You must’ve heard that the Netherlands, located in northwestern Europe, is a land of canals, tulip fields, and windmills. But what you may probably not have heard of is its charming village called Giethoorn, a village without roads! It’s an hour-and-a-half drive from Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.
This village, located in the Dutch province of Overijssel, is completely free of any motorized vehicles. If you’re wondering how people commute here, it’s via boats on it’s over four-mile-long canals. This, incidentally, is their primary way of traveling. Even most of the houses are accessible only by boats! Little wonder this village is called the ‘Dutch Venice’.
What’s attracting the tourists to this quaint, tranquil village is the boat rides on its extensive waterways. Traveling on the still waters, one with nature, in the serene and quiet surroundings, punctuated by the quacking of the ducks, is simply unforgettable. Such is the lure of this village, located in the midst of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, that it makes one come back again and again.
It was a conscious decision of the residents of Giethoorn, that number less than 3,000, to keep their village without motorable roads. So, if you pay a visit to this village, you’ll need to park your car on the outskirts. From here, you can either take a canoe or rent a bike or even take a Punter, just for thrills! Here, it’s the pedestrian tracks and over 180 bridges that connect places.
The history of Giethoorn goes back to the 13th Century when Franciscan monks settled here and dug canals for transporting peat. Since those times, waterways became the preferred way of commuting and the village never got around to developing motorable roads. This fact was popularized by the film ‘Fanfare’ by the Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra.
The presence of canals and the absence of roads makes Giethoorn, a village straight out of a fairy tale, what with its thatched roof houses, lush gardens, beautiful wooden bridges, picturesque locations, and warm-hearted residents. Old-fashioned cafes are located conveniently all across the village to cater to tourists out on their exploration trips.
For the visitors, even wandering around the village without getting disturbed by honking vehicles and the hustle and bustle of city life feels almost dreamlike. It’s not only the serenity of the place that is an attraction for the outsiders, but also its museums, historical buildings, churches, and castles. There are winter sports too for those visiting the place during winters.