Destinations,Netherlands,Sights,Travel

The Truth About Visiting Giethoorn

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

If you use Pinterest (or possibly even on Facebook) then you’ve probably seen photos of the Dutch town of Giethoorn. Touted as being idyllic and serene, with no roads and hardly any people (maybe just some cows on a boat) it certainly looks like the perfect place for a peaceful getaway. I’d been hoping to visit for a while now, and during the holidays a few weeks back Dennis and I finally went for a road-trip to Giethoorn! Here’s what we discovered…

About Giethoorn

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

Giethoorn is a village in the Dutch province of Overijssel. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Amsterdam, and is known for being very pretty as it contains very few roads and much of the village can only be reached by foot or boat. There are many canals and bridges (more than 180 bridges) which only adds to its picturesque charm. Most of the houses and cottages have thatched roofs so it feels a little as if you have stepped back in time as you walk along the footpath by the canal admiring the pretty homes and perhaps stopping for lunch at one of the canal-side cafes or restaurants.

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

The Truth about visiting Giethoorn

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

Now that you know the nitty gritty details about Giethoorn and how to get here, I’m going to let you in on a few little secrets that I discovered when visiting this well-known destination for myself! Just think of me as your travel Mythbuster as I sort the facts from fiction so you can make an informed decision for yourself before you go to Giethoorn.

Fact or Fiction: Giethoorn is a town with no roads?

Well, yes and no. Technically, no; the village of Giethoorn does have roads and even car-parks, but there is a large section in the middle that is only accessible by footpath or canal. Most likely, if you’ve seen a photo of Giethoorn, it’s been taken along one main walking strip where there are a lot of canal-side cafes, shops and restaurants; as well as places you can hire whisper boats to explore the canals. Some of Giethoorn’s residents would definitely only be able to access their house by canal, which must make grocery shopping and moving house interesting events! But there are roads, so you can arrive by car and even park for free and then walk alongside the canals to see all the famous and most picturesque spots without renting a boat.

Fact or Fiction: Giethoorn is an idyllic, untouched destination?

Again, the answer to this question is a bit of a ‘yes and no’ one. You might have heard of Giethoorn being called “The Venice of the Netherlands,” or ‘Little Venice’, and if by Venice you mean ‘pretty canals but packed with tourists’ then yes, Giethoorn is just like Venice. Giethoorn has become quite a popular destination lately, so you might be rudely surprised when you visit to find it very busy with tour-groups and other visitors, wandering around the paths in packs or clogging up the canals in their rented whisper-boats. I actually found it quite amusing how full of tourists in boats the canals were, many of whom didn’t seem to actually know how to steer their little boats, so they were constantly bumping into the edges of the canals and other boats like some sort of slow-motion dodgem’ boats. Those peaceful-looking photos of cottages by the water with not a soul in sight? You have to wait quite a while and time your photography skills by the split-second in order to avoid scenes like these two:

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'
Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

The footpaths beside the canals are quite small, and so many visitors would just randomly stop to take photos, or mill around in packs talking and not moving out of the way of other pedestrians, that it also got a bit frustrating at times. Along with the ‘whisper-boats’ you can see in the above photo (they thankfully make very little engine sound) there were also much larger tour boats chugging along at times, with tour-guides’ amplified voices added to the noise. The boats full of vacationers were often moving along bumper to bumper (when they weren’t bumping into each other). Here are some photos of the main part of Giethoorn, complete with hordes of visitors:

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'
Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

HOWEVER, we did visit during the August summer holidays, which is basically the busiest time of year. I have been assured by reliable sources that Giethoorn is a lot quieter and more peaceful during the shoulder and off-seasons, especially if you stay overnight so you can enjoy the town after all the tourist groups have left or early in the morning. So, let’s tackle the last question:

Fact or fiction: Giethoorn is a beautiful destination?

I would have to say, YES! I mean, yeah there’s a lot of other tourists (depending on when you go), but they don’t change the fact that the town itself IS actually very pretty; it wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t. There are boxes of flowers on a lot of the bridges, the houses are all immaculately cared for with beautiful painted shutters and gorgeous gardens. It’s also very nice to sit beside the canals and watch the boats, ducks and swans go by, whether you sit on the ground or a bench with a picnic, or in one of the canal-side restaurants.

Some of my favourite photos actually included the people in their boats (like the one above which I think is funny – the teenage girl ignoring the beauty around her to look at her phone) or this lovely one below:

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

Getting to Giethoorn

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'
Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'
Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

Where to Stay in Giethoorn

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

There are some nice AirBnBs in Giethoorn as well as a few hotels. Hotel de Harmonie is a four-star hotel a little way out of the town centre (but still walking distance). Rooms include breakfast and the hotel also rents bikes and boats directly. If you’re travelling on a budget then The Black Sheep Hostel is probably the cheapest option, although it’s a really nice looking hostel and also includes breakfast! There are some other three-star hotels as well as bed-and-breakfasts if you’d like some more accommodation options for Giethoorn.

10+ Fun Things to do in the Dutch City of Zwolle!
The city of Zwolle – a perfect spot to base yourself for visiting Giethoorn

What to do in Giethoorn

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

So you’ve got your transport and accommodation all sorted, but if you’re wondering what there is to do in Giethoorn, I’ve got ya! I mean, the main attraction is literally just to walk around oohing and aahing over how cute the place is and, you know, take a million photos for your Insta. But there are some other things to do in Giethoorn too, like:

Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'
  • Visit a museum: Giethoorn is home to a couple of small museums like t Olde Maas Uus Museum which teaches you about the history of Giethoorn and often has actors in traditional clothing to do so.
Busting the myths and giving you the facts about visiting Giethoorn, the Dutch town with 'no roads'

Have you ever dreamed of exploring Giethoorn, or have you been? Let me know in the comments what you think about this famous Dutch town! And don’t forget to pin one of these for later if you are planning to ever visit Giethoorn for yourself.

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Kristin
    September 30 at 12:29 PM

    Thanks for being honest about this little town. I have heard of it before and it is really beautiful, but I always like to know how ‘touristy’ a place is before going. I would definitely still visit, but now I know when I see the serene pictures of the canal with no other visitors, it’s either a lucky shot or an early bird getting photos before everyone else gets there! Haha

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      September 30 at 12:36 PM

      Yeah, I hope I haven’t taken away from the fact that it IS beautiful! But yeah, I like to know how busy places will be too! I do think it’s worth visiting though. 🙂

  • Reply
    Gabby
    September 30 at 1:18 PM

    great post! I had no idea Giethoorn was so popular! I went about 4 years ago with my boyfriend but it was not too busy then (it was the end of September though to be fair). Love the part about them being so proud of being in monopoly!

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      September 30 at 1:20 PM

      Ah well that’s good to know that it does die down a bit! Yeah it’s a cute little piece of info. 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle
    September 30 at 1:25 PM

    Oh my gosh I’m now in love with this little town!! It looks like something out of a story book – everything seems so picture perfect :O Hope to be one of those many tourists soon!

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      September 30 at 2:54 PM

      Haha, yes it is gorgeous even with the tourists; which of course, I was as well!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    September 30 at 3:20 PM

    Love all the pictures of what the place actually looks like with all the boats. Still a beautiful place but good to know what you’re getting into!

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      September 30 at 3:33 PM

      Yeah, sometimes the boats actually add to the scene! But I like to know how busy a place will be, so thought others might too 🙂

  • Reply
    Lynne Nieman
    September 30 at 4:46 PM

    Thanks for the honest post. I too have seen images and thought it looked like such an idyllic spot to visit. Now if I decide to visit, I’ll know what to expect!

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      September 30 at 8:32 PM

      It can be idyllic in certain spots, and probably at certain times, but it’s good to know what most of it will be like!

  • Reply
    Tayo
    October 1 at 8:30 PM

    Sounds like a very relaxing daytrip to have from Amsterdam. I had never of this town so its good to see what options from Amsterdam there are to explore.

  • Reply
    Brooke Widdicombe
    February 28 at 1:52 PM

    My partner and I will be visiting Amsterdam for about 4 days in october. Do you think giethoorn is worth “wasting” a whole day on if we’re only in amsterdam such a short time? Should we focus more on exploring Amsterdam itself as much as possible? *Travel noob* xxxxx

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      February 28 at 1:57 PM

      Hmm, I don’t think it’s a waste. I mean there’s so much to do in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam but if you only have four days I would say spend at least two enjoying Amsterdam proper and maybe you could do a half day to Zaanse Schans (it’s only 15 minutes by train) and then a day trip to Giethoorn if you really want to go there. But if you go to Giethoorn from Amsterdam make sure you also stop in at De Orchideen Hoeve!! Then again, Giethoorn and De Orchideeen Hoeve are hard to get to unless you’ll have a car. If you don’t have a car I would suggest going by train to the Hague or Utrecht for a daytrip. Hope this helps a bit!

      • Reply
        Tèbra du Plessis
        June 8 at 8:47 PM

        Thank you for your lovely pictures and info on Giethoorn.
        We are going to be in Netherland (Giethoorn & Lelystad) and Germany (Meppen) in September
        Is it a good time?
        Not too busy…..
        Please advise

        • Reply
          Kristy Atkinson
          June 8 at 9:27 PM

          Yes, September should be a great time to visit because the summer school holidays are over but the weather *should* still be nice! Can’t guarantee it with the Netherlands though 😉

  • Reply
    Kay Jones
    March 4 at 12:34 PM

    Kay Jones
    March 4 at 10.30pm
    Beautiful, picture-perfect little town. Wonder what it would be like to actually live there? Enjoyed very much your photos and comments.

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      March 4 at 6:45 PM

      I think it would be lovely to live here during the off-season, but probably annoying to be a resident during the tourist season! Glad you enjoyed it Gran!

  • Reply
    Quaint Amsterdam day trips to fuel your wanderlust: the 10 best Amsterdam day trips · Boarding Call
    June 19 at 5:57 PM

    […] seen those dreamy photos of the Dutch ‘town with no roads’ then you’ve seen photos of Giethoorn! Located in the province of Overijssel, it is the perfect place for a magical day trip from […]

  • Reply
    Quaint Amsterdam day trips to fuel your wanderlust: the best Amsterdam day trips · Boarding Call
    December 31 at 5:54 AM

    […] seen those dreamy photos of the Dutch ‘town with no roads’ then you’ve seen photos of Giethoorn! Located in the province of Overijssel, it is the perfect place for a magical Amsterdam day trip or […]

  • Reply
    Mirelle
    February 17 at 7:59 AM

    Really good to know info! We’re visiting in June 2019 with our 3 year old daughter …any thoughts/ suggestions?

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      February 17 at 12:35 PM

      Since writing this post I have learned that even in the busy months Giethoorn is lovely if you stay overnight! That way you can enjoy the quiet in the morning and evening before/after the crowds arrive/leave. If you are travelling with a little one this might also be a good way to break up the travel time, especially if you’re using public transport. Hope you have a lovely trip!

  • Reply
    Siew Wan
    May 28 at 9:32 AM

    Plan to visit in end November / early December..can share with me some info about Geithoorn? Trying to book day trip but found that most of it not available on the date after October. Why? Thanks in advance

    • Reply
      Kristy Atkinson
      May 28 at 9:36 AM

      Hmm, the only thing I can think is because that’s the end of autumn/beginning of winter so it will be cold? Have you tried getyourguide.com? I checked and they seem to still have day tours from Amsterdam around those dates.

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