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Why Are Canals Considered The Heart of Utrecht, Netherlands?

The canals (grachten in Dutch) are one of Utrecht‘s most popular tourist attractions. And when it comes to Utrecht grachten, it would be remiss, not to mention the famous Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht.

This article will help you to enjoy the two most interesting canals in Utrecht. Besides, we have interesting side information, such as interesting facts you have never heard.

1. Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht – Famous Utrecht Grachten

Utrecht, the Netherlands, is famous for its second-largest canal after Amsterdam. For true Dutch lovers, the canal in Utrecht ( Utrecht grachten ) is sometimes even more appreciated than in Amsterdam. If you don’t believe me, then this article will convince you!

1.1. Oudegracht – Utrecht Grachten


The Oudegracht starts from the Utrecht southeast and runs through its center. It’s also known as the “old canal”. Some parts of the Oudegracht follow the original Rhine flow.

The water level seemed constant after establishing the city’s locks system in 1275. This enables the building of forever dry cellars and a new wharf at the water level. As a result, typical wharves are found under street level. 

Oudegracht by drone – Utrecht, the Netherlands

The canal used to be lined with warehouses. A lot of these warehouses are now restaurants and cafés. You can walk along the Oudegracht canal, paddle a boat, or enjoy a cup of coffee.

1.2. Nieuwegracht – Utrecht Grachten


The Nieuwegracht is one of the most popular canals in Utrecht. That is the name of the two streets on both sides of this canal. Featured are many monumental canal houses, wharf tunnels, tree-lined wharfs and bridges.

The Nieuwegracht, as the name implies, is newer than the Oudegracht. The Nieuwegracht, like the Oudegracht, has almost the full length of Utrecht’s yards and quay cellars. Only the east side of the southernmost part is empty with no buildings or yards.

In contrast to the Oudegracht, the street of the same name along the Nieuwegracht has almost no shops. As a result, this is an ideal location for visitors seeking peace and tranquility.

2. Top 10 Interesting Facts About Canals Of Utrecht – Utrecht Grachten

The canals of Utrecht are indeed some of the most famous in the Netherlands. People use them primarily for route planning, cultural uses, water system, or drainage. So, let’s look at some of the most interesting facts about them.


2.1. There are three separate canals in the city

Utrecht city has three canals, namely the Oudegracht, Nieuwegracht, and Stadsbuitengracht. 

Stadsbuitengracht is a single canal that circles the historical center of Amsterdam. About the first two canals, let’s keep reading to know a thing or two about them since they are the most famous in the Netherlands.

2.2. The grachten in Utrecht is not that deep


All of the canals’ sides here are only 2 meters deep. Meanwhile, the deepest part of the canals, where the largest ships pass, is about 4 meters deep.

Hundreds of bicycles end up in these canals every year, blocking up the fairway for boats. The municipal government has to remove the bikes from the canals to make room for the boats.

2.3. Historic facades of wharf-side houses


Along the canals are historic facades of wharf-side houses and a variety of 200-year-old trees. Due to their numerous dock cellars,  Utrecht’s canals seem very distinctive from Amsterdam’s. 

These dock cellars now house a wide range of nice cafes and restaurants with water-side terraces.

2.4. It’s illegal to swim in the canals

Except for specifically designated areas, people are not allowed to swim in any of the canals here. It’s because of boating dangers and hygiene. Another risk is the presence of discarded bikes and other litter on the canal bottoms, which could injure swimmers.

2.5. It’s where annual feasts take place


On a certain holiday such as King’s Day, people throw parties on floating scaffolds across the waters. There will also be performances right on top of the canals.

2.6. Exceptional offers for kids

Being a kid is always great. Most canal cruises here offer special discounts for kids. And please note that a canal cruise typically lasts only between 1 and 1,5 hours.

2.7. Many lovely buildings have turned into restaurants and stores


As a result, the main streets are densely packed with shops. And if you notice, there are fewer channels than in Amsterdam.

2.8. The canals now serve as the tools to encourage greener living

After years of discussion, Utrecht has restored the city’s “single” grachten to promote greener living.

2.9. Many nearby hotels that offer canals overlook


Some of the famous hotels:

  • Hunfeld, 0.14 miles away
  • Centrum, 0.13 miles away
  • Mother Goose Hotel, 0.07 mi
  • Logement Petit Beijers, 0.05 miles
  • City Hall Bridge which is 0.01 miles 

2.10. Utrecht grachten were filled in to allow for vehicle access

In the 1970s, the restored part of the canal was clogged in to improve car access to Utrecht’s shopping district. The waterway is now beneath an indoor mall. This change enables boats to commute the entire 6km trail all around the city center.

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


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