An Utrecht Day Trip

Utrecht day trip

Just 45 kilometres away from the canals, coffee shops and the Red Light District of Amsterdam is a city of Utrecht, the largest in the province of the same name. Despite being so close, it isn’t on many tourists’ itineraries who prefer to indulge in the capital’s pleasures. Those that do take the short train ride south, will find a hip, modern city embracing its medieval roots, cool restaurants and bars, contemporary museums and some of the best coffee in The Netherlands. I explored the city earlier this year and here is my guide to a perfect Utrecht day trip.

Utrecht Day Trip

8:30 – If you are coming from the capital, take the train from Amsterdam Centraal station. There are trains every 15-30 minutes throughout the week. Utrecht is a great day trip destination and is only 27 minutes away from Amsterdam (tickets from €7).

Utrecht Day Trip

09:00 – Utrecht has loads of great cafes and restaurants so start your day by grabbing breakfast and coffee at one of Utrecht’s hippest joints, The Village (Voorstraat 46, http://thevillagecoffee.nl/). The funky cafe has a great selection of bites and great coffee and has been voted one of the best in The Netherlands. They also serve beers on tap and have live music performances. Two other locations, at Wolvenplein and Utrecht Science Park, have opened recently.

Or try: Keek on Twijnstraat uses fresh, organic ingredients for its delicious pies, cakes and scones. The café has now been joined by a bakery a couple of minutes away, where you can grab freshly baked goodies for a picnic. (Twijnstraat 23, http://www.kunsteneerlijkekoffie.nl/)

Utrecht Day Trip
Source: www.kunsteneerlijkekoffie.nl

10:30 – Walk along the Oudegracht, the “old canal” which runs through the heart of the city for awesome views of the Dom tower. Look up for the impressive architecture of the buildings lining the canal and look down to the water level for the old wharf cellars, many of which have been transformed into cool bars and restaurants.

Utrecht Day Trip

12:00 – The Domtoren (Dom Tower) is Utrecht’s main attraction. Join an hourly guided tour and climb the 465 steps to the top of the highest church tower in The Netherlands. There are great panoramic views of the city and you can also catch a glimpse of the huge bells that are still used on a regular basis.

Utrecht Day Trip

Utrecht Day Trip

13:30 – You will have worked up an appetite going up and down all those stairs, and this would be a great time to treat yourself to some lunch. Luckily, Stan and Co. (Ganzenmarkt 16A, http://utrecht.stan-co.nl/) is just around the corner. This place is super popular with the locals and has a really cool interior as well as a great range of nibbles and mains. There are daily specials as well as a fully stocked bar in the middle. The coffee is also very good!

Utrecht Day Trip

Utrecht Day Trip

Or try: Just across the canal and opposite the Domtoren is a small branch of STACH food (Choorstraat 42, http://www.stach-food.nl/index.php?page=Choorstraat), with loads of delicious meals, freshly baked items, chocolate and plenty of healthy options too! I loved the freshly made sandwiches with a range of toppings. This is probably my favourite food retail chain in the country! They even have a loft where you can relax with a coffee.

Utrecht Day Trip

Utrecht Day Trip

14:30 – Now that you’ve recharged your batteries, it’s time to burn off some of those calories. You are in The Netherlands, so grab a bike from Co Van Beek (from €7.50 per day, Springweg 14-16, http://www.covanbeek.nl/wp/?page_id=287) and set off on a mini-tour of the city centre. Head back towards the Dom Tower and check out the impressive façade of Domkerk (St. Martin’s Cathedral or Dom Church) and the grand Utrecht University building.

Utrecht Day Trip

15:30 – Time for some culture! Continue along Lange Nieuwstraat before turning right on Agnietenstraat and checking out the Centraal Museum (Agnietenstraat 1, http://centraalmuseum.nl/en/). Learn about the history of the city and visit the contemporary art and fashion exhibitions.

Or try: University Museum Utrecht (Lange Nieuwstraat 106, http://www.universiteitsmuseum.nl/english) and its collections of stuffed animals and scientific objects are great for families. Miffy Museum (Agnietenstraat 2), right opposite the Centraal Museum, celebrates artist Dick Bruna’s most famous creation and is ideal for young kids.

Utrecht Day Trip

17:00 – Turn left onto Twijnstraat and cross the canal before bearing right on Catharijnesingel and riding along the water among locals. It’s a nice, leisurely ride all the way towards the train station. Turn back towards the city past TivoliVredenburg (https://www.tivolivredenburg.nl/nl/), Utrecht’s premier music venue and De Planeet shopping mall.

18:00 – Park your bike by the canal (you’ve come full circle since this morning!) and head down the steps to one of the former wharf cellars. Beers and Barrels (Oudegracht aan de Werf 125, http://beersbarrels.nl/utrecht-oudegracht/) is popular with the after-work crowds and has over 70 beers on its menu as well as a mouth-watering food menu. The place is famous for its burgers and lobster combos! Tap tables can be booked in advance for special occasions – these are seriously cool!

Utrecht Day Trip

19:30 – If you are still hungry or have been saving yourself for dinner, it’s worth checking out Badhu (Willem van Noortplein 19, http://www.badhu.nl/index.php), a popular restaurant in the Tuinwijk area of the city. The meze-style menu, with Mediterranean, North African and Eastern influences, is great for sharing and they have a well-stocked bar. The industrial setting has cool lighting in the evenings and on warm summer nights you can relax on the terrace that overlooks a park.

There are a couple of options for getting to the restaurant. Cycling over from the city centre takes about 7-8 minutes. Bus number 1 from Central Station stops near the restaurant entrance. Alternatively, take a train to Utrecht Overvecht and walk around 12 minutes to Badhu.

Utrecht Day Trip
Source: www.utrechtconventionbureau.com

21:00 – If you are heading back to Amsterdam, it’s time to say goodbye to Utrecht and head for the Utrecht Centraal train station. Alternatively, stay and enjoy this charming city a while longer!

Have you been to Utrecht? What were your favourite sights, cafes and restaurants?

30 thoughts on “An Utrecht Day Trip

  1. Angie (FeetDoTravel) says:

    I am ashamed to say I have never even heard of Utrecht let alone been there, and I have been to The Dam many times! On my next visit, I will be sure to take in this lovely city and will definitely be hiring a bike!! I will also be sure to order a latte in one of the places you recommended whilst people watching 🙂

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Angie, you totally should. It’s a great city and offers something very different to Amsterdam! I really want to explore some of the other cities in The Netherlands too!

  2. Liss says:

    Looks like a cool place to visit but a little more low key than Amsterdam. I love visiting places like this, hopefully get there one day.

  3. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) says:

    Wow, can’t believe I have never heard of UTRECHT. What a great day trip or longer visit from Amsterdam. Seems like a wonderful place to visit and will be on the itinerary for my next trip Amsterdam. Great itinerary and will have to share 🙂

  4. Ria says:

    Seems you had really good day 🙂 I have been in Utrecht but many years ago and for short stay but I really liked the city 🙂 It was one of my first trips abroad – so till now I remember everything 🙂
    Ria recently posted…Travel resourcesMy Profile

  5. David says:

    The Netherlands is one country in Europe that I have to say I’ve seen very little of. I’ve wondered if Utrecht was worth the visit and now it seems it is. Do you think you can cover most of it in a day or would you recommend spending a little more time? If I do get there, this itinerary looks perfect for me, interest and budget-wise. Cheers Alexei!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      David, it’s a very compact city so very easy to get around and see everything in a day but if you like to amble and people watch, an overnight stay could also be great. I would have loved to catch some live music or maybe head out into the countryside. The great thing is it is just so continent to get to/from!

  6. Garth says:

    Love itineraries like this, nice work! You certainly packed in a lot. I’ve not heard of Utrecht either, but sounds like a cool city worth trying, next time we visit Amsterdam. Cheers

  7. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) says:

    Wonderful Itinerary filled with stunning photos! Even though I have been to Amsterdam a few times have never heard of Utrecht. My next trip I would definitely use this guide to fill my day along with my appetite with the restaurants your provided. I pinned this for later and thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

  8. Annalise says:

    Sounds like an amazing day trip. This has really made me think that I should look into day trips more often when I’m planning a city break – I’m probably missing so much!

  9. Tracy says:

    I have visited Amsterdam and The Hague lots of times (I have an old school friend who lived there – now in Cairo though) so used to fly over regularly but I have never been to Utrecht – to be honest it wasn’t on my radar! Looks like an interesting place to visit though! That sandwich looked nice – always good to have recommended places to eat. Sometimes we spend ages wandering around trying to find somewhere so I do take note of possible eateries when planning a trip if I can!

  10. Lolo says:

    Love Utrecht! We were there in 2016! Sadly, we were too late to go up the tower and were only visiting a friend for a day! The view looks amazing! #feetdotravel!

  11. Barry says:

    Great stuff Lexx. I stopped here briefly while on a road trip but didn’t explore that much. I seemed pretty chilled out from what I saw. Wouldn’t mind heading back one day.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thank you! It’s a really beautiful city and doesn’t feel anywhere near as touristy as Amsterdam!

  12. Scarlett Begonias says:

    This city looks so magical, and we would probably love it due to it being less crowded than a touristy city like Amsterdam. I absolutely love that rainbow crosswalk picture. Can’t wait to see the Netherlands one day 🙂

  13. Siddharth and Shruti says:

    What a lovely day trip! We love less crowded cities. The cafes look so charming. 465 steps! Quite a way up. We love your photography. We will surely keep Utrecht in mind for our next trip to Netherlands 🙂

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