Visiting Giethoorn: The Venice of Holland

By Elie - 12:00 AM

What, no museum today? Hear me out, blog space: I'm fully vaccinated so we're more comfortable to the idea of visiting places around the Netherlands again! And so with that out of the way, today's blog post is an ode to my mum who's been telling me to visit this place since the day she saw a video of it on Facebook...


But before I start throwing out pictures, let's take a quick walk down the history of this majorly tourist attraction. Set in the Overijssel province of the Netherlands, Giethoorn is a little village that is almost car-free, given that it's mainly flanked by canals and the Beulakerwijde lake. The lake is also the largest lake of the province, so you can only imagine how much water there is.

Spoiler alert: There's a LOT of water at Giethoorn

As a result, residents and tourists visiting Giethoorn travel mainly on foot, on bicycles that you can rent from businesses on-site, or on boats and tour cruises. You can probably find thousands of videos about the little village on various social media platforms today...and I can now tell you they are full of lies. Don't get me wrong, the village itself is extremely gorgeous as it's flanked with nothing but never-ending canals, homes with thatched roof, and greenery. 

Unfortunately, my photo doesn't even do the village justice

What most videos don't show you however is how packed it is with tourists from all over the world - or perhaps at this moment given the situation with the pandemic - people from around Europe. Luckily for my other half and I, we were visiting Giethoorn on a Friday instead of the weekends. Given how busy it was on a weekday, we can't imagine the crowds on Saturday and Sunday. With the tourists and gorgeous canals combined, you should now be able to see why they might call Giethoorn the Venice of Holland.

Patience takes you a long way for gorgeous pictures of the village sans tourists

As mentioned earlier, the village is a primarily car-free area, so you'll see various businesses offering boats for rent. If you're feeling adventurous, prices usually start from €20 per hour or more depending on the type of boat you get. License and experience are not necessary, though they will come in handy while you're cruising through the canals along with some hundred other boats. For those looking to sit back and relax instead, hourly cruises for tourists are aplenty along the entrance of the village.

Which was what we paid for

Starting at €12.50 per person, you'll usually be taken around the village for an hour (or more depending on the package you purchase at higher prices) with about 20 other tourists. The boat driver also doubles as a tour guide, with most of them speaking decent English on top of their native Dutch. We were lucky to come across a hilarious tour guide who allegedly took us past his house as well, and that was a lot of fun. Because we also took one of the later tours, there were only about 10 of us on the boat - including our guide.

And it was lovely

Visiting Giethoorn on a day when it's primarily sunny also helps, as I can't imagine having to walk around the village when it rains. Winds can be rough once your boat gets to the lake, as there is little to nothing that helps shade the lake in any way. Unfortunately, this could mean there are very limited days for you to see Giethoorn in its beautiful glory, as the Netherlands is notorious for its rainy situations. If you do catch a good day out though, Giethoorn does make a fantastic visit for a day out away from the bustling city of Amsterdam.

Forget ice-cream trucks, ice-cream boats are where its at when you're in Giethoorn

By the end of the day, I'd still say Giethoorn is highly worth visiting if you're looking for an experience that's a little more local. One thing to note, however, is that making your way to Giethoorn from Amsterdam can prove a little tricky as there are limited buses that take you here. Buses often only come once an hour, with the final pick-up from the entrance of Giethoorn happening at 6:30PM. 

If you're looking to visit the village from Amsterdam Centraal, my advice is to make your way to the Steenwijk Station via the Intercity trains, then switch to bus 70. Despite everything Google Maps tells you, the best place to get off the bus is actually at the Dominee Hylkemaweg stop then walk across to enter the village. 

On your return trip, I highly recommend taking a quick 7-minute walk up to the Hollands Venetie stop that is just before the one in front of Giethoorn. This way, you get to avoid rushing for a seat with everyone else who are waiting at the same bus stop, since you were technically on the bus first. If you see some old folks, however, please give up your seats to the elderly. 

But I'm so glad we went through with it!

We were thoroughly done when we got home for the day, but that may have also been because we stopped by Zwolle for a separate museum experience. More on that on another day though. While I had initially wanted to go through a whole lot of photo dumping to show everyone more of Giethoorn, I though a video might do a better job. So voila, enjoy my budget "production" to add to the library of many, many Giethorn videos on the Internet!

Shot on Huawei Mate 20, edited on CapCut
(Not sponsored, but won't mind if I do!)

Until my next blog post, which I hope I won't take a whole month to write - stay safe and sane, everyone! And to my mum, if you're reading this, I love you to bits and I can't wait to bring you and dad to Giethoorn someday :)

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