At the nothern tip of the province of Overijssel, in the middle of the nature reserve known De Wieden and De Weerribben, lies the village of Giethoorn. The characteristic features of this village are the many canals, typical high bridges and thatched farmhouses. This pituresque entourage and the natural beauty of the surroundings account for the nickname of ‘Green Venice’. Giethoorn has something to offer Young and old alike. Peace and quiet in a natural setting. But all forms of water sprorts are also available to be enjoyed here. And there are still many unique spots waiting to be discovered by boat, bicycle or on foot.
In the past, the landscape consisted primarily of woods and high moor peat. The first inhabitants of this region were refugees from the Mediterranean regions. They settled here around 1200 and began to cultivate the virgin land. In doing so, they found large quantities of the horns of wild goats, which had drowned in the St. Elizabeth’s flood of 1170. They called their settlement ‘Geytenhoren’ (Goathorns), which gradually evolved to ‘Geythorn’ and ‘Giethoorn’.
The elongated village of Giethoorn is located in the middle of De Wieden nature reserve. Together with De Weerribben the largest continuous peat moor area in Northwestern Europe.
In the past, boats were used to transport peat. Although peat is now no longer dug, the boat is still a common form of transport in this region, especially for reed. But they also Carry cattle to and from the meadows and bring in hay for the winter. Perhaps the most characteristic vessel in the village is the Giethoorn ‘sailing’ punt. In the canals, the punting-pole is used to push this open boat along. On the lakes and stretches of water, the mast and sails can be fitted for sailing the punt. There are not only the punts that make boating in Giethoorn a unique experience. You can als take a ‘whisper-boat’, an open boat driven by an easily-operating environmentally friendly, silent electric motor. Giethoorn is also an excellent starting point for canoe tours through the environment. Or, if you prefer, you can take a guided tour in a (covered) boat.
Giethoorn has inspired many poets ans painters. The canals of the village are lined with 18th and 19th century thatched farms and peat diggers cottages, nestling between lovely gardens and high wooden bridges, a paradise for the amateur photographer. Even in the peak season, peace and quiet still rules in Giethoorn, on its many canals and lakes or along their banks. But the village is also a bustling, cheerful place with a number of unusual museums that are certainly worth a visit. There is De Oude Aarde (The Old Earth) where you can admire beautiful crystals, semi-precious stones and an open terrarium. At Pottery Rhoda, handsome pottery is still made in such styles as ‘Giethoorn Blue’. Shell Gallery Gloria Maris displays seashells, coral, sea aquariums and decorative, hand-made Gifts. You can even walk through an authentically furnished Giethoorn farm, built around 1800 : ’t Olde Maat Uus.
If you’re an art lover, check out the many galeries in Giethoorn.
Whether it’s a campground, group accommodation, summer house, apartment, hotel or a Bed & Breakfast adress you’re looking for, Giethoorn offers a wealth of options. It is therefore easy to combine a stay in Giethoorn with visits to the surrounding area. Interesting, attractive locations are the old Zuiderzee towns of Vollenhove and Blokzijl, the village of Belt-Schutsloot and Wanneperveen and the shopping towns of Steenwijk and Meppel. The beauty of De Wieden en De Weerribben is unforgettable.
During the summer you ca narrange your stay to coincide with our special events. In July and August, national music festivals held on and near local lakes and canals have something for everyone: rock&roll, pop and blues. On the last Saturday in July and the last Saturday in August, the canals in Dwarsgracht and Giethoorn are literally transformed into a fairy tale. On these evenings, you can admire the famous Gondelvaart (gondola procession), a unforgettable parade of lighted, decorated floats.
In the winter. West Overijssel is one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful skating areas, with unique spots you wouldn’t otherwise reach.
And so you see, there are plenty of reasons to check out Giethoorn for a day or longer.