Thursday, 5 February 2015

Giethoorn - Venice of the Netherlands

Giethoorn, is a small enchanting village in the Netherlands about 1.5 hours from Amsterdam.  It is a car-free village and for the longest there were absolutely no roads in the village and the only means of transport was by water over the many canals. Now there is a narrow bike-path made to explore the village on bike or on foot.  Even to this day cars have to be left outside the village - how cool is that.
I had never heard about Giethoorn up until recently and I am glad I could visit this mesmerizing place.

It is popularly known as the Venice of the Netherlands however it is much smaller than Venice. Venice was somehow oozing romance while Giethoorn to me seemed straight out of a fair-tale. Both have their own charms nonetheless. Walking around the Giethoorn was a bewitching experience and I could not help feel part of a magical fairy-tale. If there is a fairy-land it must be a lot like Giethoorn!

The village has about 1800 small bridges which connect the village and the small island-houses. Almost each and every house is amazingly captivating. With only 3000 people living in the village I believe it must be one of those places where everyone knows everyone.

Some houses were up for sale. I wondered how it would be to live there - a mixed bag I think - with a beautiful enchanting surrounding but with curious intruding tourists peeping into the houses and the house being almost on a display forever. The place was amazingly quiet however we were told that it can be very busy in the peak season.

Biking, walking around and sailing in one of the famous 'whispering boats'  are some of the activities to engage in while at Giethoorn. We did a whispering boat tour for about two hours ( at about 13 euro / person ) - sailing in and around the picturesque canals. The whispering boat tour gave a much closer look however I personally enjoyed exploring the village on foot more.

The the size of the village the number of restaurants were definitely sufficient for locals and travelers alike. We enjoyed yummy Italian meals in the heart of the village. Some unique souvenir shops just added to the experience and of-course I had to collect my most favorite one - a fridge magnet!

There are many good b&b in the village itself and the people there are known for their hospitality. Most of them also provide bike-on-rent and whispering boat tours.

Giethoorn became locally famous when Dutch movie Fanfare was shot there. Once back from my trip I saw the movie as well and it was interesting to link it back to my trip.

I would definitely love to go to Giethoorn in Spring again and maybe this time I can stay with the locals than in a hotel. It can also be an easy day trip from Amsterdam ( 1.5 hours one way) and I highly recommend it. 

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