Outside Utrecht Centraal
Outside Utrecht Centraal

UTRECHT

“The PartyTrail” visited Utrecht and we were left with the impression that the nightlife in Utrecht is the “best kept secret.” in the Netherlands. Utrecht, which is often overshadowed by Amsterdam was discovered by the Partytrail out of necessity.

We visited Amsterdam during peak season (June to October) and discovered all the hotels and hostels in Amsterdam were either too pricey or overbooked. During peak season in Amsterdam, accommodation becomes mercilessly expensive due to the sheer volume of tourists that come to visit the city. Finding ourselves in a jam due to Amsterdam’s high prices and overbooked hotels, we were advised by a local to use Utrecht as a springboard to Amsterdam.

Using Utrecht as a springboard to Amsterdam worked so well that we would recommend it to anyone else visiting Amsterdam during peak season. We were pleased to find out that not only did we save money by staying in Utrecht but that the city of Utrecht itself had a lot to offer.

Where Is Utrecht Located?

Utrecht is located in the central part of the Netherlands and is only 23 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Trains run all day and every day from Utrecht’s main station “Utrecht Centraal” (The trains do seem to shut down at 5am and start again at 6 am). Utrecht is also directly accessible by train from “Amsterdam Schipol” airport. To save some money on the train, we advise buying an OVIcard.  This is a much cheaper option to buying a train ticket for each time you travel during your stay in the Netherlands.  The Ovicard can also be used for buses and even bicycle rentals.  (Note to rent a bicycle on the Ovicard you might have to go online and sign up for bicycle rental privileges).

Tip: Using the Ovicard to rent a bicycle would save you the hassle of depositing 100 to 200 Euros at a hotel or private bike rental shop.  (Keep in mind that you will still have to fork over 12 to 20 Euros for daily rental of the bike at a hotel or bike rental shop).  Renting a bike with the Ovicard costs about 3.50 Euros and the last time we checked and there is no deposit involved.



So let’s imagine you follow our advice and decide to use Utrecht as a launching pad for all your partying in Amsterdam.  Here are some interesting facts about this quaint city that would make your stay here more enjoyable.

A snapshot of Utrecht at night
A snapshot of Utrecht at night

A Little About Utrecht

Utrecht is a canal city and just like Amsterdam bike culture prevails here. Pubs, clubs, shops and eateries are concentrated around the city-center making everything within reach. Other than using bicycles, locals can also get around with the tram, buses and by taxi.  Utrecht is quaint and beautiful, to top the icing on the cake, we found the people here to be friendly and welcoming.  It is also a multicultural city as evident by the large mosque just outside the central station. A lot of Dutch citizens of North-African ancestry have chosen Utrecht as a place to call home.

Most nights of the week are good to dine out or have a couple of drinks at one of the many cafés or pubs in the city.  However, in Utrecht, the nightlife really goes into full gear between Thursday evening and the early hours of Sunday morning.

Nightlife In Utrecht

The party revelers in Utrecht comprise not only of professionals and locals who work in the city but also of students who attend some of the city’s universities.  Utrecht also moonshines as a college town so there are always a bunch of college kids looking to wind down after a stressful week of attending classes. 

The University of Utrecht is said to be one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in all of the Netherlands which leads us to assume that it serves up a decent amount of young guys and girls that add to the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Some Of Utrecht’s Nightlife Venues

  • Tivoli
  • Address: Helling 7, 3523 CB Utrecht, Netherlands
    Type of Establishment:  Nightclub, Dance Venue, Concert Hall
    Opens:  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
    Closest landmark: Utrecht Centraal
    Age of patrons: 18 to 25
    Price: $$ to $$$

    Tivoli is more of an entertainment complex located in a newly constructed building not too far from Utrecht centraal.  Tivoli is actually not the name of a club but it is more of a concert venue that holds different events on different nights of the week.

    We partied at Tivoli on a Friday night and there was a DJ from Los Angeles (shout out L.A.!!!!!!) spinning his tunes.  He was quite remarkable to say the least and with further inquiry we were led to understand that on most nights at Tivoli, patrons are treated to tunes from DJ’s of his caliber.



    He was able to keep an up-tempo atmosphere going in the club till the early hours of Saturday and the pleased crowd seemed to not be able to get enough of him.  The crowd was comprised mostly of college students which gave the party a good jolt of energy. We were lucky enough to make some friends from Utrecht that night. An after-party would result because of this.

    As for the alcoholic beverages, our verdict is that they were a bit on the expensive side. A cup of beer cost around three Euros and a cocktail of rum and coke cost about the five to seven Euros. 

    Since most of the cocktails at the bar seemed to hover around this price.  There was no need for bottle service as the crowd of partiers just got drinks from the bar. The only negative we noticed about the night was that the guy-to-girl ratio favored the girls. If this is a common occurrence at Tivoli then getting lucky here for a guy would take some effort.

    Things started to pick up at the club after midnight and ran till 5 a.m. in the morning. If you are used to starting your party early it might be a good idea to pre-game at one of the city’s many café’s or pubs before hitting this venue.  Also according to some nightlife intelligence gathered from locals the best nights to visit this venue are either Friday or Saturday night.

    Now that you have the intel on Tivoli, it might be time to look at other venues in this quaint little city.

  • Kafé Belgie
  • Address: Oudegracht 196, 3511 NR Utrecht, Netherlands
    Type of Establishment:  Pub/Cafe
    Opens:  Everyday.
    Closest landmark: Utrecht Centraal
    Age of patrons: 18 and up
    Price: $$

    This pub/café seemed to be really popular among the locals.  It is a Belgian themed cafe which has an array of beers and lagers from Belgium.  Other standard cocktails and beverages are also available on request from the bar.  There are seats both inside and outside the café but it seems like they fill up quick in the evenings and on the weekends. Food is also served here upon request.  In all, what we found was that Kafé Belgie has a “homey” atmosphere about it.  We encourage you to try the different types of beers and lagers they offer and it is a great place to begin your evening before starting out a potentially eventful night out in the city.

    Other Nightlife Venues Of Note In Utrecht.

  • Havana
  • Address: Oudkerkhof 29, 3512 GJ Utrecht, Netherlands
    Type of establishment:Restaurant (day)/ Latin Club (Night)
    Opens: Tues (4pm – 12 am), Wed ( 4pm – 1 am), Th,Fr,Sat (4pm – 4 am)
    Age of Patrons: 18-30
    Price: $$ – $$$

    Havana for the most part is a restaurant by day and Club by night.  We did not get to party-trail this club but word is that the bouncers here can be a little bit of a “pain in the a**”. Especially if you are not a native dutch speaker. We tend never to party based on here-say so we would suggest you visit the bar anyway. Other than the minor inconvenience of the over-zealous bouncers, we heard Havana has a reputation for great food and great latin music. So if you are into the latin dance scene, this is your best bet in Utrecht.

    Other venues worth mentioning
  • EKKO
  • Address: Bemuurde Weerd Westzijde 3, 3513 BH Utrecht, Netherlands
    Type of establishment: Club, Event hall
    Opens: Tues (4pm – 12 am), Wed ( 4pm – 1 am), Th,Fr,Sat (4pm – 4 am)
    Age of Patrons: 18-30
    Price: $$ – $$$

  • CLUB LUX
  • Address: Oudegracht aan de Werf 97, 3511 AL Utrecht, Netherlands
    Type of establishment: Club
    Opens: Tues (4pm – 12 am), Wed ( 4pm – 1 am), Th,Fr,Sat (4pm – 4 am)
    Age of Patrons: 18-30
    Price: $$ – $$$

    Now that we have given you a snapshot of the nightlife in Utrecht, make sure you also soak in some culture. The city is very unique in its heritage. It has been in existence since the time of the Romans. We recommend you take some time to look around the many churches in the city, the galleries, and museums and while you are at it support the local economy by picking up an item or two at the numerous shops that are open for business throughout the city.



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    Dante

    Published by Dante

    This article was written by Dante, a Chemical-petroleum engineer by study. He is a nightlife aficionado, an avid traveler, and a culturephile. | To get into touch with Dante please email him at  contact@partytrail.com or Follow Him On Facebook and Twitter

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