Welcome to the enchanting Ossenzijl, a picturesque village located in the heart of the province of Overijssel. Amidst vast waterways, swamps and vast nature reserves, Ossenzijl offers an oasis of peace and beauty. This little gem, wedged between the Beulakerwijde and the Kalenbergergracht, is the gateway to a world of unspoilt nature and historic charm. Ready for a journey of discovery through idyllic Ossenzijl? Read on and let yourself be carried away the wonders that this gem of Overijssel has to offer.

Visit Ossenzijl 

Ossenzijl then and now

History lesson Ossenzijl


The history of Ossenzijl goes back centuries and is steeped in character and bears witness to a rich past. Originally, the lock in Ossenzijl served as a crucial shipping hub in the region, where ships were managed to regulate the water level between the Beulakerwijde and the Kalenbergergracht. This strategic location played a key role in the development of local trade and economy.

Rise of the peat industry

With the rise of the peat industry in the 17th century, Ossenzijl continued to flourish. The village became a center for peat extraction, resulting in steady growth and the formation of a close-knit community. The historic architecture of Ossenzijl, with its traditional farms and characteristic houses, reflects the craftsmanship and architectural style of earlier times.

Traces of a rich past

Ossenzijl has withstood many challenges over the centuries, and traces of this rich past are still tangible in the charming streets and historic sights of the village.

Municipality of Steenwijkerland

Ossenzijl falls under the municipality of Steenwijkerland (province of Overijssel) and has approximately 655

What to do in Ossenzijl?

Ossenzijl offers countless opportunities to explore the beautiful surroundings for both nature lovers and culture enthusiasts. We list a few options for you:

  • The iconic lock, with its historical significance as a regulator of water levels, is a must-see in Ossenzijl.
  • Walk through the charming streets, where traditional farms and cozy houses bear witness to a rich agricultural past.
  • Take a relaxing walk along the waterfront and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
  • For adventurous visitors, there are various water sports options, ranging from kayaking to boating, which allow you to explore Ossenzijl's waterways in a unique way.
  • The area surrounding Ossenzijl is dotted with cycle paths that lead you past idyllic spots. Cycle through the green landscape and discover the tranquil beauty of this area.
  • Be sure to visit the nearby Weerribben-Wieden National Park, a world-class nature reserve. Here you can enjoy vast swamps, winding waterways and an abundance of flora and fauna.
  • For a cultural immersion, explore local craft shops and cozy eateries. Grab a terrace by the water on a beautiful day!
  • Taste the authentic flavors of the region and get to know the hospitable people.
  • Take a walk with a ranger from Staatsbosbeheer through the Weerribben-Wieden National Park or discover the park and nature on your own. You can view which activities are being organized on this activities page.
  • Rent a whisper boat at the Kluft recreation center and discover the Weerribben-Wieden National Park from the water.

What to do in Ossenzijl area?

The region around Ossenzijl is home to various sights. Here are some suggestions for interesting places to visit:

  • Giethoorn: Also known as the "Venice of the North", Giethoorn is approximately 15 kilometers away. Explore the picturesque canals, charming bridges and enjoy a boat ride through this quaint village.
  • Dwingelderveld National Park: About 30 kilometers away you will find the largest wet heathland area in Western Europe. Take beautiful walks here and discover the diversity of flora and fauna.
  • Steenwijk: This city, located about 10 kilometers from Ossenzijl, has a historic center with beautiful canals, old houses and cozy shops.
  • Kampen: The city of Kampen is approximately 40 kilometers away, with its impressive historic buildings such as the Bovenkerk and the town hall. Stroll along the IJsselkade and discover the rich history of this Hanseatic city.
  • De Weerribben Nature Park: This extensive nature reserve is located directly near Ossenzijl, which is highly recommended. Take a walk, bike ride or boat trip to discover the unique flora and fauna.
  • Sloten: The smallest town in the Netherlands, approximately 35 kilometers away. Explore the historic streets and admire the city walls and canals.
  • The gondola trips: from Dwarsgracht, Belt Schutsloot or Giethoorn are really worth it.
  • De koloniën van Weldadigheid: Frederiksoord is a 22-minute drive from Ossenzijl, which is part of The Colonies of Benevolence. These were originally founded in the 19th century as social experiments to combat poverty through agriculture and education. Today, the remaining colonies are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their historical and cultural significance. Frederiksoord is one of the best preserved colonies and houses, among other things, the Museum De Koloniehof, where visitors can learn more about this interesting period in the history of social reforms.

Active in Ossenzijl area

Cycling around Ossenzijl


One of the ways to discover Ossenzijl and the surrounding area is by bicycle. With kilometers of cycle paths you can enjoy cycling in the Weerribben-Wieden, through the greenery, along waters and over bridges. You can download a very nice cycling route in the area via cycling network nl. Kalenberg can be used as a starting point, but of course also as an intermediate point for your cycling route. If you don't have your own bicycle, you can always rent one at one of the bicycle rental points. You can rent a bicycle from the De Kluft recreation company.

On the SUP near Ossenzijl


Exploring the Weerribben on a SUP board. If you are curious, just try it! Unlike other board sports, where you spend a lot of time practicing, SUPing is quick to learn and easy to do, without having to follow a long instruction or course. Once you are paddling and get the hang of it, you can explore the beautiful surroundings of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park. Because you are standing you can look over the reeds and you have a beautiful view.

Canoeing around Ossenzijl


Would you like to burn calories for a day? How about a day of canoeing in the Weerribben? In our opinion, it is the best activity in the Weerribben. In the National Park, the largest contiguous peat bog in Northwestern Europe. In this National Park you will discover a wide variety of flora and fauna. You can find cool canoe routes on the website kanoroutes.nl. You can rent a canoe in Ossenzijl via degelelis.nl. Book by telephone on 0561-477370


Ice skating around Ossenzijl


Skating in the Weerribben. It will take some getting used to seeing all those skaters on the ice, instead of all those boats that are rented out in the summer. The landscape, sometimes even accompanied by snow, has completely changed during an ice skating trip. Be careful not to hit your head on a bridge. In the surrounding villages such as Giethoorn, which is known for its many bridges, you must be extra careful. Don't forget to pack yourself well. Your gloves and hat will be essential.

Ossenzijl boat rental

Sailing a boat

If you want to come sailing in Ossenzijl, you can always rent a boat on site. Especially if you come outside the often busier weekends and children's holidays. It is still relatively quiet in Kalenberg. This is not a guarantee. Reserving a boat is normally, but not necessary. However, it is possible that with nice weather, even during these so-called quieter periods, it can become quite busy. We therefore recommend everyone to reserve a boat in advance.

Boat cruise from Ossenzijl

Boat tour company Tiemen Vaartjes

Weerribben boat tour
Weerribben boat tour

At Tiemen Vaartjes from Ossenzijl you can also board a cruise on a specially built flat-bottomed tour boat. Straight through the reed fields and swamp forests of the Weerribben. When the weather is nice they will take you around in an open boat, when the weather is less nice the boat is closed. This means you are always dry. From Ossenzijl a circuit is sailed via Kalenberg.

Tour boat Sylvia

The Sylvia goes to places where similar or larger tour boats are not allowed or cannot go and sails straight through the reedlands, meadows and swamp forests. They sail from early March to mid-December. Reservations can be made via 06-53784651

Boat cruise from Kalenberg
Pieter Jongschaap boat tours

From Kalenberg they provide various day or afternoon trips through Northwest Overijssel, an area that is mainly known for flora and fauna. This area has an extensive waterway network and many sailing routes. They are happy to introduce new visitors to this versatile nature reserve. They sail around with a tour boat with a capacity of 100 people.

Boat cruise from Dwarsgracht
Boat cruise through the Weerribben

At Restaurant / boat rental De Otterskooi you can also board a tour in a tour boat. This cruise goes through the Weerribben. These tour boats are sailed by skilled skippers, who also have a lot to say about the origins of this peat area and its nature. You can also board one from Giethoorn and then sail back to Giethoorn via Dwarsgracht.

De Otterskooi
  • Tour boat (max 40 people)

From Ossenzijl to Giethoorn

12 kilometers away as the crow flies

Route from Ossenzijl to Giethoorn
Route from Ossenzijl to Giethoorn

Ossenzijl is located approximately 12 kilometers west of Giethoorn as the crow flies. The distance between these two places can vary depending on the specific route you take. In general, you can cover the distance of 23 km by car in about 23 to 25 minutes. If you want to take a boat from Ossenzijl to Giethoorn or vice versa, you must take into account a sailing time of 2 hours. So this could be a really nice day out on a beautiful sunny day.

By car to Giethoorn

From Ossenzijl you can easily get to Giethoorn by car. You can park your car in several places in Giethoorn. Navigate to Kerkweg 35 in Giethoorn for free parking.

Cycling from Ossenzijl to Giethoorn

From the center of Ossenzijl it is approximately 21 kilometers by bike to Giethoorn. Bicycle rental is certainly possible in Ossenzijl. You can rent an (electric) bicycle for a day or longer. The bike ride from to Giethoorn is on paved roads. The roads are flat, so it is also easy to do with a normal bicycle.

Ossenzijl to Giethoorn by taxi

You can also choose to take a taxi. You can recognize taxis by their blue license plates. You can book a taxi to Giethoorn by contacting Giethoorn taxi.

Tip of the Day

Tip for a wonderful day out: rent a boat in Giethoorn or Ossenzijl and sail the route via the Weerribben. In both villages you have the opportunity to moor in the center and grab a terrace.

 Spend the night in Ossenzijl

No big hotels or lots of camping

Don't expect large hotels or loads of campsites here. You won't find them in and around Ossenzijl, but there are plenty of nice B&Bs, apartments and holiday homes to rent. Ossenzijl is ideally suited for people who want to seek peace and quiet, hear the birds chirping and enjoy nature. Here you can completely relax. Overnight accommodation is still in its infancy here. Here you will find Giethoorn camping and Giethoorn hotel as alternatives. Both nearby and you can easily spend the night here.

Holiday park Waterstaete

This luxury holiday park in Ossenzijl is located on the edge of the Weerribben Wieden National Park. You can spend the night here in bungalows to spacious villas. Nature and water are the keywords that best describe this bungalow park. During your stay, you can use a whisper sloop for free between March 1 and November 1 to go on a voyage of discovery in the Weerribben.

Recreation center De Kluft

You can spend the night in various ways at Recreation Center de Kluft. In addition to a campsite with 275 places, they have a hotel, hikers' huts, peat houses, tiny houses, group accommodation and very cool lodges.

restaurants in Ossenzijl

Couple of small restaurants

Ossenzijl has a few small restaurants. We list them for you:

  • Eetcafé de drie musketiers
  • Eetcafé restaurant Kolkzicht

Parking in Ossenzijl

Parking your car in Ossenzijl is not always easy. Especially during summer days, there are often not enough parking spaces for all tourists. The largest parking lot in the village has approximately 55 parking spaces. Navigate to the Hilligerspoortweg to reach this parking lot. This parking lot is located opposite Buurtsuper Braad. You can also park at boat rental companies or restaurants, but the number of parking spaces is often not sufficient for everyone.

National park Weerribben-Wieden

What can you expect in the Weerribben-Wieden?

Swan couple in de Weerribben
Swan couple in de Weerribben

If you stay in Ossenzijl or the surrounding area, you will of course go to Weerribben-Wieden National Park. Weerribben-Wieden National Park is a vast nature reserve located in the provinces of Overijssel and Flevoland. The park is known for its unique swamp landscape, waterways, reed fields, lakes and extensive meadows. Below you will find the features and highlights of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park:

  • Swamp and Reed Lands: The park is home to the largest contiguous low peat swamp in Northwest Europe. The extensive reedlands are of great ecological importance and provide a home to various plant and animal species.
  • Waterways and Lakes: The park is crossed by numerous waterways, canals and lakes. These are ideal for boat trips, canoeing and sailing. It is possible to explore the beautiful surroundings by boat and enjoy the peace and nature.
  • Flora and Fauna: In Weerribben-Wieden National Park you will find a rich variety of plants and animals. Bird watchers can spot various species of water birds here, such as bitterns, swans and reed warblers.
  • Hiking and Biking Trails: The park offers a network of hiking and biking trails that allow visitors to explore nature on the mainland. There are several viewpoints and observation huts where you can admire nature.
  • Giethoorn: Part of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park includes the famous village of Giethoorn, also known as the "Venice of the North; the village is known for its characteristic canals, bridges and thatched farms. It is a tourist attraction and can be The summer can be very busy, but if you rent a boat and go out on the water, you can often enjoy nature in peace.
  • Visitor Centers: There are several visitor centers in the park, such as the De Wieden Visitor Center, where visitors can get information about the area, view exhibits and plan activities.
  • Activities and Excursions: In addition to walking, cycling and boating, organized excursions and activities are also regularly offered, including boat trips with guides and bird watching excursions.

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