This Dutch city has no road, only canals

View of canals and houses in Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Giethoorn attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

It is really a great story to tell that Netherlands doesn’t have the world’s greatest car culture. Sure, the Dutch are a forward-thinking people who currently lead the world in the race for self-driving cars and plan to make all new cars emissions-free by 2030. They’ve even developed the world’s first biodegradable car. But it’s also a small, densely populated country, full of good public transport options and cycling aficionados, so vehicle ownership there is just 0.52 cars per capita, less than most of the E.U. And in one quaint Dutch village, there are no cars at all. No roads, either.

A fairy tale village built on soggy goat remains.

Giethoorn is named for the goat horns its medieval founders discovered buried in the mud there, remnants of a 10th-century flood. A small town of about 2,600 people, it’s found on the edge of reclaimed marshland in the province of Overijssel, about a 90-minute drive northeast of Amsterdam. Except that you literally can’t drive to Giethoorn: it’s only accessible by boat.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Giethoorn is called the “Dutch Venice” for good reason: it has more than 55 miles of canoe trails which connect the canal-side homes, eateries, hotels, and museums in the town center. Over 180 wooden arch bridges over the canals allow pedestrians and cyclists to get around, but many houses can be accessed by boat only, so the mail is delivered by punt.

Do not pass go, do not collect 200,000 tourists.

Giethoorn’s serene canals and thatched cottages have earned it worldwide fame. As many as 200,000 Chinese tourists visit every year—outnumbering locals 75 to 1! In 2015, the village lobbied tourists to join them in a campaign to put Giethoorn on the game board of Monopoly’s international edition. The cause went viral in China, with many Chinese fans voting for the village fifty times a day. As a result, Giethoorn is an unusual Monopoly property today, sitting on the board alongside world metropolises like London, New York, and Tokyo.

A fairy tale village built on soggy goat remains.

Giethoorn is named for the goat horns its medieval founders discovered buried in the mud there, remnants of a 10th-century flood. A small town of about 2,600 people, it’s found on the edge of reclaimed marshland in the province of Overijssel, about a 90-minute drive northeast of Amsterdam. Except that you literally can’t drive to Giethoorn: it’s only accessible by boat.

Giethoorners enjoy the quiet life.

Since cars have to stay parked outside of town, visitors to Giethoorn often rent a canoe or motorboat to explore the sights. But noisy old outboard motors are verboden. Instead, even the powered dinghies have electric motors that are “whisper-quiet.” As a result, the loudest sound on the idyllic canals of Giethoorn is usually a duck quacking.

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Published by Franklyn Akam

I am the only Frank that is Klyn...

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