Giethoorn, in the Dutch province of Overijssel, is often called the “Venice of the Netherlands”, but unlike the Italian city of water, here are no streets and no modern transportation, just canals.
Anyone going to Giethoorn should leave their car outside the village and travel by boat. Usually by “whisper boat”, which has an electric, noiseless motor, because diesel engines are forbidden in this area.
Most houses in the village are located in small, private islands, which are connected by bridges. Lots of bridges. To be precise, there are more than 180 bridges in Giethoorn.
The nickname “Venice of the Netherlands” doesn’t describe Giethoorn very well. It gives a false impression of size and crowds, and commercialism within the village. This is not Venice or Amsterdam. It is too quiet, too serene and remote. Even the village’s website says that “the loudest sound you can normally hear is the quacking of a duck or the noise made by other birds”.
Just imagine what life would be like there: every day you’d arrive home by boat to your small, private island and enjoy the stunning view from your living room. Silence. Beauty. Peace. Well, most of the time, when the village isn’t swamped by tourists.
- Best time to visit: High season in the Netherlands is the period between mid-April and mid-October. You can choose almost any date from this time to visit Giethoorn but try to avoid August, when the village becomes too crammed with tourists.
- How long to stay: Proximity to Amsterdam generally makes Giethoorn a fine day trip, but we recommend to stay one or two nights here to really appreciate the tranquility and serenity of the village.
- The best place to stay: If you want to stay in a hotel, you should try Hotel de Harmonie, which is situated along a canal in the northern (more quiet part) of the village. Of course, the cheaper option is to rent a small farmhouse on Airbnb.com If you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb before, you can get $25 off your first rental using this link.
- The best place to eat: The most famous cafe in Giethoorn is ‘The Fanfare’. It became well known after 1958 when the Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra partly shot his comedy “Fanfare” there.
- One thing not to miss: Whatever you do, make sure you rent a boat while you’re there. This is the best way to explore the village. The perspective from the water is much better than merely walking along the canals. There are several boat renting options. This looks especially good: Smitgiethoorn
- “Hello” and “Thank you” in Dutch: “Hallo” and “Bedankt”
- The name Giethoorn means “Goat horn” and is derived from the first inhabitants’ discovery of hundreds of goat horns in the area. Unfortunately, today you can’t find any horns here.
- In winter, the canals freeze over and are used for ice skating by locals and tourist alike.
- Giethoorn is amazingly popular among Chinese visitors. About 200,000 tourists from China come to the village every year. Considering the fact that total population of Giethoorn is just 2,620, this number looks very impressive.
- In 2015, Giethoorn became one of the cities on the board of the new edition of Monopoly. There was a competition where all Monopoly fans could vote for their favorite cities. An online campaign, led by the local tourist office, went viral in China (see above) and resulted in enough votes to obtain a place in the game.
- Despite the number of tourists and the public attention gained from their Monopoly win, Giethoorn remains one of the most truly scenic and predominantly unspoilt destinations in Europe.