What to do in Utrecht: A complete guide to unique experiences

23 April 2024

Whether you've been here 10 times, or this will be your first visit; the best activities can be found in Utrecht! After all, this provincial capital has a bit of everything to offer.

In Utrecht you can have a delicious dinner, shop for a new wardrobe, visit cultural highlights or do something active. We have listed a number of unique and special sights and activities for you. So you always know where to go in Utrecht!

Activities in Utrecht: Adventures along the Oudegracht

The two kilometer long Oudegracht in Utrecht is the city's most famous canal. Centuries later, it's still the bustling centre of Utrecht. With its atmospheric wharf cellars, historic buildings and lively terraces, it's a real attraction. Once the main trade route, now a picturesque place for walks, boat trips and cozy cafes. A must-see for every visitor to Utrecht! 

't Koffieboontje

The perfect place to rest during the city's busy adventure is of course by the canal with a good cup of coffee. The combination of the beautiful view and the artisanal products of 't Koffieboontje will make your city trip complete. In addition to perfectly brewed espressos and creamy cappuccinos, they also have a wide range of sweet treats here. Don't have time to relax because you want to see as much of the city as possible? They understand that all too well here. That's why they also offer their coffees to-go.


For the true sandwich fanatics, a visit to Toastable really can't be missed. Besides the standard combination of white bread, ham and cheese, they serve unique triple toasted sandwiches here on Oudegracht. The menu features delicious combinations of meat, fish and vegetarian delights, but one thing is for sure; cheese is the absolute star of the show! Stop by for a quick bite or just a laid-back lunch and enjoy the city's most surprising sandwiches.

Kafe België

For true beer lovers, there's no shortage of options in Utrecht. At Kafe België, a beer café on Oudegracht, guests can enjoy a wide selection of beers, with a particular focus on Belgian varieties. Whether you're looking for a rich dark beer or a refreshing lager, there's something for everyone at Kafe België! With a cozy atmosphere and friendly service, this café is the ideal place to relax and enjoy a good glass of beer on the lively Oudegracht.

Stuk voor stuk Vintage

Not only can you eat and drink well on the Oudegracht, shopping is also a lot of fun here! For example, shop the cutest second-hand clothes at Stuk voor stuk Vintage. What started as a hobby that got out of hand during college, now results in two beautiful stores in Utrecht and Leiden. Here you can shop the nicest brands such as Olaf, Nike and Carhartt, so be quick!


Broese on the Oudegracht is a large, beautiful book store. Besides their huge assortment of different types of books for adults and children, they also sell CDs and records here. With all the different types of stories on the shelves here, this bookstore has some reading material for everyone. Do you live in Utrecht? Then they'll even deliver your online purchase to your home by bike! Very sustainable.

Winkel van Sinkel

The Oudegracht is also a great place to dine. Consider, for example, Horeca-warehouse Winkel van Sinkel. Besides extensive dining in their Grand café & Bierlokaal, you can also go here for the best wines in their wine bar or choose the cozy atmosphere in their Pub. Everything you're looking for can be found in this beautiful monumental building!

Søstrene Grene

At Søstrene Grene you will find elegant Scandinavian indoor and outdoor interiors. This originally Danish store was founded in 1973 by two sisters and has since grown into quite a chain with locations in 15 countries. Besides selling things like furniture and decorations, creativity is also in the spotlight here. There's a large selection of craft and painting items, as well as complete DIY sets. Roll up your own sleeves for the most beautiful home accessories, too!

Spellenwinkel Subcultures

A fun game with friends or family is always good old-fashioned fun. In addition to nostalgic classics, gameshop Spellenwinkel Subcultures has the most unique games on its shelves. This store often organizes game nights in cooperation with the best cafes in Utrecht. This includes Stayokay's own The 5th on the Neude! The hosts of Subcultures bring the newest games with them every week, but you can also bring your own favorite game.

⚓️ Tip: Rent a boat

The name of the street says it all, but the Oudegracht (or "Old Canal") is also perfect for cruising through with a rented boat! You can choose to rent a sloop yourself, or rent a boat including a skipper so you only have to occupy yourself with the beautiful view. From the water you can perfectly enjoy the beautiful restaurants and cafes with their cozy terraces. Especially with nice weather, this is definitely a must!

Historic Utrecht: Climbing the Dom Tower and visiting the Dom Church

Whoever thinks of Utrecht naturally thinks of the Dom Tower! This tower of no less than 112.32 meters high is the highest church tower in the Netherlands. With as many as 64 bells, the Dom Tower plays the most beautiful melodies while you explore downtown Utrecht. Did you know that it takes 26 people to ring all these bells? 

Of course, a visit to Utrecht is not complete without a visit to the Dom Tower. Not only can it be admired from the outside; you can also take a look inside! Discover the interesting story and history of the tower and climb all 465 steps. This combination of sporty and educational will be rewarded at the top with a magnificent view of the Utrecht city.

Dom Church

The more than seven centuries old Dom Tower stands in the centre of the city, namely on the Dom Square. This square was once the place where Utrecht was originally founded. Besides visiting and climbing the Dom Tower, there are other fun activities to enjoy here. For example, visit the Dom Church; the Protestant church that was half demolished after a violent storm in 1674 and never rebuilt. You can visit the medieval Gothic cathedral on your own, but various guided tours are also offered.


What is also interesting is DOMunder. Learn all about the history of all the historical sights on Dom Square during this underground exploration! Discover the fascinating history with the help of a flashlight and accompanied by a guide. Definitely recommended! 

Fish Market

Ever been to the fish market in Utrecht? You may not know it, but a large part of Utrecht's history is also hidden here. Because here you will find the remains of the former imperial Lofen Palace! In this palace the city rights of Utrecht were signed 900 years ago by Emperor Hendrik V. Due to a devastating fire not everything has survived, but the historical cellars can still be visited!

The Neude: The beating heart of city activities

Apart from the Oudegracht, the Neude is also a very famous place in the heart of Utrecht. Many restaurants and cozy cafes can be found on this square. By the way, did you know that the Neude used to be a swamp? The name Neude also derives from 'node', which means swamp. You certainly wouldn't say that now! 

Wijncafé Lefebvre

For the citytrippers who prefer wine, Wijncafé Lefebvre is a nice place for a drink. This café has a great selection of wine (99 varieties!), as well as French food! The dishes on the menu at Bistrocafé Lefebvre pair perfectly with the wines they offer. Just like being in France, vacances en France!

Bar & Restaurant The 5th

Another fun, hip hotspot is Bar & Restaurant The 5th, located in the middle of the Neude, belonging to Stayokay Utrecht Centrum. Besides delicious (vegan) food and drinks, you can also work here behind your laptop. They also often organize fun events such as pub quizzes or game nights.

De Beurs

Since 1996, café and restaurant De Beurs has been located at the Neude. It will therefore come as no surprise that this is the favorite of many people who have been coming to Utrecht for a long time. Besides lunch and dinner you can also play bartender here at one of the special tap tables! Fancy a party? Then drop by on a Friday or Saturday night and get those feet off the floor.

Café 't Neutje

Everyone is welcome at Café 't Neutje; from student to senior, as they say themselves. Besides a normal lager that you can get anywhere, they offer a huge variety of specialty beers here. There's also no shortage of liquors, wine and cocktails here! In terms of food, the place is great too; with a wide range of breakfast, lunch and snacks, you won't starve easily! 

Le Journal Cafe

Café Le Journal is the oldest existing grand café in Utrecht! This is certainly reflected in the characteristic ambiance of this beloved café. Young and old are always welcome here to have a nice meal, a drink, read a newspaper or magazine or have a chat with friends, family or colleagues.


With its hip, artistic interior, JackRabbit is truly the place to be in Utrecht. The selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner and different types of drinks here is large and there's something for everyone. The shared dining concept also makes it perfectly possible to taste many kinds of dishes! 

Discover the best walking routes in Utrecht

Utrecht is a big city, but great to explore on foot. With its historic paths and green park trails, there's plenty to see during your visit to Utrecht. Below are three popular Utrecht city walks that will lead you the way through the city of Dom.  

Street Art Route

Following the Street Art Route you'll walk past the most unique murals in Utrecht. The walk itself is 9 kilometers long, taking you past nine locations with murals. One of these pictures, for example, is the Otter with Dom Tower, where the name already gives away the artwork. This was painted in 2013 by the Verfdokter, an artist from Utrecht. Or check out De Fluitspeler, a 30.5-meter-long artwork on a flat in Overvecht. This mural is taken from Abraham Bloemart's De Fluitspeler, originally painted in 1621. These and many other creations can all be admired during this walk! 

Groene Wissel 483

One of the most famous and beloved Utrecht city walks is the Groene Wissel 483. This is a perfect walk for those who do not live in Utrecht as it ends at Utrecht Central Station! This walk of about 14 kilometers is very varied. You walk through several parks, such as the Wilhelminapark and the Griftpark, but also through the Voorveldse Polder, the old city centre and the Dom church and tower. Besides these sights you will also walk along the Nieuwe- and Oudegracht, various shopping streets, courtyards and neighborhoods, after which you will end at Utrecht Central Station. This walk is often described as a varied, green walk that can easily take all day. Definitely worth it if you're visiting Utrecht for the day! 

NS Wandeling Beukenburg

The NS Wandeling Beukenburg starts outside the city, at Bilthoven station. From here you walk about 14 kilometers and end in the heart of Utrecht, again at Central Station! That makes this walk also very suitable for non-Utrechters. At the start of the walk you walk through the beautiful nature reserve De Leyen. Here you walk through wide beech avenues and pass the famous Kees Boekeschool and Het Verloren Kerkhof. Then you walk through Landgoed Beukenburg, along the Hooge Kampse Plas, through Voordorp to the outskirts of Utrecht. From here you go via the Maliebaan to the Maliebrug, after which you can choose from two options: either a beautiful route with green parks and canals, or the route through the historic city centre. Both routes end at Central Station, so you can get back on the train home in no time! 

🥾 Want to check out more hiking trails throughout the Netherlands? Then check out our blog about The 6 Most Beautiful Hiking Trails in the Netherlands!

Renting a Boat in Utrecht: A unique way to experience the city

Not only walking is a good way to explore Utrecht, this can also be done on a boat! Sail through the canals and discover the most beautiful spots while you enjoy the beautiful view. There are several parties in Utrecht offering boats and boat tours, so plenty of choice. Choose to be your own skipper, or let someone else drive the boat while you float through the canals.  

Besides standard boating, you can also choose to discover the canals of the Dom city in a different way. Go supping for example! Together with your friends, family or colleagues (make it a nice team outing) find your balance on a SUP board. Because it is of course quite possible to get wet during this activity, it's fun to do this with warm weather. There are even SUP lessons and tours available! 

You can also choose to rent canoes. Adventure tours are available for these as well. Cruise along the Oudegracht during this tour, while the guide tells you all about Utrecht and its history along the way.


Utrecht really is the perfect city to admire from the water due to its long canals. Did you know that some even date back to the twelfth and fourteenth centuries? And that while Amsterdam's canals were only constructed in the seventeenth century!  

During your visit in Utrecht, sail, SUP or canoe along the Oudegracht for example; right through the city, past many monumental buildings and surrounded by cozy terraces. This canal is especially pleasant and busy when the weather is nice. 

Still looking for a canal with the same charms, but more quiet? Then the Nieuwe­gracht is a good option. This canal was dug between 1391 and 1393 and is thus newer than the Oudegracht, where they already started digging in the year 1122. It's often said this canal looks like a fairy tale because of all the little bridges you pass under.  

The Kromme Rijn is also great fun to cruise on if you like nature and greenery. You can cruise through the nature reserve Rhijnauwen. It's so peaceful and relaxing that you forget for a moment that you're in Utrecht.  

Since 2020 the Catharijnesingel is open again after 50 years of excavation. Don't miss it! Here you sail past a beautiful, green city park and many hip hotspots of which TivoliVredenburg is one.  

There are many more canals and routes that are great fun to navigate in Utrecht. Please note that not every canal is accessible for motorboats, but often only for electric boats, rowboats and canoes. If you're planning to SUP board, it's advisable to plan a route in advance, because you're not allowed to SUP everywhere in the city centre. 

Shopping in the nicest shopping streets of Utrecht

Discover the nicest shopping streets of Utrecht here. The combination of historical charms and modern influences make this city a real shopping paradise! Besides all the big chain stores that Utrecht offers in its streets, there are also plenty of more unique stores and boutiques. 


Steenweg is one of the oldest streets in the centre of Utrecht. This street was also the first paved street in Utrecht after the Romans! Besides its rich history, it's also one of the most visited shopping streets in Utrecht, and for a good reason. Here you will discover trendy boutiques like Hip voor de Heb and Guts & Gusto, or visit the iconic Dr. Martens Store for timeless style. 

Hoog Catharijne

Hoog Catharijne is perhaps one of the most accessible and compact shopping environments. In fact, it's located next to the Utrecht Centraal train station and features many large stores from the best-known retail chains. This really is the place to be when you want to shop effectively. And because it's indoors, this is the perfect place to visit when the weather is bad! 

Lange Elisabethstraat

Lange Elisabethstraat was called Nieuwe Steenweg before 1491, but after the construction of an orphanage (the St. Elisabeths­gasthuis), the name was changed to what it is today. In this 120-meter-long street you will find several hospitality establishments and well-known stores such as The Bodyshop, Tommy Hilfiger and Rituals.  


The Vredenburg consists of a large square with adjacent street, which connects the cozy downtown to the Central Station. It was named after the Kasteel Vredenburg, which was built in 1529, but was demolished again during the Eighty Years' War. The square hosts one of Utrecht's largest markets several times a week, and both the square and the street are home to several well-known stores.  


Lijnmarkt is perhaps the most authentic street known to Utrecht. This cozy street was founded in the Middle Ages and at that time was part of a trading district. Today you will find many charming boutiques, restaurants and other hospitality venues. Definitely worth a visit during your city trip!

Sights in Utrecht: More than just the Dom Tower

Besides the classic gems like the Dom Tower, this city has many more sights that you really shouldn't miss! From culture to action; Utrecht has it all. 

Museums and Culture

Fun for young and old; the Miffy Museum! This special museum is all about the sweet little rabbit, illustrated by the famous Utrecht artist Dick Bruna (1927-2017). If you want to make this experience even more special, you can also choose to stay in a fully decked-out Miffy Room!

Another fun museum is Museum Speelklok. This experience is all fun for young and old alike because of the cheerful ambiance you feel as soon as you step inside. In this museum, you will learn about all kinds of musical instruments while listening to them. So it's not only educational, but also very musical!

Go to a relaxing movie in a next level cinema! The atmospheric Springhaver cinema in the centre of Utrecht is completely in the theme of old Hollywood. Besides some standard cinema films, they also run more unique films here that you will never see in the big cinemas!

If you're planning to visit the Railway Museum you're on the right track! This museum shows you how the train changed the world through its life-like station, theater, attractions and various exhibits. Want to derail the experience a bit more? Then book our Railway Room at Stayokay Utrecht Centrum!

Active Adventures

If you like to feel young again you should definitely visit Play-In adventure park! This huge playground includes a trampoline park, an escaperoom and climbing walls. Delightfully adventurous and for all ages.  

The Old Hortus

If you didn't know it was there you would probably walk right past it! The Old Hortus is a historic garden run by Utrecht University, full of unique plants and trees. You can stroll through this green oasis, but be careful not to fall into one of the ponds! End your visit with a delicious coffee in the café.

City Game

Discover the historic centre of the city of Dom in an active way by playing a City Game. By solving exciting assignments you will earn points and receive hints for the final puzzle. And during this adventure you will also discover the history, culture and hidden gems of the city!


Then book your stay at the cozy Stayokay hostel in the centre of Utrecht quickly and affordably! This hostel is located in the middle of the Neude, so nice and close to the centre. There's also a beautiful restaurant & café, The 5th, on the bottom floor where you can enjoy a delicious meal or a drink. Will we see you soon?