If you’re a first-time visitor to Utrecht, it’s important to note that the city is not as well known for its tourism as Amsterdam or even Rotterdam. But those who do know it have plenty of good things to say about it – so if you haven’t been before, here are a few things you should check out!
The first thing many people mention is the proximity of Utrecht to the North Sea. The beach is about 45 minutes away, but for those of you living in cities like Amsterdam that are land-locked, you might feel like you’re in paradise. You can go on long walks along the beach walk, or continue onto the North Sea Canal Promenade which connects both sides of the city. There are plenty of shops along this promenade if you need to grab a bite to eat or pick up some souvenirs (although there are some great ones right here in Utrecht too!).
A more unique thing about Utrecht, particularly for students, is that it’s home to several university buildings. Most of the buildings are from the 20th century and are considered relatively modern compared to other Dutch cities. The main campus of Utrecht University, a public research university, is a prime example. It’s also home to Éénoog Utrecht, an art hospital where you can find some interesting exhibits. If you’re venturing into the city with friends or family, another place worth visiting is Verwersdijk street – there are plenty of restaurants lined up against the canal that look great for dining with friends!
Nearby is Vredenburg theatre which is now used as a concerthall but was originally built as a movie theatre. The building is unique in that it has a pleasing green facade on one side and a perfectly symmetrical red and white facade on the other. It’s also one of the largest theatres in Utrecht which makes for a cozy and perfect venue for hosting rehearsals and performances.
The Olde Haarlemmerhouten is another great place to visit if you’re visiting with friends or family. This historic neighborhood is known for its own unique history, but it’s also a great place to go out to eat! In the Olde Galloo area you’ll find a lot of traditional Dutch restaurants that are all within steps of each other. You can also take a nice walk along the street from Galloo to Vredenburg and get a good look at the city and its architecture before taking in some of the fine dining options across the water.
Another favorite spot for people visiting Utrecht is De Rade – located right on one of the main shopping streets, it’s an interesting art-deco restaurant which has an indoor ‘tram’ that takes you around town. Perfect for people-watching!
Het Amfitheater is another one of Utrecht’s main attractions, especially for people who are visiting for the first time. Lined up against the Oudegracht canal, this 17th century building has an interesting history, but now serves as a place where concerts and other events are held. The building is made out of white stone and has an ornate interior that makes it quite striking.
The Utrecht Zuilen is another sightseeing attraction which is perfect for first-time visitors. It’s a great little neighborhood with some interesting shops and restaurants on the main street. Not only that, but it’s also home to some of the best historic sites in the city such as Huis van Hofwijck and Huis Honselaarsdijk – two beautiful castles that were built as merchants’ residences.
The other thing people talk about when visiting Utrecht is the city’s architecture. It’s one of the most important parts of city life, and longtime residents are proud to show you around some of the more interesting places. The city is filled with beautiful buildings, both old and new, that are worth admiring. You can find many beautiful houses with manicured gardens that are also home to beautiful artwork inside.
In other words, if you’re looking to have a relaxing time in a modern city that has plenty of history too, Utrecht is a great destination. Whether you’re taking a trip around the city or just relaxing at home, be sure to check it out!