Giethoorn, a Town without Roads

Old-world canals, thatch-domed houses, picturesque wooden bridges, and rustic punters. This charming bucolic town in Overijssel, Netherlands feels right out of a storybook.

Called the “Venice of the Netherlands,” the town of Giethoorn (population: 2,600) has absolutely no roads. Instead, its locals get by using boats, hopping in and out of their own private islands through a canal network that stretches up to 4 miles. The town is also interconnected by 180 wooden bridges for land transport, specifically by bike and by foot.

The town was established around 1230 AD by Mediterranean settlers, who dug up the canals for the transport of peat extract, connecting the two man-made lakes lying at the eastern and southern sides of town.

It was only till 1958 when Dutch director Ber Haanstra featured the town in his movie “Fanfare” that Giethoorn became a popular tourist destination. Visitors can take punter or canoe tours, learn the town’s history in local museums, attend art exhibitions, and even go ice skating on the canals during winter.

For those longing for a simple and quiet life, Giethoorn is the place to go.

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