Staycation time! This is my story of a wonderful day in Giethoorn.
I continue to be amazed by the attraction of the Netherlands to tourists. More than 85 percent of the Dutch go on holiday each year. Almost three quarters of them go abroad. The Netherlands has 17.2 million inhabitants. I was a bit surprised about the 20.1 million foreign tourists that visited the Netherlands in 2019. About 80% of these come from Europe.
Typical tourist Attractions in the Netherlands
At the top of the wish list of the foreign tourist are typical things. They want to see historic cities, windmills and picturesque fishing villages. Nobody wants to miss the tulips! On top of this, there are the many museums and the local cheese markets and Giethoorn. ‘Venice of the North’, ‘Dutch village without roads’ or ‘Dutch Venice’. It doesn’t matter how you call it. Giethoorn is a popular attraction. The village is annually visited by more than 1 million people from all over the world.
When I thought about Giethoorn before today, I pictured large hordes of people. They would be walking through Giethoorn like sardines in a can, in one long polonaise. Although I can’t remember any of this from a visit there over 25 years ago. Water, a lot of water, yes. Now that tourism from abroad has fallen sharply, the Dutch are also discovering the local tourist attractions. Before the pandemic I had never really thought of a day in Giethoorn. The sardine in a can idea really turned me off. Only now suddenly the whole world is different. And so is the situation in Giethoorn. Therefore we went and spend a staycation day in Giethoorn.
Giethoorn has a lot to offer
The area has much more to offer than just this well-known village. There is, for example, Weerribben-Wieden National Park. With over 10,000 hectares, the park is the largest continuous low moorland in northwestern Europe. A maze of lakes, ditches, flowery meadows, ponds, swamp forests and reed plots. The perfect base for sailing, cycling and walking visitors.
We booked a whisper boat for the day via the visitor site of the Weerribben. What’s more fun on a staycation than riding a boat? We left early in the morning to go to the North of Overijssel. And what a great day we had. I could write pages about the beautiful nature, the serenades that were brought to us by all the birds, the number of dragonflies we saw, how many times we had to bend over to go under a bridge, not to mention the number of times I said ‘I’m having such a nice day!’.
A whisper boat ride
Our dinghy for today was ready at Kroondomein. After a short explanation about our vessel, and the standard questions ‘have you ever sailed before’, we crossed the Bovenwijde lake in an easterly direction. We sailed back to the lake via the Klossenvaart, Paaslooervaart and Hoosjesgracht. Of course we couldn’t miss sailing through Giethoorn itself. The main street, called the Binnenpad, is a one-way street for boats. We entered the village via the Zuideinde (Paal 5). This is how we got our first impression of where the widely infamous traffic jams photos are normally taken. Today we were not bothered by all of this at all. We were all alone.
Museums and more
Each village has a church and a museum. Here they have the Fanfare museum named after the movie with the same name. From the museum we sailed to port on the Cornelisgracht, with the VVV as the first stop. Because yes, you’ve only really been somewhere when you’ve bought postcards! After having collected the treasures we sailed further down the Cornelisgracht until we arrived in the picturesque Dwarsgracht. They call this miniature Giethoorn. In my opinion it perhaps is more beautiful than Giethoorn itself. We had a lovely lunch here at the Otterkooi. I highly recommend this when you spend a day in Giethoorn. The boat could be tied to the private jetty, and from there we could walk onto the terrace.
The sail back to Giethoorn
With full stomachs we sailed on via the Brouwersgracht to the Beulakerwijde, via the Giethoornse Meer and the Walengracht. After that we crossed the Beulakerwijde in an easterly direction. That way we could merge onto the Beukers-Steenwijk Canal. The name suggests that it goes from the Beulakerwijde to Steenwijk. Strangely enough, if you sail in the opposite direction, the name stays the same. In the end we sailed into Giethoorn via the southern end, via the Binnenpad. In the meantime we were no longer alone.
The Crowds Arrive
And so we got a taste of the normal hectic pace of sailing through during our staycation day in Giethoorn. There was also amazement about the people who have never steered a boat and how they tried to sail across under bridges. We thoroughly enjoyed this spectacle. It was a bit like gloating at the campsite. The concept of one-way traffic was also not fully understood, if not at all! All this resulted in laughable situations, which show that the Dutch tourist is sometimes not superior to the average foreign tourist.
One Last Lap
The return trip with our rental boat to Giethoorn went more smoothly than expected, and we still had time to spare. The anticipated delays due to the traffic jams had not threatened our timetable, so we decided to do just one more round through nature. We passed through the village all the way to the north, to the Molengat. There we returned via the Benedenstouwe back to the Bovenwijde where it was now time to hand over the boat. We didn’t experience anything of the crowds that are typical here. There was a lot going on in the village. Outside we regularly had the feeling of being alone in the world. It is mighty beautiful how you can feel so incredibly insignificant, surrounded by only nature. A perfect place for a staycation!