Best things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands

Historic Center - Utrecht, Netherlands

Hello, there fellow travelers! Today we are going to talk about Utrecht, a beautiful city and a great destination for anyone interested in history, art, architecture, or outdoor activities. The city is home to some of the country’s most iconic attractions, including the Domtoren, St. Martin’s Cathedral, and the De Haar Castle. This travel guide with the best things to do in Utrecht is designed to help you make the most of your trip to this beautiful city. We’ll provide you with all the information you need to plan your visit, from how to get there and where to stay to the best things to see and do while you’re in town. So whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, read on to discover why Utrecht is worth visiting and why this Utrecht travel guide is your go-to resource for all things Utrecht!



How to get to Utrecht

Utrecht is easily accessible by train, plane, or car as the city is well-connected to other parts of the Netherlands and Europe. However, the most popular way to reach Utrecht is by train, with regular services from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and other major cities.

If you’re flying into the Netherlands, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is the closest major airport to Utrecht. From the airport, you can take a train directly to Utrecht Central Station, which takes around 30 minutes and costs approximately €9.00.

If you’re driving to Utrecht, the city is easily accessible by car, with major highways connecting it to other parts of the Netherlands and Europe. However, it’s worth noting that driving in Utrecht’s city center can be challenging, with limited parking and many one-way streets.

If you’re planning to travel to Amsterdam from Utrecht, you can take a train from Utrecht Central Station. Trains run regularly and take around 20-30 minutes, with tickets costing approximately €9.00. The Utrecht to Amsterdam train time varies depending on the time of day, but there are frequent services throughout the day.


REnting a car

One of the best ways to explore the most important places in the Netherlands is by renting a car. There are a lot of international companies that operate in the country and a lot of different options that match your needs.


Best things to do in Utrecht

If you’re planning a trip to Utrecht, you’ll be happy to know that there is no shortage of things to do in this vibrant Dutch city. From exploring historic landmarks to enjoying scenic canal tours, Utrecht has something to offer every kind of traveler. We created a travel map of Utrecht for you to help you organize your itinerary. 


1. St. Martin's Cathedral

St. Martin's Cathedral - Utrecht, Netherlands

St. Martin’s Cathedral, also known as Dom Church, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Utrecht and it is located in the heart of Utrecht’s historic city center. The cathedral dates back to the 13th century and features a stunning Gothic architectural style. Visitors can explore the interior of the cathedral and admire the impressive stained glass windows, intricate stone carvings, and soaring vaulted ceilings. You can also climb the cathedral tower, which is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, for panoramic views of the city.

It is easily accessible on foot or by bike from anywhere in the city center. If you are arriving by public transportation, the nearest bus stop is Janskerkhof, which is a 5-minute walk from the cathedral. 


2. Domtoren: The Cathedral Tower

The Domtoren or the Cathedral Tower is located in the heart of Utrecht’s historic city center, and it is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, standing at 112 meters high, and is one of the most iconic landmarks of Utrecht. While you are there, you can climb the tower to the top, which offers a panoramic view of the city. The climb to the top of the tower is an adventure in itself, as you will pass by the bells and the carillon on your way up.

Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the city, with its picturesque canals, historic buildings, and green parks. On a clear day, you can even see Amsterdam in the distance. There is also a small exhibition at the top of the tower that showcases the history of the Domtoren and the city of Utrecht.

Travel tips for visiting the Domtoren:

  • It’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance to avoid the long lines that can form, particularly during the peak tourist season.
  • The climb to the top of the tower is quite steep and may not be suitable for those with mobility issues or a fear of heights.
  • The tower can be particularly busy during the weekends, so it’s best to visit on a weekday if possible.
  • There are guided tours available that offer a more in-depth exploration of the tower’s history and architecture.
  • Photography is allowed at the top of the tower, so don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views of the city.


Things to to DO Utrecht

There are a lot of guided tours with experienced guides that will help you know the history and the culture of this iconic city. 


3. Oudegracht

Oudegracht - Utrecht Netherlands

The Oudegracht is one of the most picturesque parts of Utrecht, known for its charming wharf cellars and vibrant cafes and restaurants. In order to experience in full the Oudergrtacht, we suggest you take a stroll and enjoy the picturesque bridges and historic buildings lining the waterway. Another way to explore this scenic spot is by taking a boat tour

The Oudegracht is located in the heart of Utrecht, making it easily accessible by foot, bike, or public transportation. If you’re arriving by train, it’s a short walk from Utrecht Central Station to the city center.


4. Wander Utrecht’s Historic City Centre

Historic Center - Utrecht, Netherlands

Wandering through Utrecht’s Historic City Centre is a must-do activity. The city centre is filled with beautiful canals, charming alleyways, and historical buildings. You can start your walking tour at the Domplein, where you can see the Dom Tower and the remains of the once-great Dom Cathedral. From there, you can head towards the Oudegracht, which is one of the most picturesque canals in Utrecht. Be sure to stop and take a look at the Weerdsluis, a lock that connects the Oudegracht to the Vecht River.

As you wander through the city centre, you’ll come across many interesting sights such as the Stadhuis, a beautiful Gothic-style town hall; the Winkel van Sinkel, a former department store turned cultural centre; and the Pandhof Sinte Marie, a peaceful courtyard garden hidden behind the Cathedral.

If you're visiting during the summer months, bring a hat and sunscreen, as it can get quite hot in the city centre.

5. Wander around Cathedral Square and DOMUnder

Cathedral Square is one of the most popular areas in Utrecht, and for good reason. It is located in the heart of the city and is home to some of Utrecht’s most iconic landmarks, including St. Martin’s Cathedral and the DOMUnder. The DOMUnder is a unique attraction that takes you on an underground journey through Utrecht’s history, from the Roman Empire to modern times. With interactive exhibits and multimedia displays, the DOMUnder is a fascinating way to learn about the city’s past.

After exploring the cathedral and the DOMUnder, take some time to wander around the square itself. Admire the historic buildings and enjoy a cafe in one of the sidewalk alleys.


6. De Haar Castle

Day trip to Kasteel de Haar - Netherlands

De Haar Castle is a medieval castle located just outside of Utrecht. It is the largest and most luxurious castle in the Netherlands, featuring beautiful gardens and rich history.  While you are there, you can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its fascinating history and see its beautiful interiors, including the grand hall, dining room, and library. The castle is filled with priceless art, antiques, and other treasures that give a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the castle’s former owners.

Additionally, you can take a stroll through the Gardens where you can easily spend hours exploring the different areas, including the rose garden, maze, and Chinese garden. De Haar Castle hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and outdoor theater performances. Last but not least, you can visit the castle’s Chapel.

De Haar Castle is located just outside of Utrecht and is easily accessible by car or public transportation. If traveling by train, take the train from Utrecht Central Station to Vleuten Station, and then take a bus to the castle.


De Haar Castle Tickets

The castle is open to visitors year-round, with slightly different hours depending on the season. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the castle’s ticket office on the day of your visit. 


7. Visit Museum Speelklok

The Museum Speelklok houses a collection of self-playing musical instruments. While you are there, you can explore a vast collection of self-playing musical instruments that date back to the 16th century. In addition, you can see and hear everything from mechanical organs, musical clocks, and other self-playing instruments. There are also interactive exhibits that allow visitors to learn about the history and mechanics of these fascinating instruments. The museum also features temporary exhibitions, events, and concerts.

The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Admission to the museum is €16.00 for adults and €9.00 for children aged 4 to 12. Children under 4 are free. Discounts are available for groups, students, and seniors. You can purchase an audio guide for an additional fee to enhance your experience. The museum is wheelchair accessible.

8. Kayak Utrecht Canals

Canal kayak - Utrecht, Netherlands

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Utrecht is by kayaking its picturesque canals. It’s a fun and unique way to see the city from a different perspective, and you’ll get to explore parts of the city that you might not otherwise see. There are a few different kayak rental companies in Utrecht, and many of them offer guided tours as well as self-guided rentals. Some popular routes include paddling through the city center and past historical buildings like the Dom Tower and Oudegracht or heading out to the countryside to see more of the natural beauty of the region.

One highly recommended tour is the Utrecht Canal Tour, which takes you through the heart of the city and past iconic landmarks like the Dom Tower and the historic wharf cellars. You’ll learn about the history of Utrecht and its canals, as well as some fun facts about the city’s past and present.

Travel tips for renting a kayak in Utrecht:

  • Some rental companies offer discounts for early morning or late afternoon rentals, so it’s worth checking if you’re on a budget.
  • If you’re not an experienced kayaker, it’s a good idea to stick to the guided tours, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area or the water conditions.
  • Keep an eye out for other boats and water traffic, especially in busier areas of the canals.


9. Railway Museum

Railway Museum - Utrecht, Netherlands

The Railway Museum offers a glimpse into the fascinating history of trains and railways in the Netherlands. One of the most popular attractions is the Great Discovery, a hands-on exhibit where visitors can experience what it was like to be a passenger on a steam train. You can also take a ride on a real steam train or visit the Royal Waiting Room, which has been beautifully restored to its original glory.

Another highlight is Museum Square, where you can see a wide range of locomotives, carriages, and engines from different eras. The museum also has a range of interactive exhibits, including a train simulator and a display on the construction of the Dutch railway system.


10. Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens is home to over 12,000 different plants from all over the world, making it a fascinating and educational attraction for travelers of all ages. It is a vast and beautiful park that offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Here are some of the top things to do and see:

  • Visit the rock garden: The rock garden is a beautiful section of the Botanic Gardens that features a variety of plants that grow in rocky areas. The garden is particularly stunning in the spring when the alpine plants bloom.
  • Relax in the Japanese Garden: The Japanese Garden is a tranquil oasis that provides a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The garden features a pond, a bridge, and traditional Japanese plants and architecture.

The Botanic Gardens is open every day of the year, so there’s no need to worry about scheduling your visit around holidays or closures. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out, where you can purchase souvenirs and books on plants and gardening.

The Botanic Gardens is located within walking distance of the city center, or you can take public transportation or a bike to get there. Admission to the Botanic Gardens is €9 for adults and €4 for children aged 5-12. Children under 5 are free.

11. Take a free walking tour

One of the best ways to experience Utrecht is by taking a walking tour. There are many options for walking tours in Utrecht, including paid tours and free tours. A free walking tour is a great way to explore Utrecht’s historic center while learning about the city’s history, architecture, and culture. You can join a group of other travelers and a knowledgeable guide to visit popular sites such as Domplein, the canals, and the Dom Tower. You’ll also get to see hidden gems and hear interesting stories about the city’s past and present.

One of the most popular free walking tours in Utrecht is the “Utrecht Free Walking Tour.” This tour lasts around 2.5 hours and covers the main sights of the city, including the Dom Tower, the canals, and the historic city center. You’ll also learn about Utrecht’s history, architecture, and culture from a local guide. Another option is “Utrecht: Secrets & Hidden Gems,” which takes you off the beaten path to discover Utrecht’s lesser-known sites.


12. Stroll in the street markets

Utrecht is a city that’s brimming with markets, and they’re a great place to go if you’re looking for bargains or a unique shopping experience. Many of the markets in Utrecht are known for their bargains, but the prices aren’t always set in stone. If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price.

The best streets markets in Utrecht are:



This is Utrecht’s most famous fabric market, held on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm. Here, you’ll find a huge variety of fabrics, including vintage prints and high-quality materials. Even if you’re not in the market for fabric, it’s worth a visit just to soak up the vibrant atmosphere.



This colorful flower market is held on Janskerkhof every Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm. You’ll find a wide range of flowers and plants here, from the exotic to the traditional.

Vredenburg market

Held on the first Sunday of every month from April through October, this antique and vintage market is the perfect place to find unique treasures. It’s located in the beautiful Mariaplaats square, which is worth a visit in its own right.


Brocante markt:

Held on the first Sunday of every month from April through October, this antique and vintage market is the perfect place to find unique treasures. It’s located in the beautiful Mariaplaats square, which is worth a visit in its own right.


Bring cash: While some vendors may accept credit cards, it's always a good idea to have cash on hand just in case.

13. TivoliVredenburg

TivoliVredenburg is a popular music venue in Utrecht, known for its diverse range of performances and unique architecture. TivoliVredenburg hosts a variety of concerts, festivals, and events throughout the year, ranging from pop and rock to classical and jazz.  In addition to the concerts, TivoliVredenburg also offers a range of bars and restaurants, making it a popular spot for a night out. The rooftop bar provides stunning views of the city, and the restaurant serves up delicious food using locally sourced ingredients.


14. Lepelenburg park

Lepelenburg park is a peaceful green oasis located in the heart of Utrecht. The park is an excellent spot for a picnic with friends and family. There are also two playgrounds one for younger children and another for older kids. The playgrounds have swings, slides, climbing structures, and other fun equipment. In the summer, the park hosts several outdoor concerts and events, including the Utrechtse Fabriekmarkt, a popular artisan market.


15. Visit Rietveld Schröder House

The Rietveld Schröder House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most unique architectural wonders in the world. It was designed by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld in 1924 and was the first building ever to be designed completely in the style of De Stijl, an art movement that was popular in the Netherlands at the time. The Rietveld Schröder House is a small, two-story building that looks deceptively simple from the outside. Inside, however, it is a marvel of modern design. The house features movable walls and partitions, which can be used to create different rooms and configurations depending on the needs of the inhabitants. 

It’s important to note that access to the Rietveld Schröder House is by guided tour only, and tours must be booked in advance. The tour takes about an hour and is available in English and Dutch. You will need to wear slippers provided by the museum in order to protect the floors of the house.


16. Visit the Central Museum

The Central Museum, founded in 1838 and has an impressive collection of over 50,000 objects, including works of art, historical artifacts, and archaeological treasures. It contains a diverse range of collections, spanning from medieval art to contemporary design. While you are there, you can explore the galleries to view a vast array of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum is home to many famous Dutch artists, such as Jan van Scorel, Hendrick ter Brugghen, and Joachim Wtewael.

One of the museum’s highlights is its collection of works by the Dutch artist Dick Bruna, who created the beloved children’s character Miffy. The Bruna collection includes illustrations, books, and other Miffy-related items, making it a hit with younger visitors.

The museum is open every day except Monday, from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission to the Central Museum is €14 for adults, €5 for children aged 13-17, and free for children under 12. The museum offers free guided tours on weekends, which are a great way to learn more about the collections and the building’s history.

17. Day trip to Amsterdam

Utrecht is located just about 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam, making it an ideal base for a day trip to the Dutch capital. Trains run frequently and take about 20-30 minutes. You can buy tickets at the train station, but it’s best to purchase them in advance online or using a mobile app to avoid lines and ensure availability.

With only one day in Amsterdam, it’s best to plan your itinerary ahead of time to make the most of your time. You could start with a canal tour or visit one of the city’s major attractions, such as the Rijksmuseum or Anne Frank House, and then explore some of the city’s neighborhoods, like the Jordaan or De Pijp. Make sure to leave enough time to try some Dutch cuisine and perhaps do some shopping or people-watching.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Utrecht largely depends on what you want to do and see while you are there. Utrecht has a moderate climate with mild temperatures and rainfall throughout the year. The peak tourist season is during the summer months of June, July, and August when the weather is typically warm and sunny. However, this also means that the city is crowded with tourists, and prices for accommodation and activities are likely to be higher.

If you prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, the best time to visit Utrecht is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). During these times, the weather is still pleasant, and you can enjoy Utrecht’s outdoor attractions without feeling too hot or too cold. The city is also less crowded, so you can enjoy a more peaceful and relaxed visit. Additionally, you may find better deals on accommodation and activities during these times.


Where to stay

Utrecht offers a wide range of accommodation options for travelers, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Some popular areas to stay in Utrecht include:

City Center: The heart of Utrecht offers many options for accommodation, ranging from budget to luxury hotels. Staying in the city center provides easy access to many of Utrecht’s attractions, including the Dom Tower and the Oudegracht canal.

Museum Quarter: This area is located just east of the city center and is home to several museums, including the Centraal Museum and the Rietveld Schröder House. There are also many restaurants and cafes in the area.

Neude: Neude is a lively square in the center of Utrecht that offers many dining and shopping options. It’s also a convenient location for exploring the city, with easy access to public transportation.

Lombok: Located just west of the city center, Lombok is a multicultural neighborhood that offers a variety of restaurants and shops. It’s also close to several parks, including the Majellapark and Park Oog in Al.

Overvecht: This area is located north of the city center and is a good option for those on a budget. There are several budget-friendly hotels and hostels in the area, and it’s also close to several parks and shopping centers.


Travel costs

The cost of travel in Utrecht will depend on several factors such as the mode of transportation, time of year, and your personal travel style. Here are some estimated costs for various travel expenses in Utrecht.


The cost of accommodation in Utrecht will vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose and its location. A budget hotel or hostel can cost between €30 to €100 per night, while a mid-range hotel can cost between €80 to €200 per night.


Utrecht is a relatively small city and can easily be explored on foot or by bike. However, if you need to use public transport, a single trip on a bus or tram costs €2.30. If you plan to use public transport frequently, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a multi-day ticket. A 24-hour ticket costs €7.50, while a 48-hour ticket costs €12.50.


Utrecht has a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars that cater to different budgets. A budget meal at a fast-food restaurant or cafe can cost between €5 to €10, while a mid-range restaurant can cost between €15 to €30 per person. A beer or glass of wine in a bar or restaurant typically costs between €3 to €6.


Many of Utrecht’s attractions such as the Dom Tower, museums, and city tours have admission fees. The cost of admission varies depending on the attraction, with prices ranging from €5 to €20 per person. However, there are also many free things to do in Utrecht such as exploring the city’s parks and markets.


Utrecht on a budget

Here are some tips for traveling to Utrecht on a budget:

Choose affordable accommodation: Utrecht offers a variety of budget-friendly accommodation options such as hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels. Consider staying in one of these types of accommodations to save on costs. By following these tips, you can enjoy a budget-friendly trip to Utrecht without sacrificing experiences.

Use public transportation: Utrecht has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses and trams. Purchase a rechargeable OV-chipkaart to save on transportation costs.

Eat like a local: Utrecht is known for its street food, such as stroopwafels and bitterballen, which are delicious and affordable. Look for local markets, street vendors, and small cafes to try local cuisine.

Free attractions: Utrecht has many free attractions such as the Botanic Gardens, the Dom Church, and the Lepelenburg Park. Take advantage of these free attractions and also try a free walking tour which is a nice and free way to explore the city.

Rent a bike: Renting a bike is an affordable and fun way to explore Utrecht. There are many bike rental shops throughout the city, and Utrecht has many bike paths and routes.

Plan ahead: Research and plan ahead for your trip to Utrecht. Look for deals on flights and accommodations, and plan your itinerary to maximize your time and budget.


Getting around Utrecht

Utrecht is a compact city and can easily be explored on foot or by bike. However, if you prefer to use public transportation, there are several options available.

Bus: Utrecht has an extensive bus network with multiple bus stops located throughout the city. You can purchase bus tickets at the bus stop or use a contactless payment method.

Tram: The Utrecht tram system connects the city center with nearby neighborhoods and suburbs. Trams run every 10-15 minutes and offer a convenient and efficient way to get around.

Train: Utrecht is also well-connected to other cities in the Netherlands by train. The Utrecht Centraal Station is a major transportation hub and serves as the main train station for the city. From there, you can take a train to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and other destinations.

Bike: Biking is a popular mode of transportation in Utrecht and the city has an extensive network of bike paths. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops located throughout the city.

Walk: Utrecht is a very walkable city and many of the main attractions are located within a short distance of each other. Walking is a great way to explore the city and get a feel for its unique character.

Rent a car: A car is not required to explore the city but it is a nice-to-have if you want to explore the surrounding area.



The easiest way to explore Keukenhof is by booking an organized tour from Amsterdam. There are a lot of available tours on GetYourGuide. 


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