The village of Giethoorn is also known as the Venice of The Netherlands, therefore it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. What are the best things to do in Giethoorn?
Why is Giethoorn such an interesting village?
Why do so many tourists come to Giethoorn every year? The village is surrounded by water, there are beautiful wooden bridges everywhere, it is full of houses with thatched roofs and part of the village is car-free. Giethoorn is also known as a village without roads. It is a beautiful place to see and it indeed looks a bit like the Dutch version of Venice.
The best things to do in Giethoorn 5 tips
Giethoorn is a great destination for a day trip in The Netherlands. The best things to do in Giethoorn Here are 5 tips.
Hop on a boat
The best way to experience Giethoorn is from the water. So make sure to get on a boat while you’re there. The village is even more beautiful if you see it from the water. You can choose to hop on one of the boat tours, but it’s actually way more fun to rent your own boat for a couple of hours.
This is so much fun! The so-called “fluisterbootjes” (free translated as whisper boats) can be rented everywhere in Giethoorn. You do not need to have experience when renting a boat, you will receive an explanation and a map when boarding. And they go really slow (can you imagine if they’d allow speedboats to go full-speed through a tiny village?), so you’ve got plenty of time to take pictures.
TIP Go on a boat trip for at least 3 hours. This way, you’ve got enough time for a picnic on the inhabited island in the Bovenwijde (a lake east of Giethoorn) and you can also sail through National Park Weerribben-Wieden for a little bit.
Visit Museum Giethoorn
Would you like to learn more about the history of Giethoorn and see what it used to look like? Then it is a good idea to visit Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus. A visit costs only €6.50 (this is the admission price for adults, there is a discount for children and large groups) and an audio tour is included.
Exploring Giethoorn on foot
Since a (large) part of Giethoorn is car-free, it is very suitable to discover on foot. During your walk, you regularly cross the water via one of the beautiful wooden bridges and from here you also have a great view of the village.
There are various hiking itineraries (you can choose from 4, 14, 17, and 27 kilometers) that allow you to discover the most beautiful places. In addition, there are also several long-distance walks (we call them LAWs in The Netherlands), that pass through Giethoorn, such as the Pionierspad and the Overijssels Havezatenpad.
Find the best souvenirs
In Giethoorn you can buy typical Dutch souvenirs such as clogs, cheese, and figurines of windmills. But there are also various (art) studios where you can buy something really special.
For example, there is Gloria Maris Shell Gallery, where you can buy various gifts with shells or other objects from the sea. In addition, visiting Giethoorn Floramics is also fun, here you can find beautiful hand-painted ceramics with flowers.
Visit Weerribben-Wieden National Park
Did you know that Giethoorn is located in one of the 21 National Parks in The Netherlands? It is located in National Park Weerribben-Wieden and this is a beautiful area full of water and small authentic villages. Besides Giethoorn, Blokzijl and Steenwijk are also some great places to visit in this area. The Weerribben-Wieden National Park is home to the largest and most beautiful peat bog area in northwestern Europe, which makes it a wonderful place to see various birds.
How to avoid the crowds in Giethoorn
Giethoorn is a famous tourist destination in The Netherlands, and that’s why it can get very crowded on some days. However, Giethoorn is a must-see during your vacation in The Netherlands. How to avoid the crowds in Giethoorn?
Here are some tips:
- Would you like to rent a boat? Do it in the morning. Usually you can book a boat from 10 am. By 1 pm, you might find yourself in a traffic jam.
- Plan your day trip Giethoorn on a weekday. Yes, it’s still busy, but a little less crowded than on the weekend. The timing of your trip is important anyway, outside the summer months it is also quieter in Giethoorn.
- Do you mainly want to discover the village on foot? In principle, this can be done all day long. However, it is very quiet before 12 noon, as it is after 4 in the afternoon.
Visiting Giethoorn: some practical tips
How do you get to Giethoorn and what are the best places to spend the night?
How to get to Giethoorn?
Giethoorn is located in the far north of the province of Overijssel, near Meppel and Steenwijk. The village is easily accessible by car and public transport.
By car – parking in Giethoorn
It is easy to drive to Giethoorn from Steenwijk, Meppel, or Zwolle, just follow the signs.
If you are driving on the N334, the parking areas are well signposted. There is a P-route indicating three different zones: midden (yellow zone), centrum (green zone), and zuid (red zone). The parking lot in the center (green zone) is often the first to be full, especially in high season. You have a greater chance of finding a spot at the other parking lots and from here it is also not far to walk to the center.
The parking lots are often part of boat rental companies and restaurants and are usually free to park on.
Travel to Giethoorn by public transport
You can also travel to Giethoorn fairly easily by public transport. From Steenwijk station there is a bus direct to Giethoorn. Plan your trip via 9292.nl so that you know for sure what the timetable is on the day you want to visit Giethoorn.
Please note: the last bus from Giethoorn to Steenwijk goes quite early, around 6 or 7 pm. Keep this in mind and plan your return trip in advance.
Giethoorn as a day trip from Amsterdam
Most tourists visit Giethoorn as a day trip from Amsterdam. From Amsterdam, it’s about a 1,5-hour drive to Giethoorn and a little over 2 hours by public transport. Prefer to have a car while you’re in The Netherlands? I would recommend checking AutoEurope, Rental Cars, or Discover Cars to find the best rates for your rental car in The Netherlands.
If you plan on driving to Giethoorn from Amsterdam, it’s great to combine your trip with a visit to the former island of Schokland. This is located between Amsterdam and Giethoorn.
If you prefer visiting Giethoorn with a guide, I would recommend visiting Giethoorn on a tour. Here are some recommendations:
- Daytrip to Giethoorn including boat trip
- Daytrip to Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans (typical Dutch windmill village) – small group
- Private tour to Giethoorn and the Afsluitdijk (also known as the Enclosing Dyke, a 32.5 km long architectural masterpiece)
Where to stay in Giethoorn
Do you feel like discovering Giethoorn without crowds of tourists? Then it is useful to book an overnight stay in Giethoorn.
Here are some nice places to stay in Giethoorn:
- Nature house with a thatched roof on the water.
- De Dames Van De Jonge Hotel Restaurant: comfortable hotel (4*)
- The Black Sheep Hostel: nice hostel with dorms (great for families and groups) and a shared bathroom. It is beautifully situated in the old town.
- Je B&B Giethoorn: beautifully furnished apartment within walking distance of the old town.
Important things to know
Perhaps unnecessarily, but I would like to let you know that Giethoorn is not a museum. It’s a real village and people live there. Therefore, do not plan a picnic in someone’s garden and do not use a mailbox as a waste bin. Not sure if you can walk or sit somewhere? Just ask. Treat the place like you would treat your own home (and garden).
More tips for a day out in the Netherlands
Besides Giethoorn, there are of course many more interesting places in The Netherlands to visit during a day trip. Here are some great travel guides full of inspiration:
You can also read a lot about fun trips in The Netherlands on this website. Here are some fun articles to read:
- 12 beautiful cities in The Netherlands
- A weekend in Amsterdam: 30 tips from local
- Hidden gems in The Netherlands: off the beaten track
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