Utrecht is an amazing city, where you can pretty much find anything your heart desires. Hip restaurants, the typical Dutch canals, it is small enough to quickly travel from one site to another and if you want to, you can still be in Amsterdam within half an hour.
There is definitely enough to see and do in Utrecht itself, but if you are spending some more time in Utrecht, then you might also like to discover some new places and go on a couple of day trips in and around the country.
So check out 21 amazing day trips from Utrecht!
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Day trips from Utrecht – less than 1 hour away
If you are coming to the Netherlands as a tourist, then Utrecht would probably be your day trip from Amsterdam and not the other way around. But if that is not the case, and you are spending some more time in Utrecht instead, then a day trip to the Dutch capital of course is a must.
Amsterdam is just one of a kind. And while the city has the typical Dutch canals, touristy cheese stores and famous coffee shops, there are a lot of attractions that are unique to the city of Amsterdam. Visit the infamous Rijksmuseum or any of the other museums, or try out one of Amsterdam’s unique restaurants.
Time to Amsterdam from Utrecht Centraal by train: 26 minutes
Well Amersfoort is less than 20 minutes away from Utrecht and also not the largest city, so it might not make for a complete day trip, but instead you can combine it with a trip to another city as well.
However, Amersfoort is pretty charming. You can visit Koppelpoort, a medieval gate and lovely to look at, visit the market in Amersfoort or discover some of its many Cafés and cute shops.
Time to Amersfoort from Utrecht Centraal by train: 19 minutes
You’d probably expect a cheese museum in Gouda, and of course there is one! But other than that, Gouda isn’t just a city for cheese lovers.
In Gouda, you can find a lovely market square with beautiful buildings and cafés all around. And of course you can find a lot of pretty canals and bridges. Not that uncommon for the Netherlands.
While Gouda isn’t the biggest city, and you might not need an entire day in Gouda after all, it is a great place for a couple of hours, or you can combine it with a trip to another city.
Time to Gouda from Utrecht Centraal by train: 18 minutes
Rotterdam isn’t your typical Dutch city, and that’s okay! It would be boring if everything was the same anyway. If you are a fan of architecture, then Rotterdam might be interesting for you. Not everybody is a fan of Rotterdam at first, but it does make for an interesting day trip with lots of cool places to discover.
Walk across the Erasmusbrug, have a drink at Witte de Withstraat or food at the market hall.
Time to Rotterdam from Utrecht Centraal by train: 37 minutes
5. Den Haag
While only the third-largest city in the Netherlands, Den Haag is where the Dutch government is located. But of course that isn’t the only thing the city is known for.
Within the city you can find a lot of interesting museums, walk around the city centre or make your way up to the beach. But speaking of the beach, that is what we will cover later on as well.
Time to Den Haag from Utrecht Centraal by train: 37 minutes
For some reason, Delft isn’t included in everyone’s bucket list of places they need to visit while in the Netherlands, when it totally should be.
It is located in South Holland, close to Rotterdam and Den Haag and famous for its blue pottery, which, of course, you can also purchase in Delft yourself.
The heart of the city centre is its huge main square with the City Hall and lots of restaurants. Of course, there are also markets, cheese stores and canals.
Time to Delft from Utrecht Centraal by train: 57 minutes
Another beautiful city that is less than an hour away from Utrecht is Leiden. The canals are a little bigger and the city seems a little less hectic than Utrecht on a sunny day.
It feels like your typical Dutch city: canals, boats, restaurants. But really beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
Time to Leiden from Utrecht Centraal by train: 42 minutes
8. Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood of Zaandam and a very popular tourist destination. Here you can find the typical Dutch windmills along the river, cute green houses, some animals and nature, as well as a couple of museums. If you visit Zaanse Schans, you won’t believe that you are just a short train ride away from the busy streets of Amsterdam.
Time to Zaandam from Utrecht Centraal by train: 43 minutes
Zwolle is the capital of the Overijssel province and makes for a nice day trip. There are lots of green spaces around the city centre, the old town is beautiful, and it’s a good escape from the always so busy city centre of Utrecht.
Time to Zwolle from Utrecht Centraal by train: 50 minutes
If you are looking for a place similar to Amsterdam but a little less crowded, than maybe Haarlem would be a great idea for a day trip. Spend your day walking long the Spaarne river and visit the central market square (Grote markt). If you don’t want to spend the entire day in Haarlem, it is easy to combine it with a trip to Zaanse Schans, Zaandam or Zandvoort, as they are all located close to each other. However, that is the case with most places in the Netherlands.
Time to Haarlem from Utrecht Centraal by train: 47 minutes
Day trips from Utrecht – Less than 2 hours away
11. Bloemendaal aan Zee
Close to Haarlem, you can find the beach of Bloemendaal aan Zee. As there is no direct train going here, it is probably a little bit less crowded than the neighbouring beach of Zaandoort, but still gets really busy on a sunny day. You can rend a surf board or just spend the day chilling on the beach.
There are a couple of beach bars, but I’d recommend making a reservation beforehand, as they can book out quickly during the summer months. While there is probably a bus going to Bloemendaal aan Zee, I would recommend renting a bike in Haarlem instead, and biking the last part of the trip. Mostly, because around Bloemendaal you can find dunes with some great biking paths, nice nature and some animals such as wild horses and cows, which are worth a visit!
Time to Bloemendaal from Utrecht Centraal: 47 minutes (train to Haarlem) and 20-minute bike ride
If you are already in Den Haag, then you shouldn’t miss out on a trip to Scheveningen. Scheveningen is the most famous beach in the Netherlands and here you can find a ferry wheel, a bungee jumping tower, lots of beach bars and probably half of the Dutch citizens on a sunny day.
You can also rent surf boards and go surfing, or just spend a relaxed day by the beach. If you want to do a separate trip to Scheveningen or combine it with your trip to Den Haag is totally up to you.
Time from Den Haag to Scheveningen by tram: around 30 minutes (+37 minutes to Den Haag)
Nijmegen is pretty special since it is the oldest city in the Netherlands. It is located pretty close to the German border, which is why you will also see a lot of German tourists visiting for the day.
While you are visiting, make sure to visit the market square right in the centre of Nijmegen. Also, Kronenburgerpark and Valkhof park are worth a visit as you will not only find some old ruins but also get some great views of the river from above.
Time to Nijmegen from Utrecht Centraal by train: 1 hour and 3 minutes
Alkmaar is a lovely city in North Holland. Apart from its canals and traditional Dutch houses, another thing that you can find in Alkmaar is cheese. Alkmaar is mostly known among tourists for its cheese market every Friday morning. You can even see people carrying cheese on their boats along the canals, it’s quite fascinating.
Time to Alkmaar from Utrecht Centraal by train: 1 hour and 3 minutes
Unless you are a Formula 1 fan, or you live close by, Zandvoort is not really a place you would have probably heard of. The nice part about it is though that it is by the ocean and due to the fact that it has its own train station, you can directly reach it by train.
Unless the weather it fantastic, and you want to just lie at the beach all day, there probably isn’t enough to see in Zandvoort that would justify a whole day trip. However, on the way to Zandvoort from Utrecht you are passing Amsterdam and Haarlem.
Zandvoort would therefore be a great place to add to a trip to Haarlem for example if you don’t just want to see the canals but also want to see the beach and the ocean.
- Read about my experience visiting the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort in 2021
Time to Zandvoort from Utrecht Centraal by train: 1 hour and 8 minutes
If you are looking for a day trip away from the bigger cities but don’t feel like going to the beach either, then Oostervaardersplassen might be another idea for a day trip from Utrecht. It is a nature reserve located in the province of Flevoland. You can walk around the reserve, do some bird-watching and view some wild horses and other animals.
It is only a 40-minute car ride away, but if you are coming by public transportation, it is a bit more difficult to reach. I’d recommend taking the train to Lelystad and then making a bike trip out of it. You can easily rent OV-bikes at train stations if you have a personalised OV train card.
This probably does not make up for a full day trip though. We had spent around two hours at Oostvaardersplassen and then combined the trip with a visit to Lelystad and the Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet. Why not get some shopping done when you are in the area anyway?
Time to Lelystad from Utrecht Centraal by train: 1 hour and 15 minutes + 35-minute bike ride from Lelystad to Oostvaardersplassen
17. The tulip fields near Lisse
You might have heard about the famous Keukenhof, but there are other ways to see the tulips in the Netherlands. Of course, these can only be seen during the tulip season (from March to the middle of May).
And since the last day trip idea to Oostervaardersplassen included a bike tour, here is another trip that you can do by bike!
The way we did this day trip was to take the train to Leiden, rent bikes at the station and then drive to the tulip field close to Lisse (about 12 km) and we then crossed a little town called Noordwijkerhout (maybe another 20 minutes biking). After, we went to the beach in Nordwijk (6.6 km), before biking back to Leiden along the coast (over Katwijk, around 16.9 km).
I would highly recommend this day trip, it was a much more exiting way to see the tulips, than to just visit the Keukenhof!
Time to Leiden from Utrecht Centraal by train: 42 minutes + around 45 minutes biking to the tulip fields
Did you know that it is absolutely possible to also do a day trip to Antwerp? Even though it is located in Belgium, it is less than a two-hour train ride away!
While in Antwerp, head to the Chocolate museum (Chocolate nation), the biggest Belgium chocolate museum in the world. In Antwerp, you can also find one of the oldest animal parks in the world, the Antwerp zoo.
Other than that, make sure to check out the beautiful big square, the heart of the city of Antwerp. Apart from traditional houses, you can find restaurants, bars and the city hall. While you can certainly spend a couple of days in Antwerp, it is completely doable to see all of its main highlights within one day!
Time to Antwerp from Utrecht Centraal by train: about 1 hour and 50 minutes, depending on the train connection.
Day trips from Utrecht, you should rather do by car
Harlingen is located in the province of Friesland, in the North of the Netherlands. From Utrecht, it is reachable by public transportation, but it would take you around 3 and a half hours, which is in my opinion a little too long for just a day trip.
However, if you do want to visit Harlingen by car instead, it is perfectly doable in a day. It will take you around two hours to get there. And while that might seem like a lot as well, one thing I liked most about my trip to Harlingen, was the trip there. On the way to Friesland you can drive over the Afsluitdijk, a 30 kilometre long dam with the Wadden sea on one and the Ijsselmeer on the other site. Along the way, you can stop at some lovely view points.
But not only the way to Harlingen is nice, but also Harlingen itself is worth a visit. It is located by the sea, so you can spend time by the beach. It definitely is not as crowded as other beaches such as Scheveningen. There is a harbour as well with lots of big sailing ships going in and out which is great to watch. My favourite part about the city is that along the canals you can actually find huge sailing ships in front of houses instead of smaller boats like in Amsterdam. That is pretty amazing to see!
Time to Harlingen from Utrecht by car: around 2 hours
Of course, Ghent is not located in the Netherlands, but who said a day trip from Utrecht to the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium isn’t doable in a day. It might be a bit of a hassle to get to Ghent with public transportation, but if you do have a car available, then a day trip to Ghent is perfectly doable.
Even though it is the third-biggest city in Belgium, you will definitely be able to see all of its highlights in just a day. Everything is walkable and all the highlights are located in proximity to each other.
While in Ghent, visit the Castle of the counts, a fortress located in the city centre, walk through the old town and enjoy some typical Belgium fries and beers.
Time to Ghent from Utrecht by car: around 2 hours and 20 minutes
21. Zeeland and the Delta works
Zeeland is a Dutch province located in the southwest of the Netherlands. It is one of the places you would be most likely to spot some seals in the Netherlands and apart from beautiful beaches and nature, you can also find the Delta Works in Zeeland (Dutch: Deltawerken): The largest storm surge barrier in the world.
The Delta Works include several construction projects, such as dams, sluices and storm surge barriers to protect the country from floods. This was especially necessary after the North Sea flood in 1953 which caused severe damage and many lives were lost.
If you want to learn more about the Delta Works, you can visit the Deltapark Neeltje Jans, where you can learn more about the history and construction of the Delta Works.
Time to the Delta Works from Utrecht by car: around 2 hours
And this concludes 21 amazing day trips from Utrecht. Which of these destinations around Utrecht is your favourite, and where have you been to already?
Have a lovely day,
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