Discover Overijssel, The Netherlands


Giethoorn is beautiful

Giethoorn is beautiful

May 8, 2016

Things you probably didn't know about Giethoorn in The Netherlands

Some people may say that Giethoorn is a village in Holland. Well, Nederland (The Netherlands) is the correct name for ALL of the country, Holland is just a part of it. And Giethoorn is definitely not in those two provinces with Holland in their names. Giethoorn is a small and unique little village in the province of Overijssel, which is about in the center of the country. By the way, Overijssel means: across the (river) IJssel.

Do I need to tell you about the beauty of Giethoorn? Look at the picture above: the 'roads' are waterways - small canals - and transportation is done by boat. There's also a small path for pedestrians and bicycles. However in the tourist season bicycles better do not use this path, to avoid accidents.

Giethoorn is beautiful

Giethoorn has been some kind of a secret gem for international tourists. But that has changed dramatically in the last decade. Many websites from all over the world praise this village for it's serene and peaceful atmosphere, the rural environment, the beautiful old (farm)houses with thatched roofs and the very well kept gardens. Among the comments from people who have been here and from people who watched the pictures on internet are:
"This is heaven on earth", "It's a fairytale", "I want to go there immediately", "I want to spend the rest of my life there", "This is the place I'm dreaming of my whole life", "Oh myyy! I want to go live there! This is sooo awsome!", "This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, I wish I could go and visit Giethoorn, I think this is the place where I want to retire!!"

Giethoorn is beautiful

Some people have their concerns and questions. I will answer these:

Q  How do people in this area get around in the winter time when the water freezes with no vehicles? Does everyone ice skate or does the water not freeze?
A  In the winter you can walk over the water or go ice skating. A lot of ice skaters do so. It's a real winter wonderland.

Q  Is there a place for a visitor to stay overnight in Giethoon Village?
A  Don't worry, there are plenty of opportunities for a short or long vacation in and around Giethoorn. Giethoorn is a touristic hot spot, and the Dutch wouldn't be the Dutch if they would not exploit that commercially, in a modest way!

Q  Is there electricity? I hope not, this village seem untouched by todays rush for development. I hope this remains the way it is for a long time.
A  I'm sorry, Giethoorn looks like an open air museum indeed, but it is a real village with real people. So all houses, restaurants, shops, museums and churches have electricity and other "modern" techniques like glassfiber kabel for internet, radio and TV.

Q  It looks so beautiful but I am afraid to ask if many of the young children who live there have drowned? It does not seem safe to live like that with kids. We have such strict pool fencing laws here in Australia and still so many die each year… water is too much of a temptation.
A  That's a valid concern. However I've never heard that more children are drowning in these water rich environs than elsewhere.

Q  I hate to ruin the magic by bringing up practicality, but how do emergency services function there? Ambulances, fire “trucks”. I hope it’s not somebody on a rowboat rowing really fast.
A  You are close, the fire truck is ofcourse a fire boat. Specially prepared for the low bridges. See picture below.

A special Fire Boat

The same applies to other emergency services. They all have been adopted to the circumstances they operate in. In general in The Netherlands police and ambulance services use: small cars, large vans, bicycles, motors, horses, boats, airplanes and even drones and robots.

Giethoorn is beautiful

Giethoorn is a small and stretched village consisting of three parts. They are called Noordeinde, Middenbuurt en Zuideinde. Probably you can guess what these names mean. The third one, the South End is the most interesting part, where all the pictures have been taken. The region may be a little remote from large city's like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, yet you can ride a highway or take a train to get in the neighbourhood. If you come by car, you cannot avoid a few local roads, and by train you can take a bus or taxi from Meppel. Giethoorn is very accessible, you can park your car on various parking lots, also quite close to 'where the action is'.

The small islands with the high bridges only exist at one side of the long canal in the village. Most of the houses along the footpath can be reached by car and have garages at the back. There are small paved roads not far from the houses, and commercial buildings have large parking lots for customers and guests. There are also some roads/paths between the houses, so the emergency services can reach accidents quite rapidly. By the way, I have been visiting Giethoorn for many decades, and never heard the sound of a sirene here!

Giethoorn is beautiful

At the north side of the Zuideinde (South End) there's a narrow asphalt road that goes almost as far as the bridge leading to Smits Palviljoen in the lake Bovenwijde. At the end of the road there's a small restaurant and a parking lot. So it's easier to supply both restaurants without the need to use a boat. However musical equipment etc. usually is transported by boat.

Mandarin in Giethoorn

Since the people in China got more freedom to travel around the world, they come in droves to this magical small village in the rural part of Overijssel, Netherlands. There are so many nowadays, that the enterpreneurs decided to learn Mandarin (Chinese) to show the visitors that they are very welcome here. And house owners use the newly learned language to tell the people that they are not welcome in private houses. A lot of tourists from Asian countries suppose that Giethoorn is an open air museum, and walk straight over the bridges into the houses.

Mandarin in Giethoorn

This restaurant has its menu card also in the chinese language. On the nearest train station and on the buses you will also find travel information in the Mandarin language.

Visitors give Giethoorn these qualifications: mesmerizing, tranquil, peaceful, unearthy, quiet, one of a kind, unique, extremely beautiful. Some are telling that during their 4 hour visit they even forgot to look at their smartphones. And speaking for myself, when I was walking on the narrow path during a very busy day, I did not get irritated when I had to wait for the short bridges over the sidecanals. If you really want to enjoy the qualities of Giethoorn, you should visit the village outside the tourist season. Or stay until the evening falls. After 5 o'clock most tourists go away, and the tranquility returns in full.

More tips:
Try also the other parts of Giethoorn: Noordeinde and Middenbuurt. The last one has the same charm.
Other small villages with their own charm are very nearby: Dwarsgracht and Wanneperveen. And if you like what you see, there are many more tiny villages and some larger towns: Blokzijl, Ossenzijl, Zwartsluis, IJsselham, Steenwijk, Meppel, and even Nederland! Yes, Nederland in Nederland. (I don't know which one was first.)

Music Festival on the water

Giethoorn is also known for it's music festivals. In July and August there are at least three major festivals: Fifties Rock & Roll, Pop and Blues. There used to be a Jazz-festival as well. The stage is floating next to Smits Paviljoen in the lake Bovenwijde. Between the restaurant and the stage hundreds small boats hoover on the water and the people in them watch the concert first row. Blues music and the waterstage make a perfect combination for a mesmerizing evening. I've been there from the first "Drijf-In Bluesfestival" in 1986 on, and the picture above (2004) shows the boats taking their places in front of the stage.
Bluessinger Louisiana Red from the USA shouted out: "I've never performed on the water before", and he was so distracted by the quaint environment that he could not play and sing well for the first half hour.

Floating stage on the lake

Here the band is rehearsing, and since it's still early, not many people are present yet. Later in the evening Smits Paviljoen becomes quite crowded.
Apart from the music festivals, Giethoorn has more special events. Like the yearly Gondelvaart (Gondola Trip) at the end of August. A long line of beautifully decorated little boats with spectacular scenery are sailing silently through the canals. The boats special lighting as well as the lighting of all gardens and houses in Giethoorn bring the visitors an unforgettable and enchanted evening. Alas usually there are too many visitors and there is too little space along the canals.
In the nearby village Dwarsgracht - two kilometers from Giethoorn - there's also a Gondelvaart each year, but with much larger boats, up to 12 meters long.

I could go on and on, but to finish I have a last tip for you. If you are in the region, do not forget to see the extremely spectacular Dahlia-corso's in Vollenhove and Sint Jansklooster. You will never forget them!