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“The hidden gem of the Randstad”
Review of Utrecht

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Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
18 helpful votes
“The hidden gem of the Randstad”
Reviewed June 20, 2011

I had plenty of time to assess Utrecht as I wasn't a tourist, but actually lived there for 6 months whilst studying at the university. Utrecht is a beautiful city and has a very intimate feel about it. Like any Dutch town there are a lot of bikes, canals and beautiful old buildings. I'd recommend a day trip to Utrecht if staying in Amsterdam to see an old Dutch city that isn't overrun with tourists.
Utrecht is a very compact city based around the canels. Along the Oude Gracht are plenty of shops (H & M, Laura Ashley, Zara etc) and one-off boutique stores selling furniture, jewellery, antique books etc. Dille en Kamille on the Oude Gracht is a great place for great value homeware and useful gifts. The flowers in the Netherlands are really cheap and there are often stalls selling bunches along the canals.
As for sightseeing, a canal tour is a must. It'll cost around 6 euros for an hours trip and you can always see more from the water than the streets. Utrecht is unique in that it's the only place in the Netherlands with sunken canals, about 10 feet below street level. The Dom tower and the cathedral are worth a look around. You have to pay to climb the tower but on a good day can see as far as Amsterdam. There is also the railway museum and the Catherijne Convent museum has a lot of religious artifacts.
A bike is the obvious mode of transport (although the buses will also take you where you want to go) and there are various places to hire a bike from.
In my experience, prices in the Netherlands are high. Eating out is very expensive and the restaurants are not very tourist friendly. If you don't book in the high-end places, you won't get a table. But the Dutch have a tradition called the "borrel" which I can only call a Dutch version of tapas. Pretty much every pub will offer a borrel menu to snack on with your drinks which usually includes things like cheese with mustard, deep fried potato croquettes and other Dutch goodies. These are always cheap and worth a try. Het College on Mariastraat in the town centre is a really fun cafe that plays jazz music and has reasonably priced food. The atmosphere is great but the place is small so get there early. (The Dutch tend to eat an evening meal around 6.)
Train tickets from Amsterdam are about 15 euros for a return and the journey is half an hour. It's also easily reached from The Hague and Rotterdom although the journey is a little longer. If you have a long stay in the Netherlands or want a retreat from the mean streets of Amsterdam, Utrecht is a great option for a day trip.

5 Thank Katfc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chiasso, Switzerland
1 review
“Utrecht, hidden medieval treasures”
Reviewed April 8, 2011

Utrecht isn't appealing as Amsterdam, but unveils hidden medieval treasures and a overwhelmingly young population.
You can easily visit the city centre by feet or you can rent a bike and getting totally insight into the Dutch way of life.
Climb the Dom Tower to enjoy the stunning view from the highest church tower of the Netherlands. If you look north you can easily see the peaceful country immersed in green and the beautiful canals of the city. The admission price is very high but it is worth the price.
Taking a stroll through the medieval centre and the quaysides located directly on the city’s peaceful canals. Don't miss the Academie building University, example of old building, and the new Minnaert Building, the scientfic campus building, one great example of new architecture.

Thank rossilosvizzero
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 helpful votes
“charming mini Amsterdam”
Reviewed January 20, 2010

Forget Amsterdam. Utrecht has all the charm without the tourists.
Spend a day in this amazing historical city. You will be happy you did.

Thank changmay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
73 helpful votes
“Utrecht - better than amsterdam”
Reviewed May 28, 2009

We were meeting my parents in Amsterdam and had planned to arrive a few days early but found Amsterdam fully booked. For the same price as a 20 bed dorm in a hostel in Amsterdam we got a "late minute room type deal" in Utrecht. And this was the beginning of our charming adventure

Eurostar to Brussels £59 (2 hours) plus a local return of approx £40 (3 hours). A very relaxed way to arrive

4* hotel - will review elsewhere.. great value for money at less than E80 per night.

Things to do

Old Town
Lovely streets of cafes and independent shops. Frequented by the locals who were lapping up the sunshine. From quirky fashion, wooden toys, excellent kitchen wear or a new bicycle bell it's all here. Or drop down to the canal side for excellent food.

Canal Cruise
On the corner of Lange Viestra and Oude Gracht Weerdzijde was the canal cruise. Leaving every 30mins in late May. The tour was live and because they had some english people on board they gave the talk in english too!! .. Much better than the recorded commentry on our tour in Amsterdam.
Canals are much smaller and they action is right at eye level.

Although we didn't do this.. we thought it looked fun and really accessible for anyone over twelve. We noted the hire location was at the north eastern end of Oude Gracht Weerdzijde.

Saturday is the food market located Vredenburg area. I sampled so many different dutch cheeses that I skipped breakfast. My husband was nearly ill watching the dutch custom of eating the whole herrings dipped in onion eaten in two bites by the local men. I personally ate more soft nougat that is good for any person.

Flower Market
This was open air market and just lovely. Peonies for E5 for two bunches!! Amazing. Janskerkhoff. Saturday

Fabric Market
Saturday. Breedstrat (I think!!). Lovely choice of fabrics at great prices.

Things to avoid
Hoog Catharijne - largest mall in Netherlands. Just because it is large does not mean it is nice. Full of chain shops. Only useful for the Albert Heine supermarket. Better alternative is shops in the old town.

We had a great laugh going to see Startrek at the local bioscoop. The great advantage is that most films are subtited so no problems there. We had a little laugh as the screen in the 100 person cinema seemed really small.. I think that we are spoilt in london. We were enjoying the movie and right in the middle of an action scene when the movie said "pauze" and then went to advertising of washing machines and crematoriums ... It was the intermission. !!! . Not the big screen excitment we were hoping for.

6 Thank misspippi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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