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This article is a travel guide to Giethoorn Village in the Netherlands and lists the best things to do in Giethoorn..
Giethoorn village is a tiny place in the Netherlands that went viral a few years ago as a ‘fairytale’ destination in Europe. Because it is located only a 1.5 hour’s drive from Amsterdam, it is a popular day trip or weekend getaway for those visiting the Netherlands or Holland. With over 180 bridges and romantic canals, coming to Giethoorn, particularly in Spring or Summer, is like stepping back in time and watching life unfold at a slow, leisurely pace.
Despite its small size, there are a few things to do in Giethoorn but honestly, the best thing to do here is to just relax and take in the charm of this fairytale destination in the Netherlands.
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Why is Giethoorn Famous?
If you haven’t heard of this village before then it’s completely understandable to have doubts about coming here. Is Giethoorn worth a visit? What is Giethoorn famous for? Let me help you makeup your mind about making a visit to Giethoorn.There is no doubt as to why Giethoorn is famous. A village where there are no roads for vehicles but only canals, idyllic thatched roof houses, romantic bridges, and gardens full of flowers. Giethoorn is a personification of the ideal romantic European village with cottages, canals and cyclists. This Giethoorn travel guide will convince you to add this place to your Europe bucket list destinations.
Where is Giethoorn Located?
Giethoorn, Holland is located about 120 km Northeast of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Not only does that make it super close to Amsterdam, but it is also just a couple of hundred kilometres from Western Germany and Belgium. Additionally, it is 190 km from the Hague in the Netherlands.
How to Reach Giethoorn, Netherlands
Given that Giethoorn is a short distance from Amsterdam, Germany and Belgium, you can get here quite easily with a car or by public transportation. Take a look at the different ways to reach Giethoorn.
How to Reach Giethoorn By Car
The easiest and the most convenient way to reach Giethoorn is to drive here on your own or with a rented car. When I visited Giethoorn in the summer of 2022, my husband and I drove here from western Germany which took us about 2.5 hours. The motorway in the Netherlands made it a hassle-free drive.
Amsterdam to Giethoorn by Train and Bus
If you’re coming to Giethoorn from Amsterdam by public transportation then you need to first take a train to Steenwijk from the Amsterdam Central Station. From there, take the bus number 70 to Giethoorn.Alternatively, you could also take the train to Zwolle from Amsterdam and then the bus 70 from there. It takes about 2 hours to reach Giethoorn from Amsterdam by public transportation.
Parking at Giethoorn Village
If you’re driving to this fairytale village in the Netherlands then you’ll obviously need to find a good and cheap parking spot in Giethoorn. Because there are no roads for vehicles here, you will have to park your car just outside of Giethoorn.
During my visit to this village, I booked a Giethoorn boat tour with a company that had a parking lot. This parking lot at Giethoorn was free for the entire day and so I suggest checking in with your boat tour provider.
However, if you’re unable to secure a parking lot, the one on Bartus Warnersweg just outside the village is also free of cost!
Is it Possible to take a Day Trip to Giethoorn, Netherlands?
Yes, it is very easy to take a day trip to Giethoorn from Amsterdam or other cities in the Netherlands and even from neighboring counties. Given the limited number of things to do in Giethoorn, you will need about half a day to finish sightseeing and doing a boat ride in Giethoorn and still have plenty of time to relax and walk around the village.
During my Giethoorn trip, my husband and I drove 2.5 hours from Germany, did a 2 and half hour boat tour, walked through the Giethoorn village, ate at a restaurant and drove back to Germany before nightfall.
Weekend in Giethoorn, Holland
Even though it is possible to take a day trip to Giethoorn, if you want to enjoy this magical destination in Europe to the fullest, then it is encouraged to spend a weekend in Giethoorn. In fact, staying in one of the thatched-roof cottages here will be a highlight of your trip to Giethoorn, Holland.
The best part about doing a weekend trip to Giethoorn is that you will get to see the village once the bus-load of day trippers have left the village. This is when you will see the real charm of Giethoorn when the canals are not overcrowded with tourists who are struggling to navigate their boats and end up creating a massive traffic jam in the canals.
Moreover, you will get sufficient time to see Giethoorn at a slow, enjoyable pace- exactly the way it’s supposed to be done!
Where to Stay in Giethoorn
There are plenty of scenic places to stay in Giethoorn, for example, cute Airbnbs and hotels. Take a look at the best picks of the best hotels in Giethoorn for every budget.
A budget-friendly hotel with spacious rooms and breakfast included in the price of the room. They also offer a ton of activities to do in Giethoorn like bicycle tours, canoes for rent and more. The good location, close to the canal, is also a major plus point.
This amazingly located hostel with a canal view offers both dorm rooms as well as family rooms. Not just that, but this hostel in Giethoorn is also just a 10 minute walk from the Giethoorn bus stop. Apart from a shared kitchen, a restaurant on premises, free wifi, free parking and a garden, this highly rated hostel also offers lots of activities.
This cute little hotel in Giethoorn is one of the best-rated hotels in Giethoorn. I personally recommend this hotel, having eaten at their restaurant and rented a boat from here. Because they are located next to the canal, they have rooms with a terrace overlooking the canal. It’s a truly romantic hotel in Giethoorn with a superb location and all required amenities. Did I mention that this Giethoorn hotel is just a 1 minute walk from the bus stop?
Cost of Visiting Giethoorn
Surprisingly, the cost to visit Giethoorn in Holland is not a whole lot. Apart from the cost of petrol while driving to Giethoorn, we spent €54 for a 150 minute boat ride in Giethoorn and another €25 for cake and coffee at a local restaurant. To save money while traveling to Giethroon, I recommend booking a boat trip in advance to save money because it costs a lot more when you rent a boat on the spot. Apart from that, food and stay are the only other additional costs while visiting Giethoorn.
Best Time to Visit Giethoorn Village in the Netherlands
Given that Giethoorn is famous for its picture-perfect canals and that one of the best things to do in Giethoorn is a boat ride, coming here in winter would be a big disappointment. To make the most of your Giethoorn trip, come here during Spring or Summer as this is the best time to visit Giethoorn.
In all honesty, Spring in Europe is personally a little too cold for me. Due to this, I feel that Summer is the best time to visit Giethoorn village in the Netherlands. During summertime you can sit on a boat and ride around for hours which is not possible during another time.
Giethoorn Boat Tour
A Giethoorn boat tour is one of the highlights of visiting Giethoorn, Netherlands. You can rent a boat for 4, 6, 8 or more people. There are 2 main types of boats for hire at Giethoorn. The first one is a ‘whisper’ boat in which one person needs to sit at the back and move the rudder to navigate the boat. On the other hand, a motorboat costs slightly more but comes with a wheel which makes it super easy to navigate.
One of the things I noticed immediately about renting a boat in Giethoorn is that the price while booking online in advance vs that of booking on-the-spot has a big difference. There are a number of websites to rent a boat in Giethoorn that can be found with a quick Google search.
Things to do in Giethoorn, Netherlands
Even though this tiny village in the Dutch province of Overijssel might not seem like much, there are a number of great things to do in Giethoorn, Netherlands. Take a look at the top activties in Giethoorn below.
1. Giethoorn Boat Ride
Quite naturally, one of the best things to do in Giethoorn is a languid boat ride. There are a number of varieties of boats available for rent for a number of people. Book a boat in advance for the best prices. Alternatively, if you are spending a weekend in Giethoorn, then you can enquire about boat rides at your hotel/ hostel/ airbnb.
2. Boat Tour of Giethoorn Village
If you don’t want to take the trouble of navigating a boat by yourself, then you can join a Giethoorn boat tour. You can either choose to do the tour with a group or a personal one as well. Because there is no license needed to operate a boat in Giethoorn, there are a lot of inexperienced people who bump into each other and cause massive traffic jams in the canals of Giethoorn, Holland.
Therefore it’s a good idea to save yourself some trouble and do a relaxing guided cruise in Giethoorn.
3. Walk around Giethoorn, Holland
But wait, can you even walk in Giethoorn? Yes!! As much fun it is to do a Giethoorn boat ride, it’s just as much fun to walk around this fairytale village in the Netherlands. There are small paths and bridges for those on foot throughout Giethoorn . You’ll get to walk next to the canals, come across bewitching bridges and cute cottages. As tempting as it is to go the extra mile for an instagram reel, be careful not to enter into someone’s front yard for a picture. Sadly there are some tourists who lack this basic decency.
4. Visit a Museum in Giethoorn
Did you think that staring at cute houses and pretty canals were the only things to do in Giethoorn? Then you’re hugely mistaken. In fact, there are 3 main museums to see in Giethoorn. To see the history of the incredibly cute village, head over to the “Het Olde Maat Uus” Museum. The Museum de Oude Aarde has a bunch of gemstones to ooh and aah over. Finally, the Schelpengalerie Gloria Maris museum is inspired by the sea and displays seashells and corals.
5. Prepare a Picnic
There are a number of reasons to have a picnic in Giethoorn. Firstly, sitting next to the canals, watching the boats go by and being surrounded by fairytale cottages and flowers is the perfect setting for a picnic. Secondly, restaurants in Giethoorn are all on the expensive side. And so if you’re planning a budget trip to Giethoorn then it might be hard to find a place to eat. Bring some simple sandwiches, chips and snacks to have a budget-friendly picnic in this fairytale village.
6. Photograph the Cute Village
If you don’t post a picture then it’s almost like it didn’t happen, right? While you’re boating in the canals or walking around the village, take a few pictures of Giethoorn. Trust me when I tell you that every corner of Giethoorn is instagram worthy. But you already know that.
7. Visit a Restaurant in Giethoorn
As pretentious and expensive as they are, even the restaurants in Giethoorn are super cute and photogenic. During my trip to Giethoorn, because I took a day trip from Germany(where I live), I didn’t have much of an appetite. However, we ate cake and coffee at the restaurant at the Hotel and Restaurant “De Harmonie” which was near our boating point. The cake was super filling and full of flavor.
8. Cycle around this Picture-Perfect Village
Apart from the above mentioned things to do in Giethoorn, cycling around the village is also a popular activity to do in Giethoorn. Not only do you get to cycle around this cute village with its bridges, but you also get to cover more ground by bicycle. If you’re driving here from a nearby city or country, then you can carry your own bikes or rent one at the village.
9. Rent a Canoe
Before I moved to Europe, I used to think of canoeing as a sport. However, it’s actually a fun and popular pastime activity in Europe. In fact, if there’s a perfect place to try canoeing, then it’s the cutest village in the Netherlands. Just like boats, you can even rent a canoe in Giethoorn. Check the cost of renting a canoe in Giethoorn online or enquire at your hotel.
Where to Eat in Giethoorn, Holland
Due to the ever-increasing popularity of Giethoorn village, there are an increasing number of commercial institutes popping up. Therefore, it won’t be hard to find a place to eat in Giethoorn.
Although, be warned that most of the restaurants in Giethoorn are slightly overpriced. Actually, scratch that – they’re definitely overpriced.
You’ll find a lot of restaurants on the road surrounding the village. There are even some restaurants within Giethoorn itself.
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