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In the southeast of the Netherlands lays Maastricht. The medieval atmosphere makes this picturesque city an absolute hidden gem in the Netherlands. Spending one day in Maastricht can really show you the ins-and-outs of Dutch culture.
Now I’m back in my home country for a couple of weeks, it’s time to write up about some more Dutch cities! It’s kinda funny to me that – even though I’m a travel writer – I’ve not been a tourist in my own country very often. Because it’s close, you’re less likely to go and see all the highlights. Maastricht is definitely one of those cities that deserves some more attention and hopefully, this one day in Maastricht guide will convince you to pay it a visit in the future.
Is Maastricht worth visiting?
Being one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, Maastricht is filled with beautiful medieval architecture. Some of the cobble-stoned streets feel like stepping back in time. Its popularity is rising quite rapidly due to the many international students that attend Maastricht University and its claims to fame: violin player André Rieu.
But apart from the picturesque streets and castle ruins, Maastricht is a cultural hub and heaven for foodies. The regional cuisine is top-notch and the Burgundian lifestyle makes Maastricht even more attractive for a weekend trip.
One day in Maastricht itinerary
Things to do in Maastricht
After arriving in Maastricht, head over to the first highlight of the city: The St. Servaasbrug. Crossing the Meuse (Maas in Dutch – you can see where the city got its name from), this arched stone bridge is the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. It was built between 1280 and 1298. The bridge is named after Maastricht’s first bishop. Crossing it leads you to the city centre, where you can find even more signs of the city’s rich history.
VVV (Tourist Information)
Once you’ve reached the historic part of Maastricht, head over to the VVV. This is the tourist information point of the city. Not only can you buy souvenirs and local products here, but you can also get the best tips and information about the city. You can also book walking tours with locals at the VVV office. More information can be found on their website (including their phone number – you can message them on Whatsapp for information about the city!).
Maastricht Town Hall
The Town Hall of Maastricht is a beautiful building, dating back to the 17th century. You can find it on Market Square. As well as the town hall, you can find a market here every Wednesday and Friday from 9 AM till 3 PM. Buy anything from fresh fish and vegetables to clothes and Dutch specialities.
Dominicanen Book Store
Photography and book lovers – assemble! The Dominicanen book store is one of my favourite places in Maastricht. An independent bookshop inside an old church. They sell a combination of brand new books, secondhand books, books in other languages (not just Dutch) and they also have a music department.
The church itself was built in the 13th century but lost its sacred function about two hundred years ago. Since then, the building has housed many different establishments until the bookstore moved in in 2006. They also have a lovely little coffee shop at the end, where you can read your newly bought books 😉
This square is the historic heart of the city. As well as two beautiful historic buildings (the Saint Jan’s Church and the Basilica of Saint Servatius), there are countless bars and cafes too. One to check out for certain is In Den Ouden Vogelstryus. It’s one of Maastricht’s most loved bars and dates back to 1730!
St. Jan Church
When on Vrijthof square, make sure to check out the St. Jan’s Church. If you’re visiting Maastricht between late spring and early autumn, you can climb the St. Jan’s tower for a stunning view across the city. Tickets cost €2,50 and can be bought at the entrance. (If you’re not bothered about the view, you can enter the church free of charge).
Basilica of Saint Servatius
Next to the St. Jan’s Church stands the beautiful Basilica of Saint Servaas. It’s the oldest basilica in the Netherlands and has been awarded the UNESCO world heritage title. While some parts of this church date back to the 10th century, most of it was added in the 12th century. Inside, you can find a shrine dedicated to Saint Servaas where some of his remains are enshrined.
Basilica of our Lady
Another highlight of Maastricht you cannot miss is the Basilica of Our Lady. This just one again proves how beautiful the inner city of Maastricht is. The atmosphere around the basilica, with its adorable little streets and squares, shows why Maastricht is such a great city to visit. The roman catholic basilica dates back to the 11th century. Inside, you can find a statue of Our Lady, Star of the Sea alongside many relics and other treasures.
The square around the Basilica of Our Lady was voted the most beautiful square in the Netherlands. It’s a perfect place for lunch as it’s filled with lovely little cafes and lunchrooms. Especially in the fall, the colours of the leaves make it feel even more magical.
As you may have noticed, there are a lot of “oldest in the Netherlands” records in Maastricht. The Helpoort (gate of hell in Dutch) is no exception. This is the oldest city gate of the country and dates back to 1229. It’s one of the few remaining parts of the very first city wall of Maastricht. If you visit Maastricht between late spring and early autumn, you can find volunteers around this area who are very happy to answer any questions about the history of the city and this gate.
Near the Meuse river and the Helpoort, the city park is located. Even though the park itself isn’t really anything special (just another city park), the remains of the city wall, the Pater Vincktower and the Helpoort do make it worth a visit. In the summer, it also makes for a perfect place to hold a picnic or sunbathe.
If you have enough time to add in a couple of museum visits during your time in Maastricht, definitely check out the Bonnefanten museum. This museum of fine art has a huge collection of both old (dating back to the 1200s) and more contemporary art. You can find the work of mainly Dutch, Italian and Flemish artists at this museum. For more information, check out their website.
Best places to eat/drink in Maastricht
Maastricht is heaven for food lovers, a city with culinary expertise.
A cultural hub for food and film lovers. With over 8000 yearly showings, you can go watch a movie and then have lunch or dinner in their beautiful restaurant. As you can see, the restaurant is entirely film-themed. And I’m a sucker for a good decor in restaurants! Even though it’s a little walk from the city centre (about 10-15 minutes), I’d definitely recommend stopping by for lunch!
Alley Cat Bikes & Coffee
The Dutch love their bikes, you may have noticed 😉 Bringing two of my loves together: bikes and coffee. Alley Cat Bikes & Coffee is a cycling (repair) shop and coffee bar. I love a quirky coffee bar and this place is it! Also, their filter coffee was delicious – they really know their coffees just as well as they know their bikes. It’s located really close to the Maastricht Town Hall, so if you’re in the neighbourhood, make sure to pop in!
Aaaaand another “oldest” in Maastricht: The oldest working water mill of the country is also in Maastricht. It’s actually really cool to go and check it out – the medieval vibes are real. Next door, you can find a lovely little cafe called the Bisschopsmolen. They use locally sourced products of the highest quality and their bread is traditionally baked till this day.
Make sure to try the Dutch flan (vlaai) when in Maastricht as well. It’s iconic for the region and the Bisschopsmolen does an amazing job at them!
Coffee lovers Dominicanen
As mentioned above, the Dominicanen book shop is a must-visit when in Maastricht. But it’s so worth checking out their coffee shop in the back of the church. Coffeelovers has one of their shops inside this stunning bookshop. Even if you’re not planning to buy any books, you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea alongside a piece of cake and enjoy the beautiful interior of de Dominicanen bookshop.
How to get to Maastricht
Getting to Maastricht is very easy because the city is easily accessible from other cities in the Netherlands, as well as from Belgium or Germany. Whether you’re planning to travel by plane, train, car or a combination – you’ll be able to get to Maastricht without any problems.
By plane: There are a few airports close to Maastricht. I’d recommend to either fly to Eindhoven, Dusseldorf, Brussels or Amsterdam. Many budget airlines fly to these cities and from there, you’ll be able to get a train and arrive in Maastricht in a couple of hours.
By train: Maastricht is super easy to get to by train from any city in the Netherlands. The train station is located in the city centre and from it, you can walk straight to the main highlights of Maastricht. From Amsterdam, it takes about 2:30 hours to get to Maastricht. You can also take the Thalys and/or Eurostar from Paris, Brussels or London. For more information about Dutch trains, check out my guide on how to use the trains in the Netherlands.
By car: If you’re driving through the Netherlands (or Germany/Belgium), you’ll be able to drive to Maastricht with ease. There are many places to park your car and explore the city from there.
Where to stay in Maastricht?
Because it’s a good two and a half hour by train from Amsterdam, you may want to consider turning your one day in Maastricht into a weekend trip. If you’re planning to stay in Maastricht, I’d highly recommend staying at The Dutch. This quirky, affordable boutique hotel is located near the train station and you can walk to all the highlights from it with ease.
The Dutch‘s personality is something that really speaks to me. I think that staying in a hotel like this adds so much to your trip. You can even order a picture of David “The Hoff” Hassleman for your nightstand. And yes… They’ll even fake a signature for you 😉
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