Things To Do in Utrecht
Plan to spend at least one full day in the city but to really experience Utrecht it at its best, two nights would be ideal!
1. Wander down the most beautiful streets of Utrecht
Utrecht has arguably one of the most beautiful city centers in the Netherlands. Countless picturesque corners with cobblestone streets that make you want to grab your camera.
If you follow the canal and street ‘Oudegracht’ all the way from top to bottom you’ll already find so many stunning places. And even better is that you can walk around the entire old city center under an hour, a fantastic thing to do in Utrecht.
2. The Street Food Club
The best-decorated restaurant in the entire city of Utrecht is without a doubt ‘The Street Food Club’. Set foot in the crazy colorful, but perfectly decorated, pink room or tropical green room, with a stunning stained-glass ceiling!
The street food style dishes are delicious and they have vegetarian and vegan options available!
Although it has quite a lot of seats, due to its popularity it is recommended to book in advance.
3. Relax at Oude Gracht
The 2-kilometer long ‘Oude Gracht’ (Old Canal) of Utrecht, with a lower level quay and warehouses, is unique in the Netherlands. Many of these warehouses have been transformed into restaurants and bars with a terrace along the waterside. Either grab a terrace seat or simply sit down at the water where there are no restaurants. (Plenty of spots available!)
Hire a canoe or electric boat to discover the serene canal waters just as if you are in Venice, Italy. Bring some drinks and snacks for your trip but never leave trash behind! All companies offer a map and route instructions for even better explorations!
Expect to pay around €30 per hour per electric boat in Utrecht.
4. Shopping and Vintage shopping
Utrecht’s old city center is the place to go shopping. Throughout the entire center are small boutiques and great vintage stores. Last but not least; Hoog Catharijne Mall which is one of the biggest indoor shopping centers in the Netherlands.
Our personal favorite stores in Utrecht:
- Rood en Bloem (beautiful plant shop)
- Hip voor de Heb (cute fashion store)
- Episode (vintage clothing & accessories)
- Minre (trendy boutique shop)
- Vintage Island (vintage clothing & accessories)
5. Visit Utrecht’s Dom Tower
The Dom is a 14th-century gothic church with the tallest church tower (112 meters) in the Netherlands. Challenge yourself and walk the 465 steps towards the top of the Dom tower where you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Utrecht.
Tours of the tower are in Dutch and English and admission is €9 for adults and €5 for kids aged 4-12.
Additionally, visit the Pandhof at the Dom Church. The old monastery garden is a beautifully designed courtyard, and the architecture is like no other! Pandhof Garden is included when buying a ticket to the Dom Church.
6. Best places to eat in Utrecht
When visiting Utrecht, you won’t be disappointed when it comes down to food. The city is, just like Rotterdam, filled with fantastic food hot spots and trendy cafes with something for everyone. Three days will not be enough to try them all, really! These are some of our favorites spots:
- O’Panuozzo Neapolitan Pizzeria
- Ruby Rose
- Karibu Cafe
- The Street Food Club
7. Miffy (Nijntje)
Dick Bruna is a famous children’s bookmaker born in Utrecht. His books of the white rabbit named Miffy (Nijntje in Dutch) are known all over the world. For that reason, you can find Miffy throughout the entire city with a statue at Miffy Square, a Miffy Museum, and possibly the coolest feature: A Miffy traffic light which can be found here.
8. Cruise the canals
The incredibly scenic canals of Utrecht are the city’s absolute highlight. The Dutch architecture with houses along the canals gives you this iconic experience of the Netherlands.
Differently from Amsterdam, the bridges over the canals in Utrecht are much higher, allowing larger boats to cruise through the city center. Additionally, the canals have quays and old quay warehouses. Cellars that nowadays host great restaurants.
9. Castle de Haar, Utrecht
Fairytales come to life at Castle de Haar, located just outside of Utrecht. De Haar is the largest castle of the Netherlands featuring beautiful gardens and a truly stunning castle that you can explore on the inside too! An admission ticket is needed in order to visit the castle and due to COVID-19, you are required to buy a ticket online in advance.
The castle is a 20 to 30-minute drive from Utrecht by car and a little less than an hour by public transport from Utrecht Central Station. It is however highly worth the journey!
Utrecht is a fantastic alternative to Amsterdam. Plus, from Utrecht, you can easily visit Amsterdam on a day trip because the journey is only 30 minutes by train! Another advantage is that hotels in Utrecht are slightly more affordable. Rent a bike for the day in Amsterdam and explore the city at its best.
11. Oude Hortus
Oude Hortus is the former botanical gardens of Utrecht. Inside the garden, you will find a wide variety of medicinal herbs, centuries-old trees, and greenhouses full of exotic plants and flowers. Oude Hortus in Utrecht is part of the University Museum and has a wonderful garden cafe on site.
Where to stay in Utrecht?
Utrecht has a good selection of accommodation throughout the entire city. It is recommended to stay near to the old city center where most of the things to do in Utrecht are located. See all: Hotels in Utrecht
Getting Around in Utrecht
Utrecht has a small city center and it’s very easy to get around by foot. This is also the only way recommended since there is no tram or metro available in the old city center.
From Amsterdam & Schiphol Airport
Visiting Utrecht from Amsterdam couldn’t be easier. The train from Amsterdam Central Station or Schiphol International Airport only takes about 30 minutes and it runs throughout the entire day.
Costs of traveling in Utrecht
Utrecht is slightly cheaper compared to Amsterdam when it comes down to accommodation and restaurants.
- Hotel: 50 – 250 USD / night
- Hostel: 30 – 90 USD / night
- Price per meal: 10 – 45 USD
- Entrances: 10 – 30 USD / ticket
- Transport: 10 – 30 USD / day
Best time to visit Utrecht
April to September is the best time to visit Utrecht weather-wise. Spring in the Netherlands is usually the ideal timing with rays of spring sunshine, fewer tourists, and temperatures between 10 – 20 degrees.