National Geographic Traveller (UK)




A highlight of Utrecht’s art scene is the work of local designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld, a luminary of 20th-century art movement De Stijl (neoplastic­ism). The world’s largest collection of his work is on display at the Centraal Museum in the old town, but a 15-minute bike ride east will take art-lovers to Rietveld Schröder House. The first private home he designed, it remains his magnum opus — an elemental vision of straight lines, geometric shapes and primary colours, where space is optimised by visual illusions and sliding walls. After the tour, cycle on to Griftpark, a green oasis just outside the city centre, and refuel with a Mediterran­ean-inspired brunch at nearby Karibu cafe. centraalmu­


For all the charm of Utrecht’s canalside promenades, it’s below street level that you’ll find its defining feature: a system of cellars carved into water-level quays. These spaces now serve as workshops, businesses and restaurant­s — and are best discovered from the water. From spring to autumn, the canals host a parade of standup paddleboar­ds and kayaks, but to learn more about these storied waterways, opt for a private boat tour with Sloepdelen. After being concreted over in the 70s, the Catherines­ingle section of the Stadsbuite­ngracht canal

— which wraps around the city centre — was re-filled with water in 2020. Today, it’s possible to cruise along the entire four-mile loop for the first time in four decades.


Enjoy small bites at Bunk Hotel Utrecht, a hotel housed inside a deconsecra­ted church in the medieval centre. The restaurant is modern and its vibe convivial, but reminding guests of the building’s previous life is a 19th-century organ, which still entertains diners during special evening concerts. After dinner, search the streets for Utrecht Lumen, a series of light installati­ons in and around the centre. Set up as part of the city’s bid to become the 2018 European Capital of Culture, it lived on as a lure for day-trippers. From a glowing halo above the modest St Willibrord’s Church to pulsating lights inside Paushuize palace, it’s further proof of the city’s knack for reinventio­n.

 ?? ?? Repurposed wharfs lining
Oudegracht canal
Repurposed wharfs lining Oudegracht canal

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