Situated in the middle of the Netherlands, Utrecht is an old, medieval town with delightful canals to stroll along. It is also home to Holland’s tallest belfry, the Dom tower, which offers great tours for little children. This incredibly child-friendly town is the birthplace of Dick Bruna, the creator of Miffy, Holland’s most famous rabbit by far! Miffy can be spotted all around the city; in shop windows, at traffic lights, and in the city’s various parks – perfect for helping your little ones enjoy a stroll around the city! Miffy is so loved here that she even has her own museum! The ‘Nijntje’ (Miffy’s Dutch name) Museum is a fun day out for the whole family, but especially for young children.
And while we are on the subject of museums, then you cannot miss out on a day trip to the Dutch National Railway Museum in the heart of the city. The ‘Spoorweg’ museum is so much more than just looking at trains. Not only can you travel back in time, visit a small theatre and play in the playground outside, you can also clamber around on almost all the trains and even go on a locomotive roller coaster! We also really love the ‘Speelklok’ museum where kids can let their imagination run wild with cheerful, extremely decorative, self-playing musical instruments. Children can discover their favourite tune through a lovely little treasure hunt too.
Utrecht is a student town, so eating and drinking is not only family-friendly (as it is across all of the Netherlands) but reasonably priced too. Just like in Amsterdam, Utrecht’s winding canal system is perfect for a relaxing stroll. But unlike Amsterdam, the Oudegracht canal has undergone a special transformation. Here, all the historical canal-side factories and cellars have been turned into child-friendly, cafés and restaurants, offering waterside views of this most precious canal – a perfect Dutch dining experience. You can even try out some ‘bitterballen’ (small fried balls wrapped in breadcrumbs and filled with a ragout-style sauce) or some delicious Dutch cheese as a small snack.
A short bus ride away from the city centre and you can escape to the magical world of knights and princesses and all things fairy-tale at the De Haar castle. This magnificent, medieval building will enchant your children for years to come. Kids can take a special treasure hunt-style tour where they will discover all the different animals that lived both inside and outside the castle. They can snoop around to their heart’s content and even have a go at escaping the fabulous maze in the garden.
If your little one is too excited to sleep then we really recommend you take the ‘Trajectum Lumen’ walking tour. 365 days a year, as soon as the sun sets, this unique and free experience comes to life. The city glows in evening dusk as the bridges, canals and beautiful old buildings are lit up. You can download a free map and take the tour yourself at your own pace, or opt for a guided tour instead. Either way, you won’t be disappointed as this city takes you on a journey of illuminated cultural history!
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