On a hot sunny day in late spring, what better place to be than on one of Utrecht’s urban beaches? Whether you want to sip a drink on the water’s edge or swim a few lengths in an artificial lake in Leidsche Rijn: we’ll tell you all about the best spots in Utrecht for sun, sand and swimming for all ages.

Strand Oog in Al

You don’t have to bike far for the first ‘beach’. ROOST aan de Singel is a brand new pop-up restaurant on the bank of a recently added bit of canal, close to Paardenveld. The place has a park-like character and will not only be open when the weather is fine. The restaurant, consisting of a series of shipping containers, has a massive terrace, a large bar and a barbecue.

For the next beach, cycle via Daalsetunnel, Westplein and Leidseweg towards Kanaalweg. Continue northwards along the towpath, and you’ll find an increasingly popular urban beach at the top of the district Oog in Al: Strand Oog in Al. It’s lovely and peaceful on weekdays; the ideal place to relax with a book on the rooftop terrace or in a deckchair. There’s even an enclosed play area for the kids. And you don’t need to bring food and drink: the menu includes rolls, salads, burgers, local beers and platters of mixed appetisers. House and techno parties are a regular feature on Sundays, obviously only if the weather’s fine.

Had enough of lazing around in a deckchair? Then go to Down Under, on the Plas Laagraven lake near Nieuwegein. They offer wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing and kneeboarding. If you’re not one of life’s natural athletes, don’t be put off: the terrace of the restaurant is a great place to sit back and watch. You can get there by bike (through the Tolsteeg and Lunetten districts), by car or by number 47 bus from Utrecht Centraal station.

Key West Beachhouse

Utrecht might not be by the sea, but Key West Beachhouse makes you think it is. This trendy beach bar is on the Haarrijnse Plas, an artificial lake that was created when they extracted sand to build the Leidsche Rijn housing estate. Take a dip, build a sandcastle, sit back and relax on the expansive terrace. Key West is easy to reach. The number 39 bus from Utrecht Centraal station stops right outside, there’s plenty of parking space and Haarrijnse Plas is definitely doable by bike.

If you’re into extreme swimming and sunbathing, you’ll need to cross town and head for the Maarsseveense Plassen to the north of the Overvecht district. It’s a good idea to take a picnic basket because there’s not too many places to eat there. You’ll find lawns and sandy beaches for sunbathing, and an island where older children can play on waterslides and all kinds of other attractions.