I have visited Utrecht before, but never as a traveller only for business or school. I have seen the city only briefly, but never discovered it. My friends came to visit me in Amsterdam and this was a perfect chance to take a one day trip to Utrecht.
To get out of Utrecht central station is a challenge. You walk thousands of kilometres before you find your way out to the centre. After you pass through the train and tram platforms the rows of shops start and never end. I guess that’s why people suggest doing some shopping in Utrecht because you have never-ending choices of shops before you even get to the city. Then there are a lot more shops in the city centre.
When you finally get out of the station, the city does remind you a lot of Amsterdam, but slightly smaller and slightly less crowded. You have a very similar view on the canals and houses, but it looks tidier.
The first thing we did was visiting the Dom Tower. This is the highest church tower in the whole country, with the height of 112,5 meters. You have to climb 465 steps to reach the top. I don’t know how the tour guides manage to make excursions there every day. It is not possible to go wander in the tower by oneself, by the way. You need to purchase a guided tour.
Climbing the stairs was fine at first, because we made many stops during our way to see the towers bells, listen them and also hear about the history of the tower.
Almost at the top of the tower, climbing turned into a nightmare. I have a certain level of fear of heights. When there is nothing protecting me or nothing to hold on to I get scared. I was fine flying high up behind a boat in Thailand because I was attached to the boat with all the straps and I had a life vest. I could also be thousands of meters above the ground on a viewing platform if i can hold on to something, there are safety rails and other protective thingies. But when I was climbing the slippery, narrow stairs that never seemed to end with nothing to hold on, my feet instantly started shaking and I was not sure if I will faint, puke or just cry. So with people, who have similar fears, I would not recommend to going the highest floor. The view on the floor below was already beautiful enough and actually the top floor was covered with a net (as seen on the third picture) so you could not really enjoy the view.
We also went on a canal cruise in Utrecht. I would say Amsterdam offers better cruises. There is more to see and well, our guide was awfully boring. The lady showered us with facts of how many bridges we already passed, what each building was and when it was built and used a very monotonic tone. No stories, not really interactive nor enthusiastic. It is good if you are really tired and could use a little nap.
The rest of the pictures are of the city itself. It’s much cuter and cleaner than Amsterdam for sure, but I would say it is less lively. There is more to do in Amsterdam.
We came across mysterious steam coming out from the street. I never really found out what is it for or what does it mean.
There is a little tunnel that presents a play of colorful lights. When you walk around in Utrecht, I am pretty sure you will stumble on it. The tunnel takes you to an on the canal cafe. We thought we take a quick coffee there before our canal tour, but they never served us. So we just took advantage of their bathroom and went off to our canal tour.
Utrecht is a nice place to visit when you want to get a little break from Amsterdam. It is especially nice when you like shopping and museums, there is plenty of that. Altough we went to eat at all you can eat sushi place, it is nice to eat at one of the restaurants that lies exactly on the canals. In Amsterdam you don’t have that option.
Must see before leaving the Netherlands : Utrecht ✓