These incredible things to do in Utrecht are a few reasons why to visit the city when in the Netherlands. Utrecht is a historical, medieval city that is home to a large university, so you get the best of both worlds. From historical sights to beautiful canals, Utrecht seems to have it all. Plus, it may have a few visitors, but far less than its neighboring city of Amsterdam.
I consider it one of those not quite off-the-beaten-path cities in Europe but practically there. If you’re looking for something a bit different from what you’ve done before in the Netherlands, then adding Utrecht to your travel itinerary is one of them.
The city is lively and after spending 24 hours there, I’m itching to go back. Ready to explore more of the Netherlands? Check out this list of 10 incredible things to do in Utrecht.
10 Incredible Things to Do in Utrecht, Netherlands
1. Climb the Dom Tower
The pride of Utrecht is certainly the Dom Tower. It’s the center of the city and one of the most historic sites in all of Utrecht. Also, the highest church tower in all of the Netherlands, climbing the Dom Church tower is an effort but worth it. The total of 465 steps brings you up over the city with incredible views.
At some levels in which you stop at, you’ll get to visit areas like the huge bells in the ringing attic and St. Michael’s Chapel. You can only visit the tower under a guided tour and highly recommend buying tickets in advance.
The tower is under renovation but it is still possible to visit and tour.
2. Take a canal tour by boat.
One of the best ways to experience the charm of Utrecht is through a guided boat tour down the canal. It’s a chance to see the city in a new way and sit back and relax. The buildings here are beautiful, so getting to see them from the water is really special. I’d recommend visiting this list of the best options for booking your visit. I truly loved this experience!
3. Grab a coffee at one of the best cafes.
Good coffee should come as no surprise in the Netherlands since Amsterdam has a long list of cafes, but did you know there are some incredible ones outside of the city? In Utrecht, I loved stopping into 30ml who has multiple locations throughout the city. The coffee shop was beautiful and pleasant caffeine-fix when walking around the city. I also loved Blackbird coffee & vintage in the city as well!
4. Stay the night at a hip boutique hotel in the heart of the city.
There are some great hotels in Utrecht and I had the chance to stay at the boutique Hunfeld hotel right in the city. It felt like one of those hotels you’d stay at in New York, with beautiful interior design and restored old-world finishes. It’s a win if you’re looking to be centrally located in the city!
If The Hunfeld is sold out, search for more hotels here:
5. Visit the Utrecht Botanic Gardens
If botanic gardens are up your alley, you won’t want to miss these. The Utrecht Botanic Gardens are beautiful and home to a variety of plants. They are closed during the winter months but come March is open to the public for visiting and is one of the best attractions in the city. There are spaces both indoors and outdoors, so you can explore both.
This is one thing I didn’t quite make it to on my visit but have saved for my next trip to Utrecht.
6. Tour the Rietveld Schröder House
A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best day trips is the Schröder House. I so wish I could have made it to this beautiful architectural site designed in 1924 and iconic landmark in Utrecht. Truus Schröder commissioned architect Gerritt Rietveld to build this home without walls. Today, you can book a guided tour to visit.
If you’re looking for another day trip in addition to this, the Haar castle is highly recommended.
7. Grab one pretty stroopwafel to go.
One of the most popular foods in the Netherlands is the stroopwafel. Chances are you’ve had one before on a United or KLM flight. It’s that waffle cookie stuffed with caramel and one you can’t stop eating. In the city of Utrecht is the shop called Waffel where you can design your own and they make them fresh on the spot. Dip them in chocolate, cover in sprinkles or edible flowers, and you have what may be the prettiest stroopwafel around.
8. Hit the town at night, starting at a tiki bar and restaurant.
One of the highlights for food in the city was eating dinner at Rum Club on the wharf of canal. You walk down a steep set of stairs, and below was the tiki bar and restaurant. The drinks of course are rum-influenced though you can order other kinds. The food was a blend of small plates with vegetarian options.
The space is beautiful with lush greenery and bright colors. You’ll want to reserve in advance as it does get busy.
9. Museum hop your way through the city.
Utrecht is home to many museums and is well worth a stop in during your stay. The Centraal Museum is the oldest in the city dating back to 1833 and is home to classic Dutch work. Museum Speelklok (musical instrument museum) and the Railway Museum are two others to consider as well for your stay in Utrecht.
10. Eat lunch at a restaurant to remember.
I always love a local restaurant and one of the best meals I had in the Netherlands was at Piatto Utrecht. This Italian restaurant has a beautiful space inside, with greenery and pops of color — it’s more of a dinner spot but great for lunch too. Their pasta was amazing and loved their charcuterie board to start.