Our neighboring country the Netherlands, has so many beautiful places that I have yet to discover. One of them has been on my bucket list for a long time, the Venice in the north, better known as Giethoorn. While searching the internet for beautiful destinations in the Netherlands, I came across photos of Giethoorn. Seeing this picturesque village with winding canals that you can explore by boat, made me fall in love instantly. Still, everyone advised against a visit to Giethoorn in the Netherlands. It’s far too touristy! But why can’t touristic spots be fun? I decided to experience it for myself. I made it my mission to inform you as well as possible so you can plan the perfect day trip tot Giethoorn in the Netherlands.
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The perfect day trip to Giethoorn in the Netherlands
How to get to Giethoorn?
Giethoorn is located in the north of the Netherlands, more specifically in the province of Overijssel. It is approximately 3.5 hours by car from Ghent in Belgium. This is possible for a day trip, but you can also opt for a weekend getaway. There are many beautiful places to explore in the area.
Traveling by train to Giethoorn is possible. Giethoorn doesn’t have a station. It’s therefore best to travel by train to Steenwijk station. There you can continue by bus to Giethoorn. From Belgium it is best to take the train to Rotterdam or Amsterdam and from there to Steenwijk.
You can’t drive within the centre of Giethoorn by car. It’s best to park your car in the various car parks on the edge of the centre or at the public parking spaces such as those of the boat rentals, restaurants, hotels, … Most parking facilities are free, with the exception of a few where you can pay a a few euros for a day.
Best time to travel Giethoorn?
The best travel time to visit Giethoorn in the Netherlands is from April to October. When you visit Giethoorn, you probably want to admire the picturesque village from the canals. That is why dry weather is recommended. During the winter, boating may not be the ideal activity. But then the weather is perfect for skating on the canals through Giethoorn. If possible, avoid busy vacation periods such as the Easter and summer holidays. Prefer to choose less busy times during the spring or autumn.
Where to stay in Giethoorn?
If you opt for a weekend getaway, there are some top addresses where you can stay. If you are only staying for one night, I recommend the cozy B&B Giethoorn or B&B Tulden Farmhous. Are you planning to stay longer? Then take a look at booking where you can find many original holiday homes in Giethoorn. In Steenwijk, near Giethoorn, you can also book an authentic stay in stadslogement De Smederij van Steenwijk.
Tourism in Giethoorn
Giethoorn in the Netherlands in a picturesque village famous for its narrow canals and wooden bridges. Giethoorn is ofter called the Venice of the north. You can imagine that this is a popular spot among tourists.
Every year this small town is flooded with thousands of tourists. How many there are exactly is unknown. Some sources say that there are more than 100000 tourists yearly, some even say more than 1 million!
A funny fact is that the town Giethoorn was even reconstructed in China as part of an theme park because they love it so much.
Explore Gierhoorn by boat
If you visit Giethoorn, you must explore the town by boat. So we did! Upon arrival we entered the first best boat rental company and rented a small boat for an hour. There are several boat rental companies. If you visit Giethoorn during a busier period, it is recommended to reserve a boat.
At the boat rental company we couldn’t see much of Giethoorn besides the canal and some typical Dutch houses. I thought to myself, “what is all this fuss about”? Is this the fairytale Giethoorn that I saw in the photos?
But I immediately changed my mind when I got in the boat. Even though, we only rented it for one hour.I enjoyed the beautiful views and the cosy vibe. As it was early it was very relaxing to drive the boat, there were no big crowds.
The lake is beautiful and reminded me a bit of my trip to Inle lake in Myanmar, without the floating gardens.
When we made our way through the narrow canals I was really impressed. It was breathtaking! We sailed under the many wooden bridges. Giethoorn has no fewer than 177! Almost every house has such a picturesque wooden bridge to connect it to the road.
The houses made of wood with thatched roofs are typically Dutch. They are also decorated with colorful shutters and flowers.
Passing through the town centre we could see that it was already a bit more crowded. There are shops and bars alongside the canals where you can stop for some drinks or snacks. On the lake there is even an ice cream boat instead of cart. It sails from boat to boat to sell delicious ice creams. An ideal refreshing snack during the hot summer days.
Explore Gierhoorn by foot
In the afternoon we decided to explore Giethoorn by foot. It was already far more crowded on the canals then in the morning. The walking path alongside the canals was also crowded, but not that much that it bothered us. We could walk a normal paste without bumping into others. I was more focussed on what was happing on the canals. There were a lot of traffic jams before bridges and boats were even bumping in to each other. I was actually quite amusing to watch. While walking I enjoyed the pleasant crowds.
Other things to do in Giethoorn
Besides boating, there is much more to experience in Giethoorn and the surrounding area. For example, Giethoorn has some interesting museums, including ’t olde maat uus where you can delve into the history of Giethoorn.
Giethoorn is the ideal place for nature lovers as well because of the National Park Weerribben-Wieden. Here you can walk and cycle to your heart’s content. The Veenweidepad hiking trail which is 4 km can be perfectly combined with a boat trip during a day trip. But you can also explore Giethoorn and the wetlands of Weerribben-Wieden by bicycle. You can map out your own route via fietsknooppunten but here you will find some of the best cycling routes in and around Giethoorn.
Of course you can also enjoy the picturesque Giethoorn on its own. It is wonderful to walk along the canals. Moreover, it’s super fun to have a look inside the local shops. You’ll find the best souvenirs and the tastiest specialties. Don’t forget to taste the delicious Dutch cheese.
If you prefer to explore Giethoorn with an organized tour, then be sure to check out Getyourguide’s offer below. They have super fun day trips to Giethoorn from Amsterdam. Perfect to experience fairytale Giethoorn in addition to vibrant Amsterdam.
Important tips to visit Giethoorn in the Netherlans
- When you go early, you can avoid mass tourism. We went at 11 AM, but to be sure you best start at 10 AM. Before you discover the town by foot, rent a boat and discover the lake, but especially the many narrow canals around it. One hour is enough to see the largest part.
- Don’t rent a boat after 1 PM, then you will have traffic jams on the canals for sure. The disadvantage is you won’t make it back in one hour and will have to pay extra for your boat.
- When exploring Giethoorn by foot, watch out for the cyclists. They use the same path as the pedestrians and you can’t always see them coming through the crowds, so be careful.
- If you want to have lunch or dinner in a restaurant, pick wisely. There are some tourist traps where you pay a lot for mediocre food. Recommend restaurants are de Lindenhof, Hollands Venetië en ’t achterhuus. You can always opt to bring your own lunch and find a cozy spot to have a picnic.
Even though Giethoorn is one of the most touristic sights in the Netherlands, I would still recommend it. If you take busy periods and times into account, you can explore Giethoorn and its beautiful surroundings in a very pleasant way.
Would you like to explore more of the Netherlands, read the perfect day trip to Zaanse Schans, my extensive city guide of Leiden, and where you can spend a romantic weekend getaway in the Netherlands. Be sure to check out my favorite travel guides about the Netherlands below. These can help you plan your perfect trip to the Netherlands.
Would you like to visit Giethoorn in the Netherlands? Let me know in the comments below
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