- For other places with the same name, see Utrecht (disambiguation).
Utrecht is a central Dutch city with a long history. With 362,000 inhabitants (2022), it’s the fourth largest city in the Netherlands.
The history of the city goes back to 47 AD when the Roman emperor Claudius ordered his general Corbulo to build a defensive line along the river Rhine which was the northern most border of the empire. One of the strongholds (or Castella) along the river was built at a crossing in the river and was called Traiectum (which means crossingplace). In the local language this became Trecht, Uut-Trecht (lower-Trecht) and later Utrecht. On the place where once the castellum stood now stands the Domchurch built in the 13th century.
Utrecht is known as a student city with a large population of single young people. This results in a booming nightlife with many places to have a quick meal, some drinks or a dance.
- 1 VVV Utrecht Informatie Centrum (Tourist Information Centre), Domplein 9, ☏ , [email protected]. Daily 10:00-17:00.
- 1 Utrecht Centraal Station. The hub of the Dutch rail network, it is easily accessible directly, or with one change of train, from almost every station in the Netherlands. For instance, there are frequent direct connections from Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport (even at night), each taking 30 minutes for about €9 one-way. The high-speed train ICE to Cologne, Frankfurt and Basel stops in Utrecht every two hours.
The train station is at the western edge of the old city. A 5-minute walk through the Hoog Catharijne shopping center (follow signs to “Centrum”) will take you from the station to the city or the bus station.
The bus station is next to the train station. International buses depart from the western side of the train station ('Jaarbeurszijde'), exit the railway station on the correct side and turn right to find the busstop next to the NH-Hotel. Eurolines and Flixbus both have several lines to Utrecht connecting directly with many European Countries. The international buses to Belgium and Germany are often a cost effective alternative to the trains with longer (Germany) or similar (Belgium) travel duration. The regional and city buses depart from separate stations on the east and west side of the train station. The regional buses are much slower than the trains. For information about the city buses, check the U-OV website, this is the company that provides public transport services in and around the city of Utrecht. Buses to the smaller towns around Utrecht are run by BBA[dead link], Arriva and Connexxion. Time schedules for train and bus can be found here.
If you are coming in by car, park your car in one of the many parking garages around the city (follow the signs) and walk from there. Electronic signs display the number of parking spaces available in any given lot as well as directions to the lot, and if the sign says Vol it means the lot is full. Expect to pay around €3 to €5 per hour (as of Aug 2019) at any of the garages in the center. Parking on the curb side is also possible, expect to pay €3 to €5 an hour in advance at the meter (as of Aug 2019). Parking fines are around €70 and frequently enforced, so make sure to get back to your car before the ticket expires. It’s best to avoid driving into central Utrecht. Instead, leave your car at the city perimeter and take a bus or tram into the center.
There are 4 Park + Ride (P+R) around the city where you can park your car for the day at a flat rate of €5 (as of Aug 2019), including transit to the city center by bus or tram for up to 5 passengers. Both bus and trams offer comparable frequency of service. Two P+R facilities are adjacent to tram lines:
- 2 P+R Westraven, Griffioenlaan (close to the A12 highway exit number 17). The Nieuwegein-Utrecht tram lines 20 & 21 have a stop at P+R Westraven, and both tram lines go to the stop CS Centrumzijde at the central railway station.
- 3 P+R Utrecht Science Park, Universiteitsweg (adjacent to A28 highway at exit for N412). Tram 22 takes you to city-side of Utrecht Centraal Station.
Walking or using a bike is the easiest way to travel in the city of Utrecht. To use the public transportation in the Netherlands, it is recommended to buy an OV-chipkaart. You can buy these on the central bus station (lower level of Utrecht Centraal Station), at kiosks inside the central train station or at some book stores and grocery stores. The OV-chipkaart is valid for bus, train and tram and works like a debit card that you must first charge with an amount. Buses do take cash though.
Using a bike is the easiest way to travel in the city centre if the weather is on your side. There are many bicycle shops near the train station where you can rent bikes. Alternatively, if you have a personal OV-chipkaart you can rent an OV-Fiets for €3.85 per 24 hours at one of the rail stations, you have to subscribe to the service for 1 eurocent a year on the NS website first though. Do make sure that you have good locks on your bike, as bike thefts are unfortunately quite common in the city centre. Also it's a good idea to make use of the free bike parking areas provided by the city council. They are usually guarded and are a safe place to park your bike.
Also recommended is to do a bike tour. There are several bike tour companies offering guided city tours. There are also cycle routes starting in the centre of Utrecht, which you can download for free: Utrecht Forts Cycle Route.
A good alternative is taking the bus, which goes often and will take you nearly everywhere. Utrecht Centraal Station serves as the main bus hub for Utrecht as well as the main train hub for the Netherlands. Most buses run from early morning (around 06:00) until just after midnight. City center rides cost ~€2.50. U-OV operates trams and local buses in and around Utrecht, and has a page in English for visitors.
In addition, there are several so-called nightlines. These cost €5-6 and can’t be paid for using strips or OV-chipkaart.
By public transit
Utrecht has 3 tram routes all running via the central station (Utrecht Centraal Station a.k.a. Utrecht CS). The station has an underground tram/bus stop named Centrumzijde (meaning downtown side) on the east side of the station. On the station's west side, there is another tram stop named Jaarbeursplein, but visitors are most likely to use Centrumzijde which is nearest to the old city centre. Platforms labelled B at Centrumzijde is for trams. There are 3 tram routes effective July 2, 2022:
- Tram : Nieuwegein-Zuid – Utrecht CS – P+R Science Park
- Tram : IJsselstein-Zuid – Utrecht CS – P+R Science Park
- Tram : Utrecht CS – P+R Science Park
From Utrecht CS, trams run southwest passing P+R Westraven to Nieuwegein Stadscentrum where the tram line splits into two branches to IJsselstein-Zuid and Nieuwegein-Zuid. The southwest section of the line operates every day to a little past midnight.
Trams operate from Utrecht CS southeast to P+R Science Park Monday to Friday until 21:30. At these times riders can travel from either IJsselstein-Zuid or Nieuwegein-Zuid to P+R Science Park without switching vehicles. However, there is no weekend or late evening service to P+R Science Park, at which times all trams terminate at Utrecht CS. Use bus line 28 when trams to P+R Science Park are not running. P+R Science Park is in the Uithof district southeast of the centre of Utrecht.
U-OV operates trams and local buses, and their network can be travelled as cheap as €6.95 using the U-OV dagkaart. For the rest of the province, a separate €11.05 off-peak ticket exists. Both tickets offer unlimited access to U-OV buses and trams. The tickets can be bought online or at U-OV ticket machines or service desks. To use the tickets, you must be in the possession of an OV-chipkaart.
Seeing Utrecht by car is not recommended. The city planners have made it as difficult as possible to navigate the city center, to try and discourage cars there. Driving around can be frustrating as the center is fraught with bus-only lanes, one-way streets, traffic lights and terribly expensive parking spaces. If you want to come by car it is recommended to park at one of the P+R (Park and Ride) places, and take a cheap shuttle bus or tram service into town. There are also several parking garages closer to the center, but they are more expensive.
Around the Domplein
- 1 Dom van Utrecht (Domkerk), Achter de Dom 1. May-Sep: M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-15:30, Su 12:30-16:00; Oct-Apr: M-F 11:00-15:00, Sa 10:00-15:30, Su 12:30-16:00. The Gothic Dom church (built between 1284 and 1520) is the major religious building in the city. It was a part of a larger cathedral which was partially destroyed by a severe storm while under construction. When a hurricane hit the town in 1674, the badly constructed nave collapsed, which is the reason that today the Domtoren (Bell Tower) and the church itself are separated by the Domplein (Dom Square). The interior of the church was stripped down of every sculpture during Reformation, but the exterior remains a lavishly decorated example of Dutch Gothic architecture.
- DOMunder, Dom Square (Domplein). guided tours Tu-Su 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30. An interesting museum/guided tour under the Dom Square about the Romans in Utrecht. €11.
- Pandhof Domkerk (cloister garden) (at the South side of the Dom church). Just sit down, relax, and listen to a Saturday morning carillon concert.
- 2 Domtoren (Dom Tower). only by guided tours (1 hr) Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su M 12:00-17:00. 112 m tall, it is the highest church tower in the Netherlands. It is also the highest building in the city by municipal mandate. Climbing up the stairs to see the magnificent view on the top is highly recommended, but beware of the narrow, steep stairs. On clear days you can look as far as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Home to the second largest set of bells in Europe (after Cologne), and a carillon which is often played by musicians at the weekend. €9; tickets could also be booked online.
- 3 Pieterskerk. Consecrated in 1048.
- 4 Stadhuis (City Hall), Korte Minrebroederstraat 2 (at the Oudegracht). It has a rather imposing look.
It is a major canal going through the heart of the city, with shops and restaurants on both sides. This canal is unique because of its many picturesque cellars on water level. Centuries ago they were used for storage and commerce. Nowadays, many of them host fine restaurants and pubs. In the summer you can find nice terraces at the water here.
- 5 Stadhuisbrug. Perhaps it's the most famous bridge over the Oudegracht. It was created in 1547 by vaulting a space between the older two bridges: the Huidenbrug and the Broodbrug, thus creating one of the major squares in the old town.
- 6 Kalisbrug. It's another bridge over the Oudegracht which make a small square between Steenweg and Vismarkt. In the middle of the 16th century older 2 bridges – the Kalisbrug (or Visbrug) and Corduanierbrug – were connected together making the current Kalisbrug.
- 7 Rietveld Schröderhuis (Rietveld Schröder House), Prins Hendriklaan 50 (bus line 8 (direction Wilhelminapark), stop De Hoogstraat; or 20 min on foot from the Centraal Museum alternatively a bike could be rented (sic!) there), ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Su 11:00-17:00 (11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00); visits only by a prior booking. The house, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, was built in 1923-1924 in Utrecht. The structure of the house is completely in line with the ideas of the art movement De Stijl (The Style). The house was designed and built for Truus Schröder-Schräder, who lived there from 1924 till her death in 1985. It can only be visited under supervision of a tour guide. In 2000 the house was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. €15.50 (also includes admission to the Centraal Museum, on the same day).
- 8 Postkantoor Utrecht (Hoofdpostkantoor), Neude 11. The former Main Post Office is an outstanding and surprising building. The Utrecht main Post Office is a great example of Dutch Art Deco architecture. The Post Office, on the Neude Square, was designed by the architect J. Crouwel and completed in 1924. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is made up of glazed yellow-brick ribs alternated with diagonal glass panes that fill the hall with natural light. The black-and-white floor is set off by five carved black statues set in the walls, each representing a continent. America is a stylized American Indian with two buffalo at his feet. Over the main entrance are magnificent stained glass windows. It was renovated in 2019/2020 and opened for public on 13 March 2020. The impressive central hallway is accessible from the Neude square and offers space for the central library, several restaurants, guarded bicycle parking and a supermarket.
- 9 De Uithof (campus of the Utrecht University). It is a rather strange mix between grey concrete buildings and buildings here that are designed by famous modern architects, like the Educatorium designed by Rem Koolhaas, the University Library and the Minnaert building. There is also a beautiful botanical garden that is 8 acres big, houses 6 thousand different sorts of plants and a Napoleonic fort. Also worth a look: the bicycle track at the Heidelberglaan which is broad enough to function as a two-way car-track. The university campus can be reached from the Central Station by taking tram Line 22.
- 10 De Inktpot. A notable building with a flying saucer (UFO) on its roof. The saucer is a remnant of the Utrecht art exhibition Panorama 2000, designed by Marc Ruygrok.
- 11 Paushuize (Pope's house), Kromme Nieuwegracht 49, ☏ , [email protected]. Born in Utrecht, Adrianus VI, the sole Dutch pope and the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II, had this house constructed in 1517. It is used for congresses, weddings and group dinners.
Museumkaart is accepted at the city's museums.
- 12 Centraal Museum, Nicolaaskerkhof 10. Tu-Su 11:00-17:00. The oldest municipal museum in the Netherlands. It has a large art collection including the world’s largest collection of Rietveld designs and a permanent exhibition on Dick Bruna. There are usually several temporary exhibitions, an overview of which you can find at their site. €9.
- 13 Museum Catharijneconvent, Lange Nieuwstraat 38. 11:00-17:00. A large collection of historic Christian items. €11.50.
- 14 Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum (Netherlands Railway Museum), Maliebaanstation 16, 3581 XW Utrecht (Hourly trains run from Utrecht Centraal during opening times. Alternatively use the Stadsschouwburg bus stop (various routes) followed by a 10-15 minute walk.). Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. The museum is housed on the site of Utrecht Maliebaan station, the former terminus of the first railway line between the city and Amsterdam, and incorporates the original station building with modern additions. It reopened in June 2005 after an intensive renovation. Static displays of trains, with some more "theme park" attractions such as the dark ride "Steel Monsters" and the not-too-serious train simulator "Trial By Fire". €14.50.
- 15 Museum Speelklok (Music Box Museum). A surprisingly pleasant museum on all kinds of mechanical music, including carillon clocks, musical boxes, pianolas and belly organs.
- 16 Universiteitsmuseum, Lange Nieuwstraat 106, ☏ . 10:00-17:00. The museum of the Utrecht University. €8.
- 18 Kanaalstraat (Lombok district). There is an attractive area of shops and eateries along Kanaalstraat in the Lombeck district between Damstraat and Lombokstraat. At the west end of Kanaalstraat is a quaint old-fashioned drawbridge. At the east end is a mosque with two minarets.
- 19 Leidsche Rijn Centrum, Brusselplein (adjacent to Leidsche Rijn railway station). Leidsche Rijn Centrum is a modern retail/residential complex arranged in an urban grid plan with shops and cafés facing attractive, open-air public squares with a few fountains and sculptures.
- 21 Houtzaagmolen De Ster (Wind mill & saw mill), Molenpark 8, ☏ . Sa 13:00 to 16:00. This windmill and sawmill installation was built in 1721 along the waterway called Leidsche Vaart, and was renovated in 1998. Free tours on Saturday afternoons.
- 22 Molen Rijn en Zon (Biologische Slagerij De Molen), Adelaarstraat 30 (at Merelstraat). This windmill was built in 1913, retired in 1949 after a storm and restored 1977-1978; it was used for grinding corn (korenmolen). Today the ground floor is used as a butcher's shop (slagerij) offering organic products.
- Have a drink at one of the terraces at the lower docks of Oudegracht
- Climb the Dom tower, a full 112 metres high. You can climb to near the top.
- Take a tour with a boat through the canals
- Take a bicycle tour through the old city centre
- Find out the stories behind the buildings in a free tour.
- Rent a canal bike and pedal your own way around the canals.
- Try a locally brewed beer at Stadskasteel Oudaen, which is a 13th-century city castle turned restaurant.
- Football: FC Utrecht play soccer in Eredivisie, the Dutch top tier. Their home ground is Stadion Galgenwaard (capacity 23,750), 2 km southeast of city centre.
- 1 Royal Dutch Jaarbeurs Exhibition & Convention Centre, Jaarbeursplein 6 (west side of central railway station). Exhibition and trade centre.
- 2 Skate parade, Lucasbolwerk (start and finish is at Lucasbolwerk; the sheer number of people on skates is impossible to miss). 20:00-22:00. Participate in the skate parade: every friday night in summer (roughly May - December), over 100 skaters ride about 20 km in and around Utrecht, making it a great way to see more of the city. Skates can be rented for €10; other than that, the event is free of charge. Departure is at 20:00 exactly, so make sure to arrive well in advance, especially if you need to rent skates.
- 3 Rent a canoe, Oudegracht aan de Werf 275 (descend the stairs towards the wharf next to the canal), ☏ , [email protected]. n-F 13:00-19:00, Sa Su 10:00-19:00. On a sunny day, renting a canoe to paddle along the canals through the city centre is a great and affordable way to see the city from a different perspective. €7 per hour.
- 4 Rent a canoe at Rijnstroom, Weg naar Rhijnauwen 2. Rent a canoe or kayak. Either take a tour through the city, make sure to visit the Minstroom and Oudegracht. Or take a tour outside the city on the Kromme Rijn towards Bunnik, and dock at Theehuis Rhijnauwen to eat pancakes.
- 8 Stadsschouwburg (City Theatre), Lucasbolwerk 24. The building is a city landmark. It was designed in 1937 by the famous architect Willem Dudok. Almost all theatre performances are in Dutch, but there are also dance and music performances. There are two halls inside the Stadsschouwburg, the Douwe Egberts Zaal (Douwe Egberts Hall) and the Blauwe Zaal (Blue Hall). Students can buy tickets 30 minutes before the start of a show for a reduced fee (€9 for shows in the Douwe Egberts zaal, €7 for shows in the Blauwe Zaal), provided the show is not sold out yet.
- 9 Theater Kikker, Ganzenmarkt 14 (close to the City Hall). A small theatre. Every month they have a Kikker Koopje, a performance by beginning artists for €7.
Watch a movie at one of many cinemas. With the exception of some animated movies (and even those are usually available in the original language as well), all movies are subtitled and not dubbed, so you should be able to enjoy all the standard Hollywood fare in the original English. As any large city, Utrecht has its share of cinemas showing Hollywood movies:
- 10 Pathé Rembrandt Utrecht, Oudegracht 73 (on the route from the Central Station to Neude). One large and two small theatre rooms. This cinema, or at least the main theatre room, is generally considered most pleasant, of the chain cinemas in the city.
- 11 Pathé Utrecht Leidsche Rijn, Berlijnplein 100 (next to the Central Station (though not on the side of the city centre)). Also known by its former name CineMec, this is the larger but also more remote location of the two Pathé cinemas in Utrecht. Although it's farther away from the city centre, this location has more rooms and better sounds than Pathé Rembrandt.
- 12 Kinepolis Jaarbeurs Utrecht, Jaarbeursboulevard 300, ☏ . Part of the Kinepolis chain of cinemas, this is a massive building with 14 rooms totalling 3200 seats. Most blockbuster movies will be on display here.
More interesting are the three independent cinemas, these specialize in art house movies and also are ideal places to get a drink or have dinner:
- 13 Filmtheater 't Hoogt, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Location at Hoogt 4 is closed, check website for locations.
- 14 Louis Hartlooper Complex, Tolsteegbrug 1 (all the way down the Oudegracht), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Film and culture centre, housed in a former police station.
- 15 Springhaver, Springweg 50 (between the Central Station and the Oudegracht), ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Visit the Gaudeamus Muziekweek .This is the internationally celebrated annual festival for young composers and new music. Apart from the annual festival they also organize a monthly series of new, contemporary music.
- The yearly Utrecht Festival of Old Music, called Festival Oude Muziek, late August to early September, brings to Utrecht some of the best artists in the world of authentic performance, but reserves some space for future talent as well. Concerts of all sizes are scattered over some of the city's most beautiful churches, with major performances held at Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn and the old Dom Church and a nice central lounge. There are over 60 free 'fringe' concerts and a set student price of €7.
- Visit the Parade, a yearly open air summer festival with theatre, comedy, dance, music and other attractions. De Parade is a traveling festival that visits Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and the Hague every summer.
- Koningsdag (Kingsday). Visit the festivities for the Dutch royal house on 26 April 18:00 till 27 April 18:00 in the city centre (dress code is bright orange).
- Netherlands Film Festival. Usually in the 2nd half of September. For ten days, Utrecht is the Mekka of the Dutch film.
- In November every year the indie rock festival, Le Guess Who, takes place in Tivoli Oude Gracht, Tivoli De Helling, Ekko, DBs and other locations.
- 2 Utrecht University (Universiteit Utrecht), ☏ , [email protected]. Having just celebrated its 375th anniversary, it has developed into one of Europe’s largest and most prominent institutes of research and education. With 49 Bachelor’s programmes and 109 Master’s programmes in English, Utrecht University offers the broadest spectrum of English language disciplines available in the Netherlands and innovative research and liaises with universities and research centres all over the world. It has been ranked the Best University in the Netherlands, the 4th best University in Europe, and the 39th best in the world. Utrecht University has been home to many prominent academics, among whom Buys Ballot, Donders, Rudolf Magnus, Van Unnik and Freudenthal. Nobel Prize Winner Gerard ’t Hooft (1999) is affiliated to the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy.
- 3 HU University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool Utrecht), Padualaan 101, ☏ , [email protected].
- 4 University of Humanistic Studies (Universiteit voor Humanistiek), Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, ☏ , [email protected].
A ton of service positions exist in the ancient city centre. However, they usually have low wages and require fluent Dutch.
Most shops are in the city centre, concentrated around the Oudegracht, Vredeburg and Neude. There is also a large shopping centre extending east from the city centre in the direction of the Wilhelminapark. For general shop info and their opening hours you can visit openingstijden.nl  as it shows an overview of the most popular shops.
- Hoog Catharijne. A large indoor shopping area next to Utrecht Centraal Station, the main railway station of Utrecht.
- Books. Broese is a large bookstore at Stadhuisbrug 5. They have a fair selection of English books. Bijleveld at the Janskerkhof is an old bookstore with beautiful wooden show windows.
- Music. Plato at Voorstraat 35 has a fair selection at reasonable prices. Boudisque at the Drieharingenstraat (near Vredenburg) is the largest record store in Utrecht. Jazz, Classical music, Pop music and DVDs all have their own store. Near the Vredenburg the Revenge has a fair selection of vinyl, focusing on electronic music.
- Markets. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays there is a large open air market on the Vredenburg square. On Saturdays you can find a plant market on the Janskerkhof and a flower market on the Oudegracht. The Breedstraat houses a large fabric market (lapjesmarkt) on Saturday mornings (09:00-13:00).
- At Stationsplein 7 there is a give-away shop, open Tu 14:00-18:00 and Sa 14:00-17:00.
- [formerly dead link] El Beso. At Nobelstraat there is an excellent wine, life and style shop, called El Beso (Spanish for Kiss). On Saturdays you can just walk in and try a wine, no buying obligations. International crowd.
- Cannabis. Sarasani, opened in 1968, was the oldest coffee shop in the Netherlands. Located at Oudegracht 327 a/d werf, which means it was on the canal level, and sat under the main street. Sarisani closed down in 2007. On Wednesdays and Saturdays Joepi[dead link] makes a round through the center of Utrecht to deliver food and beverages with a little ‘extra’, mainly psychedelics, cannabis and energetic herbs.
There are half a dozen stores at the part of the Oudegracht (Old Canal) south of De Dom that sell board games, card games, wargames, roleplaying games, fantasy and science-fiction books and/or comics (e.g. Piet Snot, Elf Fantasy, the Joker and Neverneverland). Keep your eyes peeled; some of these stores are easy to miss.
- Blunder has a large collection of “mainstream comics” on street level and an even bigger collection of the newest American comics and Manga/Anime in the basement. The address is Oudegracht 203.
- Piet Snot is a normal comic shop. They also have a big collection of second hand comics. Vismarkt 3 (It’s a small part of the Oudegracht that for some dark reason has been given a different name...)
- Strip & Lectuurshop. Lots of comics at Oudegracht 194
- The Joker. Games, games and more games. From your normal family games to the German type games and the American wargames and everything in between. They also have lots of collectible card games and scenario-books for RPGs. In the basement it’s possible to play the games. It is at Oudegracht 230a.
- Neverneverland, like The Joker, has a large selection of boardgames and RPGs at Oudegracht 202.
- Subcultures is well... about subcultures, next to being a regular game shop. Specialized in miniature wargames, RPGs and designer toys. The address is Oude Gracht 183.
Many restaurants can be found in the city center. Especially near the canals there is a huge choice of places to eat, each with their own style of kitchen, like Italian, Thai, and American. Ask the locals for which places are recommended as not every restaurant offers the same quality.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
- 1 Bigoli, Schoutenstraat 12. Serves delicious Italian sandwiches for about €7. Be prepared to wait in line at lunch time though.
- 2 Dimitri Petit (Sirtaki II), Servetstraat 4. Take-away related to Greek restaurant "Sirtaki" opposite it. About €7.50 for a well-stuffed pita.
- 3 Food and the City, Biltstraat 467, ☏ , [email protected]. Hip Mediterranean take-away. Around €6 for a well-filled vegetarian pita, around €11 for a hearty strudel (Nov 2021).
- 4 Broodje Mario, Oudegracht 130-132. This place sells Italian rolls in Utrecht, simply called Broodje Mario. They are famous among people from Utrecht; there's even a rap song about it by the local band Stropstrikkers. €4-5.
- 5 El Greco, Ganzenmarkt 28. This Greek snack bar serves some of the best pita gyros sandwiches in Utrecht.
- 6 Op Saj, Steenweg 1. Very good wraps for vegetarians and vegans.
- 7 Chidóz, Biltstraat 7. Mexican.
- 8 Sonmat, Biltstraat 5. Korean.
- 9 ACU, Voorstraat 71. In this squatters cafe cheap but delicious vegan food is served on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Around €10 for a main course.
- There are several Flemish snack bars outside of Hoog Catharijne that sell wonderful thick fries with mayonnaise. Try it; it’s not as bad as John Travolta’s character seems to think in Pulp Fiction.
- To try something Dutch visit one of the snackbars and order a Kroket.
- For a more multi-ethnic view of Utrecht, walk away from the old city from the bus station/central station, walk under the train tracks, and follow the bus route (straight ahead) about 200 m. Try some affordable rotisserie style chicken on the left side of the Kanaalstraat, get a Moroccan style bagel across the street at one of the many middle eastern bakeries, and stock up on way-affordable (the cheapest in Utrecht) fruit and veggies at one of the many produce markets.
- 10 Cafe 't College, Mariastraat (Close to the dom), ☏ . M 10:00-19:00, Tu-Th 10:00-01:00, F Sa 11:00-14:00, Su 12:00-19:00. Cozy jazz-blues restaurant with good simple food: steaks, salads, sate. The kitchen closes at 21:00, but you can get bitterballen, spring rolls, etc. after that. main: €14.
- 11 Stadskasteel Oudaen, Oudegracht 99. A 13th-century city castle turned restaurant.
- 12 Broadway, Oudegracht aan de werf 139, ☏ . An excellent spare ribs restaurant. Mains €20-30.
- 13 Humphreys, Stadhuisbrug 3, [email protected]. Under the city hall, on the Oudegracht. The restaurant is marked by a sign and menu. The entrance is tiny and under the stairs, but the restaurant is huge with multiple halls each in their own retro style. Modern Dutch cuisine with a fixed price for a three-course meal. €37.50 for three-course meal (fixed).
- 14 Indonesia Asli, Biltstraat 56-58. M-Sa 12:00-20:00. Authentic (i.e., spicy) Indonesian restaurant and take-away. €12-16.
- 15 LE:EN, Heuveloord 140. Best described as Asian tapas, LE:EN (pronounced "lain") is a bit of a walk from the center, and it's not the cheapest in town, but a lot of locals think it's worth it anyway!
- 16 Meneer Smakers, Nobelstraat 143. This small burger joint is by far the best in town, serving ten different burgers and delicious home-made fries.
- 17 De Ontdekking, Voorstraat 110 (opposite the "City" cinema), ☏ , [email protected]. M-F 08:00-18:00, Sa Su 09:00-18:00. Many vegetarian and vegan options, dishes and decor inspired by the travel agency that used to be in this building (i.e. by countries all over the world). About €8 for breakfast, €9 for a warm lunch. Salad €8.50, soup €6.50, sandwich about €7 (Nov 2018).
- 18 De Oude Muntkelder, Oude Gracht a/d Werf 112, ☏ . Daily 12:00-21:00. Traditional Dutch pancake restaurant. They have a lovely setting beside the small canal. They have a wide varieties of pancakes, even quirky ones like the Norwegian pancake. On Mondays and Tuesdays all-you-can-eat pancakes for students for a lower price. (valid student card required). €12-17.
- 19 Restaurant Blij, Brugstraat 2, ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Su from 17:00 onwards. Blij's signature concept is that you can order two half dishes per course, i.e. you can try six different dishes in a three-course meal. (Only for groups of seven persons or fewer.) €28.50 for a three-course menu.
- 20 WT Urban Kitchen (Watertoren Utrecht), Heuveloord 25A, ☏ , [email protected]. M-F 17:30-0:00, Sa Su 12:00-0:00. At the top of a water tower, this restaurants serves delicious food with an amazing view. €39 for a 4-course menu, €44 for a 5-course menu, €49 for a 6-course menu (prices as of July 2018).
- 21 Karel 5, Geertebolwerk 1, ☏ , [email protected]. M-Sa 18:00-22:00. Restaurant of hotel Karel V. €72 for a 5-course meal (July 2018).
As the population of Utrecht contains a lot of students, naturally there are a lot of places where you can spend the day or night having some drinks and a dance. Most are in the city center. Main hubs for drinks are Neude, Janskerkhof, Mariaplaats and Ledig Erf.
- The terraces at Neude, Janskerkhof or Ledig Erf
- The lower docks near the canal Oudegracht
- The cafe's at the street Lucasbolwerk
- Stairway to Heaven[dead link] is a large rockcafe at Mariaplaats 11-12.
- Olivier at the Achter Clarenburg. A Belgian cafe with some thirty beers. Located in an old church.
- Theatercafé De Bastaard, Jansveld 17. Students, artists, the occasional local celebrity. There is a pool table in the back.
- Jan Primus, Jan van Scorelstraat 27 - 31. It’s a little out of the centre of the city near the Wilhelmina Park. No music, no slot machine, no nothing. Just 160 beers. 10 draught and 150 bottled.
- 1 Café De Zaak, Korte Minrebroederstraat 9, Utrecht, ☏ , [email protected]. Lovely terrace, and you're allowed to bring your own food.
Along the Oudegracht
The Oudegracht is home to a lot of bars, both in- and outdoors, and both at street and at water level. From north to south:
- Stadskasteel Oudaen, Oudegracht 99, ☏ . A 13th-century city castle turned restaurant. They have their own theatre and more importantly their own brewery, where they brew the local beers Ouwe Daen, Jonge Daen en Linteloo Gold. Highly recommended.
- De Witte Ballons, Lijnmarkt 12 (On the west side of Oudegracht, halfway the city center. From the Domplein, walk under the Domtoren, straight ahead, over the Oudegracht, first left, on your left after 20 metres), ☏ . A small and cosy café.
- Café België, Oudegracht 196, ☏ . It has good music and a selection of 198 different beers of which 20 are draught. Also serve nice food for a reasonable price. Try the Celis White if you like white beer and try the Trock Banaan if you want to try a beer that tastes just like the banana sweets you probably ate when you were a kid (most likely you are going to get a question from the bartender like “Are you sure you want to have this?”).
- Ledig Erf, Tolsteegbrug 3 (located at the very south tip of the Oudegracht), ☏ . At the south end of the Oudegracht has a large outdoor seating area which is packed whenever the sun is shining.
Off the beaten path
2 De Nijverheid, Nijverheidskade 15. Located in the arty part of an industrial park, De Nijverheid has a large open-air terrace with open fire places, as well as indoor seating and an art gallery. It's a great place to have lunch, coffee, or taste some local beers on a sunny day.
3 Strand Oog in Al (Soia), Kanaalweg 199. Bring your own and have a picnic lounging on the grass next to the canal at the Oog in Al beach, or order something at the Soia restaurant. Free public restrooms are available, so the perfect place to spend the afternoon with a couple of friends when the weather's good.
- The clubs near the square Janskerkhof provide a great dancing opportunity for young people ('t Pakhuis, Jansbar, Hofman).
- The clubs at the street Oudkerkhof provide a great dancing opportunity for everyone (Dikke Dries).
- The Nobelstraat is full of pubs which turn into dancing venues at night (de Vrienden, Otje, Kneus, Jaloezie).
- Other cafes, recommended for students, are Beurs (at Neude), Zussen and Hemmingway (near Janskerkhof).
- The main venue for pop concerts and for dancing are TivoliVredenburg, De Helling, Ekko, Kargadoor, De Vloer and DBs (close to the train station Zuilen).
- Techno fans can visit BASIS.
- ACU, Voorstraat 71, ☏ , [email protected]. This is a smaller, more intimate venue and political-cultural centre. They host a large variety of things, such as a small cinema (smoking allowed), art exhibitions, cafe literature, concerts, disco, gay events, and they serve vegan food every Tuesday to Saturday.
- 't Oude Pothuys, Oudegracht 279 (On the west side of Oudegracht, a bit south of the city center), ☏ . A cafe in a basement, with live music almost every night.
Utrecht, like any big town, has its fair share of business hotels of the big chains.
- Hostel Strowis, Boothstraat 8, ☏ , [email protected]. Hostel run by a group of clever ex-squatters who bought their building to start this initiative. The best and most homely hostel in Utrecht. A choice of 4-, 6-, 8-,or 16-bed dorms, free internet and a relaxing shaded garden area. Free cold showers. From €20 for a 16-bed dorm.
- Hostel B&B Utrecht, Lucas Bolwerk 4, ☏ , [email protected]. Check-out: 12:00. Bizarre hostel. Main room dominated by television and individuals sitting at computers. Free internet (when it works), free food (you cook on your own!), sometimes free beer. Showers take half an hour to warm up in the morning. 10-min walk from the Central Station. from €25.
- Stayokay Bunnik. Admittedly in a very nice area, this hostel is overpriced, but not so much as other hostels in the Utrecht area. 10 km from Utrecht in Rhijnauwen. Somewhat accessible by bus. From €20 for a 10-bed dorm.
- BUNK Utrecht, Catharijnekade 9 (within an old church in the city centre). From €24 for a sleeping pod.
The city's campsite (De Berekuil, on the east side of the city) has been a huge mess for a couple years now, and it is uncertain what will happen to it in the future. There are few other campsites, though some farmers also have small scale camping on their land. For instance Camping de Boomgaard, 8 km from Utrecht city.
- Bed & Breakfast de Buitenhof, Enghlaan 4, ☏ , [email protected]. €80-95.
- NH Utrecht, Jaarbeursplein, 24, ☏ . Nestled away in a quiet area, close to center and the Jaarbeurs Convention Center. Meeting rooms available. From €99.
- Hotel Oorsprongpark, F.C. Dondersstraat 12, ☏ , fax: . single room: €100, double €115.
- Park Plaza Utrecht, Westplein 50, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Great location (city centre), modern style with nice meeting rooms overlooking Utrecht.
As of July 2022, Utrecht has 5G from all Dutch carriers. Wifi is widely available in public places.
Utrecht as a student city is quite safe, although there are some neighbourhoods in the outskirts that you probably don't want to visit. As always, don’t flash your wallet at markets and have a natural caution for pickpockets in the city centre. Unfortunately, bike thefts are a common nuisance, so if you travel by bike, make sure you have good locks and park your bike at a bike parking spots. Parking your bike in the city centre is easy as Utrecht has it own bike parking route. Parking lots for bikes are located under the Vredenburg (entrance between Zara and The Sting), the Neude (Neudeflat), Zadelstraat, under the City Hall, under the stairs at the Stationsplein West or the Jaarbeursplein.
You are unlikely to have any business in the lower-income and immigrant neighbourhoods such as Kanaleneiland and Overvecht south-west and north of the city center. While serious crime rarely takes place, they are best avoided unless you want to tempt fate. If for some reason you do end up in these neighbourhoods it is strongly advised to keep your mobile phone and camera concealed. The youth in this area is known to act aggressively if they suspect they are being filmed or photographed.
- 5 Huis Doorn (town of Doorn; take train to Driebergen-Zeist, then bus 50 to Centre Doorn and bus 56 to Huis Doorn). W-F 13:00-17:00, Sa Su 12:00-17:00. The last residence of Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor who was deposed following World War I and waited in his exile for a restoration of monarchy that never came. Museum €12; Pavilion €6; Museum & Pavilion €15.
- 6 Kasteel de Haar (Castle De Haar) (at Haarzuilens village, take the train to Vleuten, then bus 111 to Kasteel de Haar). 10:00-17:00 (last admittance 16:00); Guided bedroom tours start. Castle €14.00; + bedroom tour €17.50; park only €4.
- IJsselstein has a small attractive old town centre located near Binnenstad station along tram line 21 from Utrecht Centraal Station.
- Amersfoort has a medieval centre, and is a fifteen-minute train ride from Utrecht.
- 's-Hertogenbosch (commonly known as Den Bosch) has a preserved medieval centre, and is a half-hour train ride from Utrecht.
- Vechtstreek — a region along the river Vecht famous for its magnificent 17th and 18th-century estates
- Soest (Netherlands) — home to the biggest dune area in Utrecht
- Soesterberg — home to the Dutch national air force museum
- Wijk bij Duurstede — a typically old Dutch town on the Rhine river; dikes galore!
- Rhenen — played a key-role in the World War II Grebbelinie defense. Beautiful forests and a great zoo
- Rhijnauwen — take a walk in the forests between the Uithof and Bunnik
|Routes through Utrecht|
|Amsterdam ← Vechtstreek ←||N S||→ Culemborg → Maastricht|
|The Hague ← Woerden ←||W E||→ Veenendaal → Arnhem|
|Almere ← Hilversum ←||N S||→ Gorinchem → Breda|
|END ←||S N||→ Amersfoort → Groningen|