The neighbourhoods in Utrecht: bringing you the best places to live in Utrecht

Wondering where to live in Utrecht? We set out to find you the best neighbourhoods (and yes, also some ‘meh’  but inexpensive neighbourhoods too).

Congratulations, you’re moving to Utrecht! With its gorgeous townhouses, a flower market along the canal on Saturday and more bicycles than you can handle, Utrecht can feel like you’re living the Dutch dream.

Although the city is much more petite than Amsterdam or Rotterdam, there are still a lot of different neighbourhoods in Utrecht to choose from.

So where to live in Utrecht? DutchReview has all the pros and cons of Utrecht’s neighbourhoods for you.

READ MORE | Where to live as an international in the Netherlands: the complete guide

Neighbourhoods in Utrecht: the city centre

This area basically offers everything people imagine the Netherlands is made of: narrow streets, townhouses, markets, canals, little bars and a lot of history! Emphasis on “a lot”.

The city centre of Utrecht was founded by the Romans, and most people don’t realize that it’s a lot older than Amsterdam, Leiden or Delft.

On a few square kilometres, you can time travel from the Roman era to the defining Middle Ages and onwards to early Jugendstill or questionable 1970s architecture.

No matter how historical the Utrecht centre may be, it is by no means a dead part of town. Utrecht University and Hogeschool Utrecht both take care that a big influx of young and fresh students comes about every year.

So you know what that means, right? A huge number of (coffee) bars, hip restaurants, and quirky shops. The place is buzzing all year round. It also has TivoliVredenburg – a venue which has made Utrecht a regular stopover for upcoming (Indie) artists.

utrecht-university
Utrecht University in all its glory! Image: Depositphotos

Another big advantage of living here is being close to one of the major transportation hubs in the Netherlands: Utrecht Central Station.

Regular trains will take you to Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Zwolle, Arnhem, Amersfoort or Den Bosch within an hour. So for business travellers and corporate expats, Utrecht city centre is also perfect to live in!

Are there any downsides? Well, you can guess that living here does not come cheap (which might also be less of an issue for corporate expats). You have to be careful where to pick your spot as some streets and squares can be very noisy at night.

Notable locations: Oudegracht, TivoliVredenburg, Domtower and church, Centraal Museum, Neude, Ledig Erf, Utrecht central station.

READ MORE | 9 things no one tells you about living in the Netherlands for the first time

Neighbourhoods in Utrecht: Wittevrouwen, Oudwijk, Vogelenbuurt &Tuinwijk/dorp

If the city centre is too busy for you, but you still fancy being within walking or cycling distance of the centre? Move to the posh areas surrounding the city centre on the north-east side: Wittevrouwen, Oudwijk, Vogelenwijk and Tuinwijk or -dorp.

Wittevrouwen, Vogelenwijk and Oudwijk were built before 1900. Oudwijk mostly consists of cute and small arbeidershuisjes, while big townhouses make up the most of Wittevrouwen and Vogelenwijk.

Tuinwijk and –dorp was built later, around the 1930s. It boasts some beautiful spacious houses from those days and the streets are greener.

The neighbourhoods became popular in the 1990s with families and yuppies. That’s still the main crowd there, mixed with students.

Bakfietsmoeders at coffee bars are a pretty common sight. Corporate expats also fit right in these neighbourhoods of Utrecht! But you’ll also find some good delis, bakeries and butchers.

You’ll also be in proximity to the popular Wilhelminapark in English landscape style and the more modern and spacious Griftpark.

Notable locations: shops and cafes at the Nachtegaalstraat, Burgermeester Reigerstraat and Biltstraat, Wilhelminapark, Griftpark, Rietveldhuis, Badhu and Theater De Paardenkathedraal.

Neighbourhoods of Utrecht: Lombok & Oog in Al

On the other side of the central station, you’ll find the multicultural area of Lombok. This neighbourhood of Utrecht, mostly made up of small houses and apartments made for the working class, is popular now, but it wasn’t always that way.

In the ’70s, workers from Turkey and Morocco moved there and were housed cheaply in not the best conditions. Shopkeepers left, and the neighbourhood declined. Renovations in the ’90s and the proximity to the train station caused gentrification of the area.

You’ll find an interesting mix here of people with a Moroccan or Turkish background, yuppies, students and real Utrecht families who have been living here for generations.

The Kanaalstraat is the place to be in Utrecht to shop for fresh and cheap fruit and vegetables. It also has some good Mediterranean bakeries and fish shops.

You’ll also find one of the best (Asian) restaurants of Utrecht in the Kanaalstraat: Jasmijn & ik. Be sure to book ahead if you feel like dining here on the weekend.

A bit further, the Leidse Rijn, Molen de Ster and the sluizen really is just stunning. Take a stroll along the water or light up your BBQ here, as this place turns into a busy hotspot during summertime.

Photo-of-Dutch-terrace-at-night-in-Utrecht
The city centre is alive at night. Image: Depositphotos

Across the sluizen is a beautiful area with the quirky name ‘Oog in Al’. This posh place consists of lovely green streets with houses built in the 1930s. It has always been a popular place for families as there are lots of areas for children to play in. However, there aren’t a lot of shops and restaurants and it is quite expensive to find a place here. But with its proximity to the Central Station, it might just be the neighbourhood in Utrecht where you would want to live as an international businessman/woman.

Notable locations: Molen de Ster, Jasmijn & ik, park Oog in Al, cheap shops at the Kanaalstraat, café Lombok, sluizen.

Terraces-on-canals-in-Utrecht-during-day-trip-from-Amsterdam
Utrecht can be enjoyed from all levels. Image: Depositphotos

Neighbourhoods in Utrecht: Utrecht Zuid

The area south of the city centre is made up of the neighbourhoods Hoograven, Tolsteeg and Rivierenwijk.

The city centre sprawls out to the northern part of these neighbourhoods and more hotspots are opening up here.

From vegan hipster places like Broei to the most popular restaurant of Utrecht, based up in an old water tower.

where to live in utrecht
Where to live in Utrecht: Julianaweg Hoograven Utrecht. Image: Maurits90/via Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

Who lives here is basically everyone that makes up Utrecht: migrants, yuppies, students, families and the traditional real ‘Utrechters’.

Housing is diverse and available in a lot of price ranges. You can rent a cheap studio here, but you can also buy a big and expensive family home with a garden.

The main areas, Hoograven and Rivierenwijk, are divided by a canal and the pretty Jutfaseweg.

Notable locations: WT Urban Kitchen, restaurants along Oosterkade and Westerkade, Klein Berlijn, Rotsoord.

Neighbourhoods in Utrecht: Leidsche Rijn

If all you have ever dreamt of is the ultimate suburban life in one of the more sleepy neighbourhoods of Utrecht, then move to Leidsche Rijn! This area was built just about ten years ago, across the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal and the A2.

It has new, affordable and big houses, loads of schools, playgrounds and big supermarkets. Right in the middle of Leidsche Rijn is Maxima Park – the ideal place to go jogging, skating, cycling, walking your dog or playing with your kids.

photo-of-leidsche-rijn-utrecht-neighborhood
We wouldn’t mind waking up to this view every day! Image: Jan Dijkstra/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Ok, you get it: mostly families live here because houses are cheaper and more spacious than in the old city. 

Another big advantage is that you are close to the A2 highway and you can drive to places like Amsterdam or Gouda within half an hour. It also has two train stations on the line to Utrecht, Gouda and Woerden.

Notable locations: Maxima Park, Cinemec, Castellum Hoge Woerd

Neighbourhoods in Utrecht: Kanaleneiland

So where to live in Utrecht when you don’t have money, and you don’t really care about old stuff? Go for Kanaleneiland.

It’s mostly full of apartment blocks from the ’60s and ’70s here, which aren’t the prettiest, to be honest.

But the upside is that there are a lot of cheaper fruit and veggie shops here. Big pluses are the green areas along the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal and Park Transwijk. There’s also the Prince Claus Bridge, designed by the same person who designed the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam!

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Prins Claus bridge, see any resemblance with the Erasmus bridge? Image: Depositphotos

But the biggest pro? Kanaleneiland still is within 15 minutes of cycling to the city centre and train station. So you are still close to all the hotspots in town, without spending a fortune on your house.

Notable locations: Park Transwijk, de Kantien, Ikea.

So that’s it for now with this guide for the neighbourhoods of Utrecht. We hope you find that dream home of yours in the gorgeous little city. Good luck searching!

Know any other places when it comes to nice neighbourhoods in Utrecht? Tell us in the comments below! 👇

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in August 2017 and was fully updated in August 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Pixabay
Abuzer van Leeuwen 🇳🇱
Abuzer van Leeuwen 🇳🇱http://www.abuzervanleeuwen.nl
Founded DutchReview. Rotterdammer living in Leiden. Politics, innovation and epic food-reviews are his thing. Interested in doing anything with DutchReview? Contact him at abuzer[at]dutchreview.com

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Overvecht. Cheap, close to the centre on the south side. Lots of new housing developments coming, good facilities, close to country side to the north – great for kids, bike rides – gagelbos and gagelpolder. Lots of parks, 2nd largest shopping centre in Utrecht, biggest Albert heijn in the province of Utrecht.
    Veemarkt also deserves a mention – whole new housing projects, great if you are into innovative interesting buildings to look at and to live in.

  2. This is awfully discriminatory:
    “The crowd mainly is migrant families and others who are looking for a cheaper place to live. Which has the obvious downsides: groups of youngsters on the streets, litter and petty-crime. But the upside ia that there are a lot of cheaper fruit and veggieshops here.”

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