Whatever season or day it is, nothing beats a walk along the circular canal surrounding the old city. The entire circuit will take you about two hours.
We start our walk at ‘Miffy square’. In the middle of this square is bronze statue of the famous bunny, made by Dick Bruna’s son Marc. Cross the bridge and head towards Café Weerdzicht. Turn right. The water should now be on your right and you’ll see the 13th-century Weerdsluis lock in the distance. Follow the bend in the footpath. Walk under the bridge a little further on and you’ll find yourself on Nieuwekade. Follow this street until it bends to the left. Until late 2015, this was the end of the canal, but nowadays you can take the footpath along a new section of the canal. The footpath turns into a pavement, which you continue along until you reach TivoliVredenburg. Cross the road here.
This is where you need an alternative route, because although they’re currently digging out the canal, you won’t actually be able to make a complete circuit along the water until 2020. After passing Restaurant Danel, turn left towards Vredenburg. Cross the square towards Lange Elisabethstraat, which turns into Steenstraat. Turn right into Mariastraat, which takes you to Mariaplaats, where you turn right immediately in front of the Conservatoire building. Walk straight ahead for about 150 metres until you get to the building site fences. Turn left into Rijnkade. If you peek through the fence, you’ll see the section of canal that will be open to pedestrians in one or two years’ time.
Continue along this road and after passing Grand hotel Karel V, take the footpath along the canal to start the most attractive part of this walk. Cross the road (Lange Smeestraat) and keep to the footpath along the waterside. After a little more than 100 metres, you’ll see the Geertekerk church on your left. Continue on the footpath, which bends to the left. You will now come to Ledig Erf, the perfect spot to catch your breath at Café Ledig Erf, Eetcafé de Poort or the Louis Hartlooper Complex.
Once you’ve recharged your batteries, turn right – walking between the Louis Hartlooper Complex and Tolsteegbrug (bridge) – and go through the gate. Return to the footpath along the canal. After 500 metres, you’ll see the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory on your left, a great place to discover all there is to know about the universe (see page …). Continue on your way and on your left, just before Zocher park, you’ll see the Bruntskameren. These are fifteen one-room flats, which the Utrecht lawyer Frederik Brunt had built in the grounds of his own house in 1621. They were intended for poor widows, who were allowed to live there without paying rent.
Continue straight ahead on the footpath. You will come to Lepelenburg Park, with its eye-catching red-and-white music tent where local musicians perform in the summer. Stay on the footpath on the waterside and you will see the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht building in front of you. Cross the road and walk to the left of the building, over the Lucasbolwerk. Cross the next road diagonally towards Wittevrouwensingel. After a bend to the left and then one the right, walk to the left of the former prison on Wolvenplein, which now serves as a base for a wide variety of creative entrepreneurs. Walk on towards Wolvenstraat, which takes you onto Van Asch van Wijckskade. Take the first road on your right, Begijnekade. Follow this road, which will again become Van Asch van Wijckskade. When you reach the Van Asch van Wijcksbrug bridge, you’ll see a metre-high mural looming in front of you, a work of art by the Utrecht artist Pyke Koch (1901-1991). If you carry on along the canal, you’ll find yourself back where you started at ‘Miffy square’. But if you turn right over the bridge and carry straight on, you’ll come to Het Muzieklokaal. This is the perfect place to warm up with a glass of wine in your hand and some soothing classical music in the background.