The small province of Utrecht includes the preserved old center of Utrecht – a miniature city-state consisting of three lines of canals, and a lot of surrounding settlements. There is much more to see here than meets the eye. The delightful castle Kasteel de Haar “on the doorstep of the city” is one of the most beautiful castles in the country. Pleasant to the eye and Amersfoort – a very beautiful city in the north-east of Utrecht with a bright medieval character. And the province of Utrecht is the birthplace of luxurious mansions in the southeast of Doorn, where Kaiser Germany was defeated. Here, in Amerongen, delinquent aristocrats were exiled starting from the 13th century. In addition, the province has a lot of pretty lakes where you can go boating or just swimming. The area is also well suited for cyclists. Check jibin123 for customs regulations and visa requirements of Netherlands.
The city itself, the center of the province, deserves a separate laudatory ode. Even though the Scottish writer James Boswell wrote in 1763:
I groaned at the thought of spending the whole winter in such a terrifying place.
Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the country, once destroyed and then scrupulously restored. Its beautiful, lively, ancient center is surrounded by 13th-century two-tiered canals – unique in the whole of Holland.
In the summer, Utrecht is a city of festivals, jazz events are held here, musicians play on every corner. In September, the famous film festival is held. Finally, Utrecht is a student city, the commune of studious has more than 40 thousand people: there are no more even in Amsterdam.
How to get to Utrecht
Utrecht Centraal Station is one of the main stations of the Dutch railway, here you can take any train in any direction. For example, to Amsterdam and Schiphol airport the journey will take about 30 minutes and 5-9 EUR one way. The ICE high-speed train delivers tourists to Cologne and Frankfurt. For adventure lovers, there are EuroNight trains that go all the way to Moscow via Berlin, Warsaw and Minsk.
The railway station is located on the western border of the Old Town, within a 5-minute reach of the Hoog Catharijne shopping center (colloquially “Centrum”) and close to the bus station.
The bus stop is right next to the station. International bus services leave from the west side (‘Jaarbeurszijde’), while local and city buses depart from the east side. By the way, it is worth bearing in mind that intercity buses are slower than trains (this rule applies to the whole of Holland).
Shopping and markets
The city has a huge open-air market on Vredenburg Square every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. On Saturdays you can also visit the Janskerkhof flower fair and the Oudegracht flower market.
Most shops are located in the city centre, around the Oudegracht, Vredeburg and Neude squares. There is also a large shopping center in the east, in the Wilhelminapark area. But tourists, as a rule, buy goods in a huge mall right at the station – Hoog Catharijne. This is a real shopping district, connecting the central hall of the Utrecht Centraal railway station with the city. Arriving in the city by train, it is impossible to bypass this shopping center.
Entertainment and attractions in Utrecht
The visiting card of Utrecht is the oldest Gothic cathedral in the country with the highest spire in the Netherlands, the Domkerk (St. Martin’s Dome Cathedral, website). You can go up there, but only during a group tour (about 40 minutes, a ticket is sold at the tourist office opposite the cathedral, the views are magnificent). Also of interest are the town hall, the Museum of Coins and one of the largest in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe – Utrecht University.
A characteristic feature of the city is two-tier canals connected by numerous bridges with adjacent houses, which served as warehouses in the Middle Ages. Now the terraces of the first tier have been turned into numerous cozy cafes and restaurants, and the channels themselves are mainly used for pleasure walks and recreation.
In summer, it is worth visiting Wilhelmina Park, where locals like to go for a picnic.
Museums in Utrecht
Museum of the Society of Art and Science, Railway Museum, Central Museum (collection of works of art from the early 17th century).
One of the country’s largest collections of medieval art at the Museum of Christianity. Address: Lange Nieuwstraat, 38; working hours: from Tuesday to Friday – from 10:00 to 17:00, on Saturday and Sunday – from 11:00 to 17:00; entrance 14 EUR, children from 6 to 17 years old – 7 EUR.
The National Jukebox Museum, which has been operating since 1956. His collection contains a variety of jukeboxes, most of which are still operational. And also: music boxes, clocks, chimes, mechanical organs and hurdy-gurdies. Address: Steenweg 6 3511 JP; working hours: from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00; entrance 13 EUR, children 4-12 years old – 7 EUR.