Utrecht travel guide

Utrecht Tourism | Utrecht Guide

You're Going to Love Utrecht

Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of more than 300,000. It has a large student population and is known for its exciting nightlife. It is also a city with beautiful architecture and a long history, dating back to Roman times.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Utrecht

1. The Nightlife

Head to Janskerkhof Square or Oudkerkhof for the best clubs in the city.

2. Canal Bikes

Rent a canal bike to pedal around the city's canals and gain a unique perspective on Utrecht.

3. Go Walking

You can buy a map of walking routes for EUR3 at the tourist information center. These will guide you through the best of the city, explaining its history, and lead you to some hidden beauty spots.

4.See the Trajectum Lumen

The Trajectum Lumen is a series of artistically lit city locations which makes an evening stroll through Utrecht particularly enjoyable.

5. Climb the Dom Tower

The Dom Tower dates from the 13th century and you can climb 112 meters to the top for some stunning views of the city.

What to do in Utrecht

1. Escape Into Art

Located in the popular Museum Quarter, Centraal Museum is the oldest art museum in the Netherlands, hosting many permanent and rotating exhibits. The museum was created in 1838, and today focuses mainly on pieces from local artists. This includes a large collection of Rietveld designs and a permanent installation by Dick Bruna. There are also several speaker series, workshops, and short films that are shown on site, so its worth your while to check out the museum's calendar of events before visiting.

2. Embrace The Finer Things

Treat yourself to a royal countryside retreat at De Haar Castle, northwest of Utrecht. The original castle dates back to the 13th century, but most of the building you see today underwent a Neo-Gothic restoration in the late 19th century. Inside you'll find ornate woodcarvings, rare works of art, and lavishly rich textiles. The gardens were also restored to their original glory after much destruction in World War 2, and have fountain paths and curated paths similar to those at the Palace of Versailles. Until 2000, De Haar castle was owned by the prestigious Van Zuylen family, but has since been handed over to governmental museum conservationists.

3. Hallowed Ground

St. Martins Cathedral, otherwise referred to as Dom Church, has been the central point of worship for Dutch protestants since the 15th century. Over the years it has been repeatedly damaged by fires and faulty building, though it's pre-reformation Gothic architecture continues to attract visitors. The cathedral is especially welcoming on Saturday afternoons, when vocalists and musicians join together to make the calm and universally appealing Zaterdagmiddagmuziek. These weekend concert sessions are free to the public, and offer a great way to feel part of the larger city community. Fun travel tip: try climbing to the top of Dom Tower, 112 meters high, for some incredible views of Utrecht.

4. Feel The Rhythm

Spend a night on the town and enjoy a performance at the newly minted TivoliVrendenburg contemporary music hall. The venue has superb acoustics and pop, jazz, and classical music concerts are held regularly. To give exposure to local talent, there is also a stage for amateur performances. The TivoliVrendenburg welcomes both domestic and internationally acclaimed artists to share their work, making it a sought-out venue for top tier entertainment in Utrecht.

5. Gateway To A Green World

Established in 1636, Utrecht University is one of the oldest in the Netherlands. It has large research laboratories and offers many different fields of study. The gardens associated with the university are situated in two different locations; the main garden at Fort Hoofddijk in Uithof and the Von Gimborn Arboretum in Doorn. Depending on the location, you will find bee hotels, tropical greenhouses, rock gardens and more within this green haven. The Utrecht University Botanical Gardens serve a dual purpose of conducting research for natural sustainability and biodiversity, as well as providing a recreational outlet for visitors to enjoy the plants.

1. Escape Into Art

Located in the popular Museum Quarter, Centraal Museum is the oldest art museum in the Netherlands, hosting many permanent and rotating exhibits. The museum was created in 1838, and today focuses mainly on pieces from local artists. This includes a large collection of Rietveld designs and a permanent installation by Dick Bruna. There are also several speaker series, workshops, and short films that are shown on site, so its worth your while to check out the museum's calendar of events before visiting.

2. Embrace The Finer Things

Treat yourself to a royal countryside retreat at De Haar Castle, northwest of Utrecht. The original castle dates back to the 13th century, but most of the building you see today underwent a Neo-Gothic restoration in the late 19th century. Inside you'll find ornate woodcarvings, rare works of art, and lavishly rich textiles. The gardens were also restored to their original glory after much destruction in World War 2, and have fountain paths and curated paths similar to those at the Palace of Versailles. Until 2000, De Haar castle was owned by the prestigious Van Zuylen family, but has since been handed over to governmental museum conservationists.

3. Hallowed Ground

St. Martins Cathedral, otherwise referred to as Dom Church, has been the central point of worship for Dutch protestants since the 15th century. Over the years it has been repeatedly damaged by fires and faulty building, though it's pre-reformation Gothic architecture continues to attract visitors. The cathedral is especially welcoming on Saturday afternoons, when vocalists and musicians join together to make the calm and universally appealing Zaterdagmiddagmuziek. These weekend concert sessions are free to the public, and offer a great way to feel part of the larger city community. Fun travel tip: try climbing to the top of Dom Tower, 112 meters high, for some incredible views of Utrecht.

4. Feel The Rhythm

Spend a night on the town and enjoy a performance at the newly minted TivoliVrendenburg contemporary music hall. The venue has superb acoustics and pop, jazz, and classical music concerts are held regularly. To give exposure to local talent, there is also a stage for amateur performances. The TivoliVrendenburg welcomes both domestic and internationally acclaimed artists to share their work, making it a sought-out venue for top tier entertainment in Utrecht.

5. Gateway To A Green World

Established in 1636, Utrecht University is one of the oldest in the Netherlands. It has large research laboratories and offers many different fields of study. The gardens associated with the university are situated in two different locations; the main garden at Fort Hoofddijk in Uithof and the Von Gimborn Arboretum in Doorn. Depending on the location, you will find bee hotels, tropical greenhouses, rock gardens and more within this green haven. The Utrecht University Botanical Gardens serve a dual purpose of conducting research for natural sustainability and biodiversity, as well as providing a recreational outlet for visitors to enjoy the plants.

Where to Eat in Utrecht

Try the traditional Dutch pancakes at De Oude Muntkelder on Oude Gracht. Mains are around EUR10. Florent on Visschersplein is a stylish restaurant serving modern European food with mains from EUR15.

When to visit Utrecht

Utrecht in March
Estimated hotel price
$146
1 night at 3-star hotel
Utrecht in March
Estimated hotel price
$146
1 night at 3-star hotel

A mild European climate makes Utrecht a great all year round destination. The weather is warmest between June and September but can get chilly - and many out-of-town attractions can be closed - between November and March.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Utrecht

Plane

Utrecht's nearest airport is Schipol at Amsterdam. A high speed rail link leaves every 30 minutes from the airport and the 30 minute journey costs EUR8. An airport cab will cost around EUR100 but a pre-booked taxi can be as low as EUR50.

Train

Utrecht is at the center of the Dutch rail network and has excellent connections. An express fare to Amsterdam will cost from EUR8.

Car

Utrecht is centrally located in the Netherlands and has good road links west to The Hague on the A12, North to Amsterdam on the A2 and South to Eindhoven, also on the A2. The A1 runs to the east of the country.

Bus

The city bus station, Busstation CS Centrumzijde, is next to the train station and has good regional connections. A pre-booked bus from Amsterdam can cost as little as EUR7.

Airlines serving Utrecht

Lufthansa
Good (1,339 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (2,453 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,892 reviews)
KLM
Good (293 reviews)
Air France
Good (289 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,059 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,641 reviews)
British Airways
Good (918 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (344 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (915 reviews)
Iberia
Good (640 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (613 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (648 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (195 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (360 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (74 reviews)
Ryanair
Good (1,142 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (298 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (198 reviews)
Finnair
Good (433 reviews)
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Where to stay in Utrecht

Hostel Strowis on Boothstraat is a good central option with dorm beds from EUR15.50. Grand Hotel Karel V on Geertebolwerk is a five star luxury hotel with rooms from EUR200.

Popular neighbourhoods in Utrecht

Ijisselstei - is perfect for those seeking a quieter location. It is close to the Loosdrechtse Plassen lakes and has some excellent hiking trails nearby.

The Old Town - has excellent architecture, restaurants and bars and is great for exploring the city on foot.

Leidsche Rij - is an up and coming new neighborhood with good transport links to the city center.

Most popular hotel in Utrecht by neighbourhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Utrecht

Most booked hotels in Utrecht

Carlton President
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
$151+
NH Utrecht
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$152+
NH Centre Utrecht
Good (7.8, Good reviews)
$154+
Leonardo Hotel Utrecht City Center
Good (7.7, Good reviews)
$149+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Utrecht

Public Transportation

Utrecht is easily explored on foot but also has an extensive bus network with fares from EUR2.70.

Taxi

Taxis are reliable, if a little expensive. The starting fare is EUR7 and you will then pay EUR3 per mile.

Car

Driving in Utrecht is not recommended. City planners have designed the city with many pedestrian zones, one-way streets and bus lanes. Parking is expensive. Car rental will cost around EUR80 per day.

The Cost of Living in Utrecht

Shopping Streets

You will find the best shopping around Neude, Oudegracht and Vredeburg. Hoog Catharijne is a large mall at the train station, where you can find lots of fashion, electrical and homeware stores.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk in Utrecht will cost EUR0.88 and a loaf of bread EUR1.20.

Cheap meal
$28.32
A pair of jeans
$151.49
Single public transport ticket
$4.44
Cappuccino
$4.75