National Geographic Traveller (UK)


In 2019, Utrecht opened the world’s largest bicycle park, a three-level garage with over 12,500 slots. It’s part of one of Europe’s best cycling infrastruc­ture — testament to the city’s love for two-wheeled adventures


History on a grand scale

It takes around an hour to cycle from Utrecht to De Haar Castle, the largest in the Netherland­s and arguably the most extravagan­t. It was built in the 19th century with all the medieval flair of the mansion it replaced, which burned down in 1482. Today, De Haar is an arresting sight: a blaze of spires, turrets and drawbridge­s, all reflected in a large moat and surrounded by a 55-acre park. Book a guided tour to be let in on the secrets of its most notable guests; it was once the holiday retreat of the aristocrat­ic Van Zuylen family, and it has also hosted a glamorous roll call of A-listers over the years, from fashion designer Coco Chanel to opera singer Maria Callas and actors Gregory Peck and Roger Moore. kasteeldeh­

Follow the De Stijl trail

Venture beyond the city for more attraction­s centred on the De

Stijl art movement. From Utrecht, follow the 12-mile Mondrian Meets Rietveld cycling trail to Amersfoort, the picturesqu­e heart of the Utrecht province and where painter Piet Mondrian was born in 1872. Created to mark the centennial of De Stijl in 2017, the route is part open-air gallery, part treasure hunt, and is signposted with 10 sculptures by artist Boris Tellegen — all riffing on Mondrian’s trademark abstract forms and monochroma­tic blocks. This year marks the 150th anniversar­y of his birth — a fitting time to visit The Mondriaan House; set in his childhood home, the museum has a full-scale replica of his Parisian studio plus exhibits delving into his life. mondriaanh­

Head north

The local tourist office organises private cycling tours of the city, which take in its history, architectu­re and lesser-known attraction­s. These itinerarie­s can be tailored to specific interests, but if you don’t have special requests, let your guide take you to the northern parts of the city centre. Residentia­l and peaceful, these areas are often overlooked in favour of the livelier south, but can provide a welcome respite from the weekend buzz. Cycle along the Nieuwegrac­ht canal, admire the beautiful houses — among the most expensive in the city — and explore the winding alleys, keeping an eye out for their inner courtyards. One of Utrecht’s quaintest sights, these green corners open their gates to the public in the daytime.

De Haar Castle and rose garden, an hour’s cycle
from Utrecht
WEEKENDER De Haar Castle and rose garden, an hour’s cycle from Utrecht

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