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City walking tour & canal cruise

City walking tour & canal cruise, The Netherlands

Spend a few hours diving into the history of Utrecht on this guided walking tour of the city’s old town. Then, cruise the terrace-lined canals in a glass-topped boat to see the city from a new perspective. You’ll pass by sights like the tallest tower in the Netherlands and a house built in the 16th-century for the Dutch pope, while your local guide regales you with tales of the city’s 2,000 years of history.

Your tour continues on the water, where you’ll cruise past familiar sights and see some new ones. You’ll coast beneath gently arched bridges and pass by medieval fortifications. As you pass other canal boats, keep an eye out for the one that’s been transformed into a cafe.

This tour allows you to explore Utrecht’s split-level streets, from the gabled houses and churches at street level, to the subterranean storage buildings and riverside banks that run just above water level.

Your local guide will meet you at your hotel in Utrecht before leading you around the cobblestone streets of the city’s old town. You’ll finish your tour with a canal cruise in a glass boat down Utrecht’s main waterways.

On your old town tour, you’ll pass Saint Martin’s Cathedral, home to the Domtoren, the tallest church tower in the country at 112.5m (368 ft). The nave of the church collapsed in the 17th century and was never restored, but the 14th-century Gothic tower remains, marking the spot where the city of Utrecht began.

You’ll then wander along the small nearby canal, where terraced buildings line the waterside. Beneath the streets, there are some buildings that were originally used for storage. As you stroll along the water, you’ll pass by these buildings and observe the brickwork and stone murals, all of which hold stories about the city, which your guide will bring to life.

You’ll pass the Museum Catharijneconvent (Saint Catherine’s Convent Museum), a museum of religious art in a former convent. Here, you’ll have the chance to see art pieces and historical objects dating back to the Middle Ages. You’ll also see the Paushuize (Pope’s House), built for Pope Adrianus VI who was elected as pope in 1522. Despite planning to visit, he died one year after its completion in Rome before getting the chance to live there.

As you continue through the old town, you’ll pass Saint Willibrord’s Church; a Gothic revival church built in the 19th century, it’s considered one of the prettiest churches in the city with its ornate interior boasting gilded ornamentation and dramatic architecture.

Your tour will conclude with a canal cruise of the city in a glass-topped boat, through the main waterway passing familiar sights like the Domtoren and additional places like the Sonnenborgh Observatory with its 16th-century fortifications and modern domes. You’ll also pass beneath the gentle arches of the Gentleman’s Bridge and see modern canal boats on your way, one of which has been transformed into a cafe. An audio guide plays throughout the boat and your captain will explain what you’re seeing, though your local guide will also help.

This tour will take about half a day, and is available year-round as the boat is heated.

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Other experiences in Utrecht

These activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences around where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can suggest tours and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the local ways of life.

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