Things to do in Utrecht – Utrecht is a beautiful compact city, ideal for walking and biking. The city center is divided into six districts the Domkwartier, Museumkwartier, Vredenburgkwartier, Stadhuiskwartier, Maliekwartier, and Universiteitkwartier.
Map of the city center of Utrecht
The Domtoren, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands is the pride and joy of Utrecht. The Domtoren can be seen throughout the city and from the surrounding countryside. In the historic city center, no building can be taller. We are quite pleased that the Domtoren can be seen from the “Zolder” window of our house. Listen to the quarterly bells and carillon of the Domtoren.
Climb 465 steps to the top of the Domtoren, (Cathedral Tower), for a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside. Not an easy climb, but well worth it, not just for the view but for the opportunity to see up close the inner structure of the Domtoren.
At the base of the Domtoren is a passageway from the Dom Square to the shopping streets and the Oudegracht.
Rear of the Domkerk
Courtyard Garden at Domkerk (St Martin’s Cathedral
Walk or bike along the Oudegracht (Old canal) and catch an impromptu musical performance. Enjoy coffee or a beer at sidewalk cafes while watching streams of people walking and biking.
The Slackline artist, playing his accordion.
Enjoy a meal at the water’s edge or shop on the car-free street
Canoeing, kayaking, electric & pedal boating, or navigating on a stand-up paddleboard are very popular. Tour boats cruise the Oudegracht and the Singel, (the circumferential canal around the historic center). Further down this page, I have listed some of the boat rental and boat cruise companies.
The Nieuwegracht, (New Canal) built between 1390 and 1393 is a quiet street of stately homes and institutions.
Here at the start of the Nieuwegracht, the bank runs down to the water’s edge. The lower-end of the Nieuwegracht was left undeveloped.
The Squares -De Neude, Gazenmarkt, Domplein, Mariaplaats, Janskerkhof are great places to sit and people-watch while enjoying a coffee, a beer or a meal.
Explore tiny alleyways leading to hidden courtyards and gardens.
Exploring, we followed an alleyway and came upon this beautiful park hidden within the dense city.
Car-free Shopping Streets
Poke around in second-hand and eclectic shops on the lower Oudegracht –
Twijnstraat (Lower Oudegracht) already a shopping street in the 13th century. – Museum Quarter, (Museumkwartier)
Join a free Historical Walking Tour of Utrecht. Paul and Rebecca have been on several of them.
MuseumSpeelklok Museum of self-playing musical instruments. We love this museum.
Windmill Museum (Molen de Ster), a working 18th-century wind-driven sawmill next to the city center. The only working sawmill in the Netherlands. Click on English option. On Saturdays, volunteers operate the windmill, sawing large logs for clients.
Miffy Museum Home of the beloved Dutch children’s book character, Miffy. The author and illustrator Dick Bruna, was an Utrecht native.
Grocery Museum A 19th-century grocery. First link is in Dutch. This link is in English.
Sonnenborgh 19th century observatory and home to the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society. The museum was built on a 16th-century bastion of the old city wall.
Go to the theater
Tivoli Contemporary music complex with five theaters.
Beatrix Theater Utrecht musicals, concerts, and shows
Theater De Paardenkathedraal here in Wittevrouwen
Theater Kikker contemporary theater, modern dance and youth theater.
Het Werftheater cabaret, stand-up comedy and improv
Watch Art and contemporary films at theaters within easy walking or biking distance. Click on the English option for Hardlooper and Springhaver.
Wander through Utrecht’s markets, the Fabric Market, (Lapjesmarkt) the largest in the Netherlands,
the beautiful Flower Market (Janskerkhof Bloemenmarkt) in the picturesque Janskerkhof, every Saturday), and the Food Market at Vredenburg. Go on Saturday to see the most vendors.
Visit a Verkeerstuin, a Traffic Garden for children. Reservations needed
Go Bowling in the heart of Utrecht
or play pool at two billiard halls. PoolCafé Hart Van Utrecht next to Oudegracht and Ozebi in a hidden courtyard just off nearby Biltstraat, situated in a former swimming pool.
Play Ping Pong The site is in Dutch, though there are photos.
Rent an electric boat, pedal boat, kayak or take a guided cruise on the canals and River Vecht and the Krommerijn River leading out into the countryside.
Griftpark, a short walk from our house, has farm animals, playgrounds for toddlers and older kids, a pond with ducks, a skateboard park, (One of the largest in the Netherlands) a basketball court, a small hill, a nature area and a restaurant we’ve eaten at many times. People bring out their grills in the summertime and hang out by the pond. It’s a nice park for jogging.
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