Is Utrecht worth a visit? This is a question that I often hear. Well, let me tell you: Utrecht is a real gem! It is the fourth largest city in the center of the Netherlands located about half an hour’s drive from Amsterdam by train and 45 minutes by car.
Utrecht has a history which begins in the days of the Roman Empire. Although it is one of the oldest cities in the country, it is vibrant, perhaps due to the fact that today Utrecht university is the largest university in the Netherlands. Utrecht is also a romantic city, with water channels and ancient bridges that are fun to wander around and sit in one of the many cafes on the banks.
So, if you were wondering whether you should devote some time to Utrecht? The answer is definitely yes.
You can read more about Utrecht in our 16 favorite attractions for families in the Netherlands.
Here are our favorite things in to do in Utrecht if you only have half a day:
The name of the crisp Dutch fries with lots of creative sauces on top is very well known. The Dutch fries are made of special kind of potato for making them relatively dry fries. We ate at one of the most recommended places located in the main pedestrian street of Steenweg called Manneken pis which means in English; the urinating child. It is recommended, of course, with the traditional Mayonnaise (or Vegan mayo) but anyone can choose any sauce they like and even I think there was a chocolate sauce …weird but interesting.
2) Visit the DOMunder
DOMunder is an experiential visit to the whole family down below the streets under the main square of Utrecht. A guided tour and explanations about 2000 years of history. Each guest receives an interactive flashlight that allows him to hear information on some of the many archaeological findings that are exhibited. The place is not big but gives enough time for the kids to enjoy but not get to bored. We bought the tickets in advance, but they can also be purchased at the site. Be sure to ask for the English guided tour, unless you speak Dutch off course.
3) Strolling the streets beside the canals
There is no doubt that Utrecht is one of the most pleasant cities in the Netherlands. You can simply walk around and lose a sense of time. The area around the canals is small so there is no fear of getting lost. The Oudegracht River is very beautiful and around it, there are many cafes, boutiques, and shops. You can hire a boat or a kayak for extra fun.
4) Hop en stork
At Hop en Stork you can savor a cup of coffee (or tea in my case), quality chocolate that is made there, pastries, sandwiches and more. The atmosphere in the place will allow you to sit back, relax and just enjoy the moment. We enjoyed the chocolate cube on a stick that when you mix with it the hot drink it melts gently into it giving a great chocolate flavor. Address: Lijnmarkt 1, 3511 KE Utrecht .
5) The DOM Tower
If you are lost in Utrecht you can always find your way back to the center by looking for the tall Dom tower that rises above all the rooftops of the old city. It is the oldest and tallest tower in all of the Netherlands and has a special Gothic atmosphere. You can climb up the bell tower but to get to the observation you must climb not less than 400 steps! Please note that it is not suitable for all ages. The hike is with organized tours and it is recommended to book in advance. For more information visit their website.
Other Attractions You May Consider Visiting
- Museum Speelklok – located at the heart of Utrecht, this museum has a huge selection of music boxes. You can visit with a guided tour.
- Het Spoorwegmuseum – this railway museum is located on the grounds of the historic Mailebaan station in Utrecht. This is a unique museum with different trains from more than hundred years of history.
Our recommendation: Find a half day in your vacation in the Netherlands and visit Utrecht, even if it’s only for the atmosphere or on your way it is worth it and you will not regret it.
Do you have other places in Utrecht that you like? If so please share in the comments.