Utrecht is the lively, beating heart of Holland. It was built around the Dom tower, which you can see from any point in the city, so there is no way you can get lost in the attractive, car-free city centre. Utrecht boasts beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars housing cafés and terraces by the water. As well as the Dom tower, Utrecht boasts hundreds of other monuments that each contribute to the special atmosphere in this centuries-old university town.
1. Hire a bike – there’s no better way to explore the city. The tourist board has a list of recommended hire shops. See visit-utrecht.com.
2. Climb the Dom Tower. It’s the tallest church tower in the Netherlands and on a clear day, you can see Amsterdam from the top. Make sure you wander through the arch at the bottom, which the Tour de France cyclists will pass through.
3. Check out the Rietveld Schröder House. You don’t have to be an architecture buff to be blown away by this amazing, UNESCO-listed property.
4. Hop on a boat for a canal tour. It’s the quickest way to get your bearings and you’ll learn all about the city’s history.
5. Visit the 13th-century Town Castle Oudaen and sign up for a tour of the brewery in the basement, then enjoy a beer on the terrace outside.
6. Don’t miss the St. Willibrord Church, considered to be the Netherlands’ most beautiful neo-gothic church.
7. Visit De Rechtbank for a caffeine fix. It was recently voted the Netherlands’ best outdoor café. Visit derechtbank.com.
8. Smell the roses and other plants at the Botanical Gardens at Fort Hoofddijk, until November. Visit uu.nl/botanischetuinen. Smell the tulips and other plants at the Botanical Gardens at Fort Hoofddijk
9. Check out the Trajectum Lumen. It’s a quirky art installation, which involves some of the most famous buildings, bridges and canals being illuminated with coloured light.
10. Pay a visit to the Centraal Museum, which has the largest collection of Rietveld pieces in the world – including his famous chair. Visit centraal museum.nl.