For those of you who just finished exams and are lucky enough to have a week off (such as some students of the HU Utrecht Fr example), it’s your first Dutch herfst vakantie (autumn vacation)!
If you have simply no clue what to do with your sudden free time (besides catching up on the sleep you’ve missed in the last weeks due to assignments and exams or way too enjoyable parties), we compiled some nearby daytrip destinations in and around Utrecht so you can make the most of this luxurious free time. Some major Dutch retailers like Hema, Kruidvat or Blokker usually offer special travel deals for one-day trips, so keep your eyes open for such cheap sales offers on their websites.
For now, try to enjoy the beautiful weather and the magic of autumn before winter kicks in with its tristesse and coldness…
City trips om de hook (around the corner):
- Antwerp (Belgium):
In about two hours by train, you can be in a wonderful city called Antwerp, which is located in the neighbouring country of the Netherlands, namely Belgium. Once you get out of the train wagon, this an extraordinary train station awaits you:
In Antwerp, you can also ultimately start your individual French fries competition, because Belgium is best known for its exceptional fries (and the mandatory beer next to it)… It is up to you to decide if you prefer those or the Dutch ones in Utrecht, but you first have to try them to make a decision, therefore keeping the fries in mind, it should already serve as a reason for an Antwerp visit! But of course, Antwerp has lots more to offer than only fries. If you like history, culture and chocolate, then Antwerp is a place for you. In some chocolate factories you can see the most unusual chocolate creations and sculptures and watch chocolatiers working on new artistic chocolate masterpieces. Moreover, the city offers some unique interior design shops and clothing stores. Did it stir your interest? Then go to the website of the NS train to get more information on fare
Down south in the Dutch region Limburg, lovely Maastricht awaits you! For fans of the classical music genre, musician Andre Rieu is from Maastricht, so it’s worth a pilgrimage, if you’re a fan. Besides that, Maastricht is also ‘typically Dutch’ as I would describe it with beautiful canals, bridges, bikes and Dutch brick stone architecture, but still, it has it’s unique charm like every Dutch city and that’s why it can only be recommended to visit it once you’re in the Netherlands!
Amsterdam or A’dam is always funky and fancy, stylish, as well as full with stoned tourists and really cool Dutchies on their bikes. Depending on your interests, Amsterdam offers a lot of (real!) cultural activities with its various museums, such as the Anne Frank Museum, the Rijksmuseum for a real ‘van Gogh experience ‘ or the Heineken museum for the real beer experience. When I have friends over I also always take them on a boat cruise on the canals which gives you a great perspective on the city and its unique grachten systems (canals), as well as some historical facts and just some relaxation by sitting in a boat. And last but not least, Amsterdam is also great for clubbing since the scene is more diverse than Utrecht. But find out yourself.
Destination by the sea:
- Scheveningen / Den Haag
For those of you who didn’t make it to the sea yet, now is the time! Within about an hour by train, you can be at the Dutch sea. Scheveningen (a spelling challenge for all non-Dutch-speakers) is probably among the most popular and easy-to-reach destinations for getting a bit of a holiday feeling with the sea, sand and seagulls, especially when the weather is nice. Scheveningen has a long esplanade with various restaurants, cafes and beach bars, where you can dine with a nice view. However, be prepared that it is usually really windy (also a great spot to watch kite surfers) and also a bit colder there compared to Utrecht, so get your cozy coat and enjoy the fresh sea breeze.
Last, but not least : good, old Utrecht
If you just don’t feel like travelling somewhere, because you’ve either seen a lot of the Netherlands already or just want to explore more of Utrecht, now is the time! In most cafes and restaurants in the city centre you can still sit outside if the weather is good. Moreover, you can go for walks in the various parks (Wilhelmina Park, Juliana Park etc., basically all parks named after previous Dutch queens) around the city, melancholically watch the leaves fall, take some picturesque pictures for Instagram and enhance this experience with some good Dutch sweet or savoury pannekoeken (pancakes) in the popular Thee and Pannekoekenhuis (tea and pancake restaurant) Rhynauwen, close by the Uithof university complex.
No matter what you decide on eventually doing, enjoy your time (and the nice weather) to the fullest. Because yolo.