48 Hours in Holland's Unsung Village Utrecht
It's easy to fall in love with a city like Utrecht. Beautiful canals, busy streets with cyclist in every direction, and colorful buildings that make a rainy day look cheery. Living so close to the Dutch border has been such a treat. We have loved learning about this tiny country that has made such an impact on the world with all of its culture, art, and history.
Sadly, we just had a short stay in Utrecht, but is was filled to the brim with things to do and lots of eating (that's always at the top of my list when visiting a new place). Today, wanted to share with you all the best way to spend a short visit in this lovely, unsung village outside of Amsterdam. It's really worth the visit!
Star Lodge Hotel
Since we took a road trip to Utrecht, we wanted to be in a place we could easily park our car, was at a good price point, and close to the city centre. No time could be wasted! We found just that at Star Lodge Hotel. It was cozy, had a lovely atmosphere, and was super clean. If you're interested in this space you can read my post about it here.
2. STROLL THROUGH THE CITY
You could spend the whole day simply strolling through the city observing the architecture, canals, and enjoying the scenery. Although Utrecht is definitely a bicycle city, it's extremely walkable. On Saturday the town is filled with Farmer's Markets and even a Flower Market that is absolutely worth a visit (I was in heaven looking at the bouquets wishing I could manage to take one home). If you're within the city center you'll also be able to hear the 500 year old bells from Dom Tower. The musician that performs on them recently did a version of the Star Wars theme song!
We spent the first part of our day enjoying this city by walking and it was one of my favorite parts of our day.
3. Tour of Dom Tower
I must admit, my calves were a little sore the next day after climbing the 465 steps to the top of this beauty. However, it was more than worth it. We took the afternoon tour of the Dom Tower and it totally surpassed my expectations. The Dom Tower is the highest church tower in all of the Netherlands and it provides such a spectacular view of the city. Again, coming from the USA, a lot of things are different here in Europe. Like the fact that I can touch a 500 year old bell that is still functioning and being used daily! Seriously, this blows my mind. Also, the tour guide was incredibly entertaining. He took the time to do the tour in both Dutch and English, but managed to keep it under an hour long. We learned a lot during our time at the Dom Tower Tour and I would highly recommend that this is at the top of your list when visiting Utrecht.
4. Where to Eat
Korte Minrebroederstraat 11
3512 GG UtrechT
Tegenover het oude gemeentehuis
+31 (0) 30 2322822
We had a quick bite to eat and a few beers at this casual and cozy spot. Something about the store front design and warm lighting drew us in and we didn't regret it. When you walk into Family Stegeman it feels like you've gone some decades back to a meat shop. You'll find handmade sausages, beautiful copper on the wall, and board games in the front; should you fancy playing a game or two while sipping on a Dutch beer. It was the perfect spot to take a break from walking around the city and to relax for a bit. The service was nice and the food was even better.
Bagels & beans
3542 DL Utrecht
Tel: 030 - 2409090
After our hike up the Dom Tower we were pretty starving. Honestly, I would have eaten almost anything, but luckily we saw Bagels & Beans. It looked so lively and busy, so I thought the locals must approve. And I was right! They have a large menu of cold and hot bagels ranging from sweet to savory. I asked the waitress which was her favorite, and she said it was a tie between the goat cheese bacon and chicken pesto. I opted for the goat cheese bacon, because I really can't say "no" to cheese, ever. It was the perfect choice and it paired nicely with their fruit smoothie. This was such a delicious lunch spot!
5. Entertainment & Arts
"It’s an age-old tale, tried and true. Even the Romans knew that Utrecht was unique. And so, around 50 A.D., they made their camp at the present location of Domplein. Ever since, this city in the heart of the Netherlands has always been full of activity. Trajectum Lumen pays homage to the rich history of Utrecht, with an eye-catching light art trail, which is free for all to enjoy 365 nights a year."
I had read a bit about Trajectum Lumen before our arrival and knew I wanted to see it in person, but I must admit, pictures really don't do this exhibit justice. Seeing it in person and watching the lights change was so magical. When we walked down to this location, a mother and daughter were skipping through the lights giggling at each other. It was the sweetest. These light exhibits are placed strategically in the historical center of the city and every Saturday you can take a guided tour to see them all. Highly recommend! Even if you just take a quick stroll through a few of the locations.
Dinner in Motion
The Wall – A2, Exit 7
Hertogswetering 183, P1
3543 AS Utrecht
Definitely the most unique and entertaining dining experience I have ever had. Honestly, didn't know what to expect when I had read about Dinner in Motion and watched their trailer, but I think it was best going in with an open mind. The food is absolutely delicious, the animation was entertaining and engaging, and sitting at a table full of new people was such a fun experience. They really went above and beyond with Dinner in Motion and hit the ball out of the park. If you're looking to enjoy a lovely, 6-course meal and have an experience that touches all senses, than I highly recommend trying this out. I will admit, it's a bit pricey, but it's a once in a lifetime experience!
All in all, we had a lovely time in Utrecht and will most certainly be back. I am already day dreaming of having a cappuccino sitting near one of the canals and listening to the bells chime. Until next, you beautiful village.