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Amsterdam or Utrecht?

We have two nights and must plan a day for the Speelklok Museum in Utrecht… do we stay there and travel into Amsterdam or visa versa? Thanks for weighing in! Also would appreciate hotel suggestions!

Posted by
1422 posts

We need much more information from you to say anything meaningful about this. You say you have 2 days. 2 days for what? To stay in the Netherlands? Where will you be arriving from? Where will you go after these 2 days? When will these 2 days take place? Next week? This summer? Besides the Speelklok museum, do you wish to see other things? If so, what? If you don’t know yet and want tips, what are your interests? Who will you be traveling with? Etc etc etc

This forum can be a wealth of information, but you need to help us help you.

Posted by
7567 posts

This forum has a lot of travelers who sleep in a chosen city and make day trips by unreserved commuter trains after they've seen enough of their sleeping city. Amsterdam is one of the major cities of the world that has a huge number of popular smaller cities with about an hour on the train. Utrecht is one of those. You should book Speelklok in advance, especially if you want the English tour. I was stuck with the Dutch tour, but my very limited German helped me follow along.

There is a lot more to do in Utrecht. It is not a village. It takes several full days to do justice to Amsterdam. Many people would put Delft, den Haag, or Haarlem ahead of Utrecht. Others prioritizing a single attraction as if it were the only thing outside Amsterdam tend to select Kinderdijk or the Mauritshuis Museum. Is tulip season involved?

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for your advice. To the person who wanted more information, this two days is our last of a two week vacation that starts in Berlin where I have some family. We come to Amsterdam after one night in Cologne. It is me and my husband - we are in mid 50s. My husband wants to do the musical instrument museum in Utrecht and I would like to see some sights in Amsterdam and so trying to decide which city to sleep in because we will travel either way. I am waiting for the 2023 version of Rick Steve’s book on Netherlands to come out next week and am assuming that will also help me. This is our first trip of this kind!

Posted by
332 posts

Trains in the Netherlands are so convenient that either way would work. I’ve done it both ways, stayed outside of Amsterdam, in Leiden and traveled into Amsterdam to sightsee and I’ve stayed in Amsterdam and daytripped to other towns. I’ve also stayed on the quieter, outer edge of Amsterdam and close in on the Museumplein and I much prefer being close in. But I’m a city girl. For a two day stay, with a split Amsterdam/Utrecht agenda, I’d stay in Amsterdam near a convenient transit hub.

On the pro side for Utrecht, hotels will most likely be more budget-friendly there. If you give us your nightly budget in Euros and travel dates (time of year effects prices dramatically), I’m sure you will get several hotel suggestions for both cities.

Posted by
7567 posts

There are a couple of other issues to consider, like locations and whatever the closing day of the Speelklok musuem is. We're not discussing Amersfoort here, but it's one of the nice visit towns that is a substantial walk from the train station. Likewise, if you have to take a ticket for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam for a day or time you didn't really want, that could affect the "best place to start from." Presumably you've already given up on the Vermeer show (Ironica typeface.)

Note that Rick does not pretend to offer a comprehensive guide to anywhere. (Although I value his publishing work a lot.) I sometimes invest in (for example) Lonely Planet [Netherlands] when I want to decide if x-city is worth a visit. Maybe you can find an old copy in your public library.

Posted by
1912 posts

Deb if you want to absorb the atmosphere of Amsterdam - walk around the city in the late afternoon and go out to dinner in the evening - stay in Amsterdam. If those things work in Utrecht stay in Utrecht. When I think about where I want to stay, I generally think about where I want to be in the mornings and evenings.

You could do the Speelklok museum on your way through into Amsterdam. I'm not certain about luggage storage except that it's almost completely certain that you can store a bag at the Utrecht train station.

Utrecht is a city best conceptualized as a nice small city. Utrecht is a city - it's train station is a larger transit hub than Amsterdam's - but it is less intense a place. It's a bit of a university town with pretty old buildings and plenty of history. It has canals, but not to the same degree as Amsterdam's miles and miles of row house lined beautiful canals. Utrecht is calmer than Amsterdam. Amsterdam is more of a bustling capital with more of the inevitable crazy people obnoxious businesses gaudy tourism etc etc. Not at all unmanageable in this regard and it's a great city, more cosmopolitan to the extent that the Netherlands is cosmopolitan. Utrecht has less of that stuff and more of a yupified good living outdoor dining kind of vibe, prominent upscale gay scene, etc. It's more provincial in the non-pegorative sense of the term.

My wife and I, in our early and mid-50's respectively, would pick Utrecht. But we've spent months in Amsterdam as younger people. If you haven't been then I think going to Amsterdam is probably the right pick.

But to some extent 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other, not a bad choice either way.

I wouldn't worry about commute to the airport by the way, effectively about the same from either place.

Have a great time

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you! Hank, I appreciate your advice! I have now booked a hotel in Amsterdam for our two nights (Conscious Hotel Museum Square) and will look into doing the museum in Utrecht on our way from Cologne as that seems really smart so we get as much time in Amsterdam on our first trip there!

We look forward to many more adventures in Europe and hope that next time we can spend more time in Netherlands as I know two days is only enough to see the tip of the iceberg!