Utrecht, the 4th largest city in the Netherlands is all that – vibrant, incredible and pretty!
Vibrant – with students accounting for one-fifths of its population, the largest in the country, it’s hardly surprising that Utrecht is such an exuberant city.
Incredible – apparently more than half of the working population works part time (less than 36 hours per week), by choice. No wonder eateries around the Old Town were always full to capacity from mid morning even on weekdays!
Pretty – there’s no denying that Utrecht is a pretty city, especially around Oudegracht (Old Canal) with split level terraces on the banks
Utrecht is only 35 minutes away from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport by train, making it an easy day-trip destination from Amsterdam. However, my family holiday group preferred to stay in Utrecht
Crowne Plaza Utrecht – Central Station
The hotel, chosen by my daughter and son-in-law, would have been my first choice too! It commands an excellent position in the massive Hoog Catharijne Shopping Mall just across the spacious Stationsplein (Station Square) opposite Utrecht Central Station.
The hotel was comfortable and quiet despite being in a shopping mall. It’s also just a few minutes’ walk to most of the interesting places and restaurants.
It was just as well that the hotel was so conveniently located and easily accessible as the massive queues and long delay at Passport Control at the airport left us too stressed out for an onward journey.
Hoog Catharijne Shopping Mall
This enormous shopping centre is rather awesome with access to all areas!
There’s the main entrance opposite Utrecht Central Station. Another entrance leads straight off to Jaarbeurs square with TivoliVredenburg on the bank of the canal. There’s another entrance from Vredenburg square where the daily market is held. The square also leads to Drieharingstraat, a narrow lane with fabulous restaurants with outside seatings on both sides
Oudegracht (Old Canal)
Oudegracht “Old Canal” runs through the centre of Utrecht and it’s the hub of social activities in the city. The charming split level terraces along the banks housing a variety of eateries attract diners like bees to summer flowers!
Before 11.00 in the morning the area around Oudegracht was as serene as Sleeping Beauty in a sweet slumber!
Soon after 11.00 the centre slowly came out of the trance, as if revived by Prince Charming!
Utrecht Canal Cruise
One of the must-dos on a visit to Utrecht is a canal cruise which offers a different view of the city.
Views from the canal cruise
It’s interesting to hear the history about the wharf cellars along the bank that have been converted to eateries or sun terraces for relaxing
The Dom Tower
Another must-do on a visit to Utrecht is to admire the Dom Tower, Utrecht’s main landmark built in the 1300’s. It’s also the highest and oldest church tower in the Netherlands.
Alas, in May 2022 the spectacular tower was entirely covered by scaffolding. I was so disappointed that I didn’t take any photos of it! So I have to thank my son-in-law for these 2 photos!
I was puzzled when I booked our advance tickets to ascend the tower, to be given the choice for climbing the 465 steps or going up to the top by elevator. I chose the latter as an easier though more expensive option. I had no idea that the tower was under renovation.
The elevator to the top was a builder lift attached to the outside of the scaffolding. Looking at the caged lift from the ground it looked rather scary!
According to the guide, the scaffolding and the lift will be removed by the end of 2022. Had I known the set up, would I have chosen to get to the top effortlessly at the expense of the appearance of the tower? Probably not! I’d have preferred to behold the splendid tower and negotiate the steps!
Views from the top of Dom Tower
Despite the scaffolding around the tower, I managed to take these photos from the top through the wired fencing!
Domplein (Cathedral Square)
The cathedral stood proudly on Domplein (Cathedral Square) but the side of the cathedral did not escape renovation; behind the statue, there’s a pretty image of what the interior would be like!
Finally, the normal signing off – my fridge magnet, me on the spot including at the wire-fenced tower