Are you planning an Amsterdam family vacation but aren’t sure if you should do a day trip to Giethoorn? We were just there and I’ll share all my honest thoughts about whether or not it’s worth visiting!
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The one the really jumped out to me was visiting Giethoorn. That’s because it reminded me a bit of our time visiting Monet’s Garden in Giverny as a Paris day trip. It had the same adorable charm!
So, is Giethoorn Netherlands worth the trip? Keep scrolling for my honest opinion.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Amsterdam blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Amsterdam with kids.
Popular Amsterdam Tours/Activities
- Day Trip to Zaanse Schans and Giethoorn (easy way to day trip without any stress)
- Van Gogh Museum Kid-Friendly Private Tour (includes skip-the-line tickets)
- Family-Friendly Amsterdam Private Tour (it’s customizable and a great way to get kids interested in history)
- The Upside Down Amsterdam (fun, Instagram museum for families)
- Flytographer photo shoot (they are easy to book are really affordable)
Kid-Friendly Amsterdam Hotels
- Radisson Blu (great location with lots of family room options)
- Pulitzer Amsterdam (lots of kid-friendly amenities plus family room options)
- Volkshotel (unique hotel near Oosterpark and the Deppermarkt)
- Amsterdam Marriott Hotel (offers family rooms near the Van Gogh Museum)
- Conservatorium Hotel (spacious rooms in the Museum District)
Want to Rent a Bike in Amsterdam?
One of the best places to rent a bike in Amsterdam is MacBike Bike Rental because they usually have the cheapest rates and fantastic customer service. Check rates here.
Where is Giethoorn?
Giethoorn is located in the Netherlands, in the province of Overijssel. This picturesque village is situated in the northeastern part of the country, between the cities of Zwolle and Heerenveen.
It’s about 90 minutes from central Amsterdam. That’s why it’s a popular day trip from Amsterdam.
This charming village, often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” is famous for its network of canals and its picturesque, thatched-roof houses.
Why Do People Visit Giethoorn?
People visit Giethoorn for its unique charm and idyllic setting. It’s seriously peaceful and relaxing just being in the small village.
Giethoorn is known for its enchanting canals, beautiful thatched-roof farmhouses, adorable gardens, and serene rural environment.
Its postcard-perfect setting makes it an appealing destination for photographers and nature lovers. I mean, that’s why I wanted to go!
With its many waterways and lack of roads in the village center, Giethoorn has often been dubbed the “Venice of the North”.
The main mode of transportation is by water, which adds to the village’s distinct charm and allure.
Since we kicked off our Europe trip in Venice, it seemed like a perfect way to end our European summer adventure with more canals!
How to Visit Giethoorn Netherlands
There are a few different ways to get to Giethoorn from Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
Take the Train
One of the most efficient and eco-friendly ways to visit Giethoorn from major Dutch cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam is by train.
You can take a train to the Steenwijk station, which is the closest to Giethoorn. The journey from Amsterdam to Steenwijk takes about 2 hours.
Once you arrive at Steenwijk, you can take a local bus (line 70 or 270) to Giethoorn, which is about a 15-minute ride.
Drive a Car
If you prefer more flexibility, you could rent a car and drive to Giethoorn, Netherlands. The village is about a 1.5 to 2 hours’ drive from Amsterdam.
Although the village itself is mostly car-free, there are parking areas on the outskirts. You’ll need to park your car and then walk around Giethoorn (or rent a boat).
Just remember that it can get busy during peak tourist season, so arriving early to find parking can be beneficial.
For those who prefer organized trips, there are several companies that offer day tours to Giethoorn from major cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
These tours typically include transportation, a guide, and often a boat tour through the canals of Giethoorn.
This can be a stress-free and convenient option, especially for first-time visitors or those on a tight schedule.
I’m a huge fan of booking day tours because it takes a lot of pressure off me to organize our itinerary!
Here are some Giethoorn Netherlands day tour options.
Zaanse Schans and Giethoorn Day Trip
This is the tour that we did. It was about 10 hours long and it started at the Zaanse Schans outdoor museum and then we spent the afternoon in Giethoorn.
We got to visit a cheese factory, see how wooden clogs are made, and do a boat trip down the canals. Check the latest rates and availability.
Giethoorn & Enclosing Dike Day Trip from Amsterdam
This is another option to see Dutch Venice without a stop at Zaanse Schans. You will do a stop at the enclosing dike, though. Check the latest rates and availability.
Giethoorn, Volendam, and Zaanse Schans Tour
This tour is similar to the other ones but it includes a stop at Volendam. Here, you’ll see brightly-painted wooden buildings and residents dressed in vibrant regional clothing. It sounds like a great option! Check the latest rates and availability.
5 Must-Do Things to do in Giethoorn
Our half-day tour to Giethoorn included a boat ride through the many canals and the large lake. It was a guided tour where we learned a lot about this small town.
We liked the bigger boats because they were really stable and they had a cover, so we didn’t stress about the iffy weather.
But. you can also rent your own boat (like a small boat or whisper boats) if you don’t want to be with other visitors.
Eat and Drink
There are actually lots of places to eat in Giethoorn. It’s sort of like a fun treasure hunt to find the spots, but here are a few that stand out:
This is a two-Michelin-star restaurant, renowned for its innovative and quality cuisine. It provides an exclusive gastronomic experience and also offers a beautiful view of the Dutch countryside.
Situated on the waterfront, this restaurant offers a menu full of traditional Dutch and international dishes. With its fantastic views and cozy atmosphere, it’s a popular spot for both lunch and dinner.
A family-friendly restaurant located in the village center, De Sloothaak offers a varied menu that includes Dutch classics, vegetarian options, and a range of seafood. They also offer a traditional Dutch pancake menu, which is especially popular with children.
Grand Café Fanfare
This café is situated in the iconic building used in the classic Dutch film “Fanfare”, made by Bert Haanstra in 1958. It offers a diverse menu and the chance to dine in a piece of Dutch film history.
There are also some cool shops in Giethoorn. Of course, you’ll find a few souvenir shops near the parking lot. But, there are also some more artsy shops as you walk along the canals.
‘t Olde Maat Uus
More than just a museum, ‘t Olde Maat Uus also has a shop where you can buy traditional Dutch items, including handmade crafts, local honey, books about the region, and more.
Galerie de Buurt
This art gallery showcases the works of various artists, mainly focusing on glass art. It’s a great place to find a unique piece of art as a souvenir of your visit to Giethoorn.
De Oude Aarde
Adjacent to the museum of the same name, the shop at De Oude Aarde offers a fantastic array of gemstones, fossils, and minerals. It’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
At this glassblowing studio, you can not only watch artisans creating beautiful glass objects but also purchase these handmade pieces from their shop. The items range from vases and bowls to intricate glass sculptures.
Potterije De Olde Klok
This pottery shop sells beautifully handcrafted ceramics and offers pottery workshops where you can create your own masterpiece.
Stroll Along the Main Walking Strip (and beyond)
It’s honestly pretty nice to simply take a walk around the village. There are lots of cute bridges, pretty gardens, and things to look at along the way.
Plus, the whole town is just so QUIET that it’s easy to just take a few moments to be present and enjoy this special place!
Take Photos on the Pretty Canals
Of course, I’m big on taking photos wherever I go and I ended up with like a hundred photos of my kids on bridges. I just couldn’t help myself!
Just be sure to be respectful and not trespass. It’s easy to forget that people do live here and they might not appreciate people climbing on their bridges.
Our Experience Visiting Giethoorn
Okay, now that you have an overview of this beautiful village, I’ll share my personal thoughts on my family’s experience.
What We Liked About It
It’s just so gosh darn ADORABLE! It felt like I was in Hallmark movie where someone moves to a little canal town and solves quaint mysteries or something. Visiting Giethoorn was totally my jam!
I’m really glad that we did a guided boat tour because we really could just sit back and relax. I think that’s the main attraction for a canal village like this. It was nice to not worry about navigating or avoiding the small rental boats.
Since we only spent half a day in Giethoorn, I thought it was perfect for a quick visit from Amsterdam. There were tons of picturesque spots along the main canal as well as off the beaten path.
What We Didn’t Like About It
We visited Giethoorn in the summer which is peak season. That means there were a bunch of tourist groups there at the same time as us.
I bet visiting Giethoorn during the off season would be amazing! We love exploring tourist destination without all the other tourists!
I also thought there would be more cute shops to walk through. The kids got a little bit bored after the boat ride.
Visiting Giethoorn FAQs
How long do you need in Giethoorn?
You really only need a few hours to walk around Giethoorn and get the full experience. You can do a boat tour, check out one of the numerous restaurants, visit a gift shop, and get all the pictures during your lovely trip.
Is it worth staying overnight in Giethoorn Netherlands?
That’s a personal choice. If you really want to unplug and enjoy village life for a night or two, this could be a cool place to do it.
Is Giethoorn a tourist trap?
I wouldn’t call it a tourist trap because we fully enjoyed spending half a day here. There weren’t any street vendors and we were free to do as much or as little as we wanted without any pressure.
What are the best months to visit Giethoorn Netherlands?
Giethoorn is beautiful year-round, but Spring and Summer are particularly enchanting as the gardens are in full bloom and the weather is usually pleasant for boating.
However, the village can also be stunning in winter if it snows, providing a different kind of charm.
Is Giethoorn beautiful?
I thought that visiting Giethoorn was one of the coolest day trips we’ve done in Europe. It’s a seriously beautiful village with thatched roofs, picture perfect walkways, colorful flowers at every turn, and beautiful canals. It’s worth the day trip from Amsterdam.
How far is Giethoorn from Amsterdam, and how long does the journey take?
Giethoorn is approximately 120 kilometers from Amsterdam. By car, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to do this day trip from Amsterdam. By public transportation (train and bus), it typically takes around 2.5 to 3 hours.
What is Giethoorn known for?
Known as the “Venice of the North,” Giethoorn is famous for its car-free village center with charming canals, idyllic thatched-roof farmhouses, and beautiful gardens. It’s a unique destination that offers a peaceful and scenic environment.
What can I do in Giethoorn?
One of the most popular activities is to rent a boat (electric “whisper boats” are popular) and navigate the village’s scenic waterways.
Walking or biking around the village, visiting museums like the De Oude Aarde (The Old Earth) or ‘t Olde Maat Uus, dining in charming restaurants, and shopping for traditional Dutch gifts are also popular activities.
Can I complete a Giethoorn trip in one day?
Yes, a day trip is usually enough time to experience Giethoorn’s major attractions. You can spend the day exploring the canals by boat, strolling through the village, and enjoying local cuisine.
Is Giethoorn Worth Visiting?
Whether visiting Giethoorn is worth it largely depends on what you’re seeking from your trip.
If you’re captivated by the idea of exploring a peaceful, car-free village with picturesque canals and charming thatched-roof houses, then the journey from Amsterdam Central Station to Giethoorn will certainly be a worthwhile venture.
The scenic route that unveils the Dutch countryside’s beauty alone is an experience to cherish.
Add to that the thrill of navigating the village’s waterways through boat rentals, particularly the ‘whisper boats’ renowned for their quiet motors, and you have an idyllic retreat that promises a unique experience.
For a tranquil escape from the bustling city, I highly recommend visiting Giethoorn.