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The 11 Best Things to Do and See in Utrecht

Picture of Tom Coggins
Updated: 2 July 2017
Utrecht is easily among the most charming cities in Europe and features many attractions that are related to its long history and contemporary cultural landscape. Its historic town centre is also relatively compact compared to Amsterdam or Rotterdam meaning that it is possible to visit several landmarks around the city within one day.

Rietveld Schröder House

Visionary de Stijl member Gerrit Rietveld designed this house on Prins Hendriklaan alongside a wealthy socialite called Truus Schröder-Schräder around 1924. The house contains many clever design features and includes several adjustable walls that create additional space when moved. After Schröder-Schräder died in 1985 the house was taken over by Utrecht’s Central Museum and is now protected as an UNESCO Heritage Site.

📍 Rietveld Schröder House, Prins Hendriklaan 50, Utrecht +31 30 236 2310

Rietveld Schröder House
Rietveld Schröder House | © frm_tokyo / flickr

Miffy Museum

Miffy’s creator Dick Bruna lived and worked in Utrecht for most of his life. A few years ago, Utrecht’s Centraal Museum decided to create a permanent exhibition inside an adjacent building to honour Bruna and his illustrations called Nijntje Museum (Miffy Museum). This kid-orientated attraction has several play areas and theme rooms based around Dick Bruna’s characters.

📍 Nijntje Museum, Agnietenstraat 2, Utrecht +31 30 236 2399

Miffy covers on display at the museum
Miffy covers on display at the museum | © Vincent van der Heijden / flickr

De Haar Castle

This incredible neo-gothic castle in Utrecht’s northern periphery was designed by Pierre Cuypers whose illustrious portfolio also includes several other Dutch masterpieces such as the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. The castle was built upon a considerably older fortress that dates back to Middle Ages and is currently open to the public.

📍 De Haar Castle, Kasteellaan 1, Utrecht +31 30 677 8515

The Dom Tower

The Dom Tower has stood in Utrecht’s centre since the 14th century and is likely the most recognisable buildings in the city. It was originally built to accompany a nearby church called St Martin’s Cathedral but became a freestanding bell tower after a catastrophic storm halted the building works.

📍 The Dom Tower, Domplein 21, Utrecht +31 30 236 0010

DOMunder

This family friendly attraction retraces the city history all the way back to late Antiquity when the Roman army arrived in the area and built a garrison on what would become Utrecht. The tour take places underneath Dom Tower inside an ancient basement that has been converted into an interactive exhibition.

📍 DOMunder, Domplein 4, Utrecht +31 30 233 9999

Museum Speelklok

This fascinating museum in central Utrecht collects and preserves an enormous menagerie of self-playing instruments. Many of these clockwork treasures are still in working condition and continue to chime, strum or ding despite being centuries old.

📍 Museum Speelklok, Steenweg 6, Utrecht +31 30 231 2789

TivoliVredenburg

Utrecht’s largest venue contains six individual concert halls that were designed to accommodate specific musical genres and playing styles. The building is an absolute masterpiece and towers over Utrecht’s Centraal Station.

📍 TivoliVredenburg, Vredenburgkade 11, Utrecht +31 30 760 6777

© Sebastiaan ter Burg / WikiCommons

Centraal Museum

Utrecht’s Centraal Museum manages several satellite institutes around the city and has its primary location on Agnietenstraat. The museum is renowned for its world-leading Northern Renaissance collection, but also preserves many other groundbreaking artworks from the last 10 centuries.

📍 Centraal Museum,Agnietenstraat 1, Utrecht +31 30 236 2362

Het Utrechtse Archief

Besides preserving thousands of documents, photographs and other objects associated with the city and province of Utrecht, het Utrechts Archief also regularly organises temporary exhibitions and other events related to local history.

📍 Het Utrechts Archief, Hamburgerstraat 28, Utrecht +31 30 286 6611

Sonnenborgh Observatory

Sonnenborgh Observatory was founded in the late 19th century by the University of Utrecht. The facility has since opened to the public and allows visitors to scour the night’s sky with their high-powered telescopes. The observatory also features several specialised exhibitions.

📍 Sonnenborgh Observatory, Zonnenburg 2, Utrecht +31 30 820 1420

© Japiot / WikiCommons

Oudegracht

Historical records confirm that the main canal that runs through Utrecht’s city centre is over 800 years old and may have been built upon a considerably older waterway. Over the years many subterranean warehouses have been constructed along the canal — a number of which now house cafés, stores and homes.

📍 Oudegracht, Utrecht

Oudegracht
Oudegracht | © pixabay