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Slow Travel - Utrecht as Home Base?

I know Utrecht is a popular secondary base for exploring the Netherlands, but I'm wondering if anyone has used Utrecht as a home base including their time in Amsterdam?

As part of a 10 week trip next summer, I am trying to finalize plans for 19 days in the Netherlands. We plan to have a long term car rental during this leg of the trip (even though I know it will be a nuisance to park most of the days). I have quite an exhaustive list of the possible to-do's throughout the entire country, knowing we won't be able to accomplish even half of it, but just want to know the options and tailor things to the weather and what the family feels like on any given day (kids will be 8 and 12).

My current plan is to stay 1 week in Utrecht, with our accommodation being walking distance to the train station. We would spend some days in Utrecht, and some days taking the train into Amsterdam. For the second week I have an AirBNB just north of Utrecht in Maarssen picked out where we'd take more day trips with the car (Kroller-Muller Museum, Giethoorn, Woerden, etc.). We'd also still be able to drive or take the train to amsterdam for anything we missed or wanted to do, or north to Hoorn, Alkmaar, etc..

This would be followed up with 4 nights in Delft, where we could choose from things to do there, the Hague, Rotterdam, etc.

My question is whether anyone has used Utrecht as their home base for the Netherlands, including days where they go into Amsterdam? My family is not big on large cities, and I already have determined i want to spread out our day trips into Amsterdam, and know we'll be happier staying outside of the city. Haarlem is mentioned as RS's favorite home base, but the accommodation there is considerably more expensive. The train from Utrecht to Amsterdam Central is listed as only 26 minutes, compared to 17 minutes for Haarlem to Amsterdam. Is there any reason you foresee that i'd regret this decision? 20 minutes extra on the train for 3 or 4 of the days seems like a fair trade-off. Our goal is truly for slow travel, and I'm trying to move accommodations as little as possible.

Thank you,

Posted by
7207 posts

Sorry, I know it is only 35 miles from Utrecht to Amsterdam, but this is not a good idea. Amsterdam is a great city and should be enjoyed. You will be wasting a lot of time traveling.

Posted by
10344 posts

We used Leiden as a base and it would be better base than Delft. It is a larger university city, also on the train line, with more to offer than small Delft.

Posted by
170 posts

Utrecht would probably make a good base, but I think Maarsen is too close for another base. We were in the Netherlands a few years ago with 3 nights Amsterdam, 4 nights Delft and 4 nights Hoorn. That worked well. Maybe find a base north of Amsterdam.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks for the opinions so far.
We are excited to spend time in Amsterdam, and know it will be great, but with being gone for 10 weeks I am trying to limit the number of nights in hotels and aiming to be in rentals. With the restrictions on vacation rentals in Amsterdam, the options are quite limited and expensive. I am willing to spend some extra time on a train in order to have some flexibility in when/how often we go into Amsterdam, and leave more room for quieter days in between when the family needs a break. My travel style would be much different if it was a shorter holiday.

Maarssen is currently on my list for a second week, but really only because of a really great accommodation, and it is well situated for day trips with the car. If it ends up not being available, Leiden does look great. I'm also not stuck on Delft, and this part will depend on what accommodation is available, but the quietness is a selling feature by that point in the trip.

Thanks again,

Posted by
1012 posts

Maarssen is a suburb of Utrecht. It doesn’t make much sense to switch bases from Utrecht to Maarssen. I would suggest to look for a base more towards the places you want to see from there, Kroller-Moller and Giethoorn. I would like to suggest to look into cities like Apeldoorn, Deventer or Zwolle.
I know RS highly recommends Delft as a base, but I don’t agree. Delft is lovely but rather small, you can see it all in 1 day. Leiden and even The Hague make much more sense as a base.
Do you have some idea about how your entire itinerary will look like? You say this is part of a 10 week trip. Do you plan to do something every day? Or do you schedule “rest days” as well?