The Ultimate Guide to Utrecht's Top 10 Neighborhoods


Updated on Aug 30 • 5 minute read

Are you thinking about living in Utrecht? You won’t regret it! The city, which is located in the heart of the Netherlands, has a rich history as well as a modern vibe. Many expats choose to live in Rotterdam or Amsterdam when considering a move to the Netherlands, but Utrecht holds a unique beauty of its own!

Like with any city, it's crucial to get a good sense of the best districts. Our Utrecht Neighborhood Guide will help you get a jumpstart on planning your big move. You'll feel like a local before you even leave home!

Why living in Utrecht?

Whether you come to Utrecht as an expat to study or work, there are many things to do in your spare time. Visit the flower market on a Saturday morning, or walk to centenary landmarks like the Domtoren bell tower or the Cathedral of St. Martin.

Become a real ‘Dutchie’ and grab your bicycle to enjoy the narrow streets, cosy canals and lively cafés of Utrecht.

Another big plus about living in Utrecht: big cities like Amsterdam (25 minutes) or Rotterdam (40 minutes) are just a train ride away! The costs of living in Utrecht vary, so you’ll need to look at each neighborhood and see if it suits your budget.

Consider your commute and whether you mind taking public transportation. You might be able to find cheaper housing! We’ll guide you through 10 of the most popular neighborhoods amongst expats and international students:

  • City Center
  • Oost
  • Witte vrouwen
  • Universiteitskwartier
  • Stadhuiskwartier
  • Lombok
  • Utrecht Zuid
  • Leidsche Rijn
  • IJsselstein
  • Kanaleneiland

1. City Center

Who doesn't want to live in the beautiful City Center of Utrecht? The center has a wonderful historic ambiance. You'll notice that it’s the area where most tourists gather to see the main landmarks. You can find restaurants, shops, bars and more.

Living in the City Center of Utrecht means that there’s always something to do on a walking distance. Moreover, you'll live near Utrechts central station. You can visit other cities in no time!

Of course, this is one of Utrecht’s most popular neighborhoods, which explains why it’s challenging to find housing here. It can also be very expensive. However, if you have the budget and want to be in the center of it all, then the City Center is probably the ideal place for you!

2. Oost

When you want to live near the city center of Utrecht, check out living in the Oost area. Oost (translated ‘East’) may still be a bit pricey, but not quite as expensive as the center itself. It also has its fair share of dining, bars and shopping, and is home to Utrecht Science Park, the largest in the Netherlands.

Oost is a favorite amongst students. The universities are accessible, and it has a trendy, hip vibe. If your accommodation doesn’t have a balcony or garden, just enjoy your daily picnic at the Wilhelminapark.

3. Witte vrouwen

The neighborhood of Witte Vrouwen is considered to be a more ‘posh’ area to live in Utrecht. The narrow streets give the district a village-like atmosphere with the advantage of being in the city center in no time. The central location and the hip cafes make Wittevrouwen a popular neighborhood among young families.

Despite the fact that parking in the area is difficult and the house prices are relatively high, the houses are very popular. The luxury of a private garden, two to three bedrooms and the fact that the neighborhood is in the middle of the city is a big advantage for many home searchers.

There are also plenty upstairs apartments and studios to be found in Wittevrouwen. If your budget allows you to, make sure to put Witte Vrouwen on your search list when looking for a place in Utrecht.

4. Universiteitskwartier

Universiteitskwartier, as the name implies, is Utrecht’s university district. The university is just around the corner and the area offers affordable housing.

This buzzy neighborhood is full of energy and a young population. This is where you’ll find inexpensive cafes, fun bars and Janskerkhof Square, complete with the Bloemenmarkt, a large flower market. You'll find lovely vintage shops on the Voorstraat and Biltstraat. For all these reasons, the area is particularly loved by students.

5. Stadhuiskwartier

One of Utrecht’s best-kept secrets, it is filled with accommodation and shopping options. You can expect delightful cafes, interesting jewelry and shops filled with creative designs. It’s also a favorite hangout spot for young internationals, with its wine bars and outdoor terraces.

Housing is plentiful here, and you can find moderate pricing as long as you jump on it while it’s still available.

6. Lombok

More and more people are discovering the convenient location of Utrecht’s Lombok. Lombok is located near the central station and buses are also within easy reach. Lombok is home to specialty stores, small supermarkets and delicious bakeries. So eat your heart out for your daily groceries!

Lombok is expected to become more popular in the coming years. Make sure to check out if you can find a place in this popular area, before it’s too late.

7. Utrecht Zuid

Just south of the City Center, you’ll find the areas of Tolsteeg, Hoograven and Rivierenwijk. There are a lot of hipster cafes and bars, as well as unique little shops. If you need to relax, you can also find green spaces.

This is an up-and-coming neighborhood, so it hasn’t gotten completely busy or too pricey yet, but expect that to change due to its popularity. It is filled with students, expats, immigrants and young families. Depending on the housing style, there can be really diverse housing prices, so be sure to experiment with different areas to find what fits your budget.

8. Leidsche Rijn

Prefer to get out of the city and don’t mind using public transportation to get into the City Center or the university area? Experience a quiet suburban life in Leidsche Rijn. It is a newer area, boasting affordable housing and a slower pace.

Leidsche Rijn is particularly loved by expats and young families. It’s also home to Leidsche Rijn, which is the biggest park in Utrecht. But if you want to go walking or jogging, or maybe even skating or cycling, then the Maxima Park is the spot for you!

9. IJsselstein

The suburb IJsselstein is a 20-minute car ride away from the Utrecht city center. IJselstein has a cute, small city centre with monuments, churches and other historical treasures. You can have scenic walks or bike rides on a daily basis when you live in this area at the so-called ‘Green Heart’.

If you prefer to live in a more quiet area, make sure to check out housing in IJsselstein. It might be the perfect place for you!

10. Kanaleneiland

If you need to stay within a budget, Kanaleneiland might be a viable choice. Mostly comprised of older apartment blocks from the 60s and 70s, it may not be pretty and historic, but it does offer low-priced housing.

You can also find inexpensive fruit markets and other shopping. There are relaxing green spaces by the Park Transwijk and the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal.

Places to avoid in Utrecht

Utrecht is known to be a safe city and therefore does not have specific areas to avoid. Some people might call Kanaleneiland and Overvecht as areas that are less attractive to live in. However, more and more young professionals are moving to suburban areas and the neighborhoods keep on improving.

We hope our Utrecht Neighborhood Guide will help you feel prepared as you begin to go over your moving abroad checklist, look over a doable budget and begin to decide on the best neighborhoods to book a place in Utrecht. An unbelievable adventure awaits you, so don’t waste any time and plan well in advance. Enjoy every second!

Related Articles