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The City Route through Utrecht

If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam and still surround yourself with the unspoiled Dutch lifestyle, look no further than Utrecht. This guide to Utrecht gives you a sneak peek to the livelihoods and main attractions of the city. The 17th-century buildings are diminutive compared to Amsterdam; however, you can escape all the overwhelming tourist traps and still achieve that picturesque photo of the canals, locked bikes and historic structures you've always wanted. Here’s a route through some of Utrecht’s best highlights.

Route info

  • Route name: Route through Utrecht’s Highlights
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Best by foot
  • Best time to go: Spring, Autumn, Summer
  • Best by foot
  • Highlights: Oudegracht & Nieuwegracht canals, Nijntje Museum, Dom Tower, and Banketbakkerij Theo Blom

Walk along the canal

If you think Amsterdam’s canals are impressive, you've got to experience Utrecht’s waterways. You can thank Dutch ingenuity for Utrecht is the only city in the world with inner city wharfs that line the canals. It was once a trade hub to the world where boats would offload their trade goods in the center. Now you can take that picturesque shot you’ve always wanted from the Netherlands, without arm wrestling with other travelers for a spot.

Life on the canal is revitalizing when the weather is in your favor. There is an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars & pubs that offer plenty of options for good eats and flow of drinks. The terrace and patio culture is alive and well here, jutting out from many corner cafés or restaurants. Make sure to walk along all of the Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht (gracht in Dutch means canal) to get a complete layout of the city. Here are some of our favorite canal-side places: Restaurant Bis, Mahanakorn Restaurant, and Eetcafé de Poort.

Follow the trails of Nijntje

Throughout the entire city, there are mini reminders of the endearing Nijntje. If you don't know who Nijntje is...she also goes by the name of Miffy. This small, female rabbit became an international sensation like many other animal cartoons (Hello Kitty and Doraemon etc) and was popularized through many children's book series. In this city, the cute bunny remains a cultural figure for Dutch children and adults. Unfortunately, the creator of Nijntje, Dick Bruna, recently passed away, leaving a legacy of Nijntje signatures around the city for Nijntje lovers to discover. Find her on top of the traffic light by De Bijenkorf, in the Nijntje Museum, decorating the hostel room at the Stayokay hostel, watching over the city square, and wondering in her museum.

Climb the Dom Tower of Utrecht

There’s nothing like climbing to the top of a 112-meter tower of the tallest church in the Netherlands- the Dom Tower. This gothic church will reward you with a panoramic vantage point of the city and unique view of Utrecht. It is one of the central points in Utrecht and remains a symbol showing the test of time. It’s historical tale, dating back 2000 years ago, tells of a resilient structure that overcame many catastrophes (fires, occupations, and storms) through the centuries. But never the less, it remains symbolic and strong in the heart of Utrecht.

Eat some BBQ

If you can’t get enough of terraces, there’s a new kid on the block that you need to check out. Roost aan de Singel is a brand new BBQ spot right around the outer canal in Utrecht, just outside the city center. It’s easily the best place to chill out during the summer with a selection of fine feasts of sandwiches, salads, burgers, beers on taps and BBQ goodness straight from the Braai (a South African BBQ). The decor of picnic tables and crates with plush cushions sets up for a great terrace party right on the water.

Indulge in Domtorentjes

Down the street from the Dom Tower is Banketbakkerij Theo Blom, an old fashion bakery and a quintessential spot in Utrecht. The display of pastries, biscuits, marzipans, and chocolates will beckon you to try one. Famously known for their Dom Tower chocolates (Domtorentjes in Dutch), which is a chocolate cube filled with choux crème, this bakery also offers chocolate printed flowers and little Nijntje. It was often frequented by the creator of Miffy, Dick Bruna.

More about Utrecht?

Want to know more about Utrecht from a local expert? Our writer Dainahara from the blog Explore Utrecht tells about it more in this video.

Suggested reading on the Netherlands:

Dick Bruna, Miffy. Photo: Dick Bruna.

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