Giethoorn is often referred to as the Venice of the North. This quiet little town in the North East of the Netherlands is certainly charming and worth a daytrip, but it's not Venice. It is too much a village, and not a big city.
The main attraction is the fact that there all canals all over the place and they have typical Giethoorn boats that go underneath. Since it is quite a touristy thing to go here, there are a few restaurants where you can eat or drink coffee.
The town first developed in the 1200s as part of a large nature reserve. The first residents were farmers, and during their farming they uncovered a large quantity of wild goat horns. These horns were from all the goats that died in the 1170 flood. The goat horns gave the town its name, Geytenhoren, which was shortened into its current form, Giethoorn.
The main form of transportation is on the canals. You can get from place to place on a punt, canoe, kayak, or whisper boat. All of the canals are quite narrow, and there are many wooden bridges, so larger watercraft cannot operate in them. The whisper boats are small boats with very quiet electric motors. Punting is quite popular, as you push the boat along using a long pole. The canals are shallow enough that this is used extensively. You can easily stop at a shop or restaurant on the canals, as each has its own dock for boaters to tie up and stop.
There are many activities to enjoy on land, and with all its bicycling and walking paths, you can easily get around town without a car or public transportation. There are some great shops to stop in, such as De Oude Aaarde, which stocks fossils and crystals, and In den coop’ren Duikhelm, which is a scuba diving museum. A great historic stop is a restored farmhouse from the 1800s called ‘t Olde Maat Uus.
Most restaurants only serve regional cuisine, but what is offered is excellent. Some of the best dining spots are near De Harmonie. A popular restaurant is De Lindenhof, which is located in a traditional farmhouse and surrounded by gorgeous gardens. The dishes offered are creative and innovative, and the wine cellar is superb. Another restaurant, De Molenmeester, is located in a mill, and produces regional dishes using local organic produce.
The canals can get very crowded as the day progresses, so getting out and about in the morning is best. Also, you can easily stop in the town for a day, as it is close to Amsterdam and makes for an excellent outing from there.
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