A Student’s Guide to Cheap and Free Things to Do in Utrecht - 4 min read

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Lix caught up with Nicky, a Utrecht University alumnus, who shared with us where to eat, drink, shop and be entertained in Utrecht on a student budget. Check out his top three’s! 

Where to eat? 

Springweg 64, 3511 VT Utrecht, Netherlands

Ask any local about the best place to eat in Utrecht and they’ll unanimously reply, ‘Blauw’. While it might seem odd that an Indonesian restaurant is this Northern European city’s go-to, it’s interesting to point out that the Netherlands actually has a thriving Indonesian subculture. In fact, the Netherlands is one of the best places (outside of Indonesia) to eat Indonesian food. From mouth-watering sweet soy pork to crisp banana fritters, the food definitely won’t disappoint. 

The Village Coffee and Music
Voorstraat 46, 3512 AP Utrecht, Netherlands

The long street of Voorstraat is now a trendy hub for young entrepreneurs and students in search of a great cup of coffee. And they’ll find the best one in town at The Village Coffee and Music. Providing the perfect local hang-out for unpretentious vibes, head here for a healthy breakfast, delicious sandwich, or a hot cup of joe. 

Springweg 50, 3511 VS Utrecht, Netherlands

On the quaint and cozy Springweg street, you’ll find the Springhaver Theatre, which has been showing arthouse films since 1978. Even older, the adjoining café bar, Café Springhaver, opened long before the theatre, in 1885. This locals’ favorite serves up a delicious portion of creamy bitterballen, the Netherlands’ deep-fried, veal-filled croquettes, spiced with nutmeg and served with mustard. Wash it down with a local pale ale while enjoying the late summer sun on their small, street-facing terrace. 

Where to drink? 

Café de Zaak
Korte Minrebroederstraat 9, 3512 GG Utrecht, Netherlands

One of my favorite bars in all of Utrecht is Café de Zaak. Here, you’ll find a good mix of patrons, from young students to a thirty-something crowd. And if music is what you’re looking for, you’ll surely find it here. So grab yourself a drink from one of the friendly bartenders and head out to their cozy terrace while the weather’s still good! 

Café Ledig Erf
Tolsteegbrug 3, 3511 ZN Utrecht, Netherlands

One of the coolest cafés in Utrecht, this is a place you must visit. With a variety of beers and lots of different games, enjoy a fun night with your mates at what the Dutch describe as a ‘gezellig’ pub (cozy, but oh so much more)! And when you need a breath of fresh air, head outside, where you’ll find one of the most beautiful terraces in all of Utrecht. 

Borrelbar Plank
Voorstraat 96, 3512 AV Utrecht, Netherlands

Lover of board games? You’ve found your spot. Borrelbar Plank is for everyone—regardless of age. And if you find yourself struggling to understand the rules of one of the many games on display, one of the friendly game gurus will be happy to help. Whether you’re into new games, old ones, dice rolling or cards—Borrelbar Plank has definitely got you covered. One more thing—they have beer—plenty of beer—and some delicious Dutch food! It’s definitely worth a visit. 

Where to shop?

Puha Shop
Voorstraat 48, 3512 AR Utrecht, Netherlands

One of the most popular stores in Utrecht, Puha Shop sells clothing, shoes and home accessories from local independent designers. The friendly owners have created a platform for relatively unknown, but hugely talented artists and designers. Here, you can find an eclectic mix of sustainable products from over 60 young (mostly Dutch) designers. 

Market Vredenburg
Vredenburg, 3511 CW Utrecht, Netherlands

For all you bargain hunters out there, this is the place to be. Head to Vredenburg to experience an authentic Dutch market. Here, you’ll find countless stalls offering affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, bread, cheese and more. After all that food shopping, you might get a bit hungry. Try a typical Dutch snack, such as the famous stroopwafels (warm, thin waffles with syrup). Yum! Once you’ve filled your belly, explore the many stalls selling clothing, shoes, electronics and more. Open every Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 to 17:00 and every Saturday from 8:00 to 17:00.

Oudegracht 206, 3511 NR Utrecht, Netherlands

Although vintage isn’t hard to find in Utrecht, Episode is simply one of the best. If you’re looking for original finds, the clothes in Episode come from all around the world. Here, you’ll peruse through quality vintage clothing and shoes at an affordable price. This treasure trove is one of the city’s most popular second-hand shops among fashion lovers, so be prepared to squeeze in amid the fashionable crowd. 

Where to be entertained? 

Oudegracht, 3511 NJ Utrecht, Netherlands

Take a stroll along the main canal running through Utrecht’s city center. Historical records confirm Oudegracht is over 800 years old. Through the years, a number of subterranean warehouses have been constructed along the canal—now housing many unique cafés, stores and homes. When you tire from your stroll, grab a coffee while enjoying a spectacular view of the waterway. 

The Springhaver Theatre
Springweg 50, 3511 VS Utrecht, Netherlands

One of the most beautiful cinemas in Utrecht, the Springhaver Theatre, houses the latest arthouse films in a setting that recreates the allure of old Hollywood cinema. Dating back to 1978, the theatre features the very best independent movies from all over the world along with top Hollywood productions. 

Castle De Haar
Kasteellaan 1, 3455 RR Utrecht, Netherlands

This incredible neo-gothic castle dates back to the Middle Ages. Located in Utrecht’s northern periphery, Castle De Haar was designed by Pierre Cuypers, whose illustrious portfolio also includes several other Dutch masterpieces, such as the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam’s Central Station. Open to the public, Castle De Haar is a must-see attraction in a city not lacking in history.

Don’t forget to download your Student’s Guide to Cheap and Free Things to Do in Utrecht! Once you’ve saved it to your desktop, export the file to a PDF.


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