Underrated city is ‘a cheaper Amsterdam’ that Brits can easily get to in a few hours

By Staff

Utrecht in The Netherlands is often overlooked for its more famous neighbour, despite its charming canals, colourful cafes and cobbled streets, reminiscent of Amsterdam

A European city has many of the strengths of Amsterdam and Barcelona but with smaller crowds and cheaper accommodation.

Utrecht in the Netherlands is often overlooked for its more famous Dutch sibling city even though it has lovely canals, colourful cafes and cobbled streets. Much like Amsterdam, getting there from London is easy. You can take the Eurostar from London St Pancras International to Utrecht Centraal via Rotterdam Centraal. Tickets start from £74.85 and you can buy them on Trainline.

The quickest trains take just 4 hours 41 minutes. That’s about the same as flying once getting to the airport and through security is taken into account, and it’s much greener, reports MyLondon.

Once you’re there, you could spend a lovely long weekend exploring the old city, trying Dutch food, or just watching the world go by from a spot by the canal. The city has many cultural treasures, foremost among them being the Dom Tower. The religious structure is the tallest church in the Netherlands and rising magnificently above the rooftops below.

It stands at a whopping 112 metres and was built in the 14th century. On Sundays and holidays a team of 26 people clamber up the steps to play the 14 tolling bells which hang in the Tower – seven of which date back to the early 16th century. For a small cost of 13.50 euros, grown-ups can climb up and see the amazing views all year round – if you’re brave enough to climb the 500 steps to the top.

This city is also home to its own beautiful art and artefact museum – the ancient Museum Catharijneconvent Inside you will find glittering gold and silver in the Treasury and paintings by Rembrandt, Jan Steen and their contemporaries. The halls of the medieval monastery contain the “most beautiful collection of medieval art in the Netherlands”, or so the museum claims.

If modern architecture is more your thing, then the UNESCO listed Rietveld Schroder House is a must see. The artist was a proponent of the Dutch De Stijl school, which focused on strong primary colours and clear lines to achieve pure abstraction. Schroder, who had never built an entire house before, set about construction a beautiful home in a style with clear similarities to leading De Stijl figure Mondrian.

If you want to try some real Dutch food, there are lots of choices. Enjoy a dinner by candlelight in the cosy underground restaurant Humphrey’s Utrecht, or for something a bit different, the spacious, cathedral-like BUNK Restaurant, perfect for a Dutch brunch and coffee. Meanwhile, WT Urban Kitchen won a 2022 Travellers’ Choice award for its delicious food and 10th-floor views. If you do fancy heading here, make sure to book in advance.

You can book UK and European trains – including cheap Eurostar tickets – on Trainline. You can book coaches on National Express or GoEuro. See accommodation options on Booking.com and Hotels.com.

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