The last week of September I headed off to the Netherlands to visit a friend from my Au Pair year in Paris. Not only was it amazing to be reunited with such a dear friend, but I also really enjoyed getting to know the city she lives in: Utrecht, a bustling town located about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. We spent a wonderful few days exploring, stopping along the way to shop and eat. Today’s post is all about my favorite spots I discovered in the city, things you absolutely cannot miss out on. Enjoy!
» See/Do «
Oudegracht – Translating to “old canal”, this is the canal that runs through the city center. It’s surrounded by cafes and shops, and is definitely the most central part of the city. Pictures galore!
Dom Tower – Funny story: when I was in Barcelona in 2015, Iris (the friend I visited) and I overheard a tourist talking about how the Dom Tower was his favorite church he’d ever seen. And I must say, it did impress. It towers over the city and there’s something magical about walking through to city streets, hearing the bells ring from up above.
Rent a bike – When in the Netherlands, do as the Dutch do! Utrecht isn’t a huge city, but it is quite big. By far the best way to get around is to hop on a bike, and feel that wind in your hair as you explore the little side streets. Public transport will 100% end up costing you more time (and money) than if you are sitting on a bike.
» Shop «
It’s A Present! – A cute and quirky store located right by the canal. When you walk into the shop there’s an area filled with cards, and, you might have guessed, presents. Start going downstairs and you’ll not only find yourself right by the canal (it’s where the photo right above was taken along with the right-side one above it) but in home decor heaven. I spent a good hour in here, getting inspired for my own apartment back home. Plus, baby cacti!! Website here.
Dille & Kamille – I feel in love with this shop as well, which sells fairly-priced home goods, everything ranging from typical Dutch foods to kitchen supplies to pots and plants. Great quality, and just filled with the Dutch design that I so adore. Website (albeit in Dutch) here.
Keck & Lisa – Marble coasters, a section filled with to-do list stationary and a wall of mugs that puts Anthropology to shame. This store has a bit of everything, but somehow manages to present a perfectly curated selection that hamoniously goes together. Find their site here.
Sirado – A little jewelry shop in Utrecht where I bought two pairs of lovely earrings. It’s a small place, but sells the dainty and simple jewelry that I love (at a good price as well). Website here.
All The Luck In The World – This store sells special made prints that made me question all of the wall art I had at home. Ranging from post cards to posters, the one-of-a-kind pieces make for special memories of visiting the Netherlands. Find their Facebook here.
Emma B. – If it were up to me (and my wallet), I’d throw out everything in my apartment and start my decorating from scratch in this store. Design just the way I like it: lots of light wood, pastel colors and quirky little extra decor pieces. Website here.
Het Kaufhaus – While Episode used to hold the title for my favorite vintage clothing shop in the Netherlands, Het Kaufhaus has since taken over. This shop boasts a very curated collection of vintage items, but at incredibly low prices. I feel like since vintage stores have become more “mainstream” (ouch I hate that word), prices have risen so high that oftentimes it’s cheaper to just buy the items new. This is not the case in Het Kaufhaus; you can walk away with vintage Burberry for about 30 Euros. Find their Facebook Page here.
» Eat/Drink «
Spaghetteria – Spaghetteria offers a small and seasonally changing menu, when I visited there were 6 pasta options. Along with one (ok two) glasses of Soave, I had the best truffle ravioli of my life. I’m usually a very fast eater, but savored every last bite, following with a tiramisu for dessert. Probably one of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. A must if you’re in town. Website here.
Guusjes Eten en Drinken – An adorable hidden cafe, which boasts bright benches and chairs for sitting outside in the summer, and a cozy interior filled with good music and posters on the walls. They had a ton of beers on offer (I had a Radler, half sprite half beer), and every beverage comes with either olives or nuts. I also split a bread platter with my friend, a toasted loaf that came with aoilo, pesto and curry sauce. Yum! Website here.
Olivier – Located inside of an old church, this popular bar was packed on Saturday night. I’ve never seen a place offer so many beers, everything from your standard barley beer to cherry beer to the Radler I mentioned above. The waiters are super helpful and friendly for out-of-towners who don’t know the menu; our waitress spent a good five minutes trying to find the beer she thought I’d like best. Even if you don’t stay for a drink, be sure to check out the beautiful interior. Website here.
This time around I felt about the Netherlands just as I did two years ago in Amsterdam: I love it there. I feel that the Dutch have mastered openness and kindness towards outsiders (in a way I often feel is lacking in Germany), but still have that honesty and depth that I value so much about Europe. Here’s to hoping for a speedy return.
Thank you for reading and much love, Julia.