Last week I took a last-minute trip to Holland for my grandmother’s funeral. It’s been almost 10 years since my last visit, and though a sad occasion, it was fabulous to be reunited with family and feel a little Dutch again. I spent most of my time in Utrecht with my gorgeous cousin (and resident foodie), Olivia. Who better to show you sites? Here are her top 5 must-dos in her hometown:
1. Kazerij on de Twijnstraat: De Twijnstraat is my favorite street in Utrecht, full of small boutiques and Dutch specialty shops. A visit to Holland is not complete without Dutch cheese, and the best cheese of Utrecht is found at the Kazerij. With a friendly and knowledgable staff and a wide assortment of international cheeses, spreads, and wines, it is your one-stop shop for the evening.
2. Walk Along the Singel: The Singel is the canal that encircles the old heart of Utrecht, originally built in the 12th century as a moat to protect the city. A stroll along here will take you past old houses, cobblestone streets, and charming neighborhoods.
3. Wijncafe Le Febre: Located on one of the most popular squares of Utrecht, ‘t Neude, this wine bar has great wines by the glass for 3.50, 4.50, or 5.50 euros. Especially great in the summer when the terraces are full.
4. Cafe Olivier: Only in Holland will you find a restaurant in a church! It’s plain exterior belies the gem that lays inside, as this was one of Utrecht’s “hidden churches.” It dates back to the 16th century when Catholic churches were forbidden and hence hidden from view. Cafe Olivier is now one of Utrecht’s most popular hangouts, cozy and crowded with some of the best Belgian beers available.
5. Boatride Along The Vecht: When I need to get out of the city, I head to the Vecht, a small river that runs from Utrecht to Amsterdam. Back in the day when the wealthy fled overcrowded Amsterdam they built beautiful mansions along this canal that are still on display today. I consider it one of Holland’s best kept secrets! Boat tours leave from either Utrecht or Amsterdam, but be sure to see the best stretch between the villages of Maarssen and Loenen aan de Vecht.