It is so peaceful, so different and has such simple beauty that it hardly seems real – gently gliding along small canals past old but pretty thatched-roof farmhouses.

You can turn down a “side street” (another small canal) and drift under a wooden bridge where an elderly resident may be strolling over to see a neighbor.

No this is not Venice, or Amsterdam.

Giethoorn

Giethoorn

It is too quiet, too serene and remote. It is so calm that its nickname of the “Dutch Venice” may give a false impression of size and crowds and commercialism.

Here in Holland’s water village of Giethoorn the loudest sound you can normally hear is the quacking of a duck or the noise made by other birds.

Giethoorn is in the province of Overijssel in the east of the Netherlands, a green and still area.

Giethoorn is at the centre of Overijssel’s canal system. Indeed, the little village is so dependent on its waterways, many of the houses cannot be reached by road. When the postman delivers the mail he travels by punt.

Giethoorn boats

Giethoorn boats

Boating has been a popular tourist attraction here for years, with 90km of canoe trails and scores of motorboats to rent, but now, instead of conventional outboard motors, the hire shops stock so-called ‘whisper boats’ – dinghies driven by electric motor.

Giethoorn’s name originates from the first inhabitants’ discovery of hundreds of goat horns (gietehorens) in the marshland, remnants of a 10th-century flood.

Today no goat horns will be found here, but the vegetation is quite distinct still. Here you will find yourself on the edge of vast series of lakes and canals, ideal for boaties, angling and paddle-cycling.

Although there are organized boat tours, it’s more fun to hire a small electric boat that requires no great technical skill to operate, and seats two or three comfortably.

Most of the canal-side restaurants rent them and it’s a Giethoorngrand way to spend an afternoon, gently puttering down the narrow waterways, under gracefully arching bridges, past cosy thatched cottages.

There are three canal-side museums to visit and the Schreur shipyard, where the Giethoorn punt is built.

Footpaths beside the canals are ideal for walking or cycling, and there’s a wide selection of cafes and restaurants.

Giethoorn Accommodation

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