It’s curious how we generally look farther afield once we consider travelling to stunning locations, whereas overlooking the gems in our very personal yard. I’ve lived in Amsterdam for about thirty years and I’ve been to Utrecht many occasions earlier than, normally for a meal or a live performance. I by no means actually thought a lot concerning the metropolis till not too long ago when two expats I chatted with, on separate events, gushed about how a lot they love Utrecht. That prompted me to plan a day journey to Utrecht. This time, I instructed myself, I might simply wander across the metropolis and take a look at the points of interest of Utrecht at my very own tempo. I found many issues to see and do in Utrecht and on the finish of the day, I discovered myself in love with this attractive metropolis as properly!
Utrecht is the fourth largest metropolis within the Netherlands and in addition one of many oldest. The town’s historical past goes again to the first century AD when a Roman fort was constructed on the shores of the Rhine River (on the time, the Rhine River adopted a extra northerly course within the Netherlands than it does at the moment), marking the northwestern border of the Roman Empire. By means of the centuries, Utrecht performed a major function within the Netherlands’ historical past as a non secular and cultural centre. As of late, town is residence to the nation’s largest college, while its location within the geographic centre of the Netherlands makes it a significant street and rail hub.
The map beneath reveals the primary points of interest in Utrecht in addition to my strolling route across the historic metropolis centre.
Vredenburg to Oudegracht
I began my stroll on the Utrecht Central Station which opens out into the Hoog Catharijne shopping center. From right here, I made my strategy to Vredenburgplein (Vredenburg sq.) and continued alongside the Lange Elizabethstraat and Steenweg (two purchasing streets), the Mariastraat (with its many eating places) and the Speelklok Museum (an attention-grabbing museum devoted to mechanical music devices) to the Oudegracht (Previous Canal). Alongside the best way, I finished for brunch on the stunning Olivier Belgian café.
On the Oudegracht (Previous Canal), I crossed the Maartensbrug (bridge) and continued my stroll alongside the japanese financial institution of the canal. The Oudegracht largely follows the traditional path of the Rhine River. One of many issues that makes Utrecht so distinctive is the construction of its canals, which have the road on the higher stage and warehouses and wharfs on the water or canal stage.
Many of those warehouses have been transformed into eating places, artwork galleries, cafés and houses. Top-of-the-line issues to do in Utrecht is certainly a stroll alongside the Oudegracht, one of the vital stunning canals within the Netherlands!
Zeven Steegjes (Seven Lanes)
Close to the top of the canal, I turned proper in the direction of the Zeven Steegjes (Seven Lanes) neighbourhood and continued previous the Geertekerk (church) to the Pelmolenweg. This neighbourhood, commissioned by the Church, was constructed within the mid-Nineteenth century for labourers with households. As a result of prevalence of illnesses on the time (equivalent to cholera), the homes and lanes have been designed with a deal with hygiene and air flow. As an illustration, the straight lanes in an east-west axis have been designed to channel wind via the neighbourhood.
I made my method again to the Oudegracht and on to the Tolsteeg. This little nook, on the finish of the Oudegracht, is full of bustling cafés, together with the Louis Hartlooper movie show, a good looking constructing within the type of the Amsterdam College of Structure.
I continued my stroll in the direction of the Nicolaaskerkhof within the coronary heart of the Museum Quarter, the place the Nicolaïkerk (church), Utrecht Centraal Museum (municipal museum with artwork, design and historic artifacts) and Nijntje or Miffy Museum (a museum devoted to the favored Miffy cartoon character whose creator, Dick Bruna, was born in Utrecht).
The Nicolaïkerk (Nicolai Church) has an attention-grabbing attraction: a sixteenth century clock, one of many oldest church (tower) clocks within the Netherlands. The clock nonetheless works and the warden was glad to display its workings.
I continued my stroll down the Lange Nieuwstraat (Lengthy New Road) and handed the Beyerskameren, a posh of charming sixteenth century homes.
From right here, I made my well past the Utrecht College Museum and Oude Hortus (outdated botanical gardens) to the Nieuwegracht (New Canal). Narrower than the Oudegracht, the Nieuwegracht is lined by stunning homes and shady bushes, making it delightfully picturesque.
I adopted the canal as much as the Pausdam. In a single nook of this attractive sq. is the Paushuize (Pope’s Home), the official residence of the Commissioner of the King for the province of Utrecht. This stately home can hint its historical past again to the 14th century and owes its identify to Adriaen Florisz, who was born in Utrecht and have become Pope Adrianus VI within the sixteenth century (the one Dutchman to grow to be Pope).
Dom Church and Tower
Simply up the street from the Paushuize is the Pieterskerk, an eleventh century church. From right here, it’s a brief stroll to Utrecht’s most iconic constructing: the Dom Church and adjoining Dom Tower.
Building of the present Gothic-style Dom Church or St. Martin’s Cathedral started in 1254 and continued until the sixteenth century. Work on the Dom Tower began in 1321 and resulted in 1382. The Dom Tower, at 112.5m (368ft), stays the tallest church tower within the Netherlands.
A violent storm destroyed the nave in 1674, successfully separating the church from the church tower. It was by no means rebuilt however guests can see the define of the construction within the pavement of the sq. between the church and the tower. Guests may also stroll across the spectacular cloister subsequent to the church.
Oudegracht cafés and a vibrant tunnel
From the Dom, I made my method again to the Oudegracht and continued to the Stadhuis (Metropolis Corridor). Simply across the nook, I noticed the doorway to a tunnel and determined to test it out. The tunnel featured cool lighting results and led me to the wharf stage of the Oudegracht. I finished right here, on the Humphrey’s café, for a drink and to look at the boats cross by.
Earlier than heading again to the station, I adopted the trail of the Oudegracht previous numerous cafés and eating places, such because the Winkel van Sinkel café/restaurant. I finished for a beer on the Oudaen Brewery, which is housed in a historic castle-like constructing. From right here, I made my method again to the station.
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Different Utrecht points of interest
Two different Utrecht points of interest that I didn’t go to however can completely suggest to structure buffs is the Rietveld Schröder Home, a UNESCO World Heritage web site, and the Railway Museum. In-built 1924, the Rietveld Schröder Home is a primary instance of ‘De Stijl’ structure, a design that was method forward of its time.
The Railway Museum is housed within the Nineteenth century Maliebaan railway station and options, amongst others, a set of steam locomotives.
Strolling tour and extra information
You’re welcome to comply with my strolling route via Utrecht’s historic centre or you may e book a non-public strolling tour of Utrecht. Go to town vacationer board for more information about occasions, different points of interest and excursions.
The place to remain in Utrecht
Although Utrecht can simply be visited as a day journey, I strongly suggest staying for a couple of days to discover town and absorb the vibes. There’s a big number of lodging, from luxurious five-star motels such because the Grand Resort Karel V to small boutique motels and B&Bs. I can suggest the attractive Resort Beijers (housed in a beautifully-restored seventeenth century metropolis palace) and the B&B Gregorius (positioned on the serene Nieuwegracht).
Tips on how to get to Utrecht
Utrecht is essentially the most well-connected metropolis within the Netherlands by street and rail. The best strategy to get to Utrecht is by practice. Amsterdam is simply half-hour away (by practice or automotive), making Utrecht an ideal day journey from Amsterdam, or another base from which to go to Amsterdam. Test for practice schedules.
In the event you’re staying longer in Utrecht, I like to recommend a go to to the close by De Haar Fort within the village of Haarzuilens. Learn extra about De Haar Fort.