Spring season is here and one country that beats any other in natural spring decorations is the Netherlands. Until mid-may fields of Holland flowers, including the most popular tulips, paint the Dutch land in various colours providing a visual delight throughout this season. I lived in the Netherlands for two years while I did my masters, and was lucky to have friends who took me on a road trip in Netherlands – a day trip to Giethoorn village and to the open tulip fields in Flevoland near Lelystad in the north of Holland for my birthday. Aside from the colourful flower fields, there is another Dutch experience not to miss during this time of the year, which is visiting the famous Giethoorn village. It is a picturesque little village in the north of Amsterdam, that is canal operated and car free, which is covered by lakes, reed beds and forests. Handsome thatched roof farms and characteristic wooden bridges gives a special character to the scenery of this village. To fully absorb the beauty of Giethoorn village, a perfect time to visit is during the spring season that offers long days and a perfect climate to be outdoors and enjoy riding the canal tour boats.
Our plan was a budget friendly road trip to explore the Giethoorn village highlights and hunt free tulip fields while travelling to the north of Holland, where Dutch dikes are located. Rather than visiting the touristic destinations to see the Holland flowers, we decided to just explore Flevoland in Lelystad, a beautiful place with open tulip fields and hence I have limited pictures. For a better view of spring flower beds in Holland, check this out. I would recommend to visit Keukenhof Gardens, which is known as the most beautiful spring garden in the world.
The Netherlands as you may know is a very small but densely populated country, known for it’s biking culture, tulip fileds, canals and multiple UNESCO’s world heritage objects. Giethoorn is an idyllic Dutch town in the northernmost tip of Overijssel, which is entirely canal-operated and there are no roads, no cars, no car rentals, making it only accessible by boats. It feels like a fairy tale village consisting of 55 miles of canals connecting the water-side homes, eateries and museums in this little town center. There are over 180 wooden arch bridges over the canals for pedestrians and cyclists to get around, but many houses are only accessible by boats. Giethoorn village with its many waterways and bridges is well-known as the Dutch Venice or the Venice of the Netherlands or Little Venice making it a a splendid destination for a road trip in Netherlands.
As the unique experience here is to travel by a boat, we booked a private tour to ride electric boat online before we arrived, as during this time of the year it is pretty busy with tourists and locals. Note that there are also guided tours available for the canal cruise if you would like a guide. The private boat tour was a fun and unique experience driving the boat even in the midst of a huge boat traffic jam. On the journey, we passed many cute wooden bridges and unique thatch-roof cottages that keep you indulged by the charming scenery throughout. As we were busy driving the boat, I am regretful that we didn’t manage to take as many pictures as we should have from my road trip in Netherlands. Checkout this video of about Giethoorn Netherlands on Youtube, for a detailed view.
The boat journey across the village was a fresh and fulfilling experience, with sights of nature, pretty houses and ducks paddling in the water. My friends captured a picture of me while driving the boat, at the same time there were bikers passing by which I think is a clear depiction of the spirit of Holland and one of my favourite pictures of Giethoorn 🙂
Giethoorn is an excellent day trip from Amsterdam, providing a unique experience of navigating a super cute village completely operated by water transport. The village has shops and restaurants to cater to the many visitors, including Airbnb stays as I discovered later. Houses in this village reminded me of the scenery pictures that were popularly used as backdrops in photos, greeting cards and picture frames, while I was growing up.
Being students on a shoe string budget, we wanted to see the tulips and avoid going to the expensive touristic places like Keukenhof filled with tourists during the tulip season mainly during April and May. My friend Avi had a good idea that tulips are grown in bulk in the northern province of Flevoland where the dikes are also located. Therefore, we decided to drive northwards from Giethoorn to the route Flevoland hunt some open tulip flower fields that can be seen for free. Flevoland is famous for its long stretched Flower Area and flower festivals. After a long ride along the anticipated tulip route n the direction of the towns of Emmeloord and Dronten, we started to spot the tell-tale colours.
These Holland flower fields are a striking sight of a never-ending carpet of flower bulbs in various colors, a true flower parade, which is as spectacular as usually portrayed in pictures. One interesting thing I came across here was an honesty-box left for anyone who wish to pick a flower to pay for it. I was awe-struck by this system that trusts society to be honest and considerate. Later, a dutch friend told me this is a practice that farmers also use for vegetables and other crops. Isn’t that a super ideal society and how we all would wish the world to be like?
We continued our journey to Lelystad, which is a large municipality surrounded by two lakes, Markermeer and IJsselmeer. All of the land here has been claimed from the sea with the help of dikes. There is a famous saying that “God created the world, but the Dutch created The Netherlands”, which is based upon how this country is engineered to exist even when half of the land area is below sea level. Dikes are the fundamental water management infrastructure used to keep the land from flooding. To learn more about how dikes help with this, you can visit museum Nieuw Land (‘New Land’).
There is a famous statue of a giant man crouching and overlooking the IJsselmeer lake, near the dike road between Lelystad and Ekhuizen. It is known as Exposure and due to the sitting position locals call him the “pooping/shitting man”. The statue is 25 meters high and made of iron pylon structures which took 6 years of work to complete.
We started our journey from Eindhoven and drove northwards stopping at Giethoorn village along the way. I totally recommend this pretty village to everyone who are having a road trip in Netherlands. If you don’t have a car, you can catch a train from Amsterdam to Zwolle station, from where you can get a go-to bus towards Geithoorn.
This blog covers my trip which shows how some major sight seeing can be done in the Netherlands in a day around the north of Amsterdam. Cities such as Amsterdam, Den Hague and Utrecht are also super pretty during this season and are popular among tourists. Apart from the boat ride which was possible in Giethoorn village, another activity is to go biking in cities and country side by renting a classic dutch bike.
PS: If you noticed that I have an Amsterdam boat show-piece on my magnet board, it is a showpiece my friends gave me for my birthday which they bought from Giethoorn village market.