Utrecht in One Day:.. What’s The Plan?

Make the most of your time in Utrecht with our personal recommendations. Veteran guide Jeffrey Scott Pearson shares his ideas for a special day in the medieval city.

Prepare the Night Before with Reservations

On the evening before your visit to Utrecht sign up online for the 10:30 am Free Walking Tour Utrecht. The walking tour is a good way to get to know the basics of the city and a great way to meet fellow travelers. You’ll also want to reserve tickets and times for the DomUnder and Dom Toren Bell Tower in advance, especially since they don’t even start tours until midday. And you’ll want to get familiar with the Speelklok Museum, as it’s a top 3 attraction!

Travel Plan: One Day in Utrecht

One assumes you’ll be coming in by train In the morning through Utrecht Centraal Station, so when you arrive head out to the east end of the station under the bubble roof into Hoog Catharijne, a big modern mall that takes less than five minutes to walk straight through. Exit outside onto Vredenburg Square, where there is often an open-air market. Use your mobile GPS or follow the signs to the Dom Toren, a large medieval bell tower in the middle of town – you literally cannot miss it.

On the way, note the variety of architecture on the storefronts, especially on the upper floors. Take pictures but make sure you get to the Dom Plein (Church Square) in time for your tour.

Taking in the Timeless Trading Town

After your two-hour walk, you’ll have a good sense of what’s available in town. Take this time to revisit the Oudegracht (Old Canal) for a lunch by the water. Note the canal landings or werfkelders on the waterside – occupied by relaxed locals and happy tourists. Unlike other canal cities, these convenient shelves are unique to Utrecht and enable businesses to thrive both on the water and below the street level underground! Cafes like The Silk Road Utrecht, Broadway American, Chillz, and Il Pozzo are popular locally, but there are dozens of cute choices to explore. On rainy days, try the historic Oudaen eatery built in the city’s oldest castle for a pricy but special experience.

Utrecht spacer

Find a Way to Get in the Water

Plan your afternoon around when your Bell Tower / Dom Under tour is scheduled, but try to fit in an hour-long lazy boat ride on the canals from the Schuttevaer boat dock near the Oudaen on the Viebrug. The journey through the Dom City’s enchanting canals reveals perspectives only available from the water. A skilled skipper will guide you past wharf cellars, graceful bridges, and iconic statues. Plus, boats are temperature-controlled, with rain covers and audio tours in many languages, with tickets costing 16-20.

If you have the physical energy, perhaps a pedal boat would be more fun. These can be found on the canals in front of the Winkel van Sinkel near the Stadhuisbrug (City Hall bridge). Further down the waterway, kayaks and canoes are available to rent for the truly adventurous. Whatever the case, find a way to see Utrecht from the waterline before you leave.

If you’re into thrift or vintage shopping it’s worth mentioning that the Oudegracht has at least a dozen such shops between the 200-300 block, starting at the BLAHBLAB BRIDGE and continuing south. A full list of these stores can be found here. (Internal link)

If the weather is bad, or boat trips are not your thing, consider an hour at the Speelklok Museum, fully described here and a big hit with nearly everybody! This unique self-playing musical instrument museum is housed in a former church with an excellent cafe near the entrance.  Look online and be advised to arrive on time for the guided tour (check language), otherwise the visit isn’t much fun and way too quiet! Bilingual guides show you all the coolest ways machines have created music in the last 500 years. It’s truly a fascinating journey.

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Enjoy your Evening in Utrecht

Around dinnertime head to the lively Neude Square for a drink or two, and then perhaps a walk up the street to Janskerkhof for tapas at the Street Food Club or a dinner at the elegant Ruby Rose next door. It’s all fun, funky, young, and a little bit pricy – but if you hang around long enough the whole area turns into quite the party on weekend nights! Often during warm weather, there’s a late-night scene here, at Neude or around Janskerhof square – usually at the Hofman Café, Café Het Hart, Feestcafé T’ Pakuis, or the wild Australian dance club Woolloomooloo – check the local Uit Agenda magazine for details.

For family fun, consider checking out the weirdest venue in town – the Duke of Toyko Karaoke Bar!  It’s under the Winkel van Sinkel in a long, strange, colorful tunnel called the Ganzenmarkt, which you might remember from your walking tour.  Rent a room, grab a drink, and sing your favorite songs together without a roomful of strangers judging you – reservations suggested.

If you’re not staying in town, remember that though trains go all night, there are far fewer choices.  Make sure to check the rail schedule before the wee hours of the morning as your options for getting home might be limited.

THREE MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS
Hoog_Catharijne
HOOG CATHERIJNE MALL
Oudegracht
LUNCH ON THE OUDEGRACHT (OLD CANAL)
Utrecht boattour
CANAL BOAT TOUR
Winkel van Sinkel
THE WINKEL VAN SINKEL
Speelklok front
SPEELKLOK MUSEUM ENTRANCE
Ruby Rose restaurant
THE STREET FOOD CLUB & THE RUBY ROSE AT JANSKERKHOF
Duke of Tokyo Karaoke
GANZENMARKT TUNNEL & DUKE OF TOKYO KARAOKE

Utrecht in One Day:.. What’s The Plan?

Make the most of your time in Utrecht with our guide’s recommendations. Tourmaster Jeffrey Scott Pearson shares his ideas for a special day in the medieval city.
TOP 3 ATTRACTIONS

Prepare the Night Before with Reservations

On the evening before your visit to Utrecht sign up online for the 10:30 am Free Walking Tour Utrecht. The walking tour is a good way to get to know the basics of the city and a great way to meet fellow travelers. You’ll also want to reserve tickets and times for the DomUnder and Dom Toren Bell Tower in advance, especially since they don’t even start tours until midday. And you’ll want to get familiar with the Speelklok Museum, as it’s a top 3 attraction!

Utrecht spacer

Travel Plan: One Day in Utrecht

One assumes you’ll be coming in by train In the morning through Utrecht Centraal Station, so when you arrive head out to the east end of the station under the bubble roof into Hoog Catharijne, a big modern mall that takes less than five minutes to walk straight through. Exit outside onto Vredenburg Square, where there is often an open-air market. Use your mobile GPS or follow the signs to the Dom Toren, a large medieval bell tower in the middle of town – you literally cannot miss it.

On the way, note the variety of architecture on the storefronts, especially on the upper floors. Take pictures but make sure you get to the Dom Plein (Church Square) in time for your tour.

Hoog_Catharijne
HOOG CATHERIJNE MALL

Taking in the Timeless Trading Town

After your two-hour walk, you’ll have a good sense of what’s available in town. Take this time to revisit the Oudegracht (Old Canal) for a lunch by the water. Note the canal landings or werfkelders on the waterside – occupied by relaxed locals and happy tourists. Unlike other canal cities, these convenient shelves are unique to Utrecht and enable businesses to thrive both on the water and below the street level underground! Cafes like The Silk Road Utrecht, Broadway American, Chillz, and Il Pozzo are popular locally, but there are dozens of cute choices to explore. On rainy days, try the historic Oudaen eatery built in the city’s oldest castle for a pricy but special experience.

Oudegracht
LUNCH ON THE OUDEGRACHT
Utrecht spacer

Find a Way to Get in the Water

Plan your afternoon around when your Bell Tower / Dom Under tour is scheduled, but try to fit in an hour-long lazy boat ride on the canals from the Schuttevaer boat dock near the Oudaen on the Viebrug. The journey through the Dom City’s enchanting canals reveals perspectives only available from the water. A skilled skipper will guide you past wharf cellars, graceful bridges, and iconic statues. Plus, boats are temperature-controlled, with rain covers and audio tours in many languages, with tickets costing 16-20.

Utrecht boattour
CANAL BOAT TOUR

If you have the physical energy, perhaps a pedal boat would be more fun. These can be found on the canals in front of the Winkel van Sinkel near the Stadhuisbrug (City Hall bridge). Further down the waterway, kayaks and canoes are available to rent for the truly adventurous. Whatever the case, find a way to see Utrecht from the waterline before you leave.

Winkel van Sinkel
THE WINKEL VAN SINKEL
Utrecht spacer

If the weather is bad, or boat trips are not your thing, consider an hour at the Speelklok Museum, fully described here and a big hit with nearly everybody! This unique self-playing musical instrument museum is housed in a former church with an excellent cafe near the entrance.  Look online and be advised to arrive on time for the guided tour (check language), otherwise the visit isn’t much fun and way too quiet! Bilingual guides show you all the coolest ways machines have created music in the last 500 years. It’s truly a fascinating journey.

Speelklok front
SPEELKLOK MUSEUM FRONT
Utrecht spacer

Enjoy your Evening in Utrecht

Around dinnertime head to the lively Neude Square for a drink or two, and then perhaps a walk up the street to Janskerkhof for tapas at the Street Food Club or a dinner at the elegant Ruby Rose next door. It’s all fun, funky, young, and a little bit pricy – but if you hang around long enough the whole area turns into quite the party on weekend nights! Often during warm weather, there’s a late-night scene here, at Neude or around Janskerhof square – usually at the Hofman Café, Café Het Hart, Feestcafé T’ Pakuis, or the wild Australian dance club Woolloomooloo – check the local Uit Agenda magazine for details.

Ruby Rose restaurant
THE STREET FOOD CLUB & THE RUBY ROSE AT JANSKERKHOF

For family fun, consider checking out the weirdest venue in town – the Duke of Toyko Karaoke Bar!  It’s under the Winkel van Sinkel in a long, strange, colorful tunnel called the Ganzenmarkt, which you might remember from your walking tour.  Rent a room, grab a drink, and sing your favorite songs together without a roomful of strangers judging you – reservations suggested.

Duke of Tokyo Karaoke
GANZENMARKT TUNNEL & DUKE OF TOKYO KARAOKE
KARAOKE FUN