Day TripsNetherlandsUtrecht

A Guide to Utrecht, Netherlands

Utrecht is a major city in the Netherlands, located around 40km south of Amsterdam. This Utrecht guide gives an overview of what to do and see in the city.

Utrecht is renowned for its imposing Dom cathedral tower which dominates its beautiful historic centre. This lively city has picturesque canals, interesting museums and some lovely parks and gardens.

It can easily be visited from Amsterdam by 30 minute train trip and some choose to base themselves there for a longer visit.

Utrecht Tourist Information Centre

One of your first ports of call could be the Utrecht Tourist Information Centre (Winkel van Utrecht) which is located on Domplein square in the city centre – underneath the Dom Tower. You can get advice/information, maps and buy local gifts and souvenirs.

utrecht tourist office
Utrecht tourist office
utrecht tourist office exhibit
Utrecht tourist office exhibit

It is open daily 1000-1700.

Utrecht Tourist Information Centre, Domplein 9, 3512 JC, Utrecht

Things To Do in Utrecht

Utrecht has a wide range of activities on offer including some fascinating museums. Here is a complete guide of what you can do in the city.

Nijntje Museum (Miffy)

The Nijntje Museum in Utrecht is a museum inspired by Dick Bruna’s famous rabbit character Nijntje, also known internationally as Miffy. It has 12 miniature rooms over 3 floors with safe, hands-on activities for children, aimed at the core age group of 2-6 year olds – although it attracts plenty of adults as well.

nijntje museum entrance
Nijntje Museum – entrance
nijntje museum ground floor exhibit
Exhibit on the ground floor

The museum is open 1000-1700 (Tue-Sun), closed Mondays.

Entry prices are €12 for children 2-6, €8 for children/youths 7-17 and adults. FREE entry to children 0-1 and Museumkaart holders.

It is located in the historic centre of Utrecht, opposite the Centraal Museum.

Nijntje Museum, Agnietenstraat 2, 3512 XB Utrecht

Centraal Museum

The Centraal Museum is the oldest municipal museum in the Netherlands with origins dating as far back as 1830. It has a rich and varied collection of visual arts, design pieces, fashion and Utrecht city history. One of the highlights is Gerrit Rietveld’s red and blue chair.

centraal museum utrecht
Centraal Museum Utrecht
centraal museum utrecht rietveld red and blue chair
Rietveld red and blue chair
centraal museum panorama utrecht
Centraal Museum – Panorama Utrecht

The museum also hosts studio Dick Bruna, a reconstruction of the Dutch artist’s workspace with many original items.

centraal museum dick bruna studio
Centraal Museum Dick Bruna studio

It is open 1100-1700 (Tue-Sun), closed Mondays. Standard entrance costs €15 for adults, €6.50 for children/youths 13-17. FREE entry to children 0-12 and Museumkaart holders.

It is located in the historic centre of Utrecht next to the St Nicholas church square.

You can book Centraal Museum tickets online here

Centraal Museum, Agnietenstraat 1, 3512 XA Utrecht

Spoorwegmuseum (National Railway Museum)

The Spoorwegmuseum is a major museum located at Utrecht Maliebaan, a 19th century train station just to the east of Utrecht centre. It has a number of historic locomotives and carriages in its collection, an outdoor area with signal box, a children’s playground, an Orient Express-themed theatre show and a few mechanical rides.

spoorwegmuseum utrecht entrance hall
Spoorwegmuseum hall
trains at spoorwegmuseum utrecht
Outdoor trains at Spoorwegmusuem

It is open 1000-1700 (Tue-Sun), closed Mondays. Standard entrance costs €19.50. FREE entry to children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders.

You can book Spoorwegmuseum tickets online here

Spoorwegmuseum, Maliebaanstation, 3581 XW Utrecht

Universiteit Museum & Oude Hortus

The University Museum Utrecht (UMU) is a ‘hands-on’ research museum which covers different themed topics – from the human body and animal kingdom to earth sciences and social issues. It allows visitors to become a researcher and is aimed especially at children aged 8-14.

universiteit museum utrecht
Universiteit Museum Utrecht
universiteit museum utrecht exhibit
Universiteit Museum exhibit room

The site also hosts the Oude Hortus, a wonderful garden and green oasis in the heart of the city. It used to be the main university botanic garden from 1723 to 1963 (when it was moved to the current location at the Uithof – see below). Plants of note here are two Gingko Biloba trees, a peanut butter tree and kaki tree.

universiteit museum utrecht oude hortus gardens
Universiteit Museum – Oude Hortus gardens

It is open 1000-1700 (Tue-Sun), closed Mondays. Standard entrance to the Museum and Hortus gardens cost €14 for adults, €7 for children/youths 4-17. FREE entry to children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders.

Entrance to just the Hortus gardens costs €5.

The museum is located in the historic centre not far from Centraal Museum.

Utrecht University Museum, Lange Nieuwstraat 106, 3512 PN Utrecht

Rietveld Schröder House

Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) was a furniture designer and exponent of Dutch art movement De Stijl in the early 20th century. In 1924 he was asked by widow Truus Schröder to design a simple yet unconventional house.

The result is the Rietveld-Schröder House with its clean horizontal and vertical lines and use of primary colours with white, grey and black.

rietveld schroder house utrecht
Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht

The house remains in its original state and can be visited through an organised tour. It is located just to the east of Utrecht centre.

Standard entrance costs €19 for adults, €10.50 for children/youths 13-17. Children 0-12 and Museumkaart holders pay €3.

It is open 1100-1600 Tue-Sun, closes 2100 on Fridays in the summer.

You can book Rietveld-Schröder House tickets here

Rietveld Schröder House, Prins Hendriklaan 50, 3583 EP Utrecht

Sonnenborgh Museum & Observatory

Sonnenborgh is a 19th century observatory (sterrenwacht) built on a monumental 16th century bastion in the city centre. It is now a museum with exhibitions about space, time, weather and includes 3 telescope domes. The museum organises lectures, as well as sun and night-sky viewing events.

sonnenborgh utrecht
Sonnenborgh Utrecht
sonnenborgh utrecht sun exhibit
Sonnenborgh Utrecht – sun exhibit

Opening hours are 1100-1700 Tue-Fri and 1300-1700 Sun.

Admission to Sonnenborgh costs €10 for adults, €6.50 for children/youths 4-17. FREE entry to children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders.

Sonnenborgh, Zonnenburg 2, 3512 NL Utrecht

Speelklok Museum

A fun museum featuring self-playing musical instruments including musical clocks, musical boxes and of course the traditional Dutch street organs. A visit to the museum is done by included guided tour (Dutch and English) which goes on the half-hour.

museum speelklok utrecht
Museum Speelklok in Utrecht

Opening hours are 1000-1700 Tue-Sun.

Admission to the Speelklok Museum costs €15.50 for adults, €11.50 for children/youths 13-17 and €8.00 for children 4-12. FREE entry to children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders.

The museum is found on Steenweg, one of Utrecht’s main shopping streets.

You can book Speelklok Museum tickets here

Speelklok Museum, Steenweg 6, 3511 JP Utrech

Museum Catharijneconvent

This museum in the centre of Utrecht was a medieval monastery and has perhaps the best collection of medieval art in the Netherlands.

If you visit around Christmas time, the museum exhibits a huge model nativity scene which was acquired from Naples, Italy – with free entry to the public.

museum catharijneconvent utrecht
Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht
catherijneconvent nativity schene (kerkstal)
Nativity scene (kerkstal) at Christmas time

Opening hours are 1000-1700 Tue-Sun.

Standard admission to the Catharijneconvent costs €15 for adults, €7 for students. FREE entry to children/youths 0-17 and Museumkaart holders.

Museum Catharijneconvent, Lange Nieuwstraat 38, 3512 PH Utrecht

Dom Toren

The magnificent Dom Tower stands 112m high and is a symbol of the city. It is the tallest church spire in the Netherlands and was originally built in 1382. The nave of the Dom Cathedral was destroyed by a tornado in 1674 so the tower now stands alone.

domtoren utrecht
Domtoren Utrecht

It has been undergoing a significant restoration and is partly covered in scaffolding – this should come down by the end of 2024.

The tower is still open to visitors and you can climb the 465 steps to the top by regular guided tour. The tower contains some 64 bells including the carillon. You can get a good view of the city from the top and on a clear day you can see Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam.

dom tower utrecht bells
Dom Tower bells

Opening hours are 1000-1700 daily.

Regular tour admission to the Dom Tower costs €13.50 for adults, €8.50 for children 4-12. FREE entry to children 0-3.

You can book Dom Tower tickets here

Dom Tower (Tourist Info), Domplein 9, 3512 JC, Utrecht


The Dom Square (Domplein) goes back 2,000 years when the Romans built the Castellum Trajectum. Domplein then subsequently hosted churches, palaces and public buildings before the gothic cathedral was built (and partially destroyed in 1674, as mentioned).

You can find out about the rich archealogical history of the square by visiting DOMunder.

dom under utrecht exhibit
Dom Under exhibit
dom under utrecht
Dom Under entrance
domunder utrecht
DOMunder Utrecht

You can take a 75 minute guided tour of DOMunder which starts in the basement of an adjacent building. The guide gives an introductory talk on the history of the square. Tours are available in Dutch, English and German.

Following that you head onto the square itself and down the special DOMunder access stairs. Here there are audio-visual presentations and you get to use a special torch to look at the layered stonework which is synced up to an audio guide.

Tour admission to the DOMunder costs €14 for adults, €10 for children 0-17.

Opening hours are 1000-1630 Tue-Sun.

You can book DOMunder tickets here

DOMunder (Tourist Info), Domplein 9, 3512 JC, Utrecht

Castellum / Museum Hoge Woerd

This site in the Leidsche Rijn area (west Utrecht) is designed in the form of a Roman fortress. It includes Museum Hoge Woerd, an archaeological museum which has a 2,000 year old Roman ship recently excavated locally. Its main exhibition is ‘3,000 Years of Life and Labour’, a timeline looking at life in the area since the Bronze Age.

This was the location of the Limes, the northern frontier of the Roman empire and now a UNESCO World heritage site.

castellum utrecht hoge woerd
Castellum Utrecht
castellum utrecht roman ship de meern 1
Roman ship De Meern 1 at Castellum

There is also a theatre, a restaurant and city farm with animals and gardens. It is very popular with families from the local area.

Entrance to Castellum and the museum is free. It is open 1000-1700 Tue-Sun.

You can reach it by U-OV bus 4 or 28 from Utrecht Central. There is also free parking available.

Castellum Hoge Woerd, Hoge Woerdplein 1, 3454 PB De Meern (Utrecht)

Maxima Park

Maxima Park is a large park (300 hectares) in the west of Utrecht which connects the suburbs of De Meern, Leidsche Rijn and Vleuten. It was designed by noted Dutch landscape architect Adriaan Geuze and was officially opened by Queen Maxima in 2013.

Het Lint (the ribbon) is an 8km loop around the entire park periphery which is shared by cyclists, skaters and those on foot. Following it will take you to all the main points of interest in the park.

maxima park utrecht het lint
Maxima Park – Het Lint
maxima park utrecht pergola
Maxima Park – pergola

The park features the Castellum Roman fortress, a Japanese Gardens, the beautiful Vlinderhof butterfly gardens, an Observatory Tower, an adventure playground, the Haarrijnse Plas lake beach and a 1km long pergola.

Botanic Gardens Utrecht

The Utrecht University Botanic Gardens is the largest academic botanical garden in the Netherlands. It is located on the site of a historic fort in the eastern part of Utrecht.

The gardens host some 10,000 species of plant and includes a rock garden, tropical greenhouses, discovery gardens and a cafe with pleasant outdoor terrace.

utrecht botanic gardens fort hoofddijk
Fort Hoofddijk
utrecht botanic gardens greenhouse
Utrecht Botanic Gardens – greenhouse

It is open daily 1000-1630 between 1 March and 30 November. Standard entrance costs €10 for adults, €4.50 for children/youths 4-17. FREE entry to children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders.

It is located at the Science Park area in east Utrecht. Get there by U-OV bus 28 from Utrecht Central to bus stop ‘Botanische Tuinen’.

Book Utrecht University Botanic Gardens tickets here

Utrecht University Botanic Gardens, Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht

Rondvaart Canal Cruise

Local comapny Rederij Schuttevaer offers 1 hour ‘rondvaart’ canal cruises around Utrecht’s canals. The route takes in the Oudegracht and then the Catharijnesingel. You will see many historic buildings and bridges as well as the city’s notable canal cellars. There is a digital audio commentary available in multiple languages.

utrecht canal cruise
Utrecht canal cruise

Book your Utrecht Canal Cruise tickets here

Rederij Schuttevaer, Oudegracht 85, 3511 AD Utrecht

Utrecht City Library (Bibliotheek Neude)

Utrecht’s main city library is housed in a listed building dating from 1924 and was designed by Joseph Crouwel in the Amsterdam School style. It used to be the city’s post office before being converted to the library in 2020.

utrecht central library (bibliotheek neude)
Utrecht central library

With 9,000m2 of floor space it has a superb collection of books (many in English), workplaces, newspapers and magazines and a café. It is well worth dropping by for a look around.

Opening hours are 0900-2100 (Mon-Sat), 1000-1800 (Sun).

Utrecht Library, Neude 11, 3512 AE Utrecht

Shopping in Utrecht

Hoog Catherijne is a large indoor shopping mall located next to Utrecht Central station. Most of the 90 shops here are local and international chains and it also has over 30 restaurants.

hoog catherijne utrecht
Hoog Catherijne
hoog catherijne mall utrecht
Hoog Catherijne Mall

Steenweg is the main shopping high street which runs from the Vredenburg square to the Oudegracht.

Bijenkorf is a large 4-floor department store located at Sint Jacobsstraat 1A off the Vredenberg square. It sells clothing, shoes, cosmetics, watches, homeware items, luggage, books and stationary. The top floor The Kitchen is a pleasant self-service restaurant.

bijenkorf utrecht
Bijenkorf Utrecht

You will find some great independent stores and boutiques in and around:

  • Oudegracht and Twijnstraat
  • Voorstraat and Biltstraat
  • Nachtegaalstraat and Burgemeester Reigerstraat
  • Zadelstraat (which has a great view of the Dom tower)
Burgemeester Reigerstraat utrecht
Burgemeester Reigerstraat in Utrecht

There are Saturday flower markets at Janskerkhof and Oudegracht and an organic farmer’s market on Friday at Vredenburg.

Venues in Utrecht

TivoliVredenberg is a modern theatre venue for music concerts/entertainment and has a number of different halls. Its Grote Zaal (Great Hall) is renowned for its excellent acoustics.

TivoliVredenberg Utrecht

It is located close to Utrecht Central station on Vredenburgkade.

TivoliVredenberg, Vredenburgkade 11, 3511 WC Utrecht

Stadschouwburg is the city’s principal theatre which has 2 main halls. The building was designed by architect Willem Marinus Dudok and was completed in 1941. It has a wide variety of performances including theatre, cabaret, dance, comedy and musicals.

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Lucasbolwerk 24, 3512 EJ Utrecht

Royal Jaarbeurs in Utrecht is a major venue for conferences, trade fairs and events. It is located just close to Utrecht Central station and includes the 1,500 seat Beatrix Theatre.

Royal Jaarbeurs, Jaarbeursplein, 3521 AL Utrecht

Stadion Galgenwaard is the football stadium home of FC Utrecht, the local Eredivisie club. The current structures date to a renovation between 2000-2004 although it originally opened in 1936. The stadium now has a capacity of 23,750. It can be easily reached by U-OV tram 20/21/22 (weekdays) or U-OV bus 9/41.

fc utrecht galgenwaard stadium
Stadion Galgenwaard – Home of FC Utrecht

Stadion Galgenwaard, Herculesplein 241, 3584 AA Utrecht

Getting To/From and Around Utrecht

Utrecht Central Station is one of the main tranport hubs of the country. You can find out how to travel to Utrecht here

utrecht central station
Utrecht Central station

Local transport company U-OV offers bus and tram services in and around the city. See how to get around Utrecht

With its historic centre and canals, fascinating museums and a lively atmosphere thanks to a large student population Utrecht is certainly well worth a visit.

Our Utrecht guide was first published 3 June 2024.

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