Probably not as well known as Rotterdam or The Hague, the city of Utrecht still has much to offer. It is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and is located approximately 40km southeast of Amsterdam.
Getting to Utrecht from Amsterdam is relatively quick and easy. If travelling by car, use the A2. Once there, you will have a choice of parking sites, most of which are located on the perimeter of the city center. You may find it convenient to park at a train station close to the city or at any of the Park and Ride facilities and then catch public transport into the city center.
It is however in most cases easier to take the train. These run frequently from Amsterdam's central station, and take around 30 minutes.
The city is rich in history and culture with many well preserved historical buildings and monuments. It is older than Amsterdam and can trace its history back 2000 years. Many of the buildings are from the Middle Ages including eight medieval churches.
The city is crisscrossed with a picturesque canal system, most of which are lined with trees and cellars, with several of these cellars have been converted into upmarket restaurants.
The medieval wharf area is particularly popular, not just because of its historical importance but also for its fine assortment of cafes and restaurants. If time permits, a city canal cruise can be recommended with several companies offering such tours. Most last about one hour.
The main Tourist Information Center is located in Dom Square which is also home to the oldest church tower in the Netherlands, The Dom Tower. An impressive 112 meter church tower containing 465 steps which, if you have the energy, can be climbed to the top if accompanied by a guide. Once there, you will be rewarded by panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas. The Gothic Dom Cathedral is also found here and it is surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Utrecht boasts the biggest indoor shopping center in the Netherlands, Hoog Catharijne, which is connected to the central station. Most of the shops are located close to the city center near Vredeburg, Neude and Oudegracht. Open air markets are held at various times in Vredenburg Square.
There is also a museum quarter incorporating six museums, the main ones being the Centraal Museum which has been listed by UNESCO, the National Museum for Mechanical Music, Dutch Railway Museum and the Catharijneconvent Museum dealing mostly with the history of Christianity in the Netherlands.
There are plenty of eateries and upmarket restaurants in Utrecht, serving traditional Dutch and international cuisine. A variety of nightlife is offered including plays, nightclubs, cinemas and live music. The city is lovely to stroll around at night as many of the buildings and bridges are illuminated.
Getting around Utrecht is relatively easy, either by foot or by public transport. Bikes are very popular and a good way to see the city. The main bus station is located at Centraal Station but buses and trams can be caught at various locations throughout the city.
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