Are you looking for inspiration for things to do in Maastricht?
This post is all about what to see and do in Maastricht. I’ll give you 30 great options to choose from, including the five things I recommend most.
Just in 2023 I have visited Maastricht three differents times and we’re planning on going back this weekend.
It’s a city I, and many fellow Dutchman, hold very dear. It has such a different atmosphere as the North (yes, Amsterdam is also considered the North in Maastricht).
Maastricht is a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Limburg, in the far south (as far as you can go). It’s close to Germany and Belgium. It feels as vacation for us locals. And for visitors a vacation within a vacation.
PS: did you know the name Maastricht is named after the river passing through it? Meuse in Dutch is Maas.
The city is filled with restaurants, each offering wonderful local dishes like “Zuurvlees” (a sour stew).
One local specialty you simply have to try is “Vlaai” – a traditional pie that is as much a part of Maastricht as its historic buildings.
Something that instantly feels different here, is the fact the city is surrounded by hills.
Something you don’t see elsewhere in the country. Especially around Amsterdam you’re excused for thinking the Netherlands is as flat as a pancake. But it isn’t.
And you won’t be mistaken for it feeling a bit French.
Because it does.
Getting from Amsterdam to Maastricht is easy. There are direct trains from Amsterdam that take you in about 2 ½ hours to this beautiful city while you enjoy the Dutch countryside passing by.
If you want to explore the area around Maastricht renting a car can also be a great option. You just drive south along the A2 motorway from Amsterdam to Maastricht.
PS: if I have an hour make sure to make a quick stop in Den Bosch along the way for a wonderfully good Bossche Bol.
What is a Bossche Bol? I’m so glad you asked: It’s their signature Chocolate Puff Pastry filled with an enourmous amount of velvety soft whipped cream and covered in their unique blend of chocolate. Nothing better!
Whether you’re planning a day trip or you’re considering a weekend in Maastricht, a trip to Maastricht is always worth it, there is just so much to see in Maastricht.
And you won’t be surrounded by thousands of other Americans, Japanse, and Chinese. Maastricht is still very much a local destination. And that can feel like a big bonus after visiting a busy tourist city like Amsterdam.
Table of Contents
My 5 Best Things to do in Maastricht
Now you can’t do it all if you’re here for just a day trip, or even when you’re here two days. Thus here are five things not to miss in Maastricht.
Everything else on my extensive list below is a great bonus.
1. Eat Limburgse Vlaai in Maastricht (Pie)
Make sure you try the Local Pie called Vlaai. Maastricht is known for its Vlaai, filled with various fruits or custard. You can read all about the best places to try this famous pastry in my post here.
2. Vrijthof, Maastricht
This famous square is the heart of Maastricht. It has numerous eateries and outdoor terraces. The square is also surrounded by beautiful churches that are worth a visit.
And it’s home to the yearly televised open-air Andre Rieu concert. When you want to attend you need to book a long, long time in advance because it’s one of the main events in Maastricht.
In February (or better: seven weeks before Easter) it’s the decor of the Carnaval celebrations. If you like a party it’s a great time to visit, if you dislike noise and lots of alcohol avoid the city during this event.
3. Explore the St Pietersberg
Known as the “mountain” of Maastricht, this is the most beautiful view the city has to offer. And there are so many things to do. The area has many walking trails, a fort, a viewing platforms, a former castle (ruin), and different caves.
4. Old Town City Walls and Helpoort (Hell Gate)
Take a leisurely stroll along the ancient city walls of Maastricht and be sure to visit the Hell Gate – the oldest city gate in The Netherlands and the only remaining city gate in Maastricht.
Helpoort (Hell Gate) was build a long, long time ago in the 12th century by the Duke of Brabant. In the afternoons it’s often possible to take a look inside (ticket required). But it’s also a great photo from the outside.
The city itself is just lovely to get lost in. It’s small, something to see around every bound and corner. And you’re never far from the next café.
5. Bookstore Dominicanen in a former Gothic Church
This large bookstore is unlike any other. It’s housed in a converted church, and it’s a dream for book lovers. They have a large selection of English and other foreign language books. Even if Dutch is not your forté there is still a lot to find here.
There is a cozy café in the back where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while immersing yourself in a good read. Pie anyone?
The above five atrractions and sights, in my opinion, provide the best authentic Maastricht experience. Now, let’s dive into the full list of 30 things to do in this beautiful city in no particular order.
6. St. Jans Kerk (St. John’s Church)
Nestled next to the Basilica of St. Servatius Basilica on the Vrijthof, St. John’s Church is definitely worth a visit and quite the landmark with it’s red stone. It’s easily recognizable around the city. This Protestant church is open to the public free of charge.
For a small fee of 3 euros, you can even climb the tower. I did this and loved the view. But boy these stairs are narrow, and at the very top, the steps become even smaller. I’m 6’2″ it was quite a challenge at different times encountering other visitors.
The climb might be a tad claustrophobic for some of us, but the view from the top is absolutely worthwhile the effort.
7. Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek (Basilica of Our Lady)
The Basilica of Our Lady, also known as Sterre-der-Zee (Star of the Sea), is a not so hidden local gem, but absolutely worth a visit.
This Romanesque church is located in the heart of Maastricht in the quint Wyck district.
The basilica is famous for its chapel home to the statue of the Star of the Sea.
This is my favorite church in Maastricht. The chapel on the left with the many glowing candles create a magical view. You can light your own candle for a small donation.
8. De Bisschopsmolen (The Bishop’s Watermill and Bakery)
The Bishop’s Mill is an artisan grain water mill and bakery and one of the many attractions in Maastricht. It’s on many visitors list. And for good reason. You can see the large wheel powering the mill in operation behind the building. It’s a great photo spot.
Inside, you’ll experience decision stress. The window is full with delicious local vlaai and other breads and pastries. The Bisschopsmolen is known for their fruit flavored varieties, all made from scratch and fresh daily in their own onsite bakery.
This cafe and bakery is a great place for lunch or to try traditional Limburgse Vlaai. But it’s also popular and doesn’t they don’t take reservations.
I would suggest visiting on a weekday and go for an early lunch if possible.
9. Sint Servaas Bridge
The Sint Servaasbrug, or Saint Servatius Bridge, is an iconic sight in Maastricht. Connecting the city’s central station to the old town, this stone bridge is the most popular crossing over the river Meuse, and one of the most photographed places in the city. This bridge was build in the 13th century.
10. Het Dinghuis Maastricht
The Dinghuis, located in the heart of Maastricht’s shopping district standing tall, quite literally.
In the Middle Ages, this tall, narrow building served as a courthouse. Its unusual shape is due to the fact that taxes were once based on the width of a property, prompting the builders to go vertical.
Today, the Dinghuis is home to the Maastricht Visitor Center. It’s an excellent place to gather information about the city and arrange guided tours.
PS: Its name, Dinghuis, is derived from an old German word related to justice.
If the name sounds intriging you’re not far off. The Kazematten are a network of underground passages and mining shafts on the western side of Maastricht that carry a lot of history.
Dating back to the period between 1575 and 1825, these tunnels were strategic during wartime, providing means to approach enemies from below the surface without them realizing what just happenend.
You can explore these tunnels on a guided hour-long tour. Be sure to check out the official Kazematten website for more details.
12. Monte Nova café St. Pietersberg
A leisurely walk to the top of the St. Pietersberg is well worth the effort. And if this sounds like quite the challenge, don’t worry: mountain is quite the overstatement here. It’s nothing more then a hill.
Once you reach the “top”, you can relax at the Monte Nova café. This café offers a unique view over the city. It’s also a place to try the local pie Vlaai from a famous local bakery.
13. Fort Sint Pieter
This historic fort is nestled on top of the St. Pietersberg and is a must-visit if you enjoy history. Guided tours are available by enthousiastic local guides.
You can purchase your tickets from the official Maastricht ticket office inside the fort, or online, or from the Dinghuis mentioned before.
The experience is worth it. You can find more details on this website.
14. Caves Noord (Maastricht Underground)- St. Pietersberg
Delve into the heart of St. Pietersberg with a guided tour of the Caves North. These tours, lasting just over an hour, are an exciting adventure underground.
These caves are not particulary pretty but offer great stories. For example the safe that was installed here during WWII (can be seen today on a tour) and famous paintings like the Night Watch by Rembrandt and the Street of Vermeer were stored here during that time.
The tours begin at the ticket office at St. Pietersberg. More information about the tours can be found here.
15. ENCI Grove and viewing platform
The ENCI Grove is a weird place. A large industrial setting with a large factory at the bottom. Long used for marl mining but abandoned today.
Today nature is in charge here. The intense colored water at the right time of year, in the correct light feels quite like a miniature Yellowstone.
At the top there is a free viewing platform over the canyon, and a new staircase has been installed to go down. If you don’t want to go down and up again, you can also stay at the top and walk to my next suggestion: the Lichtenberg Castle ruin.
16. Lichtenberg Castle Ruin
The Lichtenberg Castle might be more ruins than a castle, but it still is a nice spot, especially because you can (safely) climb the remaining tower offering amazing views of the city, over the river Meuse, and even Belgium! It’s signposted from the Fort and the Viewing platform.
17. Caves Zonneberg – St. Pietersberg
Another cave on the St. Pietersberg. Similar to the Caves Noord, Zonneberg Caves also offer guided tours that last just over an hour.
The most famous thing here is a reallife sized drawing of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch carved out in the marl. While local people where hiding here during the war and got bored. It’s quite a thing to see.
More information about the Zonneberg cave tours can be found here.
Although an old and gorgeous building, the Cellebroederskapel is not always readily accessible to visit. I mean you can’t show up there, and go in for a look around.
However, they do host many events, including concerts, so I recommend checking out their website to see what’s on offer during your visit.
19. Bonnefanten Museum
If you’re a modern art enthusiast, you most likely enjoy a visit to the Bonnefanten Museum.
I have to admit it’s not my museum, but that’s personal preference. I’ve been here twice now, but I enjoy older art more like those amazing paintings created during the Dutch Golden Age.
This museum showcases more non-mainstream art and artists.
But even though it’s not always my cup of tea, this museum is an institution and the building is iconic. It’s worth checking the Bonnefanten Museum website to see what’s on display and if it’s something that might interest you.
20. Market Square
The Maastricht Markt Square is anothe center point of the city . It’s showstopper is the beautiful City Hall.
The square is lined with numerous restaurants. It’s also home to the outdoor market. Friday is the largest market day, followed by Wednesday. On Saturday, you can browse an antique market.
A few market stalls are permanent and open daily, offering a variety of local (fast) foods. It’s worth stopping here for taking a look at the city hall, but if you’re here during Market days it’s even more worth it.
21. Boat Cruise on the River Meuse with Rederij Stiphout
A great way to take a break in Maastricht is by hopping on a boat cruise along the River Meuse. These cruises offer a different view on the city and the surrounding Belgian countryside.
You can opt for an inexpensive 50-minute tour that will take you to the Belgium border (and the enourmous locks you find there) and back.
Or choose a themed cruise for some extra fun. They offer pancake cruises and dinner buffet sailings. You can also combine a boat tour with a city bus tour (in an old American school bus).
Herman and I are planning to try the dinner buffet cruise next. Which one will you choose? Find more information and book your cruise here.
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22. Koffiebranderij Blanche Dael
If you love coffee or tea, a visit to the Koffiebranderij Blanche Dael is a great choice. This local roastery has been in operation since 1878 and offers a unique blend of their own coffee and tea blends.
They offer tours of their factory, have a café and a store and they are open daily. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’m a huge fan of their tea. Their “Dael’s Droum” tea blend is my favorite. I normally don’t really enjoy fruity teas, but I love this one. It has something special, but I can’t exactly figure out what that is.
23. Natuur Historisch Museum Maastricht (Natural History Museum)
While it may not be my first choice of museums to recommend visiting, the Natuur Historisch Museum in Maastricht is a fun place to visit, particularly on a rainy day.
The museum focuses on the local area’s unique marl caves, a softer material that has made for some interesting discoveries over the years.
The Natuur Historisch Museum is a great way to learn more about the local geology and the creatures that once called these caves their home.
24. Centre Céramique
The Centre Céramique is a unique building build on the foundations of an old city wall dating back to the 10th century. It’s designed by Jo Coenen.
It’s home to different cultural institutions, including the city’s main library. It’s a must (quick) visit for architecture and history enthusiasts alike.
25. Maastricht Museum
Located inside the Centre Céramique is the Maastricht Museum. It offers a fascinating view into the city’s history.
26. Stadspark Maastricht
This park is more than just a city park for leisurely strolls or picnics on the grass. The park is surrounded by old thick original city walls.
There is also a petting zoo and a large bird house filled with beautiful little birds. A great place to stop if you travel with kids.
27. Fort Eben-Emael – An Military Underground Adventure
Just a stone’s throw south of Maastricht, but actually located in Belgium, you’ll find Fort Eben-Emael.
This impressive military structure and museum is deeply underground (dress warmly!) no matter how hot it is outside. This deep underground it’s always cold!
Constructed in the 1930s, following the close of World War I, this fort was designed to safeguard Belgium and the surrounding region from a German invasion via the main rivers and canals. (Planes weren’t a common military force at that time.)
I highly recommend visiting but make sure to check their website before you go. They’re open to the public during weekends. Dates and times are on the website.
28. Valkenburg – A Dutch Holiday Destination
Although Valkenburg is not technically part of Maastricht, it’s a short 10-minute train ride away and well worth the detour.
It’s a popular holiday destination for Dutch locals. Valkenburg is packed with hotels, tourist attractions, and restaurants that cater specifically to tourists. Maybe a little too touristy but the place actually has a lot of atmosphere and things to do.
Like the quaint tiny railway station, build entirely from marl, explore the city caves, which host the largest underground Christmas market in the country every year.
If you’re visiting the Netherlands make sure to come and visit this event! (And then it’s short hop to a traditional German Christmas market right across the border in Aachen 😉 From Valkenburg it’s a easy train ride to Aachen.
You can also take a leisurely cable car ride up the hill, or visit the castle ruins towering over the city below.
On top of the Cauberg you’ll find the spa and wellness resort Thermae 2000 filled with naturally warm water from local hot springs. May I suggest booking an extra day and just pamper yourself?
Valkenburg is a great day trip from Maastricht.
29. Vaals: A Unique Three-Country Point
Just a short trip from Maastricht is Vaals, also one of the top-rated attractions in this area. This is the three-country point where the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany meet. This is also the highest point in the Netherlands, making it a popular spot for visitors.
There are two viewing towers in this area. The Boudewijn tower, located in Belgium, and the closest to the three-country point. But it’s not my favorite. It’s the most expensive, and a little old.
I prefer the newer Wilhelmina tower on the Dutch side a short 10 minute walk walk, you passed it on the way up. It’s more modern, less expensive, and offers an equally great view.
After enjoying the view, I like to take a break at the restaurant at the foot of the tower. Be sure to walk through the restaurant and sit at the terrace on the other side for a much nicer view. Most people sit down at the front facing terrace but all you see there is the parking lot.
This is another great place to try the local pie, Vlaai. Take a look inside what’s on offer. Their rice pudding vlaai is really good!
PS: The three country point is definately worth going to, but it’s a little complicated by public transportation. Vaals town is quite a bit out of the way. There is a small shuttle bus running but it only has place for 8 people. If it’s full, it’s full, no standing places. It might be better to visit as part of a tour, or rent a car.
30. American War Cemetery in Margraten
Last in our list, the American War Cemetery definately has to be included.
The Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten feels both local and very foreign. The people of the Netherlands has given land to America to bury its fallen soldiers from the wars here.
As you enter the cemetery, it feels like you’ve stepped into America and you actually have, enormous American flags, guards in U.S. uniforms, and signs in English.
It’s an impressive reminder of the sacrifices made during the wars for our liberty. Something I, and everybody here is very thankful for.
The beautifully kept grounds and the thousands of white crosses in the open field are quite a special sight.
Bus (350) from Maastricht to Aachen stops here every 15 minutes. And if you arrive by car the large parking lot is free to use. Making it easy to visit. It’s a place of respect and remembrance, and well worth adding to your Maastricht itinerary.
There you have it – my list of 30 things to do in Maastricht. I know, it’s quite a list and won’t be possible to tick everything off. There are just for many activities in Maastricht, to do it all, but there’s something for everyone here.
Whether you’re a lover of history, a fan of architecture, a foodie or a nature enthusiast, Maastricht is sure to deliver a great time.
And it’s not on the typical tourist trail. Something that is quite refreshing if you’ve just been to Amsterdam.
It’s an opportunity to enjoy Dutch culture in a way not many other tourists do. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful city, I’d love to hear about it! Make sure to leave a comment below!
Are you planning a trip to Maastricht?
I’d love to hear your thoughts: I would love to hear what you will be visiting. Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.
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