The Netherlands

What to do in Giethoorn, with rain and with good weather

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Giethoorn is located in the municipality of Steenwijkerland, in the province of Overijssel. The name will sound familiar to you, even if you have never been there. The town is unique because of its many narrow waterways and the characteristic (saloon) boats that sail around. Giethoorn is also called the Venice of the North or Dutch Venice because of these characteristics. There are no roads in the center of Giethoorn; only footpaths and canals. Giethoorn a popular tourist destination in the Netherlands. Many foreign tourists who Amsterdam visit the Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken usually also include Giethoorn.

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History of Giethoorn

Giethoorn is traditionally a peat area. In the 13th century, settlements arose around a number of lakes created by peat excavations. These settlements eventually formed a village where the first waterways were dug in the 17th century. Transportation by water made it a lot easier for the inhabitants of Giethoorn to trade peat. In the 19th century, tourists began to discover Giethoorn, especially after a number of Dutch artists painted the place. In the 20th century, Giethoorn grew into a popular tourist destination, with many hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities. Today, more than 175 bridges can be found across the waterways in Giethoorn, giving access to houses on the islets.

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Where does the name Giethoorn come from?

The name Giethoorn probably comes from the old Dutch words “goat” and “hear.” There is a theory that Giethoorn was originally called “Geytenhoren” because many goats used to live in the area and many horns were found in the ground. A second theory is the reference to the shape of the lakes around Giethoorn, which resemble goat horns. A third theory is that the lakes near Giethoorn were so shallow that goats could wade into them and that they used their horns to find food in them. Either way, that the name is derived from something with goats and horns is pretty clear!

Giethoorn, popular with tourists from home and abroad

Giethoorn is popular with foreign tourists and is often visited by people from countries such as Germany, Belgium, France, China and Japan. But Dutch people also enjoy doing a day trip to Giethoorn. The unique combination of narrow water canals, boats and beautiful nature makes Giethoorn interesting for tourists from all over the world. In addition, the history, culture and local cuisine are also attractive aspects, especially for foreign tourists. In Giethoorn you have virtually all tourist facilities at your fingertips; think hotels, restaurants, boat rentals, bicycle rentals and hiking trails.

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Day trip to Giethoorn, what to do and see?

Just walking around Giethoorn is fun. Walking along the water to see the houses across the waterways, the boats passing by, taking pictures… For that reason alone, I would recommend a day in Giethoorn. But of course you can do more in this lovely place. Below is a list of activities in Giethoorn.

  • Boat tour: One of the best ways to explore Giethoorn is to take a boat tour. There are many rental companies that rent boats and a variety of tours are available, from short round-trip tours to multi-day tours.
  • Cycling: There are many bike paths around Giethoorn, so you can explore the place and its surroundings at leisure.
  • Hiking: There are many hiking trails in Giethoorn and the surrounding area, where you can enjoy the beautiful nature and the unique architecture of the place.
  • Visit museums: There are some museums in Giethoorn where you can learn about the history and culture of the place.
  • Visiting cultural events: Giethoorn often hosts cultural events, such as music and theater festivals, fairs and markets.
  • Enjoying local cuisine: Giethoorn has many restaurants where you can enjoy local cuisine and specialties.
  • Discover nices places around Giethoorn, such as Blokzijl, Dwarsgracht and Steenwijk
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Good restaurants in Giethoorn

There are several restaurants and cozy pubs in Giethoorn. Most restaurants have beautiful terraces, often located by the water or in lush gardens. A few spots stand out:

  • The Lindenhof: For a really good gastronomic experience, this is the place to be. The Lindenhof also offers a water safari through Giethoorn and the Weerribben Wieden, of course with a well-filled gastronomic plateau on board.
  • The Landije: Here you can find delicious cakes, rich salads and other tasty lunch dishes.
  • Smit Giethoorn: This restaurant lets you have coffee, lunch, drinks and/or dinner in an atmospheric ambiance. With us, Smit is a favorite!
  • The Eetkamer van Giethoorn: This restaurant is also beautifully situated. Lunch, dinner, high wine, high beer, high tea … you name it, it’s possible at The Dining Room of Giethoorn.
  • Fratelli: Italian brothers Davide and Salvatore prepare the most delicious Italian dishes for you at Fratelli.
  • Grand Café de Fanfare: This café is an ode to the 1958 comedy film of the same name by Bert Haanstra and Jan Blokker that was shot in Giethoorn.
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Olde Maat Uus Museum Giethoorn - What to do in Giethoorn -
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Popular hiking trails in Giethoorn

Of course, you can enjoy following the walking paths along the water and turn left or right every now and then by feel. Would you like to follow a walking route in Giethoorn? Then you can find several on and on Some well-known hiking trails recommended by the VVV in Giethoorn are as follows:

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Nice towns and villages near Giethoorn

As you can read above, there are other beautiful villages and towns to visit near Giethoorn. Are you staying a little longer near Giethoorn? Then be sure to see if you can catch any of the places below.

  • Steenwijk: a historic city with a cozy center and old city walls.
  • Blokzijl: a historic town with a beautiful old center and a lovely harbor.
  • Dwarsgracht: also called little Giethoorn, also has many ditches and waterways.
  • Meppel: a city with a cozy center and a number of interesting museums.
  • Zwartsluis: a village with a beautiful old center and a lovely harbor.
  • Weerribben-Wieden National Park: a beautiful nature reserve with lakes, ditches and reed beds. Ideal for hiking, biking and boating.
  • Heino: a village with a cozy center and a number of interesting museums.
  • Zwolle: a historic city with a cozy center and old buildings.
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Most beautiful season to visit Giethoorn

Nature is beautiful in Giethoorn, in every season. With lots of water, trees and meadows, it is truly Dutch! Especially in spring when there is also a lot of color in nature, Giethoorn is a picture. But at this time of year it can be incredibly crowded. The last time I visited Giethoorn was in October. You have to be a little lucky with the weather, but everything is still beautifully green and it is wonderfully quiet. I’ve also experienced the other extreme, in the spring. Boats passing through the canals in traffic jams and crowded footpaths. It’s just what you feel comfortable with. I like a little more quiet, but still green; for me, autumn is preferable.

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What to do in Giethoorn when it is raining –

When it rains, it’s a little harder to get around in Giethoorn. After all, you come for a nice walk along the waterways, right? If you do have to put up with a few showers and you don’t feel like wearing a raincoat, there are a number of things you can do with rain in Giethoorn. Think about visiting a museum, for example ‘t Olde Maat Uus, Shell Gallery Gloria Maris or The Old Earth. Interested in art? Then art gallery Africa is a must. You can drink coffee and have a cake, lunch or drinks at one of the above restaurants. By the way, there are also closed tour boats. Of course, a trip in a covered boat can be done in any weather!

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