The charming little village of Giethoorn consists only of waterways and narrow walking paths. Giethoorn is in the province of Overijssel in the east of the Netherlands. Giethoorn is at the centre of Overijssel’s canal system. Due to its vast canal network, it is called the ‘Venice of the Netherlands’ or the ‘Venice of the North’.
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 still quite distinct. In Giethoorn village you’ll come across many traditional houses with thatched domes overlooking the canals. Houses are often adorned with lush green lawns and colorful flowers, adding to the beauty of the village. Many of the houses cannot be reached by road, they can only be accessed by crossing one of the high wooden-arched bridges. With countless canals there are some 180 wooden bridges in the villages.
Giethoorn is a car free village can only be reached on foot, by bicycle or boat. The best way to explore Giethoorn is obviously by joining a canal cruise or hiring a boat. With many canal-side houses there are museums, and restaurants that can be accessed by boat.
In summer season the villagers full of tourist so you have to plan your visit and rent a boat in advance. This village is great place to visit not only in summer but also in winter when people come here for ice skating on the canals.
There are many tours companies available in Amsterdam which offers a complete package for Giethoorn which includes transport from Amsterdam to Giethoorn and back with a professional tour guide. You can also visit the Giethoorn village by using public transport.
How to go to Giethoorn by public transport
In many countries this type of tourist places are well connected with the public transport system. Here in this case it is not so well connected with the public transport. It’s a hassle to reach this small village by public transport. With good planning you can reach this village from Amsterdam in 2 hours, else it will take more time. For planning your trip use the site 9292.nl.
For going to Giethoorn, you have to first catch a train from Amsterdam Central to ‘Almere Centrum’. In Almere Centrum transfer into another train in the direction of ‘Leeuwarden’. Leave this train at ‘Steenwijk‘ station. From this station, catch a bus in the direction of ‘Zwartsluis‘. In next 10 minutes the bus will drop you to Giethoorn village.
In order to use public transport, you will need an OV-chipcard with sufficient credit to cover your trip in addition to another 20 Euro. A round trip from Amsterdam will cost around 50 Euro.
What to do in Giethoorn?
Giethoorn Is a village full of small canals and the best way to explore is by a boat. You can rent your own boat or boat with the captain. There are several boat rentals shops available in village with different kind of boats.
Other than a few pedal boat options, all other boats are electrically operated. The ‘whisper boat’ or a punter is the best option since it’s easy to use and its small body make navigation easy. If you are travelling in a peak summer season then I suggest you to book your boat in advance. We reach the village around 11 AM and till that time most of the boats were not available. At the end we went near the Smit’s Paviljoen hotel. The boat rental company just before the hotel entrance having few boats available. The Smit’s Paviljoen hotel is at the edge of the lake, with an awesome view of the lake with outdoor terrace and seating area. In peak season this hotel is also fully booked for tour groups, so call them in advance and book your table.
We had our boats from there for 16 Euro per hour. They also provided a map of the Giethoorn town, with the canal routes marked on the map for 1, 2 and 3 hour tour. We take the boat for 3 hours rental package but we did not follow the marked canal route, instead we navigated to the places in the village we like the most. You’ll come across several restaurants and cafés that are on the sides of these canal waterways. You have to hop off your boat to access these places. In the lake Bovenwijde there is a small island where you can hook your boat and relax under the trees.
For those who don’t want to rent boat they can explore the canals by large tour boats with many other people. These boats are covered boats with multiple row’s sitting arrangement. Though Giethoorn can be explored without a boat but for a truly remarkable experience hire a boat or take a boat tour.
Another option is to explore Giethoorn by bike and on foot. There are several bike rentals companies in Giethoorn.
Other than day trips, if you are staying in the area for a night or two, there are at least three museums which can you can visit in Giethoorn; Museum De Oude Aarde, Schelpengalerie Gloria Maris and Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus.
- Museum De Oude Aarde (The Old Earth) houses the unique collection of gems and Minerals which are found in the area.
- Schelpengalerie Gloria Maris Is dedicated to the marine life and the collections from under water. it houses a shell Gloria Maris, jewellery made of Coral and pearl and other household decorative items made from sea shell and coral.
- Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus shows how the life was in Giethoorn. The museum also preserves the art work of many artists portraying Giethoorn for more than hundred years.
You can make your visit in Giethoorn more relaxed and enjoyable by staying in Giethoorn. There are numerous accommodation options available in Giethoorn. There are options available for staying in a traditional Giethoorn house from Airbnb, which will be something definitely great to experience.