Utrecht is a charming university town located just 25+ miles southeast from Amsterdam. It’s is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and 20% of its population is made up of students. In fact, Utrecht is home to the largest and most prestigious university in the Netherlands!
But aside from the university, Utrecht is an idyllic getaway. With tree-lined canals and cobbled streets, Utrecht feels like a smaller, more beautiful, and less crowded Amsterdam. Which is why if you’re visiting Amsterdam, you should definitely consider taking a day trip to Utrecht.
How to Have the Perfect Day Trip to Utrecht
If you’re traveling to Utrecht from Amsterdam, don’t miss: A Complete Guide to Visiting Amsterdam
How to Get to Utrecht from Amsterdam
Getting to Utrecht from Amsterdam is a breeze! (And a main reason you should consider visiting Utrecht). The easiest way is to hop on a train at Amsterdam Centraal and hop off at Utrecht Centraal, and you’re there. While this can vary depending on time and date, trains generally travel between the two cities every 30 minutes. And the train ride only lasts about 20-30 minutes. You can purchase a ticket ahead of time (I prefer to use Omio), or you can show up to the station and purchase at the ticket machine. The cost is about $20 round-trip.
- Note: If you’re traveling by train to Utrecht, once you arrive you can easily walk to the city center!
If you’re doing a road-trip through the Netherlands, you can also drive to Utrecht which will take about 50-minutes. I would not suggest driving as you don’t need a car once you arrive and parking is hard to find within the city. However, it is doable if you’re set on the idea of a road trip. (If you are renting a car, I prefer to use Enterprise or QEEQ to compare prices amongst many rental companies).
A third option when traveling between Amsterdam and Utrecht is to bike. Biking is huge in the Netherlands, the country is extremely bike-friendly, and they have the most cyclists per capita. If you are up for the adventure, it will take you a little over two-hours to bike between the cities.
Where to Eat/Drink in Utrecht
For such a small town, Utrecht has some pretty great restaurant options! Below you’ll find some of my favorite dining choices from when I traveled to Utrecht.
FICO – Fine Dining
Dining at Fico was an incredible experience. With a multi-course tasting menu, you get a chance to sample many different types of food. Plus it’s a bit outside of the medieval center or town so you get more of a local feel here.
KOENRAAD UTRECHT – European
Koenraad Utrecht is a cozy and intimate spot with brick walls and a fireplace. The food was well executed and delicious. Koenraad Utrecht is a great dinner spot in the heart of Utrecht.
TEDS – Brunch
Teds is the perfect stop once you get off the train from Amsterdam. With an expansive brunch menu, and a great outdoor patio, Teds is where you’ll want to fuel up before exploring Utrecht for the day.
WIJNBAR VINVIN – Wine Bar
If you’re looking for before/after dinner drinks, I urge you to stop in at Wijnbar VinVin. They have an expansive wine list and a cozy atmosphere. It’s a bit more tucked away so the street is nice and quiet giving you a more local feel to the city.
The Best Things to See and Do in Utrecht
Being quite small, there isn’t really *too* much to do in Utrecht. And truthfully, the most joy that I found in visiting Utrecht was just strolling along the river and stopping in the parks. You can also take a boat tour through the canals, and visit the Dom Tower as well as take an underground tour (DOMunder). Lastly, there’s a surprisingly large amount of kitsch museums in Utrecht. I popped into Museum Voor Het Kruideniersbedrijf, an old grocery store museum, and it was nice! It was free to enter so if you’re in the area, you might as well check it out.
If you want to get out of the medieval center and explore the rest of Utrecht, I suggest renting a bike to see the city.
Should You Spend the Night in Utrecht?
To See Utrecht, you certainly do not need to spend the night. However, if you want to experience the city at a more relaxed pace or get up and walk around before all of the tourists arrive, then I would suggest spending the night.
When I visited Utrecht, I stayed at The Hunfeld Hotel and would recommend it.
Overall, I adored my stay in Utrecht. It was the perfect getaway from the craziness of Amsterdam, and just as charming. If you’re planning to visit Amsterdam, I highly recommend at least a day trip to Utrecht.
For a more visual look at Utrecht, and more ideas on what to see and do, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel and search “ppinnetherlands” or look for my “Netherlands” highlight
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.