Utrecht is a city just north of Amsterdam. I’d heard that it was the Dutch version of my beautiful University town of Exeter in Devon, so I couldn’t miss the chance of a day trip from Amsterdam to visit and compare.
Utrecht can be found in the centre of the Netherlands. It has a medieval old town, which is beautiful to wander through and canals aplenty. Some of these are split level meaning that you can get right down to the waters edge and enjoy the city from a different angle. You’ll notice a number of Christian monuments dotted throughout Utrecht as it has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century and remains so today. Utrecht is also home to the largest university in the Netherlands – Utrecht University – with a population of around 40,000 students (according to Wikipedia) making it a vibrant place to visit.
How to get to Utrecht from Amsterdam
Utrecht is only a stones throw away from Amsterdam taking roughly twenty-five minutes on the train. As I was staying around Amsterdam-Zuid that is the station that I started from and a return ticket was around the €15 mark.
Things to do in Utrecht
If you enjoy walking and exploring then Utrecht is a great place to visit. Every road you turn down is more enchanting than the last. You’ll find yourself chasing the chimes of church bells which draw you towards more splendid buildings. We found this city mesmerising and walked round for hours completely and utterly content.
Aside from getting your Fitbit steps up walking around the city, you can climb the iconic Domtoren, a 14th-century bell tower which stands opposite the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin on central Domplein square. From here you get beautiful views of the city.
You can also rent a pedalo and view the city via its canal rings on the water. We didn’t do this as the boyfriend does not trust me on water after an incident in a rowing boat in Stratford Upon Avon many years ago. However we saw loads of people enjoying themselves of their pedalos. The company that people were using was called Stomma and you can find more information here.
Where to eat in Utrecht
We went to a restaurant which happened to be a chain in Utrecht called Gys. It had a mix of vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes which were all clearly labelled on their menu. I had their tempeh salad with a side of vegan nachos. You can read a full review on my blog here.
In the afternoon we went to a restaurant called Keek that had a number of vegan cakes including a vegan apple pie. I was too excited for words as I’d seen people eating them in cafes that morning and as usual had decided that that was the thing that I was going to leave here having tried. It was absolutely delicious. The apples were naturally sweet making me think that they’d used red apples rather than green like we do in the UK and a load of cinnamon. The “pastry” was lovely and tasted more like a hobnob biscuit. If you visit Utrecht then be sure to head to Keek. They have a walk in bakery of sorts and a cafe fairly close by to each other.
I thoroughly enjoyed pottering around Utrecht. If you have a few extra days in Amsterdam then it’s definitely worth a day trip when it’s less than half an hour away by train. You’ll still find canals with restaurants aplenty bordering them but there’s a completely different feel. I found it more chilled and laid back, so if you’ve been a bit adventurous shall we say in Amsterdam, then this is a good place to wind down. Although remember it’s still a student town, so perhaps not completely.