Utrecht is a great student city. There is loads to do, and since the Dutch university term is much longer than that in the UK and some other countries, you really get a chance to build connections, meet people and establish your life out here.
A testament to Utrecht’s long history, this 112m high belfry is the tallest of its kind in the country - and i t’s over 600 years old. The cathedral boasts 50 bells, and the 465-step climb to the top is worth the achy next-morning legs for the view it affords you of the entire city. On a clear day, you see as far as Amsterdam, and it’s a spectacular sight. Dom Tower itself is a stunning construction, intricately carved and visible from all over the city.
St Catherine’s Convent Museum is considered the finest collection of medieval, religious art in the Netherlands. You don’t need to be religious yourself to appreciate the quality and passion of the work displayed inside - anyone who visits can feel it. As one of the best museums in Utrecht, this is the place to go for a bit of local culture!
The Dutch National Railway Museum is located in the heart of Utrecht. In the early 2000s it was completely renovated, and museum now displays its work in four different "worlds", as they call them. These worlds go from the earliest years of motorised transport (1800s), through the “glory days” international trains and up to more modern designs. It’s actually quite fascinating and very intelligently laid out.
This UNESCO Heritage Site is one of (or perhaps the) most unusually designed home in the Netherlands - and that’s saying something! Initially built as a family home, it is now a museum where you can experience an interior like you’ve never known it before. Using a series of sliding panels, all of the rooms can change style, shape and size in an instant - it was designed to provide a unique spatial experience to each part of the house. Basically, it’s very hard to describe, but very cool to see.
Unlike the crowded centre of Amsterdam, the canal network of Utrecht is utterly serene, calm and surrounded with green space. The walkways are crisscrossing paths are plentiful, and it’s just a great place for a morning or evening stroll as a local. It’s one of the most traditional-feeling parts of the city, and you’ll enjoy its atmosphere for sure.
In a special greenhouse in the botanical gardens, you can observe the world’s most beautiful and colorful butterflies racing around. The little creatures are originally from all over the planet, including Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. It’s a cracking spectacle, taking place from the 1st of June every year.
Like many cities, Utrecht has its own film festival. However, this is the main festival of its kind in the country, making it a massive event! For ten days, the city is overrun with feature films and shorts of every kind imaginable, as well as actors, directors, fans and celebrities who want to take part in the festivities!
Every Autumn, Utrecht is home to the fantastic craft beer festival. Local brewers for miles around will come to the fayre to flog their wares and promote their brand. The festival is hosted in bars and pubs around the city, and entry everywhere is free - all you have to do is cough up enough coin for your beers! Runs from the 3rd-5th of November.
The Netherlands is famed for its fries just as much as the Belgians, and Frietwinkel is the very best place in town. Along with a generous helping of mayonnaise or ketchup, you order a big cone of hot fries for a few euros - that’s all there is to it! It’s not healthy, but it’s incredibly tasty and morish.
Mmm, wine. This "wine cafe" offers a series of price ranges for by-the-glass wines, as well as a massive list of all their bottled vintages. Open all day, serving nibbles or proper meals depending on what you’re after, it’s a proper bar that caters to all. You can splash hundreds of euros on a single bottle, or buy a glass for €3-4. Fun, sociable and very knowledgeable staff.
Offering real Vietnamese food and vibe in the heart of Utrecht is Kimmade. Everyone who goes there says it feels like stepping out of Holland in into another world, just for a little while. The menu is extensive and well-presented, without breaking the bank. Really cool way to eat out now and then.
Homemade burgers on fresh bread and a range of toppings, sauces and sides. These are probably the best burgers in town and while they’re a bit more expensive than the likes of McDonald’s, there’s a world of difference in the quality and taste.
The beer selection here is second-to-none, and Kafe Belgie is the place to go if you want good, strong beers and plenty of them. There are lots of Belgian imports, but also beers from around the world and of every sort imaginable - it’s beer heaven, and it will be right on your doorstep!
Not in the mood for burgers? How about hot dogs? With a huge range of fillings, different types of bread and perfectly good, real meat, you’ve never tasted hot dogs like these. They’re almost gourmet, but without the pretentious flavors or exorbitant price tag - check them out, grab a beer, have a great time.