Hi guys! I’m super happy to share with you this article introducing Maastricht, a wonderful city in the South of The Netherlands. Please feel free to use the contents to quickly jump through the article and enjoy the read!
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- Why Maastricht
- Where To Stay In Maastricht
- Cross the Sint Servaasbrug
- Discover Helpoort: A 13th Century Gatehouse
- Visit Maastricht’s Historical (And Working!) Watermill
- Dine in the cafes on Vrijthof
- Visit The Bookstore Inside A Church
- Shop in the Old Center
- Soak in the Markt square
- See the Gothic Sint Janskerk
- Eat mussels at Café De Bobbel
- How To Get To Maastricht
Maastricht is the perfect destination for a day trip, a weekend, or a quick stop on your way to Belgium. This gorgeous city is filled with medieval architecture and It’s located in the south of The Netherlands and easily accessible by train. Since the ride from Amsterdam Centraal is 2:30 hours it’s better to go for a whole day or two to make it worth it and explore the surrounding area as well.
If you like shopping and taking the time for yourself, two days are definitely the optimal getaway: you will have plenty of time for everything.
Where To Stay In Maastricht
I’ve been to Maastricht twice, with my latest day trip just in July 2017 and a weekend in 2013 during which I stayed in Amrath Grand Hotel de l’Empereur. This beautiful hotel is right next to the train station and about 10 to 15-minute walk from the heart of the city. If you’re staying longer than a day definitely consider which location will be most comfortable for you.
Cross the Sint Servaasbrug
Head to the heart of the city center by heading directly from the train station and through the Sint Servaasbrug, a giant bridge built in the middle ages, or 13th Century to be more precise. As you’ll find out soon enough, mostly all of the city attractions were built in the 13th Century. I guess they had particularly good architectors then. 😉
As soon as you cross it, you will be swallowed by the cheerful bustle of the narrow Maastricht streets. Veer left through Wolfstraat, a really cute shopping street, and stroll through the center until you arrive to the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein where the Basilica of St. Mary stands. Take a look inside to broaden your horizons as the building is very old and beautiful from within and without.
Discover Helpoort: A 13th Century Gatehouse
As promised, another beautiful dinosaur just waiting to be discovered! Helpoort, or Hell’s Gate, was built in 1380 as part of the inner defense wall of the city. Out of the gate buildings, this is the only survivor. You can go inside the structure as well but the wall and gate are more interesting from the outside thanks to their red wooden panels. The museum inside is free but is filled with plans and layouts providing into how the gate was built.
Visit Maastricht’s Historical (And Working!) Watermill
De Bisschopsmolen mill was built sometime in the 7th Century and after several restorations remains operational. If that wasn’t fantastic enough, there’s a bakery right next to it using the produced flour to create absolutely yummy pastries.
Located in a small courtyard in between houses (the exact address is Stenenbrug 3), it’s the perfect spot for a little pastry or a quick water break.It’s amazing how tranquil the spot felt, with the rush of the water in the channel beneath and the sound of the turning wheel.
Dine in the cafes on Vrijthof
Head to one of the outdoor cafes on Vrijthof for the ultimate Maastricht experience. Those cafes are facing a beautiful square surrounded by gorgeous architecture. A historical cafe you should definitely check out is In Den Ouden Vogelstryus which dates back to the 14th Century (seriously, what is up with this city?). The building was destroyed by the fire in the 18th century and rebuilt. Yet it was always occupied under the name Vogelstruys or Struysvogel (Ostrich Bird) and there has been a cafe in this building for centuries. Definitely worth a visit!
Visit The Bookstore Inside A Church
A mere step away from the Vrijthof you’ll be able to find one of Maastricht’s unique attractions: a 13-th Century Churched turned into a bookstore and a cafe. Boekhandel Dominicanen is a truly unique space that is worth a visit. There are English sections for Lifestyle, Crime, YA, Fantasy and plenty more to explore. So you’ll definitely be able to bring a unique souvenir that will be forever tied with memories of the trip!
Shop in the Old Center
The unique shops in Maastricht are mixed together with the popular chain stores. Take the time to shop around as Maastricht is definitely offering a big variety of interesting and unique shops. Designer clothes, delicatessen, antiquities and interior design: you will find everything. But remember, most of the stores are open just until 6 PM!
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Soak in the Markt square
The Markt area is definitely worth a visit for a little souvenir shopping, the City Hall building and the view on the little Maastricht houses. Their crooked triangle rooftops create a magical atmosphere. The large square is also hosting open markets on weekends. Some stalls are also open on week days as well, so whenever you visit, definitely stop by.
See the Gothic Sint Janskerk
We’ll finish the day by exploring the area surrounding the “Sint Janskerk”, an easily recognizable structure thanks to its beautiful red color. Because of the fragile material with which the tower was built, a coat of paint was used to prevent the destruction of it and to keep the color intact. Maastricht is definitely the city for lovers of gothic architecture. Right next to the red tower you will find the Basiliek van Sint Servaas, the oldest church in the whole Netherlands.
Eat Mussels And Drink Beer
Finish off the evening with a nice dinner at one of the many great cafes. I can recommend Café De Bobbel which surprised me with a delicious pasta. They also serve a delicious pot full of mussels with a side dish of fries. You are sufficiently close to Belgium to indulge in that kind of food. So let yourself enjoy the city to the fullest before wrapping up for the night!
How To Get To Maastricht From Amsterdam:
If you’re headed down from Amsterdam, the regular ticket fare can be quite expensive (€25,50 one-way in 2nd class). To cut the costs in half you can buy a Day Return ticket called “Dagretour”. Pros: it is valid on its own without a plastic card. Also, it works from 0:00 till the 4:00 of the following day which gives you plenty of time. Cons: it is only valid for a fixed period of time and you have to specify the date when you buy it.
If you buy this ticket you have to return to the same station you came from. Selecting the stations is a mandatory part of the purchase. It’s a great money saver, but let me tell you… There’s an even better way to economize and even enjoy a 1st class ride for fraction of the price!
How I saved money on the fare to Maastricht:
My secret is: watch out for special deals on Spoordeel Winkel, a Dutch website. It’s easy to navigate with some basic use of Google Translate. Keep an eye out for a “Dagje Uit” deal which means “A Day Out”. The deal includes a “Dagretour” ticket plus a beverage, a treat or a snack specified in the particular deal. If you’re buying a ticket on this website, please pay attention as the ticket is valid on weekdays from 9:00 (to avoid rush hour) and all time on weekends in The Netherlands.
Super Important: The Dagje Uit usually comes with free beverages however you need to make sure they have a cafe in the city of your choice, otherwise the ticket won’t be valid AT ALL!
Those deals are not valid on trains of Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris (duh, that’s way too far). You also can’t make extra stops on the way and use the high-speed trains. You can buy those tickets online in advance. All you need is to pay attention to the validity dates (Google Translate is your best friend!).
Just print the ticket out or download an app on your phone. Personally, I trust in printouts way more, a reliable Internet connection is always a risk. The trains in The Netherlands are patrolled all the time by controllers. Therefore, skipping out is pointless and, quite frankly, not worth the stress.
This way, a return ticket + snack/beverage will cost you €21 for 2nd class and €25-€27 for a 1st class ride! Cool, huh?
Things To Do In Maastricht Area
- Maastricht has a huge Golfing area called “De Maastrichtsche Internationaal Golf Maastricht” which is something to put on your list if you like golfing.
- It takes a half an hour bus ride from Maastricht to Aachen, Belgium. This is a perfect connection to continue on a relaxing trip especially as Aachen has a fantastic spa, Carolus Thermen, that is a real relaxation heaven.
There you have it, a guide to the beautiful city of Maastricht! Which places on the list make you really excited? Let me know!
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