Things to do, see and experience in Utrecht
The imposing Dom Tower looms large over Utrecht, dominating the skyline and commanding the view from anywhere in the city. The Dom Tower is more than a sight, however. It holds the history of this prominent city within its walls and in the ground beneath it, thanks to DOMunder, an underground exhibition showcasing the Roman fortification that once stood there.
Rietveld Schröder House
The Rietveld Schröder House seems a bit out of place alongside the narrow brick buildings that typify Dutch cities, but it is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Designed by renowned Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for (and with) socialite Truus Schröder-Schräder, the building epitomises the De Stijl art movement.
Canals of Utrecht
Some would argue that the canals in Utrecht rival those in the Dutch capital, thanks to their unique construction. In the 13th century, already 100 years since the Oudegracht was built, wharves and wharf cellars were constructed along the canals to provide two levels of space for storage; now, they provide double the space for restaurant and café terraces.
Centraal Museum Utrecht
There are dozens of museums in Utrecht, but the Centraal Museum is one of the most well-known. It houses a prized collection of work by Rietveld, as well as the design studio of famous Dutch author and illustrator Dick Bruna.
The botanical gardens of the Oude Hortus, once part of Utrecht University, is an oasis of exotic plants just a short walk from the city centre. While wandering through the gardens – divided into a cottage garden and medicinal garden – you can tour the greenhouses, see a 250-year-old ginkgo tree, and have a cup of coffee in the aptly-name Ginkgo café.
Family-friendly activities in Utrecht
Located just across the street from the Centraal Museum, the Miffy Museum is where the famous little rabbit – and children’s imagination – comes to life. Known as 'Nijntje' in Dutch, the children’s book character and her friends help little ones learn to interact with the world throughout ten rooms. Close enough for little legs to walk to from the Miffy Museum is Het Spoorwegmuseum (Railway Museum) where kids and adults alike can discover the wonders of the Dutch railway system, with real trains through the ages and tons of interactive attractions. Kids can interact with exhibits, ride a mini train and learn all about the rails. A short trip out of town, the nearby De Haar Castle invites visitors to take a trip back in time with the kids to see how kings, queens, knights and ladies lived at this quintessentially medieval castle. Tour the castle grounds with the kids – but don’t let them get lost in the maze!
Where to shop in Utrecht
Head to Hoog Catharijne, often regarded as one of the largest indoor shopping malls in the Netherlands, to shop at over 150 stores from Dutch and international brands. Or walk the streets around the city centre and the Oudegracht for boutique shops.
How to get to Utrecht
Direct trains run almost every 10 to 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, making it one of the most accessible cities for a day trip.
Looking for more excursions outside the city? Check out these other day trips from Amsterdam.