A small and cosy city, right in the center of the Netherlands. Full of architectural surprises and with one canal dominating the city center. Enjoy one of the many terraces along the water in summer, grab yourself a canal bike or stroll through the small streets for little vintage and concept stores.
Shopping in Utrecht
As a local living in Amsterdam, I visit Utrecht multiple times a year. To meet with friends and grab a drink or to go shopping with my mom.
If you arrive in Utrecht by train, you’ll cross the shoppingmall of Hoog Catharijne. There are a lot of chain stores, like H&M and CoolCat. I’d suggest you just follow the crowd and get your ass outside! If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the center, or if it starts to rain you can always get back to Hoog Catharijne 😉
What I like about Utrecht are the unique little shops you’ll find here.
One of my favorites is KaufHaus, just outside of Hoog Catharijne. Basically everything in the shop is for sale! But my main reason to go is the second hand clothing they sell. It’s in good state, securely selected and not too pricy. Also check out the leather bags 😀
Kaufhaus is to be found at: Achter Clarenburg 32, Utrecht.
There are also some thrift stores along the Oudegracht that I really like. Just walk from Hoog Catharijne to the Dom tower, and keep following the canal. You’ll find the stores a bit out of the main shopping area. They have lots of things, but keep digging for hidden gems!
If you’re walking in that direction anyway, also check out the many jewelry and antique shops in the street down here. My mom is a big lover of them. They’re expensive, but sell nice rings and cameo’s.
Other places to check out include Grit optiek – where they sell unique glasses or PaperBird, where the shopping becomes a clothing jungle experience.
If you’re up for a little snack, we found this Pepernotenshop only on our recent visit! They sell the candy traditionally given to children around Sinterklaas (6th of december) – but they made it all a bit more fancy. With orange and coffee flavor for example.
Don’t forget to visit the Dom tower if you’re strolling though the city! There’s also a little green surprise behind it, so take a stroll around.
If you’re in Utrecht on a friday, also visit the biological farmers market! And I am not just saying that because my uncle sells his amazing cheeses here, made from sheep milk. There are a lot of stands with a variation of goods. From bread to nuts, an ‘all with raspberries’ kind of stand and really good looking vegetables!
The market is not to miss, if you get out of Hoog Catharijne it’s there. From 10 in the morning till 6 in the evening.
Lunchrooms in Utrecht
Strolling the internet you’ll find a nice selection of little lunchrooms in Utrecht, ready to provide you your shoppingfuel.
Bigoli is absolutely famous. It’s a small shop with Italian cuisine. You might find yourself a lot of locals waiting to get their ‘broodje’ (little bread) here. I love the one with the little italian sausage, but also the halloumi one is amazing! There is only a few spots for sitting down, but you can take your food to Cafe de Zaak, where you’re invited to take your own lunch.
You can do the same with the famous lunches from Broodje Mario and Broodje Ben. Also popular by locals because of their good quality bread with topping. My mom noted that Utrecht really is the city of broodjes, and I think she’s right 😉
A lunchroom I discovered only lately is Carla’s Conditorie, right after the Dom tower. It’s a sugary place, in food and decoration, but don’t forget they also serve some savory goods! I especially liked the scandinavian style meatball roll. The goat cheese on nutbread could use a bit less goat cheese 😉
I am also very curious to the maroccan flatbreads from Vers. But since they were restoring the street in front of the shop, making a lot of noice, that might be something for next time.
Also worth checking out:
Broers at the Janskerkhof. A bigger restaurant. I remember good quality and nice coffee. Or De Bakkerswinkel, especially if you’re the one with a big sweettooth!
In summer it’s also worth it to grab a spot on one of the terraces at the canal. You’ll have the shopping people right above your head and the water at your feet – just a perfect spot.
Restaurants in Utrecht
From cheap and easy to more classy and expensive, it’s all possible in Utrecht.
I am the girl in the middle. It’s ok to spend a bit of money, nothing all too fancy, but it should be good quality 🙂
I ended up multiple times at restaurant Markt, in one of the cosy streets between Hoog Catharijne and the canal. You can sit on their terrace even when it’s getting colder. Hurray for heaters! Inside is a big restaurant, but still cosy. I love their platter with different little bites. A great starter.
In the same street you’ll find multiple restaurants, also a little burgerbar. I’ve not tried that one yet, but it looks amazing!
Recent discovery is the Zakkendrager (Zakkendragerssteeg 26).
It’s a locals favorite, and really a hidden gem. You need to know where it is, otherwise you won’t find it easily. but when you’re there, you’ll see many others found it too 😉 If you’re early it’s likely you’ll find a spot. If you’re a bit late (around 19 o’clock) you’ll likely have to wait at the bar till there’s a table available for you. Or make a reservation! You can get a 3 course meal for 20 euro already, and the quality really is good.
I got the beef with potatopie and vegetables, and my mom a fish salad. Both really lovely! They change their menu frequently, so don’t be disappointed if a favorite is gone. There will be something amazing instead 😉
If you want to spend a bit more money, go to the WT Urban Cafe & Kitchen. Where they built a restaurant on the highest level of a watertower. Great food, a bit more fancy, and an amazing view over the city are included!
Utrecht is right in the middle of the Netherlands, which makes daytrip from basically any other place in the country. It’s only 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station, 40 minutes from the Hague and if you travel far: 2,5 hours from Groningen.
Yes, we consider that far 😉
I really suggest to enter the city by train, even if you would have a caar. No worrying over a parking spot or criss crossing between bikes and busses in your car. As soon as you get out of the train, you’re in the shopping area. No hassle 🙂