Couched in the sprawling wetlands of the Weerribben-Wieden a park in Giethoorn. Giethoorn is a village of thatched farmhouses, wooden gardens and footbridges filled with flowers, all threaded with canals.
Cars aren’t much use in Giethoorn, and the “street” signs are on the canals instead. As with the encompassing region, that latticework of waterways may be the product of more than 100 years of peat extraction.
Giethoorn is called “Venice of the North” often. However, the title doesn’t really do justice to the village’s ample greenery and sense of peace. To fully appreciate Giethoorn, you have to have a boat trip, either with a tour or on a self-navigated motorboat.
Along the Dorpgracht is the Binnenpad, which runs north to south and leads you in to the right elements of the village that cars can’t reach. When you walk over ‘het Binnenpad’ you will see that the scenery is picture perfect. You will see historic thatched farmhouses, a lot of wooden bridges over the water, florid gardens and of course a vintage Mennonite church.
The canal is lined with mature trees and you’ll never be definately not another cafe or restaurant. Every few steps there’s a bench where one can stop to feed the ducks and watch Giethoorn’s flotilla of motorboats, punts, barges and kayaks drifting past.
For a self-navigated trip you can select from at least ten different boat hire companies, all based in the village. But despite having such a wide choice Giethoorn does get busy in mid-summer so you’ll have to book your boat early in order to avoid disappointment.
Bootverhuur Giethoorn is at the heart of Giethoorn on the Dorpsgracht canal and has boats for all needs. For somewhat of exercise you could hire a punt, which may be the traditional way to navigate this pastoral scenery, but there are also kayaks and canoes. Easily, the most used option is the fluisterboot (electric motorboat), which company has a fleet of 40 to rent out alone. Other hire companies in Giethoorn. Click on this link to rent directly a boat by one of the 25 boat rental companies.
Initially Giethoorn doesn’t seem such as a cycling destination due to the lack of tarmac roads. But a bike will grant you a complete lot more freedom than a car. There are cycling routes around the village, which in turn intersect with a network over the national park.
A day of it If you want to make, the 41.5-kilometre Giethoorn de Wieden fietsroute teaches you the very best of Giethoorn and its own thatched farmhouses and bridges before moving out into that unspoiled wetland environment via the Beulakerwijde and Belterwijde lakes.
The trail is marked with green and white signs, and there are “Knooppunten”, (trail nodes) as you go in order to branch off onto other routes. Click here if you want to rent a bike in Giethoorn.
The first thing to work out in Giethoorn is whether you would like to skipper your own boat or relax and let another person take the wheel. The ongoing company Smit Giethoorn rents out a variety of boats, but offers popular guided tours of the canals and out to the Bovenwijde lake to the southeast.
In covered vessels, these last about an full hour and they’re a sensible way to unwind and admire the village idyll, canal-side gardens and sweet wooden footbridges. On the journey you’ll hear titbits about a number of the landmarks in the village and understand how these canals were excavated. Book you Canal Cruise here.
Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus
This newly renovated museum on a vintage farm opens a window on different facets of Giethoorn’s past, like fishing, peat-cutting and agriculture. You can see the inside of the farmhouse, fisherman’s boathouse and house to get a feel for local domestic and working life in the past.
There are personal accounts, displays of antique tools, costumes, furniture, clogs, home utensils, as well as a movie for a bit more detail. You can take a free guided tour with one of the museum’s volunteers, or a multilingual audio tracks tour, leaving no stone unturned.
De Oude Aarde
In Giethoorn you can peruse among the Netherlands’ finest collections of minerals and fossils. Several were collected by the museum founder René Boissevain, today’s day explorer whose travels took him to all ends of the planet earth. You’ll run into an amethyst geode from Brazil, Australian agates and a petrified tree trunk from America – it’s amazing to feel that a few of the more delicate specimens managed to get to Giethoorn by boat.
The exhibits are presented under spotlights in a to emphasise their phenomenal colours and textures dimly. The minerals are virtually all presented within their natural, unprocessed form. For a tiny fee, children can crack open their own geode. The museum is joined to a shop selling important crystals and stones.
Weerribben-Wieden National Park
Giethoorn is of course in a prime position if you need to see more of the national park. This spreads over a lot more than 100 square kilometres and comprises of two distinct areas: Weerribben in the north and Wieden in the south, both which owe the look of them to more than 100 years of peat-cutting.
In these unpopulated areas there’s a genuine diversity of ecosystems, like meadows, floating mosses, marsh, reedbeds and lakes. Visitors centre for De Wieden, in Sint Jansklooster, is effortlessly near to Giethoorn and has an exhibition about the plants and animals that inhabit the park, using footage and photography, as well as details about walking and cycling trails. The Buitencentrum Weerribben is a bit further to the northwest away. But it is another embarkation point for canoe or motorboat trips through swampy wetlands and woodland teeming with birdlife.
There’s a complete lot to be said about the easy joy of dining on the canals in Giethoorn. You should pack a picnic for your trip. But there are a good amount of places where you can just moor up and sit down to a meal by the water. Now, many of these establishments are posher than others – if you need to push the boat out at both Michelin-starred De Lindenhof (Beulakerweg 77) you’ll have to plan well beforehand.
For every budget there are a lot of options. What do you think about restaurant De Sloothaak, De Witte Hoeve, De Landije or Geythorn. Here you can find a lot of Dutch Cuisine options. If you want seafood then Vishandel Gerrits & de Boer suits you well.
For italian food like pizza of pasta you can go to Ristorante Fratelli or La Piccola Venezia. The Grand Café Fanfare does modern-day international cuisine and is a tribute to Fanfare, Oscar-winning director Bert Haanstra’s debut movie, shot in Giethoorn in 1958.
Gloria Maris Schelpengalerie
Among the joys of visiting snug old villages like Githoorn is browsing eccentric attractions and shops, which museum/jewellery store is for the reason that category. Inside you’ll be greeted by all manner of shells, and jewellery made out of coral, pearls, mother-of-pearl, nautilus and cameo.
Some of the pieces aren’t on the market, like a rare pair of Conus gloriamaris sea snail shells. These snail shells extremely measure up to 12 centimetres and uncovered in Indonesia and the Philippines. These are a type or kind of holy grail for shell collectors. So, it’s a wonder that the museum has not one example but two.
Doopsgezinde Kerk Giethoorn
It really is thought that Giethoorn was founded by 14th-century flagellants escaping the Black Death, which type of religious fervour has persisted. A Mennonite congregation was founded within the 1551 and is among the oldest in the Netherlands.
The existing Mennonite church dates to 1871 and lies in the shadow of a huge beech tree next to the Dorpsgracht. The architecture is in the pared-down waterstaatsstijl. It’s a method peculiar to Dutch 19th-century churches that were built with help from the national government and needed to be approved by the Ministry of Public Works.