Introduction: With the current travel restrictions and quarantines in place, exploring our own backyards is becoming more of a trend. This week we continue the hometown series, where we explore all the great attractions from the hometowns of travel bloggers around the world. In previous weeks we explored Townsville, Australia, Delhi in India, Leeds in Yorkshire, Ann Arbor in Michigan, and my own hometown Herkimer NY. This week we will dive in to Utrecht, Netherlands as told by local Traveler’s Itch.
Highlights: Climb the Dom Tower, the highest church tower in the Netherlands, and get stunning views, rent a boat and hit the water, shop at a local market, or venture outside of Utrecht to explore small villages, castles, and walking trails.
Whenever people think of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the first place that comes to mind. And yes, it’s an awesome place when you’re visiting for the first time, but there’s so much more than Amsterdam! Call me biased, but I believe that my hometown of Utrecht is the most beautiful city in the Netherlands. At first sight, it looks a bit like Amsterdam. We too have a historical city centre, canals, coffeeshops and a plethora of bars, but we’re also different!
Utrecht is only 1 of 4 cities that have ‘wharf cellars’, lowered canals and storage spaces (now mostly used for restaurants and bars) under street level. It’s also 1 of 4 largest cities in the Netherlands with a population of almost 460k people. (That’s a lot for us!) It houses some of the major universities, and has the busiest bike lane in the country!
Visiting for the first time? You can’t skip these!
Climb the Dom Tower
The Dom tower, the gothic church tower, is the highest church tower in the Netherlands. First, visit DOMunder to go below the surface and get your history fill, then climb the 465 steps with a guide who will tell you all about Utrecht as you make your way to the top. The views are magnificent!
Rent a Boat
I say this to everyone coming to the Netherlands. We’re a water country, view it from the water! Now, you can book a tourist boat with audio and all that, but it’s such good fun renting your own, gather your friends and load up on drinks and snacks! The canals are easy to navigate and it’s actually quite hard to get lost.
Visit the Saturday Markets
Utrecht’s biggest markets are both on Saturdays. The first one being the food and non-food market, the second the flower markt. The flower market, located at Janskerkhof, is beautiful. The square is quaint, they sell anything from flowers to garden plants, and there’s good bargains! Come towards the end of the day (around 2pm) and they’ll be hoping to get rid of most of their supplies!
Take a trip outside Utrecht
Really? Really! Utrecht is surrounded by some of the most beautiful walking and cycling areas, castles and small villages. For instance, visit Castle de Haar or Slot Zuylen. For walking, make your way to Rhijnauwen and Amelisweerd. Look for the ‘Amelishof’, which is a bio dynamic vegetable and fruit garden where you can pick up the freshest produce. When you get hungry there’s a pancake restaurant right there that serves some pretty good Dutch pancakes!
Where to eat?
- Streetfood Club: the most popular place to be! Tapas style world foods in an instagram worthy decor.
- WT Urban Kitchen: dining with a view in Utrecht’s most up and coming neighborhood
- Le Jardin: not only a restaurant, but also a botanical garden. Everything comes out of their own garden.
- Waku Waku: nirwana for vegans, and pretty good for non-vegans as well!
- Dogma: lowkey dinner? Dogma serves your favorite hotdogs
On a nice day, do as the locals do, grab yourself a beer, find a park to hang out in and enjoy!