Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, having started out in the 1st century as a Roman frontier fort. It has always been important, and has the scars and the achievements to prove it. Join me on a wander along canals and down laneways that have witnessed the passing of Knights, Emperors and Beguines. We will explore the less familiar northern quarters of the old city, to castles, a war time bunker, poetry on high, lofty mansions and little cottages. Utrecht is located in the centre of the country, and easy to get to from anywhere. You will come to understand the vitality of today's Utrecht more clearly through the layers of its near and distant past. There are also plenty of places to stop on the way to pull up a chair, order a coffee and watch the world walk, drift, or cycle by.
Oudaen City Castle, University of Utrecht, inner city harbours, 330 little stone sculptures hidden in plain view, and markets depending on your day
By public transport
If you are travelling by public transport, please check the Travel Planner on the NS website at https://www.ns.nl/en/travel-information. The nearest major rail station is Utrecht Centraal, which can be easily reached from any place in the Netherlands.
Once you have exited the station, walk through the Hoog Catharijne shopping centre and I will be waiting for you outside the exit on the Vredenburg square
If you choose to travel by car, there are a number of options for parking nearby so please refer to the https://www.visit-utrecht.com/plan-your-trip/how-to-get-to-utrecht/by-car to find one that suits you.
Places to stop along the way:
Nederlands Volksbuurtmuseum, cafés down on the quays of the Oudegracht, bookshops near the University. Food and drinks to test on the way: croquettes, bitterballen, pea soup, pancakes, herring, smoked eel, appeltaart, coffee, genever and beer.
Best time of day:
Many highlights on this tour can be experienced at any time of the day or year, but it will be easier to spot some details during daylight hours.
Most shops in the historic city centre are open daily from 09:30 to 18:00. On Mondays shops open slightly later, between 11:00 and 13:00. Most shops remain open until 21:00 on Thursday evenings.
If you would like to visit any of the museums or churches we pass on the route, please check their websites first.
Cafés and restaurants are generally open till later.
Most of the time we will be exploring the quiet backstreets, where the pace is a little more leisurely but Utrecht is a major city, and we will pass through some busy streets, so please be careful of cars, trams, buses, and of course, since it is the Netherlands, do keep an eye out for bikes.
When in doubt, wait before you cross a busy road, and it is usually best to go with everyone else.