Planning a trip to Utrecht, in the Netherlands

Utrecht in an ancient Dutch capital, founded by the Romans.

Utrecht's stunning cathedral has a 369-foot belltower, the tallest in the Netherlands, offering sweeping views (though accessible only via guided tour; www.domtoren.nl).

The National Museum for Musical Instruments covers its topic from the 17th century to today.

The Dutch Railway Museum.

Boat trips along the canals and river to several mansions and estates (check at the VVV tourist office).

There are also some nifty castles nearby.

De Haar is the pride of Dutch fortresses, moat-protected and garden-blessed, built in the 15th century then rebuilt by neogothic master PJH Cuypers in the 19th century after a major fire and luxuriously furnished with Gobelin tapestries, Persian rugs, and antique French pieces (tel. +31-(0)30-677-8515; www.kasteeldehaar.nl).

Shopping in Utrecht

Utrecht is the Dutch capital of shopping, where all the big Dutch trade fairs are held. Even the train station is installed in a massive, six-block-long, multi-level mall (the Hoog Catherijne).

Besides the mall and window-shopping in the old center, be sure to spend some time on the two-tiered wharf overlooking the central Oudegracht canal, lined with stores, cafes, and restaurants.

Where to stay in Utrecht

The best lodgings are at Tulip Inn Utrecht (tel. 030/231-3169), at the cathedral (Janskerkhof 10) and just a few blocks from that shopping/cafe wharf along the canal, with comfortable modern doubles for around $150.

To save a bit, head to the Maile (tel. 030/292-5200), in a pair of 19th century mansions at Mailestraat 204, in a quiet residential neighborhood, with doubles from $95 to $110.

Where to eat in Utrecht

While Utrecht has hundreds of great dining opportunities, you may want to splurge on what many consider Holland's top restaurant, the Victorian-styled bastion De Hoefslag, in Bosch en Duin just northeast of town. Tthey balance the French-inspired menu between game and seafood, always impeccably prepared.

You can get solid Dutch fare right in the center of Utrecht at the Stadskasteel Oudean, in the rustic second-story dining room of a former castle on the Oudegracht.


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Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs ©Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board

This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.