Giethoorn: Best rent a boat and walking tips


This town is affectionately known as the Venice of the North

Giethoorn should be visited at least once. Prepare well for your visit as it can get crowded. Even though it gets busy, this unique village in the Netherlands stands out in all its glory.

The village is loved in the Netherlands, but also far beyond. Especially with the Chinese. A boat trip through Giethoorn is a must. Due to the crowds, more and more Dutch people are starting to avoid the village. With these tips and information, you can get the most out of your visit. Try to avoid the large crowds of people as much as possible. This will allow you to fully enjoy the attractions and sights that the town has to offer.

The town of Giethoorn is all about canals, bridges, houses, and boats. Many houses are built on islands which can only be reached by bridge. Giethoorn has more than 170 bridges. Most of the traffic is on the water. Yes, the village is unique in the Netherlands. This town is best experienced from the water. This can be done in various ways.

Giethoorn is located in the north of the province Overijssel. It is a former peat village. The extraction of peat formed lakes in various places. The lakes and surroundings are now nature reserves such as Weerribben-Wieden National Park. Numerous canals you now sail through were dug to transport the peat. Culture and nature can be combined in one day as everything is closely situated. In this article you'll find the best attractions in Giethoorn to visit.

The famous Giethoorn canals.

Museum farm ‘t Olde Maat Uus

Museum farm ‘t Olde Maat Uus is also known as Museum Giethoorn. It has information about the history of Giethoorn, but more especially the history of peat bogs and everything associated with it. Reenactments of the way of life at the time, which was not really luxurious can be seen here. These acts amongst other things and exhibitions, are played out by actors. Which is why it is called a living museum.

You can also see how they make kniepertjes. This delicacy is most famous in Giethoorn, however also in the areas of Drenthe and Twente. These are flat waffles, which resembles another famous Dutch treat, stroopwafel. In kniepertjes there is no syrup used. You should definitely taste both to make the choice of which one you like best. You can buy them in Giethoorn.

Address: Binnenpad 52

Punterwerf Wildeboer

The famous Wildeboer yard can be visited. Giethoorn is famous for its special boats, called punterwerf. Previously the town had about twenty of these yards. These craft boats were built as all the transportation was by water. Waterproofing the boats is a complex process, which is demonstrated and explained in the yard. The demonstration shows how the water is used to shrink and expand the oak planks. It is a glimpse into the past. This is kept alive from father to son.

A punter is a traditional vessel in Giethoorn. These open boats resemble the gondolas in Venice. These were used to transport the peat. The punters are small and very manoeuvrable, so that they can be navigated in all channels. The punter is pushed with a long wooden stick, known as a punter pole. Although you have to be a bit skilled to guide them through all the channels. Rent a boat to have your own personal experience of Giethoorn. The boat is handmade in the yard itself. A boat trip can take two hours, half a day, or even longer. 

Address: Beulakerweg 48

Giethoorn Rent a Boat

A boat trip through Giethoorn is highly recommended as it is the best way to experience this town. This can be done in countless ways which includes tour boats, sloops, canoes, kayaks as well as the special fluisterboot (whisper boat).

Traditional punter

The traditional punter is the most special of all boats.  This particular boat was used to collect the peat. These boats are made of oak wood and are extremely strong. You can rent these boats at the punter yard. They have an electric motor, which is environmentally friendly and quiet. Before you leave you will receive instructions on how to sail the punter. Although, I found it was quite easy.


The fluisterboot is silent and enjoyable. These iron boats are popular and are very easy to use. You can rent them in various places. This boat can be used to enter the nearby national park as well.

A boat tour is a nice excursion in Giethoorn.

Canoe or kayak?

There are several special canoe routes in Giethoorn. This is a wonderfully active way to discover the village and the surrounding areas. Follow the indicated sailing directions strictly, to avoid a traffic jam. There are canoe routes in the north and south of Giethoorn. Both routes are available to sail. You can rent canoes and kayaks on several places in and around Giethoorn.

Paddle boarding in Giethoorn

A modern way to discover Giethoorn is by SUP (Stand Up Paddle). In other words, you are on a slightly modified surfboard. You get to paddle through the channels. The SUP’s are available to rent in the village. You will receive instructions on how to paddle. The tricky part are the waves that are sometimes made by the boats. I realised you have to keep your balance, as supping also means that you can fall into the water.

Hiking in Giethoorn

The narrow Binnenpad is the main walking route through Giethoorn. The hiking path passes many local houses, or peat farms. Many houses have hydrangeas in the garden. Along the route you’ll also find various shops, galleries and churches. You can rest and have a drink at one of the many restaurants and terraces.

The Binnenpad runs along the Dorpsgracht, which is the most important waterway in Giethoorn. You can see countless boats and everyday life. This walking path can become overcrowded, and is best walked in the morning when it is still relatively quiet. The light is best during this part of the day for photos.  

Short walk Giethoorn (4.3 km)

If you only want to walk through Giethoorn, the roundtrip walk is the best option. By following the yellow arrows, you can see most of the highlights that can be discovered. Your walk can take as long as you like.

Long walking route Giethoorn (15.3 km)

This walking route is an absolute must. You would see most of the sights of Giethoorn along the way as you walk through the village and the outskirts. The route runs along the Beulakerwijde, which is known for its wide view with a large lake. This lake was formed by peat extraction. The starting point is Eendrachtsplein. By following the green posts  you will automatically return to Giethoorn.

National Park Weerribben near Giethoorn.

Cycling through Giethoorn

The bike is perfect for those who would like to combine the village with nature in the area. The cycle route is along the reed beds, swamp forests, canals, meadows full of flowers, butterflies and countless lakes and ponds. This is the Netherlands at its best.

Parking in Giethoorn

Finding a parking spot in Giethoorn can be a challenge. The village has free parking at Wethouder Harm Molweg which is very close to the center.  However, this parking lot is almost always full. If you arrive early in the day you can usually park for free. Alternatively, you can then pay for parking at the restaurant ‘t Vonder on the Binnenpad.

How do I avoid the crowds?

Giethoorn can get busy, in fact too busy at times and this can make your visit unpleasant. To avoid the many tourists, I have a few tips. In peak season the busiest time is between 10h00 and 15h00. Weekends in the spring are often busy, especially in good weather.

My tip is to go on a Monday or Tuesday, these days are a lot quieter. The earlier you go, the quieter it is. I’ve been to this town in high season, but very early. At first I walked around in the village and drank coffee, took some pictures and rented a boat.

I was in the national park before 10 a.m, to take a walk and go out with another boat. I carried a picnic lunch with me to enjoy in nature. At the end of the afternoon I went back to Giethoorn to have a drink on a terrace and eat at one of the restaurants. Most day trippers were already gone by then and calm slowly returned. A wonderful day of the village and nature.

Visiting Giethoorn

Giethoorn is easy to reach by car or by public transport. You have to travel by train and bus. This can be done via Steenwijk and Zwolle. After that you can also take the bus to National Park Weerribben-De Wieden or you can do this by bicycle.

Book a tour for Giethoorn

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