Giethoorn is known as the village in the Netherlands with no cars. It’s also known as the Venice of the North (but so are about 35 of other places). In reality, it’s simply a cute town with a huge part of it with no roads for cars. There are walking paths that may also have bikes on them, and lots and lots of canals. Don’t worry, though. There are roads to get there and a few other roads around the rest of town. If you’re driving there on your own, there is plenty of parking as well.
In this post, we aim to create the ultimate guide to Giethoorn where we answer as many questions as possible that you might have for a visit. Here is our full video guide on YouTube, if you prefer video!
Where is Giethoorn in the Netherlands?
Giethoorn in north-east of Amsterdam in the province of Overijssel. It’s about 2-3 hours away from Amsterdam by train or about and an hour and a half by car. The countryside of the Netherlands is beautiful. Take your time and then stay the night in Giethoorn. That way you aren’t in a rush and get the quiet of the evening and mornings while knowing you can pop in and head out whenever it works for you.
How do you get to Giethoorn?
To get to Giethoorn from Amsterdam by train, check out 9292.nl for specifics. There are a few train options from both Amsterdam Centraal Station and Amsterdam Zuid Station. Keep in mind that there may be transfers. These will probably be in either Almere or Zwolle, but everything is well marked with signage and switching trains shouldn’t be a problem. The train will take you to Station Steenwijk where you will then catch bus 70 or 270 directly into Giethoorn.
When using any map or 9292, the final stop you’ll want to enter is Dominee Hylkemaweg. When you arrive at this bus stop, the driver will likely make an announcement so you don’t miss it. Hop off the bus, go down the steps and walk under the bridge to get to the other side of the road. Do not cross the street here. There is no pedestrian crossing. Responsible travel is always key!
Note: The bus will be crowded and they aren’t incredibly frequent. Bus tickets are available at the train station or use your OV Chipkaart. If you do not live in the Netherlands, I suggest you purchase train tickets directly from the NS yellow kiosks. The train ticket and bus ticket will be separate.
Why visit Giethoorn?
Giethoorn is known for being so picturesque that it feels like a fairytale. It’s history is incredibly interesting, too. While you should definitely walk around and take all the photos possible, pop into all the museums and shops you can find to support this beautiful town. Make sure your money goes directly into the community.
Most of these houses are still family houses. The funniest thing happened the last time we went. I posted a photo on Twitter and got a response from someone that say the house in the photo was their parents’ house and they grew up in Giethoorn. How cool would it be to grow up with that gorgeousness?!
In the evening and the morning, you’ll discover even more magic. It’s not just pretty, it does something to your soul. It’s re-energizing, calming, and peaceful.
When should you visit Giethoorn?
The first time we went, we went in March. It still felt a bit winter-y and it wasn’t spectacular, and no flowers were blooming. But there are less crowds and the houses can’t help but we stunning.
I’d suggest going closer to May if possible. On this trip, it was mid-July but normally it would be too crowded. For now (July 2020) it was mostly people who lived in the Netherlands. September would probably be nice, too. The main thing is that you want it to be green and flowers to be colorful without being too busy. Also, going mid-week instead of a weekend is a good idea.
What to do in Giethoorn
Now we’re getting to the good stuff! It’s a very small village but we still managed to walk 15,000 steps each day we were there. We filled up 24 hours and still missed some shops, but we gave it our all! Now, here are all the things to do in Giethoorn. Don’t miss out!
Talk a walk
Yes, it’s so freaking pretty and you don’t want to miss out on that. If you are able to stay the night, I suggest taking your leisurely walks in the evening and morning (do it both times!) and take your photos at that time. During the busier times, there are other things to do.
Get your learn on at Museum Giethoorn
A museum?! Suggested by me?! Absolutely. It’s small and really interesting. There’s an indoor and an outdoor section. Take a half-hour or so and learn about the history of this town. Learn why they dug the canals and when women wore silver on their heads.
Be wowed at Museum de Oude Aarde (Museum of the Old Earth)
I’ve always been a sucker for science and nature and the cool things that the Earth can do, so it’s no surprise that I found this place fascinating! They have a shop that you can enter for free, but there’s a museum part and it is a welcome calm away from the crowds. See the incredible things that our planet creates on its own…then buy from the giftshop. I got my own little geode!
Especially around the Museum de Oude Aarde, there are a few great-looking souvenir shops. It’s worth taking a few minutes to browse and see what tickles your fancy.
Find unique pottery at Rhoda
Right next to Museum de Oude Aarde is Rhoda, with handmade pieces of pottery. If you love pottery, this is the place. You can even see them working in the back! Giethoorn has its own color of blue, and you’ll find Giethoorn blue pieces in this shop.
Discover stunning shells and jewelry at Gloria Maris Schelpengalerie
I loved browsing in here! I found a necklace my grandmother would love and plenty that I would be happy to wear. Take your time because there are so many cool shells and jewelry pieces here.
Get on the water!
Whether you rent your own boat (please be careful) or take a canal cruise, getting on the water is the NUMBER ONE thing to do in Giethoorn. We’ve taken a canal cruise twice and next time we go, we’ll rent a boat. But we saw many people without a clue of how to handle a boat that it was a bit unnerving. The good news is that none of them go fast, the canals are narrow, and very shallow. You can’t really hurt anyone. But if you do rent a boat, do it as early in the day as possible to avoid the very crowded canals (to the point where everyone is stopped).
There are plenty of canal cruises to take. Most people take the first one they come to with the red roofs. That one is fine, but spread the love (and money) to the boats farther down the canal. We went with our hotel, Hotel de Pergola but it’s open for anyone. It was mighty nice! These cruises are nice because you learn so much and was much less stressful.
Where to stay in Giethoorn
We’ve stayed the night twice and both times were very pleasant. I’m happy to recommend those and another that we saw while there. Now, I want to go back JUST to stay at this B&B we discovered.
Hotel de Pergola
This isn’t far from the bus stop and is on the canal. Our room overlooked the canal and the field with horses. Though the sunrise was very early, I got a peak of it and just because of that, I would stay here again. But the bed was fine and the bathroom was nice. My only issue was that the walls were a bit thin. So, um, we were woken up in the middle of the night.
On our first visit, we stayed at Hotel Giethoorn. It is on the other side of town, so you’ll want to get off bus 70 at the Hollands Venetië stop instead of the one I mentioned before. You’re a bit farther from everything, but the walk in worth it. It was a fine place to stay and a bit cheaper than you’d find elsewhere.
This B&B is where we’ll go next time. It’s on a main corner of the canal, the suite is in a converted, detached barn and it’s just SO PRETTY! They can even rent you their boats so you don’t have to go back down the main drag to get one. Mainly, it’s super cute and has great reviews.
I hope that’s inspired you to visit one of the prettiest places we’ve seen. Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions!
Wishing you joy and travels!