This year’s “See the World” series continues to exceed all expectations. Guest authors have shared content from cities around the world from Cuba to Canada and many destinations in between. Last week we were in Tangier, Morocco and Salzburg, Austria the week before. If you’ve missed any of the cities, you can find them here! This week we are heading to Utrecht, in the Netherlands, a place new to me, but one I now want to visit! This week, we have Rina Mae Acosta co-author of “The Happiest Kids in the World, How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids by Doing Less” and blogger at Finding Dutchland sharing the best family friendly things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands!
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Utrecht is arguably the Netherlands best-kept secret, a charming, quaint Dutch city with a preserved medieval historic city center. It is only thirty-five miles from Utrecht to Amsterdam. At one point, Utrecht was designated by BBC Travel as one of the world’s happiest places in the world. What makes Utrecht stand out from all the other Dutch cities is that it is the only one that has canals with wharves – canal-level platforms that allow boats to dock alongside the canal and dock. Many of these wharves have restaurants and cafés with terraces, outside tables and chairs to enjoy the lively canals. And for those who love cycling, Utrecht is home to the largest biking garage in the world.
Here are some insider tips for what to do in Utrecht:
For the adventurous family with little ones who love to climb everything, consider heading towards the Dom Tower. Located in the heart of Utrecht’s city center, the Dom tower is the highest church tower in the Netherlands, standing tall at 112 meters. Bring plenty of water and take in the breathtaking views as you enjoy the pride and joy of Utrecht.
Miffy (Nijntje) Museum
Beloved throughout the world, the fluffy white bunny Nijntje (in Dutch) or Miffy (in English) has her very own museum in Utrecht. With ten rooms consisting of different themes, the Nijntje museum brings to life the miniature world created by Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna. Due to its popularity, reservations are required.
The Spoorweg museum is a favorite for many kids, exploring 175 years of railways and trains in the Netherlands. There are both inside and outside exhibits so make sure to dress in layers. And keep in mind that since there is so much to do, an average visit will take about 3.5 hours.
Boat ride on the Canals
A trip to Utrecht isn’t complete unless you go on their famous canals, most notably the Oudegracht. You can take an organized cruise, rent a kayak, or your own boat and enjoy some tapas.
Utrecht Terrace Culture
To really get a sense of Utrecht’s spirit, head over to one of the many restaurants and cafe’s lining the Oudegracht. Perhaps the best time to go would be an early dinner on a Saturday, enjoying the golden hour and waving to all the boats and kayaks passing by.
If you are with young children, I recommend either going really early in the morning before the large crowds, or on a Sunday morning when the city wakes up only at 12:00 pm (stores open later on Sundays). For a calm, relaxed time, consider visiting only visiting one of the museums, stroll around the historic city center and eat at the wharves. Whatever you and your family decide to do, I wish you a wonderful time in Utrecht.
Looking for other fun things to do in Netherlands? Don’t miss our post about the best things to do in Netherlands with teens.
Rina Mae Acosta is the co-author of “The Happiest Kids in the World, How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids by Doing Less” and blogger at Finding Dutchland. You can get a glimpse of her Dutched reality by following her on Instagram or her Facebook page.