Are you looking to visit a small historical Dutch city brimming with amazing architecture? Maastricht, the southern city in the Netherlands, is extremely close to the border of Belgium. It’s a lively city, drawing many visitors from its neighbouring countries, especially for its year-round festivals. Maastricht is second only to Amsterdam, for the highest number of national heritage buildings in all of the Netherlands. With all its historic buildings, one of the best things to do in Maastricht is to simply stroll the quaint streets of this pedestrian-friendly city. Use this guide to learn about which top attractions to see and the best places to visit in this historical city.
About Maastricht The Netherlands
Considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands, Maastricht sits along the banks of the Meuse (Maas) River. The city is located in the southern province of Limburg, only 3 km from the border of Belgium and 20 km from the German border.
This historical city was settled by the Romans as it was an important stop along the trading route between Cologne Germany and the North Sea. It was fortified in the 3rd century, and again in the 14th century. History buffs will be fascinated to see the different architectural influences throughout the centuries in its key buildings scattered throughout the city. Another key moment in history was the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The city became the symbol of the European Union, with the first meeting of the original 12 member states being held here.
Top Things to See in Maastricht
Basilica of Saint Servatius
Basilica of Our Lady
Saint John Church
St Servatius Bridge
Fort Sint Pieter
Top Things to Do in Maastricht
Stroll the Streets in Maastricht
The wonderful winding streets of Maastricht are perfect for strolling. The streets are lined with boutique shops everything from décor to clothing to art, as well as cute cafés, restaurants, and bakeries.
Maastricht has distinct quarters and the best ones to seek out are:
- City centre – the old town is located between St. Servatius bridge, the Market, and Vrijthof square
- Stokstraat quarter – a collection of streets next to the city centre quarter features exclusive shops with some of the best shopping in Maastricht
- Jerker quarter – is nestled between the old city walls and centuries-old houses known for its hip coffee houses and laid-back vibes
- Wyck quarter – is across the bridge and is the oldest quarter in Maastricht, with Rechtstraat the oldest street
Be sure to to go the Boekhanedel Dominicanen bookstore, built inside an old church. Even if you are not a book lover, it can be a great place to wander through with a coffee. Dominicanen is a short walk from city hall.
Maastricht Underground offers tours into sections of the vast tunnel network beneath the St-Pietersberg massif. The well-developed network of historical caves and tunnels once stretching 230km was created between the 1500s to 1800s to offer safety during times of siege. During WWII many people took shelter here during the bombing raids. This is one of the coolest and most unusual things to do in Maastricht.
Visit a Museum
The most popular museum in Maastricht is Bonnefaten Museum. The unusual style of the building will capture your immediate attention. A large modern circular-shaped tower, resembling a barn silo, followed by an E-shaped building is unlike the rest of the architecture found in Maastricht. Exhibitions focus on fine art both historical and contemporary. Artwork from the 12th to 17th centuries as well as modern art from the 20th century can be found here. The Maastricht Natural History Museum is also a top museum in Maastricht to visit for history lovers.
Try Limburg Pie
Maastricht is famous for its Vlaai or Limburg pie. This sweet pie has a rich creamy custard filling topped with crumbly streusel topping.
There are many pie shops that serve both the traditional way or numerous varieties of vlaai–filled with chocolate, rice pudding, or fruits such as cherries, strawberries, apples, and bananas. Take your pick, they are all delicious. The best pie shops in Maastricht are:
- Bakkerij Mathieu Hermans
- or, Stadcafé Lure
Visit Bishop’s Mill
The Bishop’s Mill or Bisschopsmolen, is the oldest and still working watermill in the city. Let your nose be your guide in finding this, as the heavenly scent of fresh bread and pies waffles through the air. You will see the bakers hard at work and can sample their treats at the adjacent cafe.
Day Trips from Maastricht
The main city in Limburg is Maastricht. Here is a selection of places that can be visited on a day trip to/from Maastricht, not only in the Netherlands but also in Belgium and in Germany.
- Day Trips from Limburg villages -Valkenburg (15 mins), Sittard (30 mins), Thorn (30 mins) Hoensbroek Castle (25 min)
- Day Trips from Germany – Aachen (30 mins), Cologne (75 mins), Monschau (60 mins)
- Day Trips from Belgium – Liege (30 mins), Brussels (90 mins), Leuven (60 mins)
As a holidaymaker…
The city of Maastricht is such a beautiful setting along both banks of the River Maas. Let your feet be your guide. As you stroll through the streets, you will find some of the best well-preserved, historical landmarks that are Maastricht must-see sites. It’s a city that feels like you’ve stepped back in time, yet has a modern, hip vibe. Maastricht shopping, dining, and sightseeing are all reasons why this is one of the best day trips you can make whether you are in the Netherlands or Belgium.