Venice is a world-renowned tourist destination known as one of Italy’s most picturesque cities; a bevy of beautiful buildings and historic haunts, all floating amid the over 100 small islands navigable by a winding network of canals. With practically no roads, travelers must rely mainly on boats and/or gondolas as a means of transportation from place to place—making Venice a truly distinctive destination to visit for an epic adventure along its idyllic waterways. However, Venice is not the only city in Europe that primarily relies on a navigable network of wondrous waterways for its transportation: situated in Northeastern Netherlands, the small Dutch village of Giethoorn awaits visitors looking to explore the “Venice of the Netherlands.”
Originally established as a settlement of peat harvesters, Giethoorn’s geography was developed by peat cutting that carved out the area’s ponds and lakes—houses were then built on the resulting islands, which were connected by bridges and only accessible on foot or by using boats. Today, little has changed as Giethoorn’s farmhouses, residences, and tourist attractions are still only connected by centuries-old tall wooden bridges that visitors can traverse on foot or by bicycle—however, like Venice, the bulk of Giethoorn transport is done via its waterways. Appropriately known as the Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn village is a fairytale village with small town charm that still has plenty to see and do; a laid back, scenic spot that’s located less than two hours from Amsterdam, making it the perfect place to spend a weekend away from the city.
How To Get There
As Giethoorn has no actual roads, there’s no way to bring cars into the village center—visitors will need to leave their vehicle in special car parks on the village outskirts. There are a number of parking areas that are conveniently located for visitors to park and explore Giethoorn by foot, bike, or boat. Travelers can learn more about Giethoorn’s parking area’s here.
Things To Do In Giethoorn
Visiting Giethoorn is all about scoping out the perfectly picturesque landscape and the idyllic village setting located among its water-connected islands. The over 150 wooden bridges that connect the island make it easy for bikers and pedestrians to tour the fairytale village’s most scenic areas and attractions—all set to the backdrop of charming 18th and 19th century thatched roof farmhouses. No matter how visitors choose to explore, Giethoorn’s abundant greenery and willow-lined waterways await those looking for a fairytale foray into one of the Netherlands’ most spectacular scenic spots.
- Rent a boat and explore like a local. There are a number of boat rental companies throughout the village that make it easy to see Giethoorn from the water. Those who want a more guided experience will want to choose a canal cruise, as these boats are piloted by knowledgeable skippers who know the canals (and the area) well. Tours start at about $10 and up/person
- Explore the Binnepad, the village’s picturesque cycling/footpath that runs throughout the islands—a great way to see Giethoorn from the mainland. The path is clearly marked and there are a number of stops along the way including thatched-roof farmhouses and scenic terraces, restaurants, and shops by the waterside
- Get historic with a trip to one of Giethoorn’s museums: the Museum Giethoorn’t Olde Maat Uus, offers a glimpse into the village’s peat-cutting, fishing, and farming past; while De Oude Aarde is a large collection of minerals and fossils from around the world
- See Giethoorn’s Mennonite Church, Doopsgezinde Kerk Giethoorn, built in the late 19th century, it’s worth a look inside to see the original pews, organ case, and pulpit that are a glimpse into the past
- Visit the historic Giethoorn Schreur shipyard and see how traditional Giethoorn boats (known as ‘punters’) are built
Canal-Side Dining At Its Finest
Despite its small size, Giethoorn has a reputation as being a gastronomic gem—especially when it comes to its canal-side restaurant offerings. Beautifully situated along the water’s edge, these popular village spots offer delicious menus and scenic settings perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring.
- Travelers who want to spend the night in Giethoorn will find the perfect combo of Michelin-starred dining and boundless hospitality at the famed De Lindehof. With its cozy, intimate setting and dynamic menu inspired by the area’s distinctive local culture, De Lindehof is one of the best spots to grab a bite and stay the night in Gierthoorn Beulakerweg 77, 8355 AC Giethoorn
- Hollands Venetie Giethoorn has the best of both worlds: boat rentals and a fantastic meal overlooking the canals. This scenic spot also has several lodgings available, each with a terrace and amazing water views Beulakerweg 167, 8355 AG Giethoorn
- ’T Achterhuus is a relaxing spot with terraced seating located directly on the water—the perfect place to soak up some og the village’s best views while sipping a seasonal brew and noshing on a delish lunch or dinner Ds. T.O. Hylkemaweg 43, 8355 CE Giethoorn
Located in Overijssel in northeastern Netherlands, the picturesque village of Giethoorn is known as the “Dutch Venice”—and with good reason. Hand dug canals wend their way through islands populated with charming thatched-roof farmhouses connected by centuries-old bridges in this idyllic getaway just a short drive from Amsterdam. Perfect for spending a relaxing afternoon touring the canals or exploring on foot, this charming town is a true idyll whose distinctive geography and scenery rivals that of its Italian cousin.