Looking for fun things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands? You’re in the right place. Here’s a list of the best Utrecht attractions.
A charming city with its own character and rich history. That’s a short but righteous summary of Utrecht; a medieval city tucked in the heart of the Netherlands.
For us, Utrecht is one of the most beautiful Dutch cities, and it also happens to be the fourth-largest city in the country.
Beyond that, Utrecht, Netherlands, has quite a compact city center, so most attractions will be within walking distance from the train station.
Wondering what to do in Utrecht? Read on!
19 Best Things To Do In Utrecht, The Netherlands
Here are some of the best things to see in Utrecht, Netherlands, in no particular order.
1. Go On a Canal Cruise
Ask a local what to do in Utrecht, and they will tell you to take a canal cruise. The canals in Utrecht are among the most beautiful ones in the Netherlands and are structured in split levels.
The upper level is where the street is, whereas on the lower or water level is the 13th-century wharves and warehouses.
Many have been converted to bars and restaurants offering waterside dining experiences.
You can cruise the beautiful canals by joining a 1 to 1.5-hour canal cruise and enjoying Utrecht from a whole new perspective.
The two main canals that run through Utrecht are Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht.
2. Visit St. Martin’s Cathedral
St. Martin’s Cathedral, or the Dom Church, is a Gothic site that was once the largest church in the Netherlands.
In 1674, the church’s nave collapsed in a massive tornado, after which it was never built back fully.
The Dom Tower, a landmark in the Netherlands, which got separated from the cathedral, remains the tallest church tower in the country.
Visiting this impressive cathedral and admiring the 105-foot-long high vault is hands-down one of the best things to do in Utrecht.
The beautiful stained-glass windows and the ancient scriptures are truly exquisite. If it pleases you, you can also attend a service on Sundays.
3. Take a Trip to the De Haar Castle
If you are ever fascinated by being a part of a fairytale setting, then visiting De Haar Castle (Kasteel De Haar) is the best thing to do in Utrecht for you.
Located about 20 minutes drive from the city center, De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands and one of the prettiest ones.
You can join a guided tour at the De Haar Castle and learn about the castle’s origins.
While the castle’s interiors are stunning, with huge ballrooms and richly decorative wood carvings, the beauty of the castle’s exterior is unmatched.
The castle grounds house a formal garden, lake, and statues.
4. Climb the Dom Tower
St. Martin’s Cathedral’s bell tower, commonly known as Dom Tower, is 370 feet tall and is the highest church tower in the Netherlands.
You can climb the 465 steps of the cathedral tower and marvel at the incredible city views from the top.
You can climb the tower through a guided tour only, which lasts for 60 minutes in total.
The commentary in Dutch and English language will help you understand how the tower was built and what purpose it serves today.
Climbing the Cathedral tower is the best thing to do in Utrecht for a bird’s eye view of the city.
5. Explore the Railway Museum
If you are a locomotive buff, exploring the Railway Museum is the best thing to do in Utrecht.
Here, you can learn about how trains changed the world and the history of the train network in the Netherlands, all with the help of interactive exhibits and events.
An entire railway station (Maliebaan Station) has been restored, complete with ticket counters, waiting areas, and dining lounges.
The Railway Museum is divided into four sections that appeal to both adults and kids. It can be reached by taking a direct shuttle train from the Utrecht Central Station.
6. Grab a Beer in the Bars Along the Oudegracht
Oudegracht (Dutch: old canal) runs through the historic city center and is a popular attraction in Utrecht.
It is surrounded by countless bars and restaurants that are popular among beer lovers.
The canalside Kafe Belgie offers an enormous selection of local and international brews (we love Duvel, a Belgian beer) along with hot, homemade meals and Dutch foods.
The massive tabletop-mounted beer taps at Beer & Barrels stream out golden lager on demand, allowing the guests to pour out their own pints.
The path alongside the old canal also houses independent shops that sell the best vintage and second-hand clothing in Utrecht.
7. Admire the Artworks at the Centraal Museum
The Centraal Museum in Utrecht is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands.
It is a municipal museum that features art, design, and historical artifacts collections. You will find the world’s largest collection of Rietveld pieces at the Centraal Museum.
Apart from this, you can admire the artworks of Dick Bruna, Scorel, Viktor & Rolf, and Utrecht Caravaggists.
The creations in the Centraal Museum range from historical costumes, paintings, and antiquities to the very famous Utrecht Ship. This attraction is one of the best things to do in Utrecht for all art lovers.
8. Stroll Through the Pandhof Garden
Pandhof Garden is a magical green oasis sandwiched between St. Martin’s Cathedral and the Utrecht University Hall.
It is an old monastery garden of the cathedral where ornamental plants and herbs are grown. A fountain with a bronze statue of the 14th-century canon Hugo Wstinc adorns the center of the Pandhof Garden.
The garden also offers stunning views of St. Martin’s cathedral and tower.
Visit this place to find peace and tranquillity in the middle of the city. If you are a nature lover, the Pandhof Garden is a lovely green space that should be on your list of things to see in Utrecht.
9. Check Out the Museum Speelklok
Speelklok means ‘musical clock’, and the museum specializes in housing a collection of self-playing musical instruments.
The collection includes music boxes, carillon clocks, street organs, barrel organs, and singing nightingales played for visiting tourists in a guided tour available every hour.
There are even fair organs visitors can play, making this interactive experience unique!
Located near the Dom Tower, Museum Speelklok features machines that date back to the 15th century, and you will be amazed to learn about the rich history of these instruments.
Visiting the Museum Speelklok is probably one of the best things to do in Utrecht for all age groups.
10. Wander the Halls of St Catherine’s Convent Museum
A visit to Utrecht is incomplete without visiting the St. Catherine’s Convent Museum.
Located in the former St. Catherine Convent, the museum features an extensive collection of medieval art from the Netherlands.
The site has exchanged several hands; it was once a monastery, an infirmary, a military accommodation, an acrobatics club, and a school gymnasium.
The Convent Museum was refurbished as a museum in 1979. The collection includes richly decorated images, artifacts of gold and silver, illuminated manuscripts, altarpieces, and Dutch art from renowned artists like Rembrandt and Frans Hals.
11. Follow the Light Trail ‘Trajectum Lumen’
Trajectum Lumen is one of the most unique attractions in Utrecht that allows one to view this beautiful city from an entirely new perspective.
It is a light-art route created by renowned light artists from around the world in the historical center of Utrecht, Netherlands.
There’s a fixed trail that will take you along buildings, bridges, alleys, canals, and streets which are artistically lit up.
The trail lights up from late evening to midnight. You can pick up a trail map from the VVV tourist office at Dom Square and follow the trail on your own or just join a guided walking tour.
The 1.5-hour tour is very affordable and will help you immerse yourself in this fascinating light exhibition, its meaning, and its locations.
12. Tour the Rietveld Schröder House
Exploring the UNESCO-recognized Rietveld Schroder House on Prins Hendriklaan is the best thing to do in Utrecht for all the architecture buffs out there.
Designed in 1924 by an architect named Gerrit Rietveld, this iconic house is a prime example of the De Stijl art movement.
You can join a guided tour of the place and admire the clever usage of space and light in designing the house.
The architect has incorporated sliding walls, unique furniture, and minimalistic design elements. The guided tour lasts an hour and lets you explore the house’s insides.
13. Spend Time at the Utrecht Botanical Gardens
The Utrecht University Botanical Gardens (Oude Hortus) is spread over 9 hectares and is located at the heart of Utrecht Science Park.
It features a discovery garden, an evolution garden, a rock garden, tropical greenhouses, and a birders’ den.
Home to various plants, the botanical garden is closed during winter and opens only from March until December.
The collections are not only intended to be admired by tourists but are also for research and education. Spending time in the botanical garden is one of the best things to do in Utrecht if you love greenery.
14. Book a Tour of Dom Under
Dom Under is among the best Utrecht attractions you shouldn’t miss visiting if you are a history fan.
Dom Under is an award-winning archaeological center at Dom Square, where you can book a tour and learn what happens in this historical city.
The tour takes you through the 2000 years of eventful Dutch history buried below the city.
You will see the Romans building the fort (Castellum Traiectum) in AD 47 and the tornado that destroyed the Dom Church in the 17th century.
The tours are available in Dutch, English, and German.
15. Visit the St Willibrord’s Church
St. Willibrord’s Church is a Roman Catholic church located near the Dom Church in the historic center of Utrecht.
Though a Rijksmonument since 1976, the church is a hidden treasure seldom visited by tourists.
The building’s major attraction is the marvelous organ built by Maarschalkerweerd.
St. Willibrord’s Church is the most beautiful neo-gothic church in the Netherlands.
You will want to admire the colorful stained-glass windows, intricate wood carvings, and lavishly painted walls and ceilings.
You can also attend the masses that are held every weekend.
16. Relax at Flora’s Hof
If you ask a local about what to do in Utrecht for some relaxation, they will lead you to Flora’s Hof.
One of the most interesting historical sites in Utrecht near the Dom Church is Flora’s Hof.
It is a beautiful garden courtyard supplemented with a plant theatre in the middle of the stony city.
In the walled garden, you can find a wide range of perennials, shrubs, orangery crops, fruit trees, gooseberries, and climbing roses, among other things.
The beautiful courtyard is maintained by volunteers who keep it in perfect condition.
17. Discover the Miniworld at the Miffy Museum
Wondering what to see in Utrecht when visiting with kids? Well, you should definitely visit the child-friendly Miffy Museum.
The Netherlands is known for this cute little bunny, so what could be better than visiting a whole museum about it in the country?
The museum is a series of miniature worlds inspired by picture books by Dick Bruna, where the main character is ‘Miffy.’
Miffy Museum is an interactive museum where the kids can discover their own world and fill it with their imagination.
They can visit Miffy’s House, see a doctor for a check-up, and go to a zoo and play with the animals.
18. Shop at the Utrecht Markets
Utrecht city hosts three big markets that you can visit on different days of the week.
The Lapjesmarkt is the oldest fabric market in the Netherlands, organized every Saturday.
The Bloemenmarkt is the flower market to buy plants, flowers, bulbs, and bouquets.
The market in Vredenburg is the largest general market of Utrecht and sells everything from clothes, accessories, and electronics to groceries.
Visiting these markets is definitely among the best things to do in Utrecht if you are shopping or collecting souvenirs.
Read next: Best Castle Hotels in the Netherlands
19. Tour the Huis Doorn
Located about 17 miles from Utrecht center, Huis Doorn is a historic manor house and a national museum.
The house was the last residence of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II, and remains intact just as Wilhelm left it.
At Huis Doorn, you can marvel at the exquisite furnishings, incredible paintings, and impressive artifacts.
A guided walk through the rooms of the residence will give you a good sense of how Emperors used to live during those times. The English gardens surrounding the manor are also a must-visit.
Have any questions about things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands? Then drop them below, and we will do our best to answer them.