BY: ZOE MELNYK
PHOTOS BY: MARTIEN JANSSEN
Located in the Dutch province of Overijssel, this quaint little town, also referred to as “Venice of the North,” relies exclusively on sidewalks, biking trails, and narrow rivers to navigate through the village. Approximately 2620 people live in Giethoorn and travel solely through the use of bicycles and boats. “Whisper Boats” with their noiseless engines are a common form of travel to avoid overrunning the fairytale town with noise pollution.
The town was created almost a millennium ago in the 1200s when settlers dug trenches through marshland in order to transport the valuable soil found in the land known as peat. After hiding away as Holland’s secret treasure for hundreds of years, the town finally received some recognition after being the location for the film Fanfare in 1958.
Without roads, the town has avoided the hectic scenes of crowded metropolises across Europe, the absence of cars limiting not only the amount of traffic, but also the influence of industry and the presence of pollution. Understandably, tourism plays a major part in Giethoorn’s local economy. Bed and breakfasts and guided tours allow permanent residents to maintain their tranquil lifestyles while giving a taste of the warmth to travellers eager to escape the cement city shuffle and explore the 90km of canoe trails winding through the town.
Correction: A previously published version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of the province Overijssel.