What to Do in Maastricht, the Netherlands

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Maastricht, a charming city in the southernmost part of the Netherlands, is known for its rich history, picturesque architecture, and vibrant culture. Living in the Netherlands myself, I have often visited this lovely city in Zuid-Limburg and I love how Maastricht is so different from the rest of the country because of its southern location.

History lovers, art enthusiasts, foodies or simply someone looking for an original city trip experience in the Europe, will absolutely fall in love with Maastricht. In this blog, I will tell you all about my favourite things to do in Maastricht, Limburg, including an amazing hotel experience!

1. Explore the Maastricht Caves

Just outside the city, you’ll find the famous Valkenburg caves. These underground labyrinths were originally excavated by the Romans from the limestone bedrock upon which Maastricht was built.

During times of war, the caves served as shelters for the people of Maastricht and even provided a hiding place for valuable Dutch artwork, including Rembrandt’s Night Watch, during World War II. Take a guided tour through the maze-like tunnels and discover this unique underground world.

2. Enjoy the Vibrant Atmosphere of Wyck

Sunset view of city panorama at Maastricht.
The Maas river in Maastricht with view on Wyck

My favourite neighbourhood in Maastricht is Wyck. Situated between the historic city center and the central train station, the lively neighborhood of Wyck is one of the most charming areas in Maastricht.

Stroll through its narrow streets, admire the beautiful architecture, and don’t miss out on the cool hotspots, trendy boutique stores and popular restaurants.

3. Indulge in the Vrijthof Square

View of Maastricht at sunset.
Maastricht at sunset

If you visit Maastricht during the summer, you’re in for a treat. The squares and streets come alive with bustling terraces filled with locals enjoying a beer or a glass of wine.

Find a spot at one of the outdoor cafés on Vrijthof Square and raise a glass to toast the vibrant ambiance and the joyous spirit of the city. The Vrijthof is also home to many summer concerts and other events.

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Are you visiting in winter? Make sure to head to the Vrijthof for one of the best Christmas markets in the Netherlands.

4. Immerse Yourself in Art at the Bonnefantenmuseum

A highlight for art lovers in Maastricht is the Bonnefantenmuseum. The museum’s modern building, with its rocket-shaped tower, is a masterpiece of modern design.

It houses an impressive collection of early European and contemporary art. Make sure to include a visit to this museum on your Maastricht itinerary for a captivating artistic experience.

5. Visit the Most Beautiful Bookstore in the Country

Boekhandel Dominicanen, located in a 700-year-old church, is a must-visit for bookworms and architecture enthusiasts alike.

This unique bookstore boasts an impressive collection of books and perfectly blends the magical atmosphere of the church with the world of literature. No wonder The Guardian named it “The fairest bookshop of the world, a bookshop made in heaven“.

Take your time to explore the shelves and immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of this literary treasure.

6. Discover the Bisschopsmolen

In Maastricht, you’ll find the oldest spelt bakery in the Netherlands: the Bisschopsmolen. For centuries, this mill has been grinding the grain that is later transformed into delicious bread and pastries in the adjacent bakery.

The bakery’s cozy tearoom, where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch, is extremely popular. If you can’t find a table there, you can always purchase their famous vlaai (a traditional Dutch fruit tart) or spelt bread in the shop and savor the flavors at your own leisure.

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7. Cross the Sint Servaas Bridge

People enjoying their evening stroll at Hoge Brug.
The ‘Hoge Brug’ (Tall Bridge) at Maastricht for walking and cycling

As you wander along the banks of the Maas River, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Maastricht. From the southern side of the river, you’ll have a splendid panorama of the city with its church towers and the historic university building.

One iconic spot you’ll encounter is the Sint Servaas Bridge, a beautiful arched bridge connecting Wyck to the old city center. This bridge is said to be one of the oldest in the country and serves as a beloved symbol of Maastricht.

8. Stay at the Kruisherenhotel

For the most extraordinary accommodation experience and best luxury hotel in Maastricht, you should book your stay at the Kruisherenhotel. Nestled in the heart of the city, this luxury hotel occupies a centuries-old former monastery.

The Gothic architecture of the monastery blends harmoniously with modern design elements. The hotel’s restaurant is located on an intermediate level within the central church hall, with the ancient vaulted ceiling soaring above the tables.

The hotel rooms, designed by an international designer, offer a mix of contemporary luxury, featuring artworks, personal poems, and custom-made beds by Henk Vos and Auping.

9. Marvel at the Sint Servaas Church

View of the Church tower in St. Servaas.
Church tower of the St. Servaas

Maastricht is home to the magnificent Sint Servaas Church, one of the most beautiful churches in the Netherlands.

This Romanesque basilica, dedicated to Saint Servatius, is located on the central Vrijthof square. It boasts stunning architecture, intricate details, and a rich history.

Step inside and admire the beautiful stained glass windows, awe-inspiring sculptures, and the peaceful atmosphere that envelops this sacred place. Also make sure to climb the tower for some of the best views of Maastricht, the Vrijthof, the Maas and beyond.

Best views of Maastricht, the Vrijthof, the Maas and beyond from the Church Tower.
View of Maastricht from the church tower

10. Explore the Berenkuil in Aldenhofpark

One of the unique attractions in Maastricht is the Berenkuil, or Bear Pit, located in the Aldenhofpark. The history of the Berenkuil dates back to 1920 when two bears named Max and Polla were brought to Maastricht as part of a plan to boost tourism.

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Over the years, the bears were housed in various enclosures, and the pit underwent several renovations. However, criticism regarding the bears’ living conditions led to improvements, including the addition of a water basin, sandbox, tree trunk, and tires in the 1980s.

Eventually, the bear pit was transformed into an artwork called the “Halfautomatische Troostmachine” (Semi-automatic Consolation Machine) in 2001. Today, visitors can explore the park and see the sculpture of bear Jo sitting on a bench, paying homage to the bears that once lived there.

Bio: Maartje from Unieke Vakantieplekjes

Maartje from Unieke Vakantieplekjes.
Maartje from Unieke Vakantieplekjes

Written by Maartje of UniekeVakantieplekjes.nl.
Maartje is a travel professional and author who is passionate about discovering unique vacation spots in the Netherlands. With years of experience exploring the world, she has realized her deepest love for her own country and enjoys uncovering its hidden gems. Alongside her partner and two children, Maartje embarks on unforgettable journeys, sharing her best tips and writing about extraordinary accommodations on her blog. Follow Maartje on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

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