A Fairy Tale on Water: Giethoorn

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.

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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.

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved


thatched roofs are common in this part of Holland – they’re made with dried reeds
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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.

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Yes, there was a swan painted on my bathroom door. No, I’m not entirely sure why.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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.

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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…


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About christina

Christina is a 30-something D.I.N.K. travel writer & photographer who travels the world often wedged into the middle seat. Follow her on Twitter & Facebook.

5 Responses to A Fairy Tale on Water: Giethoorn

  1. Mani July 20, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    been there. but please make sure you leave before 6:30 Pm if you’re using public transport as the last bus leaves at 18:30 . we did that mistake and had to walk a long way then ask some kind locals to call us a cab. very nice experience. I’ve been there twice and will defenitley go again.

    • christina July 20, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

      That is such a great tip! Yes, always important to check the *return* timetable when taking public transit.

  2. Anabela George July 21, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    That is lovely! I will have to place it on the list!

    • christina July 22, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

      It felt like such a hidden gem!

  3. Lincode July 28, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    This is looks like awesome place.

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