Utrecht is one of our favourite cities in The Netherlands because it is strategically located in the center of the country. The Schiphol Airport and other major cities i.e. Amsterdam Central, Leiden, Haarlem, The Hague, Eindhoven and Deventer, they are all reachable under an hour or slightly lesser than an hour from Utrecht Central. Therefore it is an ideal place for a short weekend getaway and what not when Amsterdam is so fully-booked.
Just like Amsterdam, Utrecht is a canal city and the liveliness is comparable with the capital and of course with much more lesser tourists. Due to the number of international students and employees in Utrecht, you may find it not too difficult to explore this city without speaking Dutch. So, a nice combination of the local vibe with an international touch.
There are so many good things that we would like to write about this pretty city and let’s start from the Utrecht Centraal Station itself. It has been recently renovated and it is now huge, bright, new and modern looking complex packed with 3 floors of shopping spree like tenants i.e clothes, shoes, pharmacies, food; and the cinema is located at the next building near the station. It gives you a feeling of being in Singapore where once you step out from the train, there are so many amenities available indoor within the station.
Once you’re out of the station towards the direction of the (old) city center, it gives you a totally different feeling again when you feel that you’re back to The Netherlands. Cobbled and narrow streets of shops and restaurants, flemish architectures, a view of fresh market that opens every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and some Sunday mornings and also a prominent view of the highest church in The Netherlands, Dom Church.
Getting a bird-eye view of the city is possible at the tower of the Dom Church, tickets are available at the Tourist Info Counter (VVV) near the square of the church.
There is a hidden monastery garden located just outside of the Dom Church, named Pandhof Garden filled with flowers and herbs. A well maintained idyllic place for taking a quiet moment to admire the beauty of nature. We managed to catch a sight of the myth vs. reality black tulips during early spring, end of April.
Canals in the city of Utrecht look wider to us and slightly greener as compared to Amsterdam canals due to the number of trees at the banks. What is similar will be then the number of bicycles parked at the canal bridges.
If you have not heard about it yet, the famous cartoon character Miffy is originated from Utrecht, Netherlands. If you’re a fan of Miffy, there is a museum but their tickets sell fast, be early for the tickets or buy in advance if that is possible.
Utrecht has its own charm, enough to see for a day or two. We definitely recommend this city if you’re looking for a city break to another pretty city like Utrecht.