Giethoorn: Mixing Venice with the Shire

There are places that deserve to be visited. Giethoorn is one of thoses. Seriously, if you think about Venice and The Shire (the town of the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings) having a child, that child would be Giethoorn.

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Some friends I found on my way - Giethoorn, Netherlands
Some friends I found on my way – Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn is a small town in the Overijssel province, far away from Amsterdam. Once you’re there, it’s impossible not to fall in love with it: the squares are separated by canals instead of streets, and there are little bridges to move across. The houses are carefully maintained, with that country look, and on top of that, you can see green all around you.

Giethoorn is really a place you could visit in one day. The place is beautiful, but I feel it gets repetitive after a while, 3 or 4 hours should be enough to see the town patiently. However, it would be very interesting to stay there and take a closer look at how their inhabitants really live. You’ll notice that several houses have boats, and I imagine that little kids learn how to ride them at the same time they learn how to ride a bike.

There are several places to move through the town. In my case, I love taking thousands of pictures, so I appreciate the stability you have when you’re in two feet and decided to walk 🙂 However, it’s also possible to rent a bike (although it could be uncomfortable due to the tight paths, and it’s also better to take a slow pace) or going by water.

I told you: Just as Venice and The Shire - Giethoorn, Netherlands
I told you: Just as Venice and The Shire – Giethoorn, Netherlands

If you’d rather to see Giethoorn from the water, there are two main options: renting or join one of the group boats that depart frequently. If you wish to rent, it might be possible to find a better deal by searching online in advance. However, you might just get an idea of the prices online and then try to find a better deal in the spot.

You can rent different types of boats, and even canoes. The boats in general are easy to drive, and the canals aren’t deep (around one meter), so you should have no problem. In Giethoorn you’ll see people of different ages driving motor boats in the canals.

Majestic right? And the place isn’t bad either - Giethoorn, Netherlands
Majestic, right? And the place isn’t bad either – Giethoorn, Netherlands

If you just want to sit, relax and enjoy the view, you can join one of the boat tours offered all over the place. The duration can change from one tour to other, and so will change the price. Once again, you can ask in several places to decide what fits better your needs and desires.

It’s curious how popular this destination is amongst Asian tourists. The day I went there, maybe more than half the people were from Asia (and in the bus, it was near 90%). So you can also enjoy the particular poses they keep coming up with for the 20 thousand selfies they’ll make during the day 😛

There are several restaurants in Giethoorn, the quality goes from ok to good. If you want to save money you can take your own food, or plan your trip to be there between meals.

So how do I get to this magical place?

You have to get to the Steenwijk train station. It can take some time, so, if you want to go at very slow pace, you can sleep at the place or find a close one such as Mepple (this is what I did). Anyways, as I said, it’s a short trip, so for example, if you’re in Amsterdam, it could be enough to wake up early.

Once you get to the train station, you just need to go out and you’ll see the bus stop. You can buy the ticket in the same train station, or pay at the bus. If you want more information about public transportation in Netherlands, you can read this article.

And you’ll get this in return - Giethoorn, Netherlands
And you’ll get this in return – Giethoorn, Netherlands

Make sure you leave the bus at the stop called Dominee Hylkemaweg. You can also ask the driver, or you’ll simply notice that the bus becomes almost empty at the station close to Giethoorn. You cross the streets, go down some stairs, and you’ll see restaurants, a small information center, and several people offering boat tours.

What other options do I have?

You can stay in a place nearby, and get to know a Little about the life outside the capital. In my case, I decided to stay in Meppel, a town in the province Drenthe, which limits with the province Overijssel (which is where Giethoorn is).

Meppel doesn’t really have many attractions, it’s just a small town that looks like a location for a movie. There’s a windmill and that’s it. However, being in this town had its own charm.

Oh the people at Clouso! - Mepple, Netherlands
Oh the people at Clouso! – Mepple, Netherlands

I was with a great Couchsurfing host who made me feel as welcome as you could be. And I just decided to walk and know the town. The dynamic is completely different from the capital. People are more relaxed, you don’t feel the constant rush that you feel in Amsterdam. People will smile and greet you in the street.

I was walking and randomly found the Clouso bar. It’s a small place where every client knows almost each other (maybe all of them). After I got a beer, the owner just told me “come join us in the backyard”. After a few minutes, I was talking to a couple, who were there with their one year old, who wouldn’t stop laughing and smiling to everyone. After a few more minutes, I ended up meeting some other clients who would just join the conversation.

That’s the moment you realize borders really don’t matter. Regardless the differences, you can find common ground, with total strangers, who live in a country completely different than yours, and have different backgrounds. And still have a good time. And realize they have similar problems and dreams. That’s what travel should be about. Open to experiences with different people, and remember how good diversity is. And of course, having a couple of beers! 🙂

Simplemente adoro el lugar - Giethoorn, Netherlands
I just love the place – Giethoorn, Netherlands

In case you aren’t convinced of visiting this gem yet, you can find the image gallery from my visit below. And if you’re already convinced, you can buy your ticket to Netherlands here. As usual, I’d love to see your tips or stories in the comments, thanks for reading!

Some links in this page are affiliate links. This means I’ll earn a small commission from your purchase, at no additional cost to you. If you liked the article, please buy through these links and support Just One More Place.

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