One of the best things about a compact country like the Netherlands is that it is easy to travel around and visit different places.
And yet often visitors don’t venture beyond Amsterdam.
Understandable as there is a lot to see and do there, but Utrecht also has a lot to offer and a visit will not disappoint!
Centrally situated, it is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, following Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague.
Canals, windmills, flower markets, churches, you’ll find all the typical Dutch icons in Utrecht.
It’s a vibrant and energetic city – one with the hustle without the bustle!
One of the best options is to just stroll around and see what takes your fancy as there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars on offer.
Head to the Drieharingstraat, one of Utrecht’s quaintest streets, and check out the options.
Vintage Tapasbar, can highly be recommend for tapas and wine.
The Oudegracht is another vibrant area and there are many restaurants along the canal which have outdoor seating in the warmer months.
The amazing Winkel van Sinkel on the Oudegracht is not to be missed.
It’s housed in a monumental building and is a cultural centre offering music, dance, food and drink.
And for the hippest hamburger in town, head to Meneer Smakers.
There are plenty of both available in this hip and happening city.
Shops are open seven days a week and there is something to suit all tastes.
Wandering around the beautiful old town, you’ll discover many wonderful boutiques and hip stores.
Discover street markets to department stores and everything in between.
Next to the main train station, you’ll find the country’s largest indoor shopping centre ‘Hoog Catharijne’.
One of the things that makes shopping in the centre of Utrecht so pleasant is the lack of motorised vehicles, which are not allowed access to the inner-city.
Utrecht has its fair share of museums.
Museum Catharijneconvent displays religious art and explores the history of Christianity in the Netherlands.
Kids will love to visit the Miffy Museum where they will discover a series of miniature worlds.
Unbeknownst to many, Miffy (Nijntje) is a Dutch character that was created by Dick Bruna for a series of picture books.
Castle de Haar
Castle de Haar is located nearby Utrecht in Haarzuilens and is open to visitors seven days a week.
It is a fairy tale castle with a very un-Dutch opulence.
There has been a castle at this site since the 14th century and what you see now is largely a restoration that took place in the late 1800s.
A medieval atmosphere combined with late 19th-century luxury is how the foundation describe it.
Utrecht is home to the country’s largest exhibition and conference centre.
It’s located right next to the Centraal Station and welcomes well over a million visitors a year.
There’s almost always something going on here and in January each year it hosts the Vakantiebeurs (a major international tourism and leisure fair).
Dom Tower (Domtoren)
Towering over the city is the Dom Tower. which is the highest church tower in the Netherlands.
This 14th-century bell tower is the highest church tower in the Netherlands.
It stands 112 m and there is a viewpoint at the 95 m mark.
It’s possible to climb the 465 steps, but only with a guide.
The views are amazing so it’s well worth the climb!
History of Utrecht
The ancient city centre with its many monumental buildings reflects the city’s long history.
Utrecht was once considered the most important city in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam took over this title during the Dutch Golden Age when it became the cultural centre of the Netherlands.
It is still the religious centre of the country, which it has been since the 8th century.