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Planning a trip to Utrecht in the near future? Then, make sure to check out Culture Trip’s guide to the city’s most fascinating, fun and historical attractions, which includes places like the ancient Dom Tower and one of the Netherlands’s largest concert venues, Tivoli Vredenburg.
The Dom Tower has stood in Utrecht’s city centre since 1143 and was once attached to St. Martin’s Cathedral but has since become a free standing bell tower. It is possible to climb all of the Dom Tower’s steps and several other cities are visible from its highest peak including Amsterdam.
📍 The Dom Tower, Domplein 21, Utrecht, +31 30 236 0010
This monumental gothic cathedral was completed in the 10th century and was built upon the ruins of a considerably older chapel. The church’s nave was originally attached to the Dom Tower, but collapsed during a huge storm, which tore these these two iconic buildings apart.
Famed de Stijl member Gerrit Rietveld designed this incredible modernist building whilst working with a local wealthy socialite called Truus Schröder-Schräder in 1924. The house’s living areas were given folding walls and other features which enable occupants to easily change its layout. It is currently protected as an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical and cultural value.
📍 Rietveld Schröder House, Prins Hendriklaan 50, Utrecht, +31 30 236 2310
Although de Haar Castle was completed in 1892, it is actually built upon another older fortification that stood on Utrecht’s northern borders throughout the late medieval period. The current castle was designed by the famed Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers who also worked on several other iconic buildings in the Netherlands such as Amsterdam’s Centraal Station and the Rijksmuseum.
📍 De Haar Castle, Kasteellaan 1, Utrecht, +31 30 677 8515
Oudegracht is among the oldest surviving canals in Europe and was evacuated in the Middle Ages. The canal is renowned for its subterranean wharfs which have become an iconic part of Utrecht historic city centre. Today many of these cavernous constructions have been repurposed into cafés, stores and homes.
This museum preserves an enormous collection of self-playing instruments many of which are over 200 years old. These clock-work wanders are presented within a medieval church called Buurkerk on Domplein.
📍 Museum Speelklok, Steenweg 6, Utrecht, +31 30 231 2789
This adorable piece of urban design resembles Dick Bruna’s most celebrated creation Miffy the Bunny. The traffic light controls the flow of pedestrians on St Jacobstraat and looks onto a rainbow coloured zebra crossing.
While Utrecht’s Centraal Museum owns a wide range of artwork from the past 600 years and beyond, its medieval and Renaissance collection are particularly noteworthy due to the high number of famous, local artists that were working during this period. There are many important paintings by the Utrechtse Caravaggios inside and the museum also has the largest Joachim Wtewael collection in the world.
📍 Centraal Museum, Agnietenstraat 1, Utrecht, +31 30 236 2362
Miffy’s creator Dick Bruna was born in Utrecht and lived in the city for his entire life. To honour his work Utrecht’s Central Museum created this permanent exhibition inside an old townhouse Agnietenstraat. There’s plenty of kid-orientated exhibitions inside as well as play areas and themed rooms based around Bruna’s work.
📍 Miffy Museum, Agnietenstraat 2, Utrecht, +31 30 236 2399
Museum Catherijncomvent is housed within a former Catholic convent that was founded during the 12th century. The museum’s collection revolves around Christian artwork from the Netherlands and features numerous religious artworks created by famous Dutch figures such as Rembrandt, Jan van Schorel and Frans Hals.
📍 Museum Catharijnconvent, Lange Nieuwstraat 38, Utrecht, +31 30 231 3835
These wonderful gardens were landscaped around a series of bunkers in eastern Utrecht that were originally part of an 18th-century defensive line that trailed through several Dutch provinces. The gardens are divided into six separate areas that were designed to accommodate specific plants.
📍 Utrecht University Botanic Gardens, Budapestlaan 17, Utrecht, +31 30 253 1826
Utrecht’s largest music venue contains five separate stages that were custom-built to accommodate specific genres. Besides having the possibly the best acoustics in the entire country, Tivoli also features bars and cafés alongside several sky-high observation areas that look onto central Utrecht.
📍 TivoliVredenburg, Vredenburgkade 11, Utrecht, +31 30 760 6777
This interactive, archeological exhibition is located beneath the Dom Tower in a series of catacombs that were dug out during the Medieval period. DOMunder allows guests to experience 2000 years of local history by recreating pivotal events from Utrecht past.
📍 DOMunder, Domplein 4, Utrecht, +31 30 233 9999
Sonnenbourg Observatory was founded by the Utrecht University in 1853 and has since opened to the public. Besides its stargazing apparatus, the observatory also features an astronomical museum that regularly organises specialised exhibitions.
📍 Sterrenwacht Sonnenborgh, Zonnenburg 2, Utrecht, +31 30 820 1420
Museum Oud Amelisweerd is housed within a monumental 18th-century country mansion that is surrounded by an equally charming estate. The museum owns and presents several collections including work by modern Dutch artist Armando and a large selection of historical Chinese wallhangings.
📍 Museum Oud Amelisweerd, Koningslaan 9, Utrecht, +31 30 890 5460
Janskerk is among the oldest churches in the country and was founded during the 11th century. Although the church has been altered over the years it still features many elements that date back to the medieval period.
📍Janskerk, Janskerkhof 26, Utrecht, +31 30 232 1616
This epic fort was once part of an enormous line of defences that ran through the province of Utrecht. Its thick walls are completely surrounded by a star-shaped moat which can be crosses at two points. The fort is now open to the public and is located inside a nature reserve in the south of Utrecht.
📍 Fort bij Rijnauwen, Vossegatsedijk 5, Utrecht, +31 6 53402296
This 18th-century mansion is steeped in history and was constructed upon a medieval castle that was destroyed around 1422. Tours are available throughout the estate and the castle houses many historical artefacts.
📍 Zuylen Castle, Tournooiveld 1, Oud Zullen, +31 30 244 0255
Utrecht’s Railway Museum is located inside a former train station just beyond the city historic centre. The museum has an amazing collection of artefacts that are related to the history of rail travel and several interactive exhibitions that recreate the glory days of steam power.
📍 Railway Museum, Maliebaanstation 16, Utrecht, +31 30 230 6206
This large urban park is approximately the same size as Utrecht historic city centre and features many attractions including flower gardens, restaurants and public artwork. The entire park is laced with cycle paths and there’s plenty of space for other activities like skating or running.