Giethoorn is a small, sleepy village located in the North-East region of the Netherlands. Giethoorn is famous for being a car-free village & having canals in place of roads. It is also known as Venice of the West!
We had seen a few pictures of Giethoorn & from that time, we really wanted to visit the village. So finally we planned a day trip to Giethoorn from Amsterdam.
How to reach Giethoorn?
We took a day trip to Giethoorn from Amsterdam. There are a few ways to reach Giethoorn from Amsterdam.
Train & Bus: From Amsterdam Zuid/Centraal station, take a train to Steenwijk. There are direct trains available but if you find a connecting train via Zwolle, just hop in. It will take around 90 minutes for a one-way journey.
Once you reach Steenwijk, get out of the train station & reach the bus station next to it. Take the bus no. 70 & get down at Giethoorn village bus stop. This journey from Steenwijk to Giethoorn will take about 30 minutes. One way bus ticket will cost you €4.
If you are planning to travel by train in more European cities then I recommend you to take the Eurail Pass. If you have the Eurail pass already, then this journey will be free of cost & there are no seat reservations required.
Car: The distance between Amsterdam & Giethoorn is about 120 km. Ideally, it should not take more than 2 hours to reach Giethoorn. The drive will be scenic as the road passes through some of the best Dutch vistas. Leave early to avoid traffic.
What to do in Giethoorn?
This question is justified since there is very little to do in Giethoorn & information about the village online isn’t enough. Even though there’s very little to do in Giethoorn, we truly enjoyed our day. Here’s what all we did & what you can do.
1. Rent A Boat & Cruise Around
Giethoorn is famous for its waterways & the best way to explore the town is by renting a boat & going around in its canals. We rented a boat from ’t Zwaantje Restaurant. It is located exactly in front of the bus stop of Giethoorn. We paid €20 for an hour (max. 4 people in 1 boat). This was definitely the best investment on that day. 😛
We started driving in the canals of Giethoorn & got lost quite a few times because Google Maps couldn’t help us here. But also, we came back to our route quickly because there aren’t many roads in Giethoorn.
We also visited Bovenwijde (one of the lakes in Giethoorn) which was peaceful & beautiful. Whenever you go to Giethoorn, don’t miss the opportunity of renting a boat because you might not get to drive your own boat elsewhere.
2. Walk Around Giethoorn
Boating is fun for 1-2 hours at the most but what after that? Giethoorn has nice walkways & too many pretty bridges. If you like photography, then consider an opportunity of a lifetime because this picturesque town is too generous at giving great photographs.
If you are one of the people who love active holidays, then rent a bicycle & cycle around Giethoorn (Yes, bicycles are in abundance because you are in the Netherlands). Cycling in Giethoorn is fun because of zero cars.
3. Visit The Museums Of Giethoorn
You can visit Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus where they have kept their heritage alive. You can see how the houses, farms & life, in general, were a century ago in Giethoorn. There’s a museum called Museum de Oude Aarde where there’s a collection of minerals. These museums will not take much of your time but Museum Giethoorn ’t Olde Maat Uus is highly recommended.
4. Eat A Hearty Meal
Food in Giethoorn is superb. If possible, we recommend that you eat your breakfast, lunch, evening snacks & dinner as well in the village itself. There are so many restaurants & quaint cafes in Giethoorn to choose from. Italian, American & Dutch cuisines are widely available. We ate at this wonderful Italian restaurant called Ristorante Fratelli. Their pizzas were yummy.
You also choose to eat at one of the floating restaurants in Giethoorn. Dinner in one of these waterside restaurants would be quite romantic. The place from where we rented our boat is also a great cafe. Their prices were decent & coffees were of high quality.
5. Meet The Locals
Depending on the season, you are likely to meet some to many locals of Giethoorn. We met a few of them while walking around. It is overwhelming to see such a peaceful village & its locals in the backdrop of such a fast world.
Few Things To Keep In Mind
- Giethoorn is not a typical village for a day trip where you can see 10 things & do many activities. If you are looking for that type of place, Giethoorn is clearly not it.
- In Giethoorn, the main attraction is the village itself. The calm in the surrounding, boating in the canals & loitering in its streets are enough to make you fall in love with it.
- If you want to visit this Dutch heaven in Winter, make sure you have enough day time since the village is about 2 hours away from Amsterdam.
Tourist Trap Alert
There is a clever tourist trap near Steenwijk train station. When you are walking out of the station, you will see a store with a sign selling boat + bus ticket for €15 (one way) which is absolutely ridiculous. One way bus ticket is only €4 & it can be purchased from the driver. Depending on your group size, you can rent a boat in Giethoorn. The tourist trap’s €15 will not get you any boat.
Where to stay?
If you want to stay in Giethoorn, there are quite a few B&Bs, guesthouses & hotels available in and around the village. We stayed in Amsterdam & took a day trip to Giethoorn from there.
Watch our complete day trip to Giethoorn here:
Photos: Awara Diaries