Utrecht’s central location within the Netherlands makes it an ideal transport hub for the rest of the country. Expats moving to the city will also find that it's home to an efficient transport network and getting around Utrecht is fairly straightforward.
Public transport in Utrecht
While Utrecht Centraal Station is a hub for intercity trains throughout the Netherlands, the city’s public transport just consists of an extensive bus network and a small tram system. Most locals get around using their bikes and on foot, especially within the city centre.
Utrecht has an integrated public transport system which makes getting around the city easy. The OV-Chipkaart is a smart card which can be used to pay for public transport throughout the city. It looks very much like a bank card and contains an invisible chip. The OV-Chipkaart can be loaded with credit and commuters swipe each time one starts or ends a bus or tram journey.
The main mode of public transport in Utrecht is buses. Utrecht’s bus network is extensive and takes commuters almost anywhere. Utrecht Centraal Station is the main hub for the bus system as well as the national train network. For those travelling outside daytime hours, Utrecht’s bus service has a select number of ‘nightlines’ which operate on a limited schedule.
Utrecht’s 'sneltram' system is made up of two light rail lines. While the tram system is not quite as comprehensive as Utrecht’s bus network, it’s certainly a faster mode of transport for those who live along the routes.
Taxis in Utrecht
Taxis are available in Utrecht but fares are high, so most people only use them occasionally. Expats will find that Utrecht taxis are safe, clean and generally reliable. Taxis can be found at a few designated ranks in the city and at Utrecht Centraal Station. However, it's often best to call ahead and pre-book a service.
All licensed taxis in the Netherlands have special plates which are blue with black lettering on them.
Cycling in Utrecht
One thing expats moving to Utrecht won’t be able to avoid are bicycles; locals like to cycle everywhere. Utrecht is a bicycle-friendly city, so expats would do well to follow their lead. Those that choose to cycle will find that it's by far the easiest and most convenient way to get around the city. There are dedicated cycle routes and facilities where bicycles can be stored securely.
While Utrecht does not yet have a bike sharing system, those who don’t have a bike of their own can hire one at the city’s many bicycle shops. There are lots of outlets close to the train station.
Those that choose to cycle should just ensure that they invest in solid bike locks because although Utrecht is generally very safe bike theft is quite common in parts of the city. Alternatively, use the secure bike parking areas provided by the council.
Walking in Utrecht
Utrecht is a very safe destination and walking is a great way to get around. The city centre is very compact so exploring on foot is a viable option.
Driving in Utrecht
Having a car is not essential in Utrecht. The city is fairly small and easy to navigate using public transport. In fact, the city authorities actively discourage people from driving, especially within the city centre. Driving can become frustrating in Utrecht as a result of having to manoeuvre around bus lanes and one-way streets. In addition, parking is extremely expensive. Park and Ride services are available whereby residents can park outside the city limits and catch a shuttle into the centre of town.
While many people don’t use a car in Utrecht, it can come in handy for those with children or people who want to explore the surrounding countryside at weekends.
►For an overview on navigating Utrecht's property market see Accommodation in Utrecht
Are you an expat living in Utrecht?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Utrecht. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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