Out and About: Utrecht, The Netherlands
What happens when a Content Marketing Manager who works in Tourism has a month off work? Well... they travel of course. Come on a trip down memory lane with Holly as she recounts her time exploring The Netherlands.
Thanks to a 4.5 year stint in London, I returned to Australia with an Englishman in tow. The perk of which is always having an excuse to head back to the UK & Europe! This year we decided to add on a few nights in The Netherlands to sleep off the jetlag and start the trip off with a holiday.
Utrecht is a 30 minute train ride outside of Amsterdam, and really it's like a mini Amsterdam, without all the crowds! I don't need to sell you on the perks of avoiding the big cities and getting to the places that feel authentic and real, if you're reading this you're probably already a regional tourism champion (nice!).
If restaurants with delicious foods, fun antique shops, canals to wander along, museums and an underground tour of an old cathedral sounds like a good time - you've come to the right place, dear reader.
Getting To Utrecht:
We flew from Brisbane to Amsterdam (via Dubai). Once you arrive at Schiphol Airport, it's as easy as getting on a direct train to Utrecht. In other words, even with barely any sleep and a battle against jetlag, it's still doable.
Where To Stay:
We stayed in an Airbnb that was a Medieval Wharfcellar. According to the hosts, the airbnb was built in the 1500's, and has been through so many lives in that time! It was such a fun experience, and I loved getting to stay somewhere so unique.
We found the location to be absolutely perfect, it was far enough away from the busier shopping district that it felt peaceful, but then we also had a lot of local cafes and restaurants within a few minutes walk.
What is there to do?
Utrecht is the perfect spot if you're looking to slow down and enjoy. There was a frequent stream of conversation that went something like "we've got nowhere to be, so how about we wander down this street." And down those streets you find a new antique shop, or a cute cafe, you'll see plenty of people on bikes and gorgeous architecture. I can't imagine a time that I wouldn't want to wander aimlessly along a canal? It was bliss, even in 2 degrees weather.
One of the highlights for us was DOMunder. A tour of the 2,000+ years of Dutch history underneath what is now a Cathedral. But its history dates back to around 45 A.D, when the Romans built the castellum Trajectum. Throughout history the site has been rebuilt on which has left an amazing archaeological trail. On this tour, you get to roam around underground with your own flash light where you can see the ruins from throughout the years. Your light is also attached to a head piece and you get to hear stories from throughout the ages of what this area once held. You listen to these stories as you're looking at the incredible archaeological finds that have been found exactly where you're standing. Absolutely fascinating and I loved how you got to go at your own pace!
All You Can Eat
If you consider yourself a foodie, I think you'll love Utrecht! There are so many incredible spots to eat, with everything from cute cafes to fine dining. KEEK was our go-to for breakfast and coffee each day, it was always the perfect start to our day. For dinners, we loved Broei Utrecht, Café de Morgenster and Cafe Saar. But if you wander around you'll be amazed by just how many cool restaurants are in Utrecht - move over Amsterdam!
You also can't do a trip to Utrecht without buying some Van Delft Kroodnoojtes (aka small spice biscuits). We somehow walked away with 1kg to dish out to our nephew as bribery over the coming weeks. No regrets.
A Day Trip Away
From Utrecht we ended up going on a day trip to The Hague because it was so easy to reach. Just jump on a train and less than 40 minutes later you're on the coast of The Netherlands!
The highlight for us in The Hague was visiting The Mauritshuis, and art gallery famous for being home to the Girl With A Pearl Earring portrait by Johannes Vermeer. Filled with incredible art, and the building itself could be considered art.
So overall, would we go back? I would go back just to be able to sit at KEEK Cafe again, so yes. Yes we would.