So Sam had the day off so the first thing I wanted us to do was take the train to Giethoorn for a day trip. Considered the “Venice of the Netherlands”, it’s a small town surrounded by only footbridges and canals. That’s right – no cars are allowed in the old town, whose history dates back to the Middle Ages. I wanted us to visit Giethoorn because it was a throwback to our Italy trip where we went to Venice. I love that you can see the 18th and 19th century farmhouses hidden between the trees and wooden bridges! I think it’s fine to do just a day trip to Giethoorn but I noticed that people also make it into a weekend trip and stay there overnight.
Amsterdam – Centraal to Steenwijk
(1 transfer at Almere Centrum)
Travel Time: 1h 33min
It’s cheaper and easier to travel with a chipkaart (€24,47) but you can always just purchase the train ticket online using Trainline EU or Go Euro. The bus ticket can also be purchased inside the Steenwijk train station for those travelling without a chipkaart. Line 70 runs once an hour and the stop you need to get off at is Dominee Hylkemaweg.
Line 70 Bus from Steenwijk to Giethoorn
Travel Time: 20 minutes
After you get off the bus, you will need to walk into the town as there are no cars allowed. You can rent a whisper boat, which are open punter boats equipped with a silent electric motor. I highly recommend booking a boat in advance if you plan on doing a mini boat tour because when we arrived to Giethoorn, all the boats were booked out! They have a lot of boat rental stands lined up when you first get into the town and people in queues trying to rent the boats.
Boat rentals sell out quickly so it’s best to reserve online in advance or arrive to Giethoorn early to beat the crowds and rent a boat
Price Range: €20 to €47,50
You can reserve various types of boats here
Sam and I walked more towards the center of town were there was a huge, open lake and there was another boat rental shack next to it. We had really lucky timing because that shack just had someone return a boat so we were able to rent one out for €35 for 2 hours. We picked up a slice of apple pie (€5 a slice) at a restaurant next to the shack and headed out on our little boat!
Sam initially pioneered our boat (since she’s had practice) and had asked me to try but when I did, I kind of went into panic mode about the direction of the steering and almost ran our boat into another family’s boat! She took the steer back but after she got me to get my wits back together, she patiently taught me how it worked and guided me into steering the boat. I ended up commandeering the boat for the rest of our boat ride so I felt super accomplished!
Our boat ride was so peaceful and so scenic. It was amazing that the weather was so nice and sunny considering how cold it was for the most part that I was in Holland! The houses have thatched roofs with beautiful, painted shutters, and with all the lush green, I would have sworn that it was Hobbiton from The Hobbit! All of the houses we passed by were private residences and it made me wonder just how much they must dislike the tourists that pass through. So many people were riding boats through the canals creating a bit of congestion and I’m sure the residents did not really have a peaceful place to relax. But Giethoorn was so beautiful and I was so happy to have the chance to visit it!
We spent about two hours going through the canals of Giethoorn before we returned the boat and went to go get some ice cream. Giethoorn also has a few museums that might be worth exploring if you’re there for a weekend. They have an interesting one that is a museum called Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus, which is a typical farm from Giethoorn circa the 1800s, with an exposition about living and working in Giethoorn over the past 100 years. Tickets are €5 and is one of the “must-sees”. I also wanted to eat lunch at Lindenhoff but we didn’t have enough time to squeeze that in as we had to take the last bus that was leaving Giethoorn to get back to Amsterdam.