Nestled just north of Zwolle, Geithoorn is a perfect day trip that shouldn’t be missed if you have a short time to spare (half a day is enough) whilst visiting Amsterdam. I’d actually choose it over Zaanse Schans coz hey you can actually find those old wind mills—the tourist draw in Zaanse Schans—in Amsterdam.
Geithoorn, pronounced “kheet-haw-rn” (the closest I could come up with) is actually a town but the size of the attraction is just like that of a village. Yes, the canal system isn’t as complex as Bruges’, Amsterdam’s and defo not Venice’s. Venice too sure is way way grander.
But its charm lies in the fact that there’s far less crowd (especially if you come early), it’s pedestrian-only (bikers are allowed too) and instead of buildings, you’ll find lovely old cottage homes with well-manicured gardens that seem to want to upstage the other. Plus the business establishments perfectly blend in with the surroundings, it seems devoid of commercialism. It’s really straight out of a fairy tale!
To get there, you need to hop on a train that passes by Steenwijk. Get off the station and take either bus 70 or 270. Get off at bus stop Giethoorn, Groene Kruis.The attraction is across the street from here.
It’s best to experience Geithoorn by boat. Rent boats are cheap. They’re electricity-powered and a license is required, not! Anybody as in anybody can easily navigate the canals by these whisper boats. I suggest you rent the one controlled via a steering wheel—far easier to manoeuvre than with the engine lever. An hour is enough to circumnavigate the canal ring even passing by the lake. But if you plan to take your time marvelling at nature (man-made hehe) and explore the canal stretches, then two hours is more than enough.
Food here is relatively cheap. Cheapest and seriously not bad food is in Eetcafé Giethoorn.
Following are pictures I took just when Spring was just starting: