Giethoorn: My love-hate relationship

You have probably seen photos or heard about this beautiful car-free-fairy-tale village and might be thinking why would I describe it as love-hate? What can I hate of it? I’ll tell you my experience.

First, the directions from Amsterdam. This is a village in the northeastern Dutch province of Overijssel. Ironically, the best way to get to the car-free village is by car. If driving is not a possibility, another good way will be joining tour buses. Should be ~ 1.5 hours. Getting there is somewhat complicated if you plan to use public transportation. You will have to make multiple stops and transfers and will take you twice the time.

First impressions last… who else agrees? Well, when we arrived, the place was terribly overcrowded… difficult to move through the narrow walking paths, no boats were available to rent, and check the photos of the traffic in the waterway.

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Since we were not able to rent a boat at this point, to kill some time, we decided to get something to eat and drink at Smits Paviljoens’s while enjoying the lake view in their panoramic terrace.  Around 16:30 we went out again and gave it another try. This time it was way better! Most of the tours and groups had already left the site. Now we were able to rent our boat and ride along the waterways, enjoy the landscape and take some nice pics!

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I know this place looks like a Disney fairytale theme park, but actually, there are families that live in these houses. Unfortunately, many visitors don’t understand this or decide to ignore it and sneak into private property and spy through their windows, making the locals uncomfortable.

There are a few hotels and houses for rent if you wish to spend the night here. I can imagine that watching the sunset, spending the night there and waking up to a peaceful morning must be, without a doubt, the ultimate experience.

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Don’t get me wrong, this is truly a beautiful place, one-of-a-kind. Its really interesting to take a closer look to its thatched roofs, walking on the narrow pathways in the middle of nature, enjoy a relaxing boat ride around the waterways and have a beer or snack by the lake. However, the overcrowded environment can really mess up your mood. I would strongly recommend going on weekdays instead of the weekend, or even better visit off-season. I went on a Sunday of late spring and it was wild.

Giethoorn in numbers:

  • Population: ~2500.
  • Houses: ~1100.
  • Boats: Between 500 and 600.
  • Bridges: 167.

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What is a thatcher roof?

Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge, rushes, heather, or palm branches, layering the vegetation densely packed in order to shed water away and serve as insulation. Traditionally thatchers use materials that are locally available.

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