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Although Utrecht is the smallest province in Holland, it has vast woods, fairytale castles and elegant manors. Its capital city, also called Utrecht, makes 700-year-old Amsterdam seem like a youngster, because it is nearly 2,000 years old.

Waterways surround and cross Utrecht. We walked along pink cobblestone pathways beside the Oudegracht (old canal).

Medieval cellars near the center of Utrecht now house restaurants, cafes and shops. Visitors can ride gondolas along the canal and visit the Dom (cathedral). We climbed 465 steps to the top of the spire for spectacular views.

Utrecht museums include the Dutch Railway Museum, the Centraal Museum and the Museum Speelklok, which houses music boxes, street organs, carillon clocks and musical instruments.


Holland has nearly 400 castles, 80 of which can be toured by the public. Our favorite is De Haar Castle in Haarzuilens, located eight kilometers (five miles) west of Utrecht.

Castle de Haar at Haarzuilens in Utrecht Province
Castle de Haar at Haarzuilens in Utrecht Province
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The largest medieval castle in Holland, Kasteel de Haar sits in 12th-century splendor in the middle of a Versailles-like garden. We entered De Haar on a drawbridge over a moat.

Strolling inside the turreted castle walls, we found a large park, stables, the castle and a church, all built from red brick and decorated with red and white shutters. De Haar houses an exceptional collection of paintings, Flemish tapestries, Chinese vases and antique furniture.


Soestdijk Palace is located in Baarn. The royal home of the late Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, until 2004, now offers guided tours.

After touring the palace, you can walk through the gardens and park and have lunch or tea in the Oranjerie Paleis Soestdijk restaurant.


Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions: www.holland.com

More things to see & do in Holland:

Dutch Foods, Drinks and Cuisine

Keukenhof Holland Flowers

South Holland Trip

Zeeland & North Brabant Holland

Dutch Phrasebook