Monday, April 22, 2013

A sunny Saturday in Utrecht

Having said for ages that we must visit Utrecht, finally last Saturday we finally did. Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth-largest city and home to its largest university, is about 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal Station. It is also historically a Dutch religious center. The Dom Tower is a 368-foot church tower in the city center, from the top of which Amsterdam is visible on a clear day. A 17th-century storm destroyed part of the church while still under construction, and now the tower stands separated from the rest of the church.

the Dom Tower

Utrecht was a very prosperous city in the 16th and 17th centuries when many of the impressive canalside houses were built. These houses are a characteristic feature of the town city which is compact, easily explorable on foot making it an idea daytrip destination.

The streets around the old town centre are a delight to wander round, full of quaint and quirky independent shops. The railings around the canals as in all Dutch cities are piled deep with bicycles on a busy Saturday afternoon. Watch out for cyclists, as in Amsterdam they tend to forget that tourists might not be that quick to step out of the way.


The Oudegracht (old canal) represented a vital transport route for the economy of Utrecht in the 13th century. When the water level fell, cellars were built along the wharves which were used as warehouses or workshops. These days some of them are house cafes and restaurants. We've now visited quite a few of the lovely Dutch cities such as Maastricht, Delft and Leiden and both agreed that Utrecht is one of our favourites. Not really big enough to be a destination for a city break but definitely worth a visit if you are closeby in Amsterdam.