Poppy’s Travel Diary – Utrecht – There are several reasons why one might consider travelling to Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands. Here are a few:
Rich history and culture: Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a history that dates back to Roman times. It has a wealth of historical sites, such as the Dom Tower, which is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and the Oudegracht, a unique canal with wharf cellars that are now home to shops and restaurants.
Utrecht also has numerous museums, art galleries, and theatres that showcase its rich cultural heritage.
Beautiful canals and architecture: Known for its picturesque canals, Utrecht is lined with charming waterfront buildings and historic bridges. The city has a unique blend of Gothic, Romanesque, and modern architecture, offering a visually appealing landscape for visitors to explore and enjoy.
Biking culture: The Netherlands is famous for its biking culture, and Utrecht is no exception. The city has an extensive network of bike lanes, making it easy to get around on a bicycle. Renting a bike and exploring Utrecht’s streets, parks, and countryside is a popular activity for tourists and a great way to experience the city like a local.
Vibrant atmosphere: Utrecht is a lively and vibrant city with a youthful energy, thanks to its large student population. It has a thriving arts and music scene, with numerous festivals, concerts, and cultural events taking place throughout the year. Utrecht also offers a diverse culinary scene, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars serving a variety of cuisines.
Convenient location: Centrally located in the Netherlands, makes Utrecht a great base for exploring other parts of the country. It is well connected by train and has excellent public transportation, making it easy to visit nearby cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, as well as other attractions in the region.
Where to stay
Having taken advantage of the city itself, visiting a selection of inspiring local attractions, it was time for some relaxation and luxury and there was no better destination than Parc Broekhuizen. Located in Leersum, 13 miles from Utrecht, Parc Broekhuizen is a historic yet modern decorated estate and absolutely stunning.
This carefully renovated 15C castle is now home to an attractive luxurious boutique hotel where original features, such as wall decorations and wooden floors, blend beautifully with the designer furniture. This hotel has grandeur and yet manages to cultivate a personal feel at the same time. The surrounding estate is the perfect environment in which to relax, walk and hire a bike if you so desire!
The property boasts 2 restaurants that use ingredients from their own vegetable garden. One of those restaurants is Michelin-starred, with beautiful gardens and walkways and its very own lake.
Where to Eat
Restaurant Voltaire – Located within a historic building, situated on the impressive estate of Parc Broekhuizen. This restaurant was a feast for the eyes.
The clever associations of flavour, technically controlled and boosted with fresh acidity, reveal the hand of consulting chef Jacob Jan Boerma. All in all, this was a superb dining experience.
Bistro LOF – With a completely different look and feel, the experienced chef at this modern yet rustic restaurant in an old farmhouse in Broekhuizen Park takes inspiration from Dutch ingredients, including produce from the restaurant’s own kitchen garden. His dishes are simple yet full of intense modern flavours, which are rich, carefully thought out and painstakingly prepared.
St Martin’s Cathedral also called the “Church of the Dom”, is a church built in the Gothic style which in the Middle Ages was the main cathedral of Utrecht and was dedicated to Saint Martinus from the fourth century.
In the past, the church building was one of the most central and impressive buildings in Utrecht, and the largest in the entire country, but during a tornado that occurred in the 17th century, it collapsed and was never fully restored, so the building stands today is a small part of the original building and what actually remains intact is only the tower the eastern side of the church. This tower is the famous Dom Tower which over the years has become one of the iconic symbols of the city of Utrecht and as such it is one of the most popular points of interest that should not be missed.
The visit to the tower, which rises to a height of 112 meters, is considered a highly recommended experience for lovers of history and culture. There is a tour that goes up to the top of the bell tower, where you will hear from the local guide about the fascinating history of the building. At the end of climbing the long staircase (no less than 465 steps!) and winding you will have a panoramic view of the city which is considered spectacular. Having enjoyed the tour, although pretty tiring on the legs, it comes highly recommended.
Dutch Railway Museum – Het Spoorwegmuseum. This was a trump card as I am not inspired by trains and was not sure what to find. However, now a convert this destination is a fascinating place where you can learn about how trains changed the world. With a real-life station, a theatre, exciting attractions and a variety of temporary exhibitions and events. Enjoying a traditional apple cake in the restaurant, the Railway Museum comes highly recommended.
Overall, Utrecht is a beautiful, historic, and vibrant city that offers a rich cultural experience and plenty of activities for travellers to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, biking, or simply soaking up the atmosphere of a lively Dutch city, Utrecht is worth considering as a travel destination.