You can say a lot of things about Amsterdam, but today Amsterdam is saying a lot about you.

And by “you”, we simply mean tourists in general.

Everyone would like to think there were a lot of valuable lessons learned during the pandemic.

Amsterdam may have made it through, but it seems memory loss may be a side effect.

Surely, we all feel grateful those dark days are behind us, but is Amsterdam forgetting how travel came to a screeching halt with so many economies across the world severely affected overnight?

The Netherlands’ most popular city has long been attracting free spirits with fewer rules and more play, but those days may be over as the city is basically hanging up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

Fortunately, Amsterdam has a doppelgänger less than an hour away. The beautiful city of Utrecht is well worth the trip.

Here are 7 reasons why you should visit this beautiful Dutch city instead of Amsterdam:

Another Campaign To Deter Tourists

amsterdam canal

Man, oh man, here we go again…

Amsterdam has launched yet another campaign to keep tourists at bay. This time, it’s in the form of a questionnaire to get tourists to think twice about their reason for visiting.

With very specific questions, including references to drugs, this new tool is designed to push tourists to visit for the right reasons (in their eyes) and inform them of certain illegal activity despite the city’s notoriously lax culture.

While over-tourism is a very real concern, here is the kicker – Amsterdam built their own city, culture, and attractions, so how is this newfound Karen-esque perspective the fault of tourists when they’re just seeking a fun time in what is supposed to be a really cool city?

The answer may be a hard lesson for Amsterdam if tourism numbers drop, and this is exactly why nearby Utrecht should be on travelers’ radar.

A Spitting Image Of Amsterdam Without The Hassle

Oudegracht canal in utrecht

Split between a canal (the Oudegracht), just like Amsterdam, is another city that can easily take on the moniker of ‘next best thing’.

Of course, every city is unique in its own way, even if they’re essentially neighbors, but that’s not to say Utrecht won’t have you ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’ just like you would in the more popular Dutch city.

Many streets will have you asking, “wait, am I in Amsterdam?”. It wouldn’t quite feel this way without a bicycle-friendly lifestyle and a plethora of cafes. To that, Utrecht says, “check” and “check”.

Easy To Reach

utrecht train station

In under an hour, travelers can drive, Uber, bus, or take a cheap train to Utrecht from Amsterdam, which is the easiest gateway into this lesser-known gem.

The only other notable city outside the Netherlands to use as a gateway would be Dusseldorf or Brussels, where a train takes approximately 2 hours.

Given that Utrecht is essentially a smack dab in the country, these are the best options.

One Of The Oldest Cities In The Netherlands

Castle De Haar in utrecht

Utrecht’s history runs deep and was hugely significant before Amsterdam became what it has grown into today: a thriving cultural hub and top tourist destination.

But tourists can still see stunning sites of this ancient city’s historic past with the unmissable Dom Tower, an array of incredible castles, and overall medieval atmosphere.

It goes without saying, one of the best ways to learn about history is by visiting local museums, which Utrecht has many, as well as walking tours through lovely historic neighborhoods.

More Laid Back

traditional houses along canal in utrecht

Travelers can visit Utrecht for a more casual time along a scenic canal as if Amsterdam didn’t have the wild scenes they’re known for.

Amsterdam is fully aware of its self-induced party image, but Utrecht is on the other side of the spectrum.

Its beauty strongly resembles that of the more popular Dutch city.

People tend to be more keen on welcoming outsiders as it’s not a hugely popular tourist hub where over-tourism or partygoers are major concerns.

More Affordable

dom tower in utrecht on nice day

Amsterdam is a lot of things, but it’s not exactly known for its affordability. Utrecht, on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly.

While it’s certainly not the cheapest in Europe, if you’re seeking Amsterdam vibes without breaking the bank, Utrecht is the place.

Sip coffee canal-side, rent a bike, or pay a cheap entry fee to climb the 14th-century Dom Tower as the cost of living and attractions are more affordable than in Amsterdam.

One Of The Happiest Cities In The World

utrecht canal at night

Utrecht may be in caught in Amsterdam’s shadow, but that doesn’t mean it has to be gloomy. In fact, Utrecht is the fastest growing and happiest city in the country, according to the United Nations.

As Amsterdam sounds like a place to skip for now, Utrecht is slowly but surely making a name for themselves.

So, when choosing between Amsterdam or Utrecht, would you rather be told “don’t do this”, “don’t do that” and get pressed with, “what are your intentions?” like a Dad on Prom Night, or would you rather visit somewhere new and exciting filled with people truly happy to have you?

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