Giethoorn is a picturesque water area village in the head of Overijssel, in the town of Steenwijkerland in the Dutch province of Overijssel. It lies between the towns of Steenwijk and Meppel. Giethoorn is a spectacular open-air museum, while along the canal there are beautiful farms and houses. Many of them are home to tourist attractions. You can only reach the old village of Giethoorn via a footpath and the water. Because of this and the many canals around the place, Giethoorn is called the Venice of the North.
Giethoorn and peat extraction
Giethoorn was founded in 1230 by religious refugees. It owes its characteristic shape to the extraction of peat. This created many canals, lakes and streams around Giethoorn. The peat was transported via these canals. They used special boats for this, the “punter”. This is a boat of about 6.3 metres in length and with a maximum width of 1.45 metres.
The punter was used for all kinds of transport. Shopkeepers, such as bakers, took it around the village to sell their goods. Workers employed in peat making or reed cutting went to work with punter boats and could take part of the harvest with them in it. The punter was also used for funerals and weddings. Nowadays, the punters are mainly used for tourist trips.
A boat trip through Giethoorn
Giethoorn is best admired from the water. In the different types of boats for hire, you get the most beautiful views of the village from a completely different perspective. What’s more you can get to places that are otherwise inaccessible. You sail close to the picturesque houses and farms and there are various options to sail around the many canals in Giethoorn, from a whisper boat to a guided tour. You will find an overview of the possibilities at Giethoorn boat rental.
Sights to see in Giethoorn
The village is an attraction in itself. However, a number of houses have small, sometimes very interesting museums. The following shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Giethoorn:
Olde Maat Uus museum
You get a good picture here of the life of Giethoorn and its inhabitants in the old days. From personal stories of impressive inhabitants, everything comes to the fore about peat extraction and special traditions. Only here can you see the inside of an authentic Gieterse farm. The fisherman’s house and the boathouse also give a unique impression of the simple existence of those days.
Gloria Maris shell gallery
In Gloria Maris you can enjoy the wonderful beauty that nature produces under water. Discover shells and corals in their many variations, shapes and colours. You see the extremely rare and precious ‘Gloria Maris’ shell here, from which the gallery gets its name. Only 25 of them have ever been found all over the world. The gallery has two. You can also view a unique collection of jewellery made of blood coral, pearls and shells.
Besides that, you can see a special type of windmill in Giethoorn-Noord, which is specially designed for the region: the Tjaskermolen (Tjaskermill). There is also a replica in the Olde Maat Uus museum.
More information about Giethoorn
This is just a small selection of the many sights. On this website you will find much more information about Giethoorn. Because well prepared you will enjoy this fairytale village much more.
Weerribben-Wieden National Park
If you are in Giethoorn, then it is definitely advisable to visit the nearby Weerribben-Wieden National Park. With more than 10,000 hectares, the Weerribben-Wieden National Park is the largest contiguous lowland marsh area in northwest Europe. You’ll find a labyrinth of puddles, lakes, ditches, mysterious-looking marsh forests, vast reed beds and flowery meadows. The area is a breeding ground for special plant and animal species.
In the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, you can walk, cycle and go boating (with a whisper boat, for example), but canoeing here is the most beautiful thing in the world. We did this on a gorgeous sunny, weekday in October and enjoyed the peace and quiet all around us. Between reed walls, you sail further and further into the green, until you can only hear your own paddles and the singing of the birds. It seems like a large maze of small ditches and canals. However, getting lost is impossible, as all the ditches eventually end up on the Kalenbergergracht.
There are several visitor centres for the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, where you can rent boats and get information about walking tours. These can be found in the towns of Ossenzijl, Kalenberg, Sint Jansklooster and Zwartsluis.