Tucked into northern Holland is a fairy tale on water: the village of Giethoorn sits idyllically on a series of canals to form Holland’s own version of Venice. As a guest of Visit Holland, I enjoyed exploring the village as part of my tour of the country.
Giethoorn: a brief history
There are no cars in the center of this small town which was first inhabited by Italians who took advantage of the excellent peat farming in the area. A Mennonite community followed & its current 2600 residents live peacefully on the water, riding bikes & motoring around in quiet electric boats, dodging tourists who think their private homes are fake & open for public viewing & tourists who have never driven a motorboat before & have no idea what they’re doing (guilty). Located within De Weerriben-Widen National Park, a visit to this fairy tale village makes for a lovely afternoon of wandering, cycling, boating or kayaking.
Where to Stay, Where to Eat
There are a number of B&Bs right inside the village center (just be prepared to carry your luggage since there’s no vehicle access!). We stayed just outside the city at Hotel Giethoorn, which was perfectly lovely. The included breakfast was ample & my room was simple & – most importantly – quiet.
In Giethoorn, there are a number of restaurants to choose from. I enjoyed a traditional Dutch lunch at De Sloothaak. Everything at this small cafe is sources from within the Netherlands. While it’s not the healthiest thing on the menu, a traditional Dutch sandwich of croquettes, a side of french fries with mayo & peanut sauce, all washed down with a Royal Lemon really hit the spot.
Know if you go…
– while driving to Giethoorn is by far the easiest way, it is possible to get there via public transit. From Amsterdam, take the Intercity train towards Leeuwarden & get off in Steenwijk. Then hop on the number 70 bus toward Zwartsluis & go (according to Google maps) 15 stops. Depending on when you’re going, this could take 2-4 hours, but I promise it’s worth it! Google maps has good transit directions, but always double check at the train station before heading out.
– remember that you are walking around someone’s neighborhood & be respectful. These are real houses, with real people living in them. It might look like Disney, but it’s not!
– just a head’s up: take it easy when you first get in the electric boat! They’re not as easy to control as meets the eye…