lakes. The park is popular for its marine life and wildlife.
Also nearby are the enchanting medieval towns of Vollenhove and Blokzijl. Enjoy a picturesque bike ride from Giethoorn to these towns to see historic buildings, old churches, and ancient castles. If you are adventurous, you can pedal further to nearby Sint-Jansklooster, Kalenberg, and Steenwijk.
When to come
The best months to visit Giethoorn are just before summer, in April and May. Giethoorn Netherlands tourism is at its peak in summer, beginning in June, when thousands of visitors line up to enjoy the waters and attractions. The village could indeed get crowded until September. Giethoorn is as picturesque as can be, reminiscent of fairy tales and magical wonderlands. It becomes even lovelier in the summer when the place gets flooded with colorful blooms.
How to get to Giethoorn
Where is Giethoorn, and how to get there? Giethoorn, the village without roads, is just an hour and a half’s drive from Amsterdam.
There are several trains from the capital city going to Steenwijk or Zwolle. From Steenwijk or Zwolle, simply take a bus to the Giethoorn bus stop, which is just a short walk away from the canal village.
Another train route is through Meppel, to Wolvega and Steenwijk, which are just a few kilometers from Giethoorn. The total trip costs about 34 euros.
Let this quick guide and tips to the Netherlands’ village without roads take you to this amazing Dutch destination. Every family in the Netherlands longs to spend some time in Giethoorn, and so should everybody else in Europe and all over the world. Pack your things and make your way to Giethoorn, a truly enchanting boat village for everyone.
Also good to read