Maastricht is a quiet but vibrant Dutch city tucked away in the south of the Netherlands. Its beautiful, cobbled streets, interesting architecture, post-modern design and views of the River Maas draw travelers from all over the world.
Town Hall is the venue for a lively goods markets. On the other days in the week, there are plenty of cafes from which to people watch.
Take in the treasures at Saint Servatius or the Basilica of Our Lady for an imposing vision with its towers and turrets.
During the Carnival celebrations, expect role-reversal, costumes, parades, great food and plenty of libations in the three days before Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Just 8 miles east of Maastricht is the picturesque and idyllic district of Valkenburg. Come for its charming cobblestone streets and healing spa, Thermae 2000, full of warm, spring-fed pools and baths.
Maastricht is situated on the River Maas. With Germany just a bike ride away and Belgium within walking distance, a great way to take in some classic European towns is by signing up for a bike tour on a cruise.
Established in 1884, the Bonnefantenmuseum is housed on a former industrial site known as Céramique. Designed by the architect Aldo Rossi, the distinctly modern building features a rocket-shaped cupola that overlooks the Maas River. The museum showcases a mix of classic and contemporary art. On the first floor, visitors can observe artworks by the old European masters, as well as a wide-ranging collection of Medieval sculpture. The second floor displays modern works of American Minimalism, Italian Arte Povera and Concept Art.
Dedicated in 1039, the Sint Servaasbasiliek is a Romanesque church built on the gravesite of Saint Servatius, the former bishop of Tongeren, who died in 384. The basilica features a sculpted Bergportaal, constructed in 1180, as well as a Gothic spire that was erected in 1556. The interior includes a silver reliquary donated by Charlemagne's biographer Einhard in 830, as well as Saint Servatius' reliquary shrine, reliquary bust, key, cup, crozier and pectoral cross. The church also showcases a renowned collection of medieval ivories and textiles.
Constructed in the 1700s to defend Maastricht from the French, Fort Sint Pieter is a hexagonal fortress overlooking the Maas River that is replete with a maze of tunnels and openings that linked the marl caves beneath the city. The fort features rows of gunnery windows and impenetrable walls that withstood a French attack in 1794. The stronghold was restored in 2011 and now offers guided tours, which highlight the damage done during the failed French invasion.
Designed by architect Jo Coenen, the modern Centre Ceramique is a cultural space that includes a library, an exhibition area and an archival department. Housed in the Ceramique district of the city, the building contains the archaeological collection of Maastricht. Highlights include a Celtic coin collection from Amby and excavated Roman sculptures, as well as a permanent display of Dutch earthenware and glass. The museum also showcases temporary exhibitions and features two restaurants, which serve a gourmet selection of coffee, sandwiches and pastries.
Housed in the Spanish Government building, which dates back to the 16th century, the Museum aan het Vrijthof displays a collection of modern art and artifacts. In 1954, Frederik Wagner and Ambrosina de Wit donated their art collection to a Maastricht foundation, which in turn donated it to the museum. The permanent collection includes 18th century silver and early 20th century paintings, as well as a selection of antique clocks. Since reopening in 2012, some rooms have been dedicated to figures such as emperor Charles V, entrepreneur Petrus Regout, printer Jean-Edmé Dufour, architect Mathias Soiron and author Philippus van Gulpen.
Though the climate is standard for the Netherlands, the town is generally much warmer because it is inland and south. Temperatures can rise to 101.1 °F and drops to −2.7°F.
The Maastricht Aachen Airport is where travelers first land. It is 8 miles from the city center. Use the Bus line 30 for EUR3.12 for a single ticket or grab a taxi cab for EUR25.
Maastricht's eponymous station along with the Maastricht Randwyck station in the south is where trains arrive. Fares to other cities like Sittard, Utrecht and Amsterdam range from EUR4.20 to EUR28.70 for direct journeys.
Driving to and from Maastricht, there are two routes to take: get on the A2 or use the Sittard, Belgium and France or the A79 for Heerlen and Aachen.
Bus service operators include Eurolines Netherlands, DeinBus and Semi Tours. Fares to and from local cities are EUR5.50 to EUR7, arriving at the central train station.
For a truly memorable and luxurious stay, check into the converted monastery Kruisherenhotel. Design Hotel Eden is another great boutique hotel. Overlooking the River Maas is the budget-friendly Stayokay Maastricht.
Maastricht Centrum - The Basilica of Our Lady and the incredible Bonnefanten Museum, a nod to post-modern architecture live in this district.
Wyck-Ceramique - Historic, affluent and beautiful, the South-West district of Maastricht features lots of smaller churches alongside modern, trendy cafes.
Helpoort - Part of the Old Town, Helpoort has many small shops and restaurants. But its claim to fame is the oldest and most damaged sections of Hell Gate and the imposing Jeker Tower.
The city bus service is known as "Stadsbus" and tickets can be purchased for a single trip. The most economical way to travel is to get an OV chip card for EUR7.50, rechargeable for a minimum of EUR5.
Taxi Frenske, Avantax Maastricht and Taxi Royal Maastricht charge a flat rate of EUR7.75, with a charge of EUR3.24 per mile thereafter.
Popular rental companies include Hertz, Europcar and Sixt. Alternatively, book online with EasyTerra Car Rental starting at EUR192.95.
Shopping in Maastricht is mostly confined to the Town Hall central square and the Maastricht Centrum neighborhood between Vrijthof and the Markt. Specialty stores are found in Sint Servaasbrug.
In Maastricht, a quart of milk is EUR0.82 and a dozen eggs will cost you EUR2.
Around Onze Lieve Vrouweplein, there are plenty of places to eat. A particularly popular spot is Café Charlemagne with great food and plenty of outdoor seating. Meals start at EUR4.80