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18 unmissable things to do in Utrecht in 2023

The Dom Tower, the Miffy museum, and the inner city’s sunken canals — there are tons of things to do in Utrecht.

With beautiful old houses, bridges, and canals that fill the city, Utrecht is often regarded as a little Amsterdam (just without as many tourists).

Located in the very centre of the Netherlands, the city is dynamic, historic, and full of life. If you haven’t visited before, Utrecht should definitely be at the top of your to-do list.

There’s no shortage of interesting things to do and see in this historic city — but, of course, we’ve made a list anyways.

1. Enjoy the views at the Dom Tower

climb-Dom-Tower-in-Utrecht

Once the religious capital of the Netherlands, this quaint, medieval city radiates around the 13th-century Dom Tower — the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

The impressive 112-metre tower is “the pride of Utrecht”, and it’s a must-see (to be honest, it’s hard not to see it) on your visit to the city.

It’s also a great thing to do in Utrecht if you’re looking to get an overview of the Netherlands as a whole. On a clear day, you can actually spot Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and The Hague from the observation platform!

You can also grab a bite to eat at some of the bars on Dom Square if the trip up the tower made you hungry.

Let op! The Dom is currently enduring a €37 million, four-year renovation. As such, it’s hidden until summer 2024.

💰Price: €12.50 for adults, €7.50 for children
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM from Sunday to Friday, 10 AM until 4 PM on Saturdays
📍Location: Domplein 9, 3512 JC Utrecht

2. Find some peace and quiet at St. Martin’s Cathedral

St. Martin’s Cathedral utrecht
St. Martin’s Cathedral utrecht

Get ready for the historical, architectural, and religious hotspot of Utrecht. The St. Martins Cathedral, once the largest church in the Netherlands, used to be connected to the Dom Tower.

But ever since a tornado hit in 1674, the tower has been separate from the church, and this unique feature is part of what makes it a popular tourist attraction.

In the courtyard of the Gothic cathedral, you’ll find the stunning Pandhof garden — a perfect spot for a cup of coffee or a moment of quiet time. The Domkerk is literally a stone’s throw from the Dom, so if you pay a visit to the area, be sure to take a peek at both.

💰Price: A grand total of €0
⏰Opening hours: 11 AM until 6 PM on Sundays to Fridays, 10 AM until 3 PM on Saturdays
📍Location: Achter de Dom 1, 3512 JN Utrecht

3. Travel back in time at DOMunder

DOMunder utrecht
DOMunder utrecht

Ready for a deep dive (quite literally) into history? Or maybe the Dutch weather got to you, and you need an escape from the rain? While you’re in Dom Square, you should definitely take a trip DOMunder. And yes, if you haven’t noticed yet, a lot of Utrecht’s history revolves around the Dom.

Here, you can explore some of the Netherlands’ best archaeological treasures, via multimedia. You’ll get a torch and a scanner that you can use to bring sound messages to life.

This is the perfect activity if you’re interested in Roman and medieval history, or if you just need a rain-proof thing to do in Utrecht.

💰Price: €12.50 for adults, €10 for children
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM, Monday to Sunday
📍Location: Domplein 9, 3512 JC Utrecht

4. Let your inner musician loose at the Speelklok Museum

museum-speelklok-Utrecht
museum-speelklok-Utrecht

Here’s one for music enthusiasts! The Speelklok Museum is located in an old church, the Buurkerk, and is a fun thing to do in Utrecht for travellers of all ages.

On display, you’ll see an assortment of self-playing musical instruments, music boxes, pianolas, organs, and musical clocks. The latter is key to explaining the museum’s name: “musical clock”.

Apart from just the museum, restoration workshops are also offered — which are highly regarded worldwide.

💰Price: €14 for adults, €7.50 for children
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM from Tuesday to Sunday
📍Location: Steenweg 6, 3511 JP Utrecht

5. Navigate the waters at the Oudegracht Canal

Oudegracht
Oudegracht

What is a trip to the Netherlands without some good ol’ canal action? The two-level canal system on the Oudegracht is one of the most unique parts of Utrecht, and it’s best explored from the water, in a boat or a canoe.

Historically, Utrecht has always been an important trading city, and merchants used the lower level (below street level) of the Oudegracht to unload goods from barges into conveniently located cellars along the canal.

As the commercial aspect of the city faded, the cellars were left empty. In the last hundred years or so, these canal cellars have been up-cycled and converted into cafés, restaurants, and shops galore — giving Utrecht a unique and cool feature you won’t find in every other Dutch city.

During the summertime, it’s super gezellig (cosy) to sit by the canal and sip a cold beer, after your obligatory boating adventure.

💰Price: Completely free!
⏰Opening hours: Whenever you wish
📍Location: Oudegracht aan de Werf 186, 3511 AL Utrecht

6. Explore what else the Oudegracht has to offer

The Oudegracht is more than just a canal; the streets along it also happen to be some of the best places to hang out if you’re looking for things to do in Utrecht.

Not only does it connect to Domplein (the square where the Dom and the St. Martin’s Cathedral are located), but it houses Utrecht’s main shopping area, which is far more charming than any shopping mall.

(If a mall is your cup of tea, though, walk a little further off the Oudegracht and towards the train station, where you will find Hoog Catherijne, Utrecht’s answer to glossy indoor shopping.)

Now, if all that retail therapy’s made you hungry, you can also grab a cup of coffee or a drink back on the Oudegracht — and maybe take your pick of deep-fried snacks at the food trucks that stand beside the canal too. Broodje Mario is also a favourite for cheap, delicious sandwiches.

💰Price: Free as a bee
⏰Opening hours: You are free to wander at any time
📍Location: Oudegracht aan de Werf 186, 3511 AL Utrecht

7. Shop till you drop at the Vredenburg Market

Vredenburg Market utrecht
Vredenburg Market utrecht

As any experienced tourist knows, good snacks are key to a good vacation. While you’re in the area of the Oudegracht, you should definitely check out Vredenburg Market, which takes place on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. If you’re into food, this is THE thing to do in Utrecht.

You can find just about anything here — an array of farm-fresh eggs, produce, and fish, as well as freshly baked treats.

And if you’re looking for Dutch classics (think hella good cheese, gooey warm stroopwafels, and other typically Dutch delicacies), this is where it’s at.

💰Price: However much you’re willing to spend
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays, 8 AM until 5 PM on Saturdays
📍Location: Vredenburg, 3511 CW Utrecht

8. Stop and smell the flowers at the Janskerkhof Bloemenmarkt

If you came to the Netherlands for flowers, you can find Utrecht’s bustling flower market right outside the beautiful Janskerk (St. John’s Church).

Even if you’re not looking to buy potted gems, the flower market should not be missed — the colours and plants on display are beautiful, and the vibe is great!

And while on the topic of cool markets, the largest and oldest fabric market in the Netherlands, Lapjesmarkt, is only a stone’s throw away from Janskerkhof.

So if you’re looking to buy some cool textiles, or if you’re just interested in a truly unique thing to do in Utrecht, this is the place to go.

💰Price: Free unless you’re tempted to buy a bouquet
⏰Opening hours: 8 AM until 5 PM on Saturdays
📍Location: Neude Janskerkhof en Domplein, 3512 JE Utrecht

9. Keep rollin’ at the Railway Museum

As much as we love to complain about the NS, the Dutch railway system is actually pretty darn good. If you want to learn more about the history of trains in the Netherlands, the Railway Museum should be on your list of things to do in Utrecht.

The main hall of the station is adorned in 19th-century style, and the museum features old posters, leaflets, carriages, and locomotives, as well as a mechanical ride. Plus, if you’re looking for things to do with children in Utrecht, this is one for the books.

At the Spoorweg Museum, you’ll also find a moving memorial to the Jews of Utrecht who were murdered during the Second World War.

💰Price: €17.50
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM Tuesday to Sunday
📍Location: Maliebaanstation 16, 3581 XW Utrecht

10. Get your greenery boost in Wilhelminapark

Got a bit of a sightseeing overdose? Breathe in, and breathe out, in Wilhelminapark — one of Utrecht’s many beautiful green spaces. The park was officially opened in 1898 and named after Queen Wilhelmina, who became queen that year.

At the centre of the park is a large pond (or little lake), and the area around the park also features a few cafés, bars, and ice cream shops. It’s the perfect spot for an outing (when the weather is nice).

The park is actually so nice that the surrounding area is considered the bougie district of the city, where houses sell for millions of euros apiece. 🤑

💰Price: Free
⏰Opening hours: 6 AM until 10 PM from Monday to Sunday
📍Location: Wilhelminapark, 3581 NE Utrecht

11. Dive into Dutch design at Rietveld Schröderhuis

Have you ever dreamt of walking inside a piece of art? Here’s your chance! The Rietveld Schröderhuis was built as a private home by Gerrit Rietveld (a renowned furniture designer from Utrecht) in 1924 and now stands as an architectural super-attraction in Utrecht.

The house was designed using the concepts of De Stijl, a Dutch artistic movement from the early 1900s, focused on bold primary colours and geometry. It was used as a private living space until 1985 and functions as a museum today.

Originally, the house was situated on the outskirts of Utrecht — which was one of its main selling points. Today, however, a four-lane motorway and viaduct make up the view from the house.

Nevertheless, you can always see tourists flock to the museum, which is an architectural and art historical gem of a thing to do in Utrecht.

💰Price: €19 for adults, €3 for children
⏰Opening hours: 11 AM until 4 PM Tuesday to Sunday
📍Location: Prins Hendriklaan 50, 3583 EP Utrecht

12. Bike out to De Veldkeuken

There are a lot of things to do in Utrecht, but the province around the city also has some treasures to explore. Why not bring out your inner Dutchie, and go for a bike ride? The beautiful forest Amelisweerd is not only a great biking area in Utrecht, it also hides the poorly kept secret of a restaurant, De Veldkeuken.

Here you can enjoy a pleasant drink or meal, made with ingredients grown in the surrounding area. The restaurant is the perfect bike trip destination, and the bread and cakes are to die for.

In the mood for something sweet? Check out the nearby pancake restaurant, nestled by a canal in the forest.

💰Price: Yet another free activity!
⏰Opening hours: 9:30 AM until 5 PM from Tuesdays to Fridays, 9:30 until 5:30 on Saturday and Sunday
📍Location: Koningslaan 11 A, 3981 HD Bunnik

13. Become an Utrecht patriot at the Miffy Museum

The Nijntje Museum (or Miffy in English) is another great thing to do with kids in Utrecht. The quirky cartoon bunny created by Dick Bruna has become quite the symbol of the city, and no visit to Utrecht is complete without a trip here.

The museum is a touch-everything experience that appeals to young children, who can crawl, climb, and play around the grounds — making for a fun and interactive experience. But of course, you can still enjoy it as an adult.

Make sure to pre-book, as the museum can be particularly busy during weekends and holidays.

💰Price: €7.50
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM from Tuesday to Sunday
📍Location: Oudegracht 167, 3511 AL Utrecht

14. Blend in with royalty at Kasteel de Haar

Want to travel back in time, and add a romantic activity to your list of things to do in Utrecht? Kasteel de Haar is the grandest and largest castle in the Netherlands, and it’s located just a short hour by train away from the city.

Once the holiday home of the Van Zuylen family, who continue to visit for a month every September, the castle is now open to visitors. In the 1900s, elaborate parties were thrown at the iconic location, once attracting famous guests such as Coco Chanel, Maria Callas, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Collins, and Brigitte Bardot.

Today the castle serves as a museum, ranking among the top 20 most-visited in the Netherlands. You can arrange for a guided tour of the castle, or drop by for exhibitions, theatre performances, and other events.

💰Price: €18 for adults, €12.50 for children
⏰Opening hours: 11 AM until 5 PM Monday to Sunday
📍Location: Kasteellaan 1, 3455 RR Utrecht

15. Embrace the inland beach at Strand Oog In Al

From yoga sessions to afro-beats, you can enjoy more than just a beverage at this city beach. Alright, Strand Oog in Al (or SOIA for the locals) isn’t quite Scheveningen — but it’s a perfect place to go in Utrecht during the summer and a pretty decent beach for a city.

SOIA is perfect for grabbing a cold beer, soaking up the sun once the weather is a little warmer (and storm-free), and enjoying the grilling season.

The beach is also kid-friendly, offering a bouncy castle and face-painting — so it’s another fun thing to do with children in Utrecht.

💰Price: Free!
⏰Opening hours: 4 PM until 11 PM Tuesday, 12 PM until 11 PM Wednesday & Thursday, 12 PM until 12:30 AM Friday, 11 AM until 12:30 Saturday, 11 AM until 10 PM Sunday.
📍Location: Kanaalweg 199, 3533 HL Utrecht

16. Dance the night away at Tivoli Vredenburg

Whether you’re in the mood for something orchestral, jazzy, or a place to go dancing, Tivoli Vrendeburg has it all. It’s a contemporary music venue in the centre of Utrecht, catering to a wide audience looking for music-related things to do in Utrecht.

The venue frequently welcomes international performers at its five halls — each acoustically designed for specific music genres. There’s also a restaurant/bar located on the ground floor if you want to grab a quick bite before you hit the dance floor.

What’s more, Tivoli is conveniently located right by the train station, so you can easily hop on a train when you’re ready to move on to your next destination.

💰Price: Varies, depending on event
⏰Opening hours: Varies, depending on event
📍Location: Vredenburgkade 11, 3511 WC Utrecht

17. Go stargazing at the Sonnenborgh observatory

In a country as obsessed with the weather as the Netherlands, it’s only suitable to visit an attraction that lets you make your own weather forecast!

In the 19th century, the observatory in Utrecht was used to gain a better understanding of the composition of the sun, and to predict the weather.

Today, the old building has been transformed into a lovely and unique thing to do on your trip to Utrecht.

Climb the stairs to the star cupolas and use the telescopes to explore the starry skies up close. Then, go into the domes and observe the planets, before you explore the cannon fixtures on the 400-year-old walls of the observatory.

Who’s ready for a starry night?

💰Price: €9.50 for adults, €6 for children
⏰Opening hours: 11 AM until 5 PM from Tuesday to Friday, 1 PM until 5 PM on Sundays.
📍Location: Zonnenburg 2, 3512 NL Utrecht

18. Watch the grass grow in the Botanical Garden

Whether it’s a rock garden, a bird den, or tropical greenhouses you’re interested in, the botanical garden in Utrecht is one of the oldest of its kind in the Netherlands, and it has something for everyone.

Dating back to 1639, the gardens were established for medical students at Utrecht University, only three years after the university was founded. Today, it has been relocated to the Science Park, and it’s both a peaceful and intriguing thing to do in Utrecht.

From March 1 to December 1, the beautiful gardens are open to the public every day.1. Enjoy the views at the Dom Tower
Once the religious capital of the Netherlands, this quaint, medieval city radiates around the 13th-century Dom Tower — the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

The impressive 112-metre tower is “the pride of Utrecht”, and it’s a must-see (to be honest, it’s hard not to see it) on your visit to the city.

It’s also a great thing to do in Utrecht if you’re looking to get an overview of the Netherlands as a whole. On a clear day, you can actually spot Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and The Hague from the observation platform!

You can also grab a bite to eat at some of the bars on Dom Square if the trip up the tower made you hungry.

Let op! The Dom is currently enduring a €37 million, four-year renovation. As such, it’s hidden until summer 2024.

💰Price: €12.50 for adults, €7.50 for children
⏰Opening hours: 10 AM until 5 PM from Sunday to Friday, 10 AM until 4 PM on Saturdays
📍Location: Domplein 9, 3512 JC Utrecht

Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////my-lifestyle.co
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!
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