Summer in Utrecht: Explore this best-life city in 24 hours

Utrecht, Netherlands

I fell in love with Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2015 and moved there in 2019.

My heart was won over by Utrecht’s bike scene, romantically and emotionally attached to what a cycling city is to civility, freedom, community, and health. Utrecht is vibrant and young at heart, 70,000 of the 374,000 inhabitants are university students. Dutch people learn at a young age that cycling is pleasant, safe, quick, and convenient. 


Discover Utrecht by bike

Visitors are amazed by the city’s ongoing dedication to Utrecht’s cycling infrastructure, where over 125,000 cyclists bike daily through the central part of the city. 

You can book a bike tour to learn about the region and to see what is possible for accessible bicycle mobility for urban, suburban, and rural residents. You can also rent bikes and go out on your own.

One favorite route from the city center is riding to Wihelminapark to the Amelisweerd area where you can enjoy the countryside atmosphere at Teahouse Rhijnauwen with an outdoor riverside cafe. The second favorite route takes you along the Oudegracht to the Vecht River to the Zuylen Castle area with two picturesque windmills nearby.

You can stop at Bistro Belle’s beer garden to enjoy a riverside view of the draw bridge opening for boats. 

©KimHanneman, Teahouse Rhijnauwen in Bunnik near Utrecht Science Park 

By kayak

Before Utrecht became the envy of urban cycling culture, street life in the city was contained for centuries within its moat and city walls. Utrecht was an important medieval port city that utilized its ingenious Oudegracht canal system with its wharves and cellars. Unique to the city are centuries-old buildings, streets, tunnels, and bridges built over 732 massive cellars with wharf entry at the water’s edge. 

As slow travelers, we like to take our visiting guests on a morning kayak tour.

We prefer to paddle through the Museum Quarter to the one-way, Nieuwegracht canal that runs through the University Quarter. If you make kayak reservations for the morning and finish around lunchtime, you can avoid challenging boat traffic builds up later in the day. 

With rentals from Kanoverhuur Utrecht, you are launched in the old canal Oudegracht from their wharf location. We prefer the quiet kayak experience because beginners learn quickly. The pedal boats are noisy, and the balance required to navigate stand-up paddle boards can limit your sightseeing mobility, especially for taking photos.

©KimHanneman, Kayaks are the way to go

On the Nieuwegracht canal route, you glide under several notable bridges, get a water’s edge view of historic buildings, and see people moving through the city on boats, bikes, bridges, and walking paths. 

©KimHanneman, The Nieuwegracht canal route

Also, make that lunch reservation at one of the Oudegracht terrace restaurants to enjoy Utrecht’s unique cozy wharf setting. 

©KimHanneman, Utrecht

By walking 

Utrechters are proud of their 904-year-old city and enjoy sharing it. Most people choose to explore the Domkwartier and the Stadhuiskwartier neighborhoods with layers of history represented in the architecture, streets and alleyways, hidden gardens, and parts of the Oudegracht and Nieuwgracht canals and wharves.

The Dom Tower and Dom church area are the historic heart of Utrecht. There are wonderful choices of quaint street cafes and boutique shops to discover. The city offers professional guides for general and specialized tours if you prefer a guided walking tour.

©KimHanneman, Utrecht

A Different Kind of Souvenir

Tourists in Utrecht take photos and videos of people on bikes and of the bike parking. It rocks their world. The best souvenirs are photos and videos from one of the best-life cities. 



See more about Utrecht here in Dispatches’ archives.

Read more here from Kimberly.

Kimberly Hanneman
Author | Website

Kimberly Hanneman is a writer who travels. She lives near Utrecht in a 115-year-old Dutch cottage she is renovating. In 2019 with her family, Kimberly relocated to the Netherlands from the USA. They enjoy cycling through the Netherlands and traveling outside the country to the mountains to hike. Kimberly worked for a decade in financial communications and investor relations before becoming a National Certified Counselor in career counseling at a Virginia university supporting undergraduates and graduate students by debunking the shallow find your passion advice. She was raised in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and returns each summer.

To Top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news and updates from Dispatches Europe. Get lifestyle & culture, startup & tech, jobs and travel news dispatched to your inbox each week.

You have Successfully Subscribed!