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The system of this 2 kilometers long canal that runs through the city centre of Utrecht is unique in this world.

Through the city centre of Utrecht runs the Oude Gracht (Dutch for old canal). This canal that is now one of the busiest streets in Utrecht where there are stores and restaurants located, dates back to the Roman time. In the 12th century the Oude Gracht was dug, right after Utrecht got town privileges. The reason for digging this canal was because Utrecht was an important city for trading.

Since they couldn’t depend just on natural rivers, they dug the Oude Gracht, so there was always water in the city.

Something that will catch your eye, especially if you have seen canals in other cities in the Netherlands such as Amsterdam or Leiden, is that the canals of Utrecht have a wharf on the same level of the water, where you can walk.

These wharfs were used by the ships, they unloaded their goods here and stored them in the cellars that were located on the same level. Nowadays these cellars and wharfs function as different things such as bars, restaurants or stores.

Updated on 6 October 2022

Tips and Tricks

  • There are a lot of terraces located on the Oude Gracht, but there are also empty spaces where you can sit. Go down on one of the stairs and find a spot where you can watch the boats go by and admire the city from the level of the canal.

Getting there

  • Walking: from Utrecht Central Station, it is an 8 minute walk

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