Often called the beating heart of The Netherlands, Utrecht is one of those instantly lovable cities. It forms the fourth largest Dutch city and while it is small and vibey, it still maintains its gorgeous medieval charm. The city itself is relatively small… in fact you could explore the whole city on foot in less than a day! Here are 7 reasons why you should visit Utrecht.
It’s the only inner city canal to have wharfs and wharf cellars
The picturesque canal’s of Utrecht are one of a kind with its wharfs and wharf cellars. The history of the wharfs and wharf cellars go back to sometime in the 12th century. Back in the Middle Ages when the main flow of the river Rhine moved south, parts of the old river bed were dug out to create De Oudegracht (also known as the Old Canal). Wharfs were added to create an inner city harbour system. Large city castles were built along the canal and in the 13th Century, shipyards were built as second streets existing at water level. Deep cellars ran along through to below the houses serving as storage spaces. Today though, these canals and shipyards become home to shops, restaurants and even private residences.
It is one of the most quintessentially Dutch cities
Some say Utrecht forms the heart of The Netherlands with it’s medieval look, vibrant culture, picturesque canals and street side cafes. In fact, Utrecht is often said to be the more traditional sister of Amsterdam because with its medieval-looking centre, embodying the 15th century Dom Tower. That being said, it still keeps its vibrant university town vibe.
It’s one of the happiest places in the world
According to BBC Travel, Utrecht was declared as the fourth happiest place in the world! Can’t disagree there… I mean wouldn’t walking through such a picture perfect town day-in and day-out make anyone happy? It’s old town charm together with modern day amenities, relaxing atmosphere and easy access to nature means you’ll always have everything you need to keep you soul at ease. Happiness always!
You’ll never get lost in Utrecht
The Dom Tower dominates the Utrecht skyline and sits right in the centre of the medieval town making it hard to get lost. In fact, part of the cities beauty is it’s Dutch quaintness. The heart of the city is actually enclosed by a canal which forms an inner ring running all round which means that as you explore the city, your wanderings will naturally take you to the centrally positioned Dom Tower.
It has some of the prettiest parks and gardens
Utrecht is known for having some of the prettiest parks and gardens to pass the time. From the Botanical Gardens to Cathedral Gardens to century-old greenhouses and fountain-filled parks, every trip to Utrecht should include a visit to at least one charming garden.
Have some coffee at a sub-street level cafe
One of Utrecht’s distinguishing traits is the terraces that sit upon canals. In fact, while most Dutch cities offer a steep drop between the sidewalk and canals, Utrecht on the other hand has a sub-street level filled with pretty cafes and restaurants. Why not try having a cup of coffee (or even a glass of wine!) on a canal taking the crisp Dutch air? Sounds perfect to me!
It embraces its old world charm together with modern day vibes
Utrecht is known for its medieval charm and beautifully old buildings, but with that, it still embodies all the vibey amenities needed in a university town. From bars, to nightclubs to being a 30 minute direct train ride to Schiphol Airport… it perfectly encapsulates and merges its medieval character with modern day personality.