My husband and I have been fortunate enough to live in Utrecht temporarily for six fantastic weeks. We’ve enjoyed this city so much I wanted to blog about it again because I only spent a few hours in the town the last time I was here.
Utrecht is one of the cities I put on the ‘must see’ list when visiting the Netherlands. It’s quieter than Amsterdam with fewer tourists around the place. You can relax and unwind whilst enjoying all the wonderful food and drinks the Netherlands has to offer.
The Canals of Utrecht
Here you’ll find picturesque canals which you can walk along and enjoy the fresh air, and you’ll even be amazed by the size of some of the boats they get through the canals. You will also see groups of people on hire boats eating and drinking with friends having a great time. And even as the seasons are changing from the warmer to cooler months the early morning fog still makes the canals look beautiful.
Where to eat in Utrecht
Utrecht is filled with restaurants all along the main canal on Oudegracht but there are also hidden side streets with some great eateries which are a little harder to find. There’s a great vibe that surrounds this city when the weather is warm and people are out and about. On the weekends you’ll find the locals sitting in the sun make the most of the afternoons enjoying a drink or two.
You can sit on top of the canal at one of the many restaurants like Stadskasteel Oudaen where you can enjoy some local cheese whilst having a beer or two. And because the Dutch are known for their fantastic cheeses you will be guaranteed to enjoy a cheese platter.
Wander down the stairs to the cuisine of your choice to enjoy dining right next to the water. We really enjoyed the Italian place called Restaurant La Cantina di David which can cater for gluten free people as well. Not only are their main dishes delicious but their desserts are simply divine.
Take a walk down Drieharingstraat which is a tiny little side street off of Oudegracht and here is where you will find some places to eat like Restaurant RAAK and Restaurant Naast De Markt both of which are great! There’s also Firma Pickles Burgers & Wines which is always packed but I’ve not eaten there as they can’t accommodate my gluten free needs and I wish they did because it smells so good!
Ben and Frankies Here’s the place we go for our organic coffee and my husband will grab a quick bite to eat (note there are no gluten free options). The staff here are so friendly and helpful making it a great place to relax before heading out to explore the rest of the city.
Bagels and Beans is one of my favourite little eating places for lunch because they accommodate for gluten free people (like me). Therefore, I can have my bagel and get a juice too which is inexpensive, and a nice place to eat. I also have to mention my other favourite little eating place Frietwinkel by Dapp which has the best fries in town! You will find potato fries places all over Utrecht, however, this is THE PLACE to eat them! They’re all organic with both potatoes and their sauces and you can taste the difference. I also love their store in Den Haag.
Helpful Information on Utrecht
Where to buy food
If you are staying here for a few days or in a serviced apartment and want to get some food then Super EKO Markt or Ekoplaza are Bio/Organic stores filled with healthy food plus they stock Kombucha as well! The main supermarket here is Albert Heijn, well that’s the one I see the most of around the city, but there are others. There are also great food markets at Markt Vredenburg (near the train station) where you can stock up on some great Bio/Organic food as well.
Travel on trains/buses/trams
If you are going to be doing travel on the trains around the Netherlands get yourself a travel card ov-chipkarrt (same as an Oyster Card you get in London) where you can top it up as you need. Even though you need to pay for the card the cost of travel is much cheaper. You can claim back the remaining balance at the end of your holiday up to $30 euro. These are available at the train stations.
If you want a great taxi company that will take great care of you we used Adotax contact details (0031) 6 253 180 64. My husband has used this company several times when he’s been in Utrecht and has other people working in the same company. They are reliable, trustworthy, on time and friendly.
We found Utrecht City Apartments to be an excellent company which we used for our six weeks stay. We spent our time between two different locations which were Oudegracht and Plompetorengracht. Both were great although Oudegracht was our favourite because it’s located right on the main city canal. The staff are super friendly, helpful and will take care of you.
Be careful of the Bikes
This city (and country) is ruled by bikes and those who ride them so take note if you hear a bell chances are you are in the cyclist’s way. Please be mindful, present and aware there are bikes everywhere, and we need to respect that this is their way of life and how they get around (because there are not many cars here). See all the bikes parked along the canal? Well, there are many many many more!
My Overview of Utrecht
So if you want to see the Netherlands and have a base that’s less hectic than Amsterdam then Utrecht is the way to go (there are no pot smoking tourists walking the streets here). Here you can come and relax for a few days while you eat, drink and unwind. You can still see Amsterdam it’s only approx. 40 mins via train to get there, making it a great day trip destination from Utrecht.
You can do day trips on the train to other cities in the Netherlands like Den Haag and Haarlem, both these cities I highly recommend seeing if you want to experience the Netherlands. We enjoyed our time there so much we returned to them both twice! We also did a day trip to Antwerp via the train (blog below).
I highly recommend you come and check out this great city because there’s less tourist here so you get a ‘real feel’ for the Netherlands. My other blog on Utrecht from the first time I visited is below.
Note: Some people think the Dutch are lazy pot smoking people who walk around wearing wooden clogs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are smart, hard working, friendly people who produce fantastic food, cheese, great beer and they cycle everywhere. I hope you enjoy this city as much as we did, The Netherlands is a great country and the Dutch are awesome!
Until next time I travel, I see, I share... This is Character 32 doing her best to help you!