Utrecht is one of Holland’s oldest and most beautiful cities and it has also been the religious centre of Holland since the 8th century. Located in the heart of the country, its refined centre with its tree-lined canals and world-class museums is reminiscent of the capital, but Utrecht is quieter than Amsterdam and has a relaxed and welcoming feel to it.
Why visit Utrecht?
Utrecht is a compact city in the heart of the
. Often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbour
it offers archetypal Dutch architecture and the same easy, warm welcome that makes Holland a pleasure to visit during your holidays at any time of year.
Utrecht rose to prominence in Roman times, when a fort was built here close to the banks of the River Rhine. The settlement grew and prospered and by the 12th century Utrecht had become an important trading town.
Travel to Utrecht is simple. It's just 40-minutes’ drive from Amsterdam so if you live in northern England or Scotland our
are a fantastic way to experience a city break and a cruise in one go.
Alternatively, take one of our
Dover France crossings.
Utrecht is just under three hours’ drive from our port in Dunkirk, or three hours 15 minutes’ drive from Calais.
What to see in Utrecht
Many Utrecht tourist attractions are centred around the city's famous Museum Quarter where you will find a strikingly diverse collection of museums including the Catharijneconvent, where illuminated manuscripts (and the odd Rembrandt) hang alongside the finest collection of medieval religious art in the Netherlands.
The Dom is Utrecht’s magnificent 13th century cathedral. At 112m high, its church tower is the tallest in the Netherlands. The 455-step climb to the top is not for the faint hearted but it’s worth the view, especially on a clear day when you can see as far as Amsterdam.
It is also very well served with gardens and open spaces including the Botanical Gardens with species gathered from all around the world and Griftpark which boasts a maze of paths, outdoor sculptures and even man-made hills giving a great view over the whole area.
Indulge in a little Utrecht sightseeing and you'll find that many of the city’s most beautiful buildings date from its medieval heyday, including fine churches and the magnificent Gothic cathedral. The unique Oudegracht – Holland’s only split-level canal system – runs through the heart of Utrecht, beside which beautiful 13th century warehouses and storehouses still stand.
Utrecht may have a medieval heart, but its soul is lively and dynamic. Home to one of Holland’s oldest (and Europe’s biggest) universities, it boasts the largest student population and some of the best museums in the country.
Another less strenuous - but equally pleasing – way to see Utrecht is on a canal cruise. Today the ancient warehouses and merchants’ storehouses have been converted into trendy shops, restaurants and cafes, but it’s still a wonderful way to see these atmospheric old buildings at water level.
Where to stay
There’s a range of Utrecht accomodation encompassing hotels, guesthouses and apartments all over the city. You can even stay on a fully-equipped houseboat. Our partner booking.com is sure to have something to suit any budget.
Prices are subject to availability. Credit card & telephone booking fees apply. Terms & Conditions apply.
It’s always a proud moment when you’re recognised for your good work, we’re honoured to have been named as ‘World’s Leading Ferry Operator’ in the 2014 World Travel Awards. We've won this award for 4 years running.