Giethoorn is a strange sounding name that certainly doesn’t do any justice to this beautiful place. The name actually means ‘goat horn’ in Dutch. How did it acquire such a peculiar name? Well, the town was established way back in 1230 when fugitives from the Mediterranean moved there. Upon arrival the fugitives noticed many goat horns lying around because of a flood that killed local wildlife. As such, the area became known as ‘Giethoorn’. Today is it clear to see why this town has been dubbed ‘The Venice of the North’ by tourists since there are no roads and only boats as a means of transportation – a really magical experience for anyone with an appreciation of water and beautiful scenery.
Getting to Giethoorn can be a bit of a journey, depending on where you’re coming from. So I suggest at least a visit for half a day but a full day is much better and more relaxed in terms of travel. If you’re coming from Amsterdam, your best bet is to take the sprinter train to Zwolle and cross over to Bus 70 which goes directly to Giethoorn. I advise you to download the 9292 application on your smartphone which will give you the fastest journey on public transport (an example of which is seen below).
Once you get off the bus you need to walk for a few minutes to get to the town ‘centre’ (if you can call it that). You’ll find a row of restaurants alongside the water and the place where you can hire the boats.
You can hire canoes, row boats, motor boats and other water transportation depending on the size of the group with which you’re visiting. Expect to see lovely little houses at the water side as you travel by boat. Don’t forget that you can only travel in one direction along the canals – follow the other boats if you’re unsure (you should get a map of the waterways upon arrival so you know more or less where you are). Be sure to also take some refreshments with you especially if the weather is warm.