I found Amsterdam a bit underwhelming. To be fair, it was raining non-stop, I was camping over an hour away, and I ended up in the most over-hyped parts of the city over two afternoons. I will go back some day and properly explore this city, but for the 100 Nights of Summer Tour, I wanted a more relaxed vibe for my three days off.
The common refrain from dozens of Dutch locals that I met at the Amsterdam Woods Festival boiled down to “go check out Utrecht.” When my campsite neighbors told me they were from there, I took that as a sign. Also, they had a car and offered me a ride.
Utrecht turned out to be one of those cities that just clicks for me. It’s big enough for a few days of exploration, but small enough that it feels damn near cozy. It has all the things I wanted from Amsterdam — canals, bicycles everywhere, chill coffee shops, even chiller “coffee” shops, cafes aplenty, and old city charm. What it doesn’t have: hordes of tourists or backpackers looking to party like crazy.
I only spent two days kicking around the city, so no particular recommendations other than to just start at the city center in the old city, pick a direction (probably along a canal), and just let Utrecht tell you where to go.