After travelling to over 30 cities in Europe, Utrecht is by far one of my favorite cities in Europe. Many of you have probably never heard of it but it is dubbed the little sister of Amsterdam and it’s only a 30 mins train ride away. It’s quite a small city filled with canals, adorable cafes, a million bikes, and friendliest people I have met in Europe who all speak English!
It’s one of the many cities in the Netherlands that is a great day trip from Amsterdam. The train ride will cost 15 euros round trip and the train runs very frequently between the cities. If you prefer peaceful cities than I suggest staying in Utrecht instead. There’s still lots to do during the day and night but a lot less tourists since most only come for a day trip.
Time: 2-4 days
Budget: $70 day (includes accommodation, food and 1 activity)
Popular Attractions: canal tour, Dom tower, Rietveld Schroder house
Must try foods: Stroopwafel and fries
Things to do:
One of my favorite things to do in the city is to rent a pedal boat from Stromma canal tours, which is located on the main shopping road. We rented one for 8 euro each for 1 hour. It’s a lot of fun to do with friends and we went at 11 am and it was the perfect time because the canal wasn’t busy with other boats yet but by the time we returned around 12:30 pm it was very busy. It’s nice to see the city in a different perspective.
Another fun activity was climbing the Dom tower, which is the tallest tower in Netherlands. You must go with a tour and you book it at the tourist office across from the tower. It’s 9 euro for adults and if you’re a student you get a discount. The tours run for an hour and the guide tells you the history behind the tower which is very fascinating. You can’t bring a purse or back pack with you. They offer free lockers to use for that hour and you can only bring your phone and camera plus a water bottle which I strongly suggest.
St. Martin’s Cathedral is free to enter and a donation is optional. The interior isn’t anything special but if go out to the court yard, it’s full of greenery and a great spot to sit and relax.
A famous attraction is the Rietveld Schroder house, designed during the De Stijl period. If you are interested in architecture you can visit this house which is found about 10min outside of the city center. Book in advance if you are interested because the slots fill up quick. Admission costs 16.50 euro for adults and 8.50 for students and kids.
I loved wandering around these adorable streets because they have so many independent stores selling the nicest clothes. Go exploring around the city and I’m sure you’ll stumble upon some great shops or cafes.
One of my favorites stores that was recommended to me was It’s a Present, it’s a fun and unique store that’s great for gifts, souvenirs and lots of fun stuff for kids!
Mannenkin pis – the best fries EVER, they serve huge portions so if you are alone a small is enough for lunch. A medium is enough to split between 2-3 people and a large will feed a small family. Ask for the sauce in a cup or else they will put a huge dollop on the top and it’s quite messy. The sauce is extra and there are so many unique flavors to choose from, including vegan options.
Bagels and beans – great bagel shop with unique toppings for their bagels.
Maria Minor – a local took me to a church that was converted into a bar, so the interior is so unique with church organs and Jesus on the wall. They only serve beer, but they have hundreds of options. If you don’t like beer like me, try the raspberry beer, its sweet and tastes like a cider.
A great cozy place to enjoy Vietnamese food and bubble tea is Kimmade. They have a small restaurant so be sure to go early. Great food and quick service.
Tips for First Timers:
The only down fall to this city is that more stores don’t open until 10am and close at 6pm except for Thursdays they stay open until 8pm. Even restaurants close around 10-11pm, therefore there isn’t a huge nightlife scene.
As we all know in the Netherlands marijuana is legal and they call weed dispensaries “coffee shops”, they are found all over the city. Have your ID ready if you want to enter the shop. Some coffee shops are located on the canals have a basement where you can sit by the canal and enjoy.
If you are dropped off at the bus station because you took Flixbus you need to walk right until you hit the train station and then walk down until you reach the galleria up ahead and then take a left and go down the escalator to get to main road that leads to the city center. If you need directions to the city center, ask any of the shops, everyone speaks English.