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The Oude Gracht in the historic center of the city in Utrecht, Netherlands.

City at a Glance

Utrecht, Netherlands
Location Central Netherlands
City type Large city
Population 656,000
Official language(s) Dutch
Climate Mild marine
Average temperatures January: 38° F, July: 64° F
Landscape Urban, riverscape, woodlands
Factoid At peak times, 36,000 bicyclists commute through the city to work, school, and other destinations.

About Utrecht

Utrecht comes alive in its charming squares and winding alleyways. Discover medieval churches, colorful farmers markets, and comfortable coffee bars. The Dom Tower, symbol of the city, stands out against Utrecht’s skyline. Its very large student population brings an energetic spirit to the environment. Contemporary dining and nightlife options update historic warehouses and walkways along the canals. The cozy city lends itself to exploring on foot, making it easy to quickly feel at home.

Where is Urecht

52.0907374, 5.1214201

What to do in Utrecht

  • DOMunder: Go on an archaeology adventure as you descend into an underground museum holding 20 centuries of history with untouched archaeologic finds and interactive displays.
  • Oudegracht: Kayak through the old canal flanked by Utrecht's idyllic architecture before visiting the shops and restaurants converted out of 13th-century shipyards.
  • Dom Tower: Climb the 465 steps to the top of the highest church tower in Holland for a panorama of Utrecht. Listen to the 14 harmonious bells of the tower on Sundays and during religious celebrations.
  • Museum Speelklok: Bring music to life with interactive displays and exhibits of self-playing musical instruments. Discover the techniques and engineering of the instruments in a behind-the-scenes tour.
  • Castle de Haar: Walk through the dreamy corridors and rooms fit for royals at the historic Dutch estate. Between the moats, ramparts, drawbridges, and gardens, the photo ops reach fairytale levels.

Living in Europe means effortless travel to numerous countries. A weekend in Paris? Just a train ride away. A week in an all-inclusive Turkish resort? A few hours by plane. Not to mention the beauty of the Netherlands itself–old architecture, delicious stroopwafel, King's Day parades, and the greenest nature you've ever seen. Even though I encountered my fair share of obstacles (I was not sufficiently prepared for Dutch weather and I got on the wrong bus more times than I'd like to admit), my time studying abroad was remarkable.

Marina Krivonossova UC Irvine International Relations Netherlands