Top 10 Things to do in Giethoorn, The Netherlands

July 20, 2017 Madelene Haan

Giethoorn (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣitɦoːrn]) is a town in the province of Overijssel, Netherlands with a population of 2,620. It is located in the municipality of Steenwijkerland, about 5 km southwest of Steenwijk. Giethoorn is often referred to as "Little Venice" or the "Venice of the Netherlands".
Restaurants in Giethoorn

1. Smit Giethoorn

Zuiderpad 58 en 52, 8355 CC Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Excellent
59%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 229 reviews

Smit Giethoorn

Reviewed By WineTraveller - Wilmington, Delaware

Giethoorn has gotten some listings in travel sites about being one of the most beautiful spots in the world, so on a recent trip to the Netherlands, we had to make a stop to see for ourselves. Definitely glad we did, right down to renting the little motorized punt boat. There are small barges that you can take you out into the canals through town, but you'll have a LOT more fun if you do it yourself. Truth be known, there are LOTS of companies renting boats - we enjoyed Smit Giethoorn but don't feel that they are the only option. Regardless of whom you go with, GO TO Giethoorn!

2. Bootverhuur Giethoorn

Binnenpad 28, 8355 BR Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Excellent
59%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 96 reviews

Bootverhuur Giethoorn

Reviewed By simono1958 - Stevenage, UK

Summary
• Highly photogenic
• Narrow timber-edged canals lined with attractive Gardens, trees, houses and other buildings
• No cars near core areas of village; best accessed by foot or boat
• Narrow footpath following the canal and changing sides periodically
• Quaint footbridges
• Many boats for hire
• Without tourists, provides an opportunity for a tranquil experience.
• With tourists, provides lots of people watching opportunities and fun akin to a Water Park ride
• Waterside restaurants
Although this definitely is a class destination to rival sights like the Cambridge backs or Cotswold villages, describing this as the ‘Venice of the north’ is perhaps a little aspirational. Similarly if you come hoping to see a rural idyll with locals ferrying their daily needs and wares by boat or local girls travelling to their weddings in a canal bridal procession you may be disappointed given the difficulties of such rural life being compatible with the hundreds of thousands of fascinated tourists (particularly Chinese) who want to see the Giethoorn that, following a well-organised local campaign a few years ago, now figures on an International Monopoly (tm) board.
For the tourist though, no visit here would seem complete without a trip in a boat, hired from one of the operators. At the time of writing the going rate throughout the village appears to be €15 an hour for a smaller boat with the full day rate €75. Boats vary in design, some controlled by a small wheel and some by angling the direction of the propeller with a handle. The former is less tiring and more intuitive, the latter requires some twisting around. Some boats have limited throttle settings which can be a further challenge in moving smoothly at slow speed. It also possible that on windier days lower powered boats may struggle against head or crosswinds on the lakes. Most boats also have controls at the stern which may make it a little difficult to see quite where you are going if the boat is full. The electric boats claim an all-day battery and are quieter, ‘green’ and avoid fumes.
A one-way system for boats operates in the village core and so part of any circular route including the village will mean crossing a lake as well. To this main route can be added nearby village, additional lake or nature reserve extensions. The core route is the most sought-after though and the ‘speciality’ attraction as a result of which at peak times boat traffic can become congested with a flow rate varying from 0 to 10 boats a minute, i.e. either stationary, very slowly or like a conveyor belt. On busy days, however, it is less congested before ten o’clock and after four. The same day on a May weekend can thus provide contrasting experiences: a tranquil and stress-free glide; or a hybrid between a flume-ride and dodgems requiring good humour, but also providing numerous amusing sights for walkers as novice boaters collide with each other and the banks or as a private pontoon of wassailing lads chunters through. Note that the village extension to the north is arguably less scenic apart from Molengaat lake and involves some early head-ducking to get under Bridges along Dorpsgracht. In the less touristy areas north and south sometimes boaters may be startled by guard dogs.
Novice boaters may be advised to keep off the main navigation waterway (kanaal) to the west and should avoid areas of weed or water lilies given the potential hazards from big boats and clogged propellers respectively.
The decision of how long to hire a boat for will therefore be a combination of budget, interest, boat type, weather and levels of congestion.
An alternative to boat hire is to take a guided trip in a ‘rondvaartboot’ perhaps shared with thirty others.
For those able to moor, along the main village spine there are a few shops, perhaps the most notable those specialising in rocks and crystals, and several bars and restaurants (many bearing the same family name). Away from the spine near the main road (Beularkaweg) walkers and drivers can find a VVV (tourist information) next to a sizeable Spar supermarket. In the other direction, out on the lake and reached by a short causeway, is a popular restaurant.
There are some cultural facilities including a church, museums (geology and local history). The Gardens and buildings are typically well-maintained and photogenic. A few include sculpture and a few sport tall poles bearing herons’ nests.
The WaterReijk Weeribben Wieden Giethoorn map (plattegrond) is a very useful Dutch only resource to locate the main visitor attractions although unfortunately not easy to obtain cheaply in advance via post and there is currently little information on the Internet. Note too that this printed map could mislead pedestrians used to cartographers’ conventions; while it is always necessary for map makers to show features on maps larger or wider that if scaled accurately this version in particular may give the impression of a compact village. Lengths of straight sections on the map may also not always seem quite as short, or long, in reality. The map particularly needs to be used with care if navigating canals. Although a better size than some it does not cover the extension routes referred to earlier or show minor features useful for orientation or deciding where to turn round. Even the A4 sheets maps typically handed out by boat operators may also be difficult to follow but a telephone number is likely to be provided in the case of delay or difficulties. One wonders why, as with the Cambridge ‘backs’ there are not more students willing to display for a fee their prowess with navigation and story-telling.
To get to Giethoorn the normal options would appear to be either by car or coach tour to Giethoorn or by train to Steenwijk, followed by one of: the hourly No. 70 bus and a walk; a taxi for €25-35; or a hired bicycle. Staying there is an option and enables the village to be experienced without other tourists. If arriving with luggage establishing the accessibility of your accommodation beforehand may reduce stress.
Please note that there are several boat hire companies and I am reviewing the experience not any company. The company I used, De Kruumte, does not currently have a listing under attractions it seems.
(I retain copyright in this article in case I want to reproduce it.)

3. De Oude Aarde

Binnenpad 43, 8355 BR Giethoorn, The Netherlands +31 521 361 313
Excellent
35%
Good
57%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 82 reviews

De Oude Aarde

Reviewed By RHAHJ - Nijmegen, The Netherlands

To me this mineral collection looks quite stunning. I've seen other such collections, but here every piece is displayed in such a way that you pay attention to it. Or maybe it's the beauty of the minerals themselves. There is a large egg of an extinct ostrich, apparently the world's largest fossil egg. And there's more fossils, but that's not the focus of the museum. I think this is a nice distraction from the touristic village of Giethoorn and its boats.

4. Museum Giethoorn 't Olde Maat Uus

Binnenpad 52, 8355 BT Giethoorn, The Netherlands +31 521 362 244
Excellent
40%
Good
52%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 37 reviews

Museum Giethoorn 't Olde Maat Uus

Reviewed By Laurie S - Benoni, South Africa

Giethoorn is a little village offering a number of attractions. Beautiful old style homes and buildings, walkways along the little canals, boat hire, shops, restaurants, museums, bungalow hire, B&B, cycle hire. This was an amazing surprise. We spent the entire afternoon wandering around and just enjoying the atmosphere. It could also serve as a romantic getaway as seen from the many young couples enjoying the boating and having fun. It is also pet friendly. It is one of the places one could include in a visit to Holland and the rural areas.

5. Broer Botenverhuur

Binnenpad 16, 8355 BR Giethoorn, The Netherlands +31 521 361 337
Excellent
68%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
2%
Terrible
6%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 48 reviews

Broer Botenverhuur

Reviewed By Eli V - Yehud, Israel

Small, quiet town located in the northwestern part of the province Awrisl (Overijssel), Netherlands.It is recommended to dedicate an entire day to this town.
A magical place, must visit it. Entry is only allowed vehicles on the outskirts of the city. Parking is not a problem to find at all. There are two options to explore the town: one leg and the other on a cruise. First, it is better to walk around and get to know this amazing town. Narrow paths surrounded by rivers of water areas that surround the house. Every few meters there is a wooden culvert.Which leads to another part of town. Amazing homes, have been taken from fairy tales. And well manicured Gardens. You can wander hours and not feel time goes by. After a long trip on foot, you may want to hire a vessel sailing in and out of the canals that surround the house. And then sail the Great Lake and the amazing nature reserve.

6. 't Zwaantje

Dominee T.O. Hylkemaweg 1 | driveway between Beulakerweg 133 and 135 on the N334, 8355 CD Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Excellent
42%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
4%
Terrible
11%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 135 reviews

't Zwaantje

Professional canal cruise company which provides guided tours through the Dutch Venice: Giethoorn. Boat-, bikes and Canoerental. Restaurant with typically Dutch cuisine like pancakes, sandwiches, meat and fish plates, dinners and grill, also pizza and pasta's like spaghetti.'t Zwaantje has it's own large parking (free for guests) and is situated directly next to the busstop center Giethoorn.All the boats, including the canaltouring boats, are driven by electrical engine. The guided tour is with life guide in Dutch, German and English or via audiotour. Going with a socalled whisperboat yourself, maps available in Dutch, German, English, French, Spanish and Italian.

Reviewed By R S - Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Getting to Giethoorn from Amsterdam can be tiring and time consuming. The most convenient solution is to take a direct train from Amsterdam Zuid to Zwolle then bus 70 to Giethoorn; alternatively, you can get to Utrecht then take another train to Steenwijk; once in Steenwijk, get on bus 70 to reach Giethoorn in around 15 minutes. Be aware that buses run on a reduced schedule on Sunday: the last direct bus to Steenwijk is at 6 pm and the last one to Zwolle (which is not direct, you have to change in Zwartsluis) is at 6.40 pm. The entire trip will cost you around 50€ so consider spending at least one night in town.
Get off at bus stop Dominee Hylkemaweg to be right at the center of the village. Walk along the Promenade beside the main canal to get to old town Giethoorn and enjoy the beautiful views. Or even better, rent a boat at one of the many rental agency on the Promenade.
't Zwaartje is the first and biggest one you will run into when walking from the bus stop to the center. We rented a small electric boat (they also have bicycles and canoes) for two hours spending around 40€ (you can get a slightly cheaper fare at the smaller agencies further away). The boats are very easy and safe to drive, they don't go very fast which is a good thing considering how many inexperienced tourists rent them! The owners will give you a map of the canals with a few suggestions on the tours to take. Although we only rented the boat for two hours, we managed to complete the 3 hour tour they suggested - I highly recommend it, it gives you a unique opportunity to explore the lake and the Weerribben-Wieden national park. I assume the tour can take a lot longer if you visit during a very busy day.
Giethoorn and its surroundings are magnificent, don't miss an opportunity to visit - you won't regret it.

7. Botenverhuur Koppers Giethoorn

Ds. T.O. Hylkemaweg 3, 8355 CD Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Excellent
62%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
4%
Terrible
4%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 23 reviews

Botenverhuur Koppers Giethoorn

Reviewed By Helena C

Ron, a "native" Gieters, gave us a wonderful tour of his village. He was very knowledgeable and could answer all of our questions ranging from the history of the area, agriculture to roof thatching!
We were on the electric whisper boat, which is much better than the petrol powered tours, as it is a lot easier to hear the tour guide.
Would highly recommend!

8. De Rietstulp Rondvaart

Ds. T.O. Hylkemaweg 15, 8355 CE Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Excellent
32%
Good
56%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
8%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 34 reviews

De Rietstulp Rondvaart

Reviewed By Marie-Claire S - Windsor, Canada

This cruise tour company cannot possibly get it wrong: it is situated in a village straight out of fairy tales. Yet, they managed to spoil my time on their boat. My family of 3 got into the boat early. It filled up quickly. As we were approaching the cruise time, a group of 4 older women came and wanted to sit together. However, there were only single spots left. The tour guide left the situation in the hands of the manager, an older gentleman, who bullied a man into changing seats next to another person. He was going to separate us as well, but I stood my ground. Finally, 2 of the 4 latecomers sat together and the others were spilt.
The gall of these women went further: one of them demanded that her side lower the window, which had been open so everyone could enjoy the view. It was cool, but the view was well worth it.
So not only did the company bend over backwards to accommodate this party at the expense of others who arrived early, but also penalized everyone by allowing them to dictate the window status.
Poor logic and people management.

9. Lekkers & Zo

Binnenpad 22, 8355 BR Giethoorn, The Netherlands +31 521 744 035
Excellent
50%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Lekkers & Zo

Reviewed By John L - Arlon, Belgium

This is an absolute must. If you love boutiques that are independent that offer unique ideas, this is the place to come. The owner is extremely friendly and handcrafts the soaps (as well as other gifts) in the shop. It is small and fully packed with wonderful gifts that will make you want to spend more time in the shop (although it is not that big). We were going to purchase three bars of the hand soap as well as some other items when she suggested that we would save money and have more buy purchasing one of the bungles. We were not disappointed - these are amazing. The Bunzlau Castle soap dish was the perfect addition to our sink area. This is what boutique shopping is all about!!!

10. Rondvaart Zuideinde

Maaiensteeg 1, 8355 CC Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Excellent
67%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3 reviews

Rondvaart Zuideinde

Reviewed By Carolyn W - Heemstede, The Netherlands

Heel prettige ontvangst. Privé rondvaart voor 4 personen ipv mee met grote groep. Zeer gewaardeerd door onze Franse gasten! Aardige bootsman met informatie in het Engels. Aan te bevelen

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