As a way to mark this significant milestone of my trip (the halfway point!), I figured I would share my favorite spots around Utrecht and maybe a memory or two from each of the places.
- Utrecht has a lot of hidden gems, but I’ll start off with what Utrecht is most well known for: The Dom Tower.
As the largest church tower in the Netherlands, you can see the Dom Tower from almost anywhere in the city center.
The Dom holds a special place in my heart because it helped me navigate around during my first few weeks in Utrecht. Whenever I was lost, I would come to the exact spot where I took this picture, and I instantly knew how to find my way home.
You can also take the opportunity to climb the Dom Tower for € 9 and the views will be breathtaking. Literally. You climb 465 steps and you’re so exhausted from the hike up there, you are actually out of breath. Unless if you’re in better shape than I am, which the chances of that are pretty likely.
Throughout the tour there are stops in the different levels, where a tour guide will provide you with some history on the church (or what remains of it). Once you reach the top, you can enjoy the views and admire the entire city of Utrecht.
- Another one of my favorites: The Disco Tunnel.
I have no idea if this tunnel is actually called the Disco Tunnel, but my roommate Gabi referred to it as that once and the name just kind of stuck.
This tunnel leads to absolutely no where but just connects one of the streets to a canal, but how cool does this place look?!
The colors in the tunnel change constantly (the green and yellow are my favorite) so it always looks like a rave is happening from the street. Sadly, every time I venture down here a rave is not taking place. Better luck next time.
- Something you’ll find all over the Netherlands: The Canals.
I am fortunate enough to live in a place that is surrounded by beautiful canals.
Every time I walk to work, I pass at least five canals. If I take “the pretty way home,” I walk along a canal that practically leads to my front door.
Right now it’s too cold to rent a boat, but on the first warm, sunny day I have off, I plan to grab a 6-pack and see where the canals take me.
As you can see in the picture above, there are also canals with houseboats. Whenever I walk past houseboats with Gabi, she tells me about her plans to buy some biscuits and knock on a few of the doors to ask for a cup of tea. Gabi is a very curious person. She has no idea how it will go, or if anyone will let her in, but I think I want to join her on that little adventure. The least it could do is give me something to write about, eh?
- One of the coolest bars in Utrecht: ‘t Oude Pothuys.
‘t Oude Pothyus is unique because it is situated in a cellar off of a canal. It’s the definition of a hidden gem.
Every night starting at 10 p.m. you can come here to listen to live music and have a drink. Before that, you can come here to enjoy great food at a decent price. I’ve only been here for the music, but from the little Dutch I know, that’s what I gathered from the menu.
Some nights the music is really intimate, so you can just sit at a table and play cards; other nights are more upbeat and draw in a large crowd.
- The best bitterballen in town: Mick O’Connells Irish Pub.
First off, excuse me for this unflattering picture. It was the only one I had that truly captured my favorite night at Mick O’Connells.
Let me set the scene for you:
I had just arrived back at the apartment from working a morning shift, and I was informed by my roommates that we would be going to Mick O’Connells to watch the Wales vs. Scotland rugby game. I was told to put on something red, because I’d be cheering on Wales, and that they had good beer and bitterballen. I was sold.
Once we arrived at Mick O’Connells, we soon realized we were the only people cheering for Wales. Everyone else was in blue and stared at us the second we walked in. We ordered beers, burgers and 16 pieces of bitterballen. We had a feast.
Wales ended up winning and we celebrated by having more beers and laughing with all of the Scotland fans. It was the first time I ever really paid attention to rugby, and I now have a new appreciation for it.
I was also surprised to realize the only Irish Pub in town served the best bitterballen (a Dutch specialty), but I was thankful that we ordered 16 pieces because I could not stop eating them.
Forget about stroopwaffel, raw herring, Dutch fries with mayonnaise, etc. If you come all the way to the Netherlands and don’t try savory bitterballen, something is seriously wrong with you.
Other places that deserve a mention:
- Stone Hostel & Hotel – my home away from home and also where I’m doing my workaway.
- Belgisch Bier Café Olivier – another great bar in town. It used to be an old church!
- The petting zoo – an angry peacock guards the animals, but if you can get past him there’s so many cute sheep to see! Plus it’s free.
- The Culture Boat – when I first heard that there was a coffeeshop on a boat, I was a little skeptical, but the decor and atmosphere really make this place great. It’s a little more touristy because of how cool it is, but for good reason.
- The Kebab Factory – The Kebab Factory has bailed me out on numerous occasions. From curing a hangover to an easy dinner when I’m feeling lazy, the doner box (fries, garlic sauce and sliced beef) will always be there to save the day, for only €3.90!
- The infamous teapot – keep a lookout for my next blog post about a recent night at the teapot! Preview: my night ended at the hospital.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be an advertisement or promotion for any of the businesses mentioned above.