Fun Things to Do in Utrecht, Netherlands

by Henry Francis
An aerial view across Utrecht.

An aerial view across Utrecht.

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Utrecht, Holland's fourth largest city, has a lot to offer in culture, the arts and music. From the moment you arrive in Utrecht and see its winding, narrow cobbled streets, canals and old church buildings, you can begin to appreciate its Roman history. The Utrecht website claims it has the highest proportion of professional creators in the Netherlands.

Canals

One of the most instantly striking features of Utrecht is its extensive canal system. Several companies operate tours along the canal, and you can enjoy live music, drinks and meals on these tours. A wide range of boats and canal-faring vessels are available on the canal, such as canoes, kayaks and rowing boats for the adventurous travelers and gondolas for romantics and visitors who want to relax as they explore this waterway built in the 19th century.

Culture

Explore Utrecht's vibrant and varied culture during your visit. Dom Tower (domtoren.nl) dominates the Utrecht skyline and is the Netherlands' tallest church tower. The Dom Tower, recognized as the symbol of the city, is open for guided tours throughout the year. The Catharijneconvent Museum (catharijneconvent.nl) allows visitors to learn about Utrecht's rich religious history against a monastery setting. Travelers will find a more contemporary vibe at the Speelkok Music Museum (museumspeelklok.nl), described on its website as the "most cheerful museum in the Netherlands." Here, museum-goers can experience a wide range of interactive music exhibits and take a hands-on approach to music. Utrecht's monthly Sunday festival (culturelezondagen.nl) is a way to take in street theater, storytelling, visual arts, music, dance and opera in the open air.

Shopping

Utrecht has a number of retail areas. Hoog Catharijne (hoogcatharijne.nl) is one of the city's largest indoor retail buildings, and, as it's attached to Utrecht's main train station, attracts visitors from afar. Travelers looking for intriguing and independent boutiques can walk the narrow, winding Lijnmarkt, Choorstraat and Korte Minrebroederstraat streets. To get a flavor of Utrecht, visit one of its bustling marketplace areas, such as the Janskerkhof flower market or the fabric and textile stalls at the Lapjesmarkt.

Nightlife

Utrecht has a large student population, which has a significant influence on its nightlife. Visit Tivoli (tivoli.nl), described by the Let's Go website as "Utrecht's premier spot for good music." Live bands blast out rock and independent music while disc jockeys spin house, hip-hop and electro. Acu, based in the former headquarters of a squatters organization, is a destination for revelers. Visit Acu's vegan cafe or enjoy live rock and punk music from the venue's main stage. The candlelit 't Oude Pothuys (pothuys.nl) is an undergound cafe where visitors can take in a low-key and relaxing nightlife experience, including live jazz, blues and funk. Visitors looking to escape the music can get a breath of fresh air on 't Oude Pothuys' canal-side terrace area.

About the Author

I have been involved in coaching and administration of youth soccer with the Herts FA for several years. I have many years experience with the technical side and equipment of soccer, cricket, rugby, snooker and poker. I studied the health and fitness and dietary side of competitive sport while at University. Currently, I am not ready for on-camera opportunities, but this could change with access to training and equipment.

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