Utrecht is often overlooked in favor of larger Dutch cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but this picturesque part of the Netherlands is worth a visit for its scenic canals, colorful markets, and great design. To help inspire your travel itinerary, here is a list of the 8 best things to do in Utrecht.
Climb the Dom Tower
The tallest church tower in the Netherlands, the 112-meter (369-foot) Dom Tower in Utrecht is the focal point of the city and a great landmark. Visitors can climb the 465 steps (there is no elevator), to get a view of the historic bells and 17th-century Hemony carillon. The tower galleries offer spectacular views of the city and the greater provincial area.
Visit the Rietveld Schroder House
Located on the outskirts of the city center, the Rietveld Schroder House is one of the most famous architectural works in Utrecht. Designed in the 1920’s by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld, the house is a great example of modern architecture and the De Stijl movement. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, too.
Have Coffee at One of the City’s Stylish Cafes
Utrecht is as stylish as Dutch cities come, and there’s no better place to witness this than at one of the city’s many cafes. Many of Utrecht’s canals are lined with hip purveyors of coffee and cake, and when you need a break from sightseeing you can pop in and do as the locals do. In 2011, the De Rechtbank cafe was named the best outdoor cafe in the Netherlands, so make sure to stop there while you’re visiting.
Cycle along the Canals
There’s nothing more Dutch than cycling. If you want to live like a local in the Netherlands, you’ll have to cycle like one, too. Rent a cycle from your hotel, hostel, or the train station and cycle along Utrecht’s pretty canals and through its leafy parks and gardens.
Go to the Market
Utrecht has great markets that sell everything from food and drink to Holland’s famous tulips. Don’t miss the flower markets at the Oudegracht and the Janskerkhof, the cloth market at the Breedstraat, and the regional market at the Twijnstraat. If you’re looking for a market with a wide variety of goods for sale, the weekly goods market at Vredenburg is the biggest market in Utrecht.
Visit the Museums
Utrecht has no shortage of museums, and the city has one for every taste. The Centraal Museum is the best place to start, as it contains the most diverse collection of all of the city’s museums. From classical to modern, design to history, its eclectic mix offers a great variety of things to discover. Additionally, the dick bruna huis museum displays the famous Dutch rabbit Miffy as well as a permanent retrospective of Dick Bruna’s work. It is part of the Centraal Museum along with the Rietveld Schroder House.
Visit the Dom Church Garden
The Pandhof garden of the Dom Church in Utrecht is one of the most beautiful inner courtyards in the Netherlands. The garden dates from 1390 – 1440 and was renovated in the late 19th century. A monastery garden with medieval style, it features a fountain, statues, and manicured green hedges, and is surrounded by a 15th-century cloister. The Pandhof garden has great views of the Dom Tower and church, and is a great place to sit on a sunny day in Utrecht.
Go Vintage Shopping
Utrecht’s canals are lined by a surprising number of vintage shops, and the city punches above its weight when it comes to vintage shopping and style. Whether you’re looking for the perfect pair of winter boots or a great summer dress, you can find it in Utrecht.