The charming Dutch city of Utrecht is a 25 minute train ride from the bustling capital Amsterdam. The pace of urban life is quieter here, there are not as many tourists and not as many cyclists to bowl you over as you stroll the gorgeous promenade. But it still has all the charm of Amsterdam boasting picturesque canals with below ground level historic wharfs. Many of the former wharf buildings now house cute cafes and bars as well as quirky secondhand shops and modern Dutch Design clothing and accessory stores.
There is lots to keep you busy in the central area that is surrounded by water, gardens and parks. We would advise to stay here longer then a day trip from the capital, which we did when we travelled through the Netherlands a few years ago. There is also cheap Airbnb’s to be found at a way more affordable price then accommodation in Amsterdam.
After a few days of on and off rain, we scored a warm, sunny Autumn day and relaxed on the reclining chairs in the Park Lepelenburg. Enjoy a famous broodje sandwich from Bakkerij Mario and you’ll have the energy to discover Ultrecht’s well preserved medieval old town, home to the Domtoren, a 14th century bell tower upon the Gothic style Cathedral of Saint Martin. Guided visits will take you up the 465 steps inside the tallest church tower in all of the Nederland’s for views as far as Rotterdam on a clear day. You can also go deep below, underneath the Domplein Square, to explore 2000 years of history dating back to Roman times!
Lovers of art and illustration will enjoy the Centraal Museum as well as the Dick Bruna House a museum dedicated to Utrecht’s most famous resident, the creator of the children’s book character, Miffy, or as the Dutch call “Nijntje” meaning little rabbit. There are monuments celebrating Miffy throughout Utrecht, even a rainbow pedestrian crossing and traffic light dedicated to this cute bunny.
After dark is when Utrecht comes alive. Be sure to visit the tourist office for a booklet detailing the Trajectum Lumen, a self guided walking tour where you can view light installations and artistically lit locations spread out around the city. Definitely a highlight(pun intended) of our time in this creative, laid back town.