Best things to do in Giethoorn
Find out more about those top places in Giethoorn
In the 13th century, a Dutch landowner gifted an obscure religious sect an infertile and waterlogged tract of land between Amsterdam and Groningen. Such are the suitably mystical origins of the magical village of Giethoorn, which today is more water than land. While canals famously define Dutch cities, the medieval settlers in Giethoorn took things one step further deciding to entirely replace roads with picturesque waterways. The village is one of Europe’s most charming with humpbacked bridges crossing emerald green canals and thatched cottages dotted across a miniature archipelago of landscaped islands. While Giethoorn can get inundated with day-trippers from the Dutch capital, the village’s quieter northern end provides respite from the crowds and remains a true hidden gem.
More than anywhere else in the Netherlands, the quaint town of Giethoorn is defined by its relationship with water. Indeed, with just canals – there are no streets at all – the best way to get around is via picturesque cruises that glide past perfectly restored farmhouses, humpbacked bridges and the Enclosing Dyke, the Netherlands largest. Tours leave throughout the day for this enchanting experience.
To better understand how the otherworldly town of Giethoorn came to be, head to the town museum. Guides in period costumes, often performing traditional tasks such as thatching or candle making, will take you round the open-air museum, which contains well-preserved windmills and barns that show what life in Giethoorn was like centuries ago.
Giethoorn lies at the center of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park – Northwestern Europe’s largest freshwater wetland. With some of Europe’s most enchanting cycle paths, the park is best explored by pedal power with many of the trails passing by century old peat bogs, bio-diverse reed beds and lush forests. What is more, the park is a mecca for birdwatchers.
For any petrol heads the Histomobil is a must visit attraction. With a vast collection of vintage cars, motorcycles and carriages, the museum is a real treasure trove that will fascinate any visitor. It is also worth a visit for the ironic fact that a road free town is home to the Netherlands premier auto-museum.
Opening its doors in 1969, Giethoorn’s Museum De Oude Aarde has been wowing visitors ever since with its impressive collection of precious stones and fossils that come from all over the Netherlands.