Establishment and Maintenance of Weerribben-Wieden

24 Mar 2024
The notion to safeguard and conserve the Weerribben and the Wieden as a national park emerged in the latter half of the 20th century, as awareness heightened regarding the threat posed to these areas' unique natural features by human activities such as drainage and intensive agriculture. In 1992, the Weerribben-Wieden National Park was formally established, with the goal of safeguarding the precious landscape, flora, and fauna, while also offering opportunities for recreation and education.
Giethoorn, Netherlands © Michel van der Vegt, Pixabay
This national park draws numerous visitors each year, all of whom relish in the tranquillity, natural beauty, and diverse flora and fauna. The region holds significant importance for birds, including rare species, and serves as a habitat for various plants and animals that thrive in its marshy environment. The park's management is coordinated by various organisations, including the State Forestry and the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation, to preserve its natural values while simultaneously promoting sustainable recreational use.

Discover Weerribben-Wieden

The ideal way to experience the nature reserve is by renting a whisper boat through Weerribben boat rental. This will surely be a hit with the kids too! Pack a picnic basket filled with food and drinks for a delightful day out. Of course, you can also opt to explore the park by bike or on foot. In the village of Sint Jansklooster, you'll discover the De Wieden visitor centre of Natuurmonumenten. Here, you can gather information about the flora and fauna of the nature reserve, book guided tours, and access walking and cycling routes.

Villages in the area that are worth seeing
The area around Weerribben-Wieden is characterised by picturesque villages, such as Zwartsluis, Sint Jansklooster, Ossenzijl, Kalenberg and Giethoorn, of which the latter is probably the best known.
Giethoorn, Netherlands © Michel van der Vegt, Pixabay


Giethoorn is a picturesque village renowned for its idyllic waterways, characteristic bridges, and charming thatched-roof farmhouses. Dubbed 'The Venice of the North', it owes its nickname to the abundance of canals and the unique way houses are constructed directly on the water. Here are some notable features of Giethoorn:
Waterways and Bridges
Unlike typical streets, Giethoorn boasts an extensive network of canals lined with houses. The primary mode of transportation is by boat, with residents navigating the canals using barges. Numerous small bridges connect different parts of the village.

Thatched-Roof Farmhouses
The traditional farmhouses in Giethoorn, often adorned with thatched roofs, are situated along the waterways, adding to the village's rural charm.

Natural Beauty
Nestled amidst lakes, forests, and swamps, Giethoorn is surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery. It's a favoured destination for nature enthusiasts and tourists who relish peaceful boat trips through the picturesque landscape.

Drawing crowds of tourists each year, Giethoorn offers a unique and captivating experience. Visitors can enjoy boat tours, strolls, cycle routes, and immerse themselves in the village's enchanting atmosphere. However, be prepared for bustling crowds, particularly on summer weekends, and bustling terraces.

Museums and Activities
The village boasts several museums, including the Museum Giethoorn't Olde Maat Uus, offering insights into its history and way of life. Additionally, there are various activities such as boat sailing, canoeing, cycling, and walking.

To experience Giethoorn's unique charm, consider exploring with your kids by boat. You can opt for a whisper boat or a sloop; while a sloop offers a steering wheel and is preferable for longer distances due to its ease of use, a whisper boat features a rudder attached to the outboard motor. Additionally, pedal boats and floating bicycles are available for rent, although children must be tall enough to reach the pedals as there are no children's bicycles provided.
Family fun in Giethoorn, the Venice of the North © Pixabay

Other nice sights near Weerribben-Wieden National Park

1. If you're in the area during the last weekend of August, make sure to head to Vollenhove for the annual flower parade - it's an absolute must-see.

2. Also, consider visiting Vollenhove during the Pentecost weekend, as this is when the sailing season officially kicks off with a fair and many festivities.

3. In Steenwijk, the largest town in the municipality of Steenwijkerland, you can enjoy shopping, relaxing at a terrace, and exploring museums.

4. If you find yourself in the area during Ascension Day, don't miss out on Oldemarkt. The lively St. Lambertus Market, stretching almost 2 kilometres with numerous stalls, attracts thousands of people on that day.

5. Join a ranger from State Forestry for a walk through the Weerribben-Wieden National Park or explore the park and its nature at your own pace.

6. Spend a day shopping in Meppel or Zwolle and visit one of the museums there.

There's plenty to keep the whole family entertained in the Weerribben-Wieden National Park area, making it the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, midweek break, or week-long holiday.


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