If you want a nice and comfortable way to view the old city of Utrecht? Take the boattour on the canals. A guide will tell you about the history and buildings.
If you like boat trips, there are several options for other excursions. In 2013 the price of the canal tour is € 9,60. New in 2013 is the museum tour.
The Oude Gracht is the main canal in the old city center of Utrecht. It's one street you will explore during your Utrecht visit as most activity is located on and around the canal.
The Gracht has its origin as a part of the Vecht river and was transformed into a Gracht around 1275.
Take your time to see the canal houses and their gables and visit the wharfs at the waterside as well.
The Oude Gracht (Old canal) is one of Utrecht's main attractions - and I agree. The Oude Gracht runs through the medieval center, in other words, the old city of Utrecht. The Oude Gracht starts southeast of the city, where the Kromme Rijn (Twisted Rhine, I also like the translations Crooked Rhine or Warped Rhine - anyway, the original bed of the Rhine river) and the Vaartse Rijn (a medieval canal) meet the original moat of the fortified old city. From there the Oudegracht runs through the old city center. Portions of the Oude Gracht follow the original flow of the Rhine. The Oude Gracht used to be lined by warehouses, but today most of them have been converted to restaurants and cafés.
You'll have the options of strolling along, sitting around, or boating down the Oude Gracht. If you have time, you might as well do all three of them. I didn't have the chance to go boating, but I thoroughly enjoyed the strolling along and sitting around part. The Oude Gracht is partially tree lined and from wherever you are on that Gracht you can quickly and easily venture into the medieval side streets to walk around and come across all sorts of pleasant surprises - and then return to the Oude Gracht. Since the Oude Gracht is impossible to miss, it serves as a perfect compass to find your way around the old city of Utrecht.
We did this once with the company i worked for. I must admit i thought it would be horrible but even though i already lived in Utrecht for about 5 years then, i saw this whole new Utrecht. It is so strange to see a city from the waterline (other than the terraces). I loved it. And i will do it again some day for sure. Though not on a very hot day, since the peddling is very hard work
The thing that we enjoyed most was being able to eat along the canals. There are numerous restaurants and you really have a varied choice. Everywhere we ate, the food was good, and the atmosphere is amazing. There is nothing quite like watching a boat row right past your table while you enjoy a delicious meal or a duck coming to ask for a titbit.
Taking a cruise on the canals will set you back 7.95 euro's. The cruises depart from Oudegracht and when the weather permits, they open the roof. There is a guide on board that will inform you of the area that you are cruising through and give you quite a bit of information. Duration is one hour and the boats depart every hour on the hour from 11 am to 5 pm.
During late spring and summer a nice and alternative way to experience Utrecht canals is by canoe! you can rent canoes or boats at the Botenverhuur de Rijnstroom and starting from there you can go either to the historical city center or more to country. We went to the green country around Utrecht and after paddling for a couple of hours we stopped at Theehuis Rhijnauwen B.V. for a pancake. This is a pancake house right on the canal, so you can step out and leave your canoe on the bank.
Running through the centre of the old city are Utrecht's pair of canals - the Oude Gracht and the Nieuw Gracht (old and new). In addition to the canals the old city boundary still has its water filled moat looping in a rough semicircle on the western side.
The old city centre is pretty much traffic-free and so wandering the canal and moat banks makes for a pleasant way to get a feel of the place. The canals are built below street level and have their own walkways which during the summer bustle with cafes and restaurants. On my autumn visit on a midweek morning I had the double bonus of the place being virtually tourist-free and the trees in their resplendent seasonal foliage which my camera took full advantage of - see travelogue below: Some "arty" Photos
A funny and active way to discover Utrecht is by boat or canoe.
Beside the guided boat tour or the cycling-boat in the city center, you can rent a canoe, kayak or boat near the University campus de Uithof.
From there you can either go via canals to the city center or, if looking for green and nature, to the outskirts of Utrecht.
Along the canal there are many nice spots where you can stop for a pic-nic. About 1 hour and a half canoing towards Bunnik you'll find also a very good pancake house right on the canal. You can simply leave your canoe/boat and treat yourself with a delicious pancake before heading back.
Oudegracht is a canal going through the heart of the city, with shops and restaurants on both sides.
This canal is unique because of its many pittoresque cellars on water level. Centuries ago they were used for storage and commerce. Nowadays, many of them host fine restaurants and pubs. In the summer you can find nice terraces at the water here.
Although not as famous as the canals in Amsterdam a boat ride on the Utrecht old canals is very enjoyable.
Along the route you will get to see and hear the history of the very old building, some of which are from the middle ages. I find it a very good relaxing way to learn the history of the city and its important buildings.
The tour I took lasted about 45 minutes. It costs 7.5 Euro for adults.
The tape is in four different languages (English, Dutch, German and French).
Oude Gracht houses some of the best pubs and restaurants in Utrecht. Its an excellent, relaxing place to sit outside on a warm summers night to enjoy a drink with mates, or a wonderful place for a romantic meal. Best of all is a joyous walk amongst trees to shade yourself from the sun (see photo 3 for an idea of the length of the gracht).
The Canals in Utrecht are just as beautiful as those in Amsterdam, if not more so. They have very little traffic on them as opposed to Amsterdam, and their are little stairways where you can go down to walk right along the canal. This scene is right by a giant old church, and also next to Andersom Coffeeshop. :)
This is the best way to get a good idea of the city centre of Utrecht. It takes you on the canals, 'grachten', around and thru the city centre. The trip takes about 1.5 hours and is very worthwhile. It costs 7 euro's and boats will go every hour.
We rented a canal bike, a pedal boat that holds up to four people. Our kids volunteered to pedal while the old folks sat in back.
It was a very entertaining way to see Utrecht's canals, cruising serenely under brick bridges with names like Maartensbrug, and looking at the artists' studios and residences along the water's edge. When it started to rain (we hadn't known enough to ask for a canopy, and the cashier at the Canal Bike stand hadn't offered), Kelly and I held umbrellas over the kids' heads while they pedaled. It would have made a good photo if any of us had had a free hand! Their legs still got drenched, but that was part of the fun.
50 euros deposit, refundable, plus 5 euros per person, per hour. If it's an overcast day, ask for the canopy.