Maastricht is one of the top cities to visit in the Netherlands for that perfect weekend getaway. During the weekends the city attracts many visitors who love shopping and enjoying the many terraces and energetic bars. This picturesque city has been a favorite city trip destination for people from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany for a long time. For travelers from further away, this might actually be a hidden gem as it’s lesser known compared to all-time favorite Amsterdam. However, this lively Dutch city absolutely deserves more attention, where you will experience a unique atmosphere like nowhere else in the Netherlands.

Maastricht is filled with amazing medieval architecture and history. It is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and its beautiful sights are easily explorable on foot in one day. The city’s beating heart is without a doubt its historic center, where you will find most sights and plenty of things to do. Some well-preserved medieval churches and major art museums are the center of attention here. Its stunning architecture will charm you as you walk the little cosy streets filled with delicacies shops and culinary delights. Apart from its picturesque cobblestone streets and medieval churches, Maastricht is further a beloved cultural hub and foodies heaven. They are all about the Burgundian lifestyle, meaning enjoying good food and nice drinks. All of this and more make Maastricht the perfect destination for an inspiring day trip or a slow romantic weekend getaway.

Looking for your next perfect city trip? Then make sure to put Maastricht on your list! Wanna know all the best things to do in this dynamic city? This Maastricht city guide will show all you need to know for your first time visiting.

Maastricht and the Maas River

Things to do in Maastricht

The medieval city of Maastricht is the most southern place in the Netherlands, close to the border of Belgium and Germany. The place is quite unique from other Dutch cities and feels like a blending pot of several cultures. Given its location, you can see that its architecture, cuisine, and culture are very much influenced by its German and Belgian neighbors. Because of its proximity to these countries, it’s very easy to combine a trip to Maastricht with other cities like Antwerp, Ghent, or Bruges in Belgium, or Aachen and Düsseldorf in Germany. You will need at least one full day to explore most of Maastricht. However, we would recommend staying overnight so you can experience the city and its atmosphere at a slower pace.

BOOK A HOTEL | Make it a full weekend trip and book a hotel in Maastricht

The city can be split up into several neighborhoods each with its own unique atmosphere. Besides the historical center, you also want to cross the Sint Servaasbridge, which connects the centrum with the more modern part of the town. The bridge gives you a wonderful view of both parts of town and the river Maas that runs through it. The best thing you can do in Maastricht is just leisurely wandering around its streets and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle of this southern Dutch city.

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Vrijthof

Vrijthof square with historical buildings in Maastricht

Maastricht counts many squares, but the Vrijthof is probably the most significant. This historic heart of the city holds many restaurants, hotels, museums, and important heritage buildings. Two of them being the gothic Saint Jan’s Church and the Basilica of Saint Servatius. There is always something to do in this bustling square and during summer the countless cafés are filled with people enjoying the atmosphere. Make sure to check out In Den Ouden Vogelstryus, it’s one of the most popular cafés around and dates back to 1730. 

Vrijthof square in Maastricht with bars and restaurants

Major events in the city always take place on the Vrijthof. If you visit Maastricht in December you will find the annual Christmas markets being held here. Also, André Rieu holds his famous summer concerts here together with his Johann Strauss Orchestra.

St. Jan Church

St. Jan Church at Vrijthof Square in Maastricht

Located on the Vrijfhof square, this Protestant church is quite an eye-catcher with its distinctive red color. You can visit the gothic church itself free of charge. If you are visiting between late spring and early autumn, it’s possible to climb St Jan’s tower giving you a stunning view of the city. Tickets for climbing the tower can be bought at the entrance and cost €2,50.

Basilica of Saint Servatius

Basilica of Saint Servatius at Vrijthof

Right next to St. Jan’s church stands the beautiful Basilica of Saint Servatius. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the oldest basilica in the Netherlands dating back to the 6th century and used to be an important pilgrimage site. To visit the interior of the Romanesque Catholic church there is a small entrance fee of €4,50. Inside you can find the church’s treasury which holds many priceless religious artifacts, paintings, and statues. The most precious treasure here must be the shrine of Saint Servatius, who was the first bishop of Maastricht back in the 10th century.

TIP | Make sure to walk around the two churches to the back to explore the interesting alleys as well as the serene cloister garden.

The Market Square

The local food market on the market square in Maastricht

In the center of the town, you will find the lively market square. This is the place where the local food market takes place on Wednesdays and Fridays. Around 200 stalls are selling everything you could possibly think of between 9 am till 4 pm.

Many vendors showcase their local produce, where you can even try out plenty of things like cheese and sausages! One thing you should definitely try when in the Netherlands is the famous ‘Stroopwafels’ (syrup waffles), absolutely delicious! On Saturdays, the square makes space for a flea market.

Maastricht City Hall

Maastricht city hall at the market square

In the middle of the market square, stands Maastricht’s city hall, designed by Pieter Post in the Dutch Classicism style in the 17th century. Originally built as a Cloth Hall, the tower houses a carillon with 49 bells, that is still being played on occasion. 

Bookstore Dominicanen

A must-visit on your trip to Maastricht is the Dominicanen bookstore, one of our personal favorites. You might think why is this one of the highlights? This bookstore is housed in an old church and is considered to be one of the most beautiful ones in the world! The books are stalled on shelves on a three-story high steel construction. Besides brand-new books, there are also second-hand books, foreign language sections, and music offered.

The church itself was built in the 13th century, but the building housed many different types of establishments over the last 200 years. The former catholic church became abandoned after Catholicism was outlawed in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Only in 2006, did it become a bookstore where you can also enjoy a coffee on a cross-shaped table, where the altar used to be. You will notice a lot of the original decoration was maintained by the bookstore architects to keep the authentic feeling. The best views of the bookstore are all the way upstairs.

Shop until you drop

When walking towards the south of the city you will pass by many shopping streets. Maastricht is very popular among Dutch people for shopping. Besides the typical chain stores that you can find in the Grote Straat, there are also lovely boutiques and even more exclusive brands. For these head over to the Stokstraartquarter. Apart from splurging on the latest designer clothes here, it’s also worth walking through the streets just to admire the beautiful buildings.

Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein

Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein in Maastricht

The coziest square in the city must be the Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein, which is situated south of the shopping area. It’s a popular place among both locals and tourists for its many cafés and outdoor terraces. It is the perfect place to grab lunch in between all the shopping. Originally this square was actually the churchyard, that belonged to the Basilica of Our Lady.

Basilica of Our Lady

Basilica of Our Lady

Standing tall and proud on the Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein is the Romanesque Basilica of Our Lady. The beautiful medieval church is dedicated to the famous Our Lady of the Assumption statue, also known as the Star of the Sea. The image dates back to the 15th century and can be found in the gothic side chapel. The many burning candles surrounding the statue in the chapel give it a whole magical atmosphere. Inside the church, are several figurines depicting the stories of the church’s main devotion. Other must-see elements are the church treasury, the cloister, the west crypt, and the tower. As you can tell the church looks a bit like a fortress from the outside because it served as a hiding place for the people of Maastricht in case of danger in the 11th century. 

Enjoy an Artisanal Cheese platter

The Koestraat in Maastricht , a cozy small street filled with bars and terraces

Head further south from the Onze-Lieve-Vrouweplein towards the Koestraat, a cozy small street filled with amazing small bars with terraces. We absolutely loved the atmosphere here and suggest you head over to De Kaasbar to enjoy an artisanal cheese platter with a beer or wine. A must-have when in the Netherlands, is some good cheese!

Savor a piece of traditional Vlaai pie at the Bisschopsmolen

the Bisschopsmolen in Maastricht, the oldest working mill in the Netherlands
Picture by H. Bos on Flickr.com

In a secluded street, you can find the oldest still working water mill in the city called The Bisschopsmolen or Bishop’s Mill. The historic building dates back to the 7th century and is still in use, producing flour every day. Besides having a look inside to see how the mill works, check out the bakery that is established inside the mill. You will be welcomed by the smell of fresh bread and pastries. This place is mostly known for its traditional ‘Limburgse Vlaai’, a local sweet pie that you simply have to try out in their café next door!

The Hell’s Gate

The hells gate in the Jekers quarter in Maastricht part of the old city wall and fortifications

The southern quarter of Maastricht is called the Jeker quarter, which got its name from the river that flows through it. Also known as the ‘Quartier Latin’, this historic area is mostly known for its oldest still-standing city gate called Helpoort (Hell’s Gate). The entrance gate dates back to 1229 and was once part of the old fortification system of the city. The name of the gate comes from the fact that back then prisoners were kept inside the tower. These days Hell’s gate is a museum about the history of Maastricht’s fortifications.

Take a stroll on the ancient city walls 

take a stroll along the old city walls and its towers of Maastricht

In the 13th century, Maastricht’s historical city used to be fully enwalled to protect its inhabitants from hostile attacks. Remnants of the former wall and its towers can still be seen all over the city and it’s even possible to walk along them. Next to Hell’s Gate, you find the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwewal which is a stretch of the old wall that is still walkable. It offers some magnificent views over both the river Maas and the city’s park with old cannons.

Walk along the Maas River and Sint Servaasbrug

Walk along the Maas River and Sint Servaasbrug

Taking a stroll alongside the Maas River should definitely be on your ‘things to do in Maastricht’ list. Easily cross over the river Maas (or the Meuse) by taking the famous stone bridge Sint Servaasbrug (Saint Servatius Bridge). (Btw you see where Maastricht gets its name from?)

the famous stone bridge Sint Servaasbrug (Saint Servatius Bridge) in maastricht

The bridge was built in the 13th century, making it the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. It was constructed instead of an ancient Roman wooden bridge that used to be there first until it collapsed. The arched stone bridge exists out of 8 arches and was named after the first bishop of Maastricht, Saint Servatius.

Boat trip on the Maas river in Maastricht with Rederij Stiphout

TIP |  A boat trip is always a fun way to experience a city in another way. While discovering you can relax at the same time from all the walking around. Order a coffee with a piece of pie along the way. Talking about holiday feelings! For more information & bookings click here.

LOCATION | Rederij Stiphout, Maaspromenade 58, 6211 HS Maastricht

OPENING TIMES | Daily, from 11 am – 5 pm, boat tours take off every hour

PRICES | Adults €11 – Children €6,20

Explore the Wyck & Céramique neighborhood

If you want to get a better taste of everyday life head over to the other side of the Maas river towards the Wyck & Céramique neighborhood. This is the newer part of the city and has some interesting contemporary architecture.

Maastricht used to be famous as the city of pottery production, hence the name of the céramique neighborhood. Today the area has some beautiful modern architecture that houses several local stores and some of the best restaurants. It’s also the ideal area to take a break for an afternoon coffee at one of the cute cafés.

Explore the Wyck & Céramique neighborhood for cute little shops

The sprawling area of the Wyck is also full of lovely little coffee shops, lively pubs, and fun local shops. Wyck Bazaar is a perfect example to get some great local produce. Wyck is the oldest quarter of the city, with the Rechstraat being the oldest street. It’s overall a very atmospheric street with some historic buildings.

Bonnefanten Museum

Towards the end of the Ceramique neighborhood, lies the Bonnefanten museum, which is one of the best museums in the country. It’s home to the most important art collections of Maastricht, mainly by southern Dutch artists. Further, it also includes several paintings from the great Dutch Masters, as well as medieval art and wooden sculptures that date back to the 13th century. The museum building itself is an ultra-modern structure with a conical tower, designed by Aldo Rossi. Make sure to check out the dome with its displayed installations, which is the coolest part. 

LOCATION |  Avenue Ceramique 250, 6221 KX Maastricht

ENTRANCE FEE |  Adults €15; Students €7,5

OPENING HOURS |  From Tuesday till Sunday, from 11 am – 5 pm

Do a beer tasting at one of the local breweries

Do a beer tasting at one of the local breweries in Maastricht

The perfect way to end the afternoon is going on a beer tasting, accompanied by some local specialties. Maastricht is home to several beer breweries, perfect for those beer lovers amongst us. One of them, the Stadsbrouwerij sits right by the water and is the perfect location to admire the historic city. Besides taking a guided tour of the brewery, you can also have a whole beer tasting together with a platter of local cheeses and appetizers.

beer tasting at one of the local breweries in Maastricht

Brewery Bosch is another option, this old brewery is an industrial monument founded in 1758. Take an English-guided brewery tour first and afterward sample some of their beers, also accompanied by local cheeses.

Take a guided tour of Maastricht city

Another way to experience Maastricht city is with a local guide who would gladly show you all the highlights. Join a professional VVV guide on a walking tour of the city and experience the most memorable tales and anecdotes. You will learn some interesting trivia about Maastricht that you might never uncover yourself. A tour takes around 1,5 hours and costs about 8€.

Discover the different quarters from the city of Maastricht

BOOK A GUIDED CITY TOUR | For more information and bookings click HERE

EXTRA – Trip outside the city to Fort St. Pieter

Trip outside the city of Maastricht to Fort St. Pieter

A little outside the city stands the 18th-century fortress that was built to protect Maastricht from the french. As Maastricht is located at the intersection of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, it has a highly strategic position. That’s why the location of the fort was also strategically chosen upon Mount Saint Pieter, providing an excellent vantage point. Most of it is still intact and can be fully explored. You may walk around on top of the fort yourself, but there are also one-hour guided tours offered. Besides a tour of only the fort, there are combo tickets available, where you get to explore the Underground passages of Maastricht Caves. The caves used to stretch over an area of 300 kilometers and had around 20.000 passageways, imagine getting lost there. 

BOOK A TOUR | There are multiple English-speaking guided tours for the Fort every day. For more information and bookings check HERE

Besides the Fort, Mount Saint Peter offers a recreational area and nature reserve. Depending on the length of your stay you can enjoy a nice nature hike over here. The reserve gives some amazing views of the huge limestone quarry and the surrounding valleys. From this viewpoint hike towards the left to get to the main viewing platform.

Views of the limestone quarry and surroundings from the viewing platform at mount st. Peter

How to get there?

Fort St. is located around 2km away from the city center, if you are up for a walk it’s definitely feasible. In case you came by car, there is a big parking lot in the front. 

How to get to Maastricht

how to get to Maastricht

The city is located in the very south of the Netherlands, close to the Belgian and German borders. Maastricht makes the perfect weekend trip from Amsterdam or any other place in the Netherlands. It’s easily reachable by train, car, and bus from other cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

how to get to maastricht by plane

By plane | There are several airports close to the city. Easiest will be to fly to Eindhoven or Schiphol (near Amsterdam), which is the main international airport in the Netherlands. Other close airports are in Dusseldorf (DE) and Brussels-Zaventem (BE). Many budget airlines find their way to these airports, from where you can easily jump on a train. 

By train | Maastricht is very accessible by train from any other city in the Netherlands. The train station is located right near the city center from where you can walk easily to all the highlights. If you are coming from Amsterdam it will take you around 2,5 hours to Maastricht (costs around €25). For more information and bookings check the following website.

streets of maastricht with modern architecture

By car | If you are coming by (rental) car from Belgium, Germany, or the Netherlands it’s very easy to get to Maastricht. From Antwerp, Belgium it’s only a 1,5 hour’s drive and Dusseldorf is only over an hour away. There are many places to park your car from where you can explore the city.

By bus | One of the best and cheapest ways to travel through Europe is with Flixbus. They have over 2000 destinations all over Europe and you can get around easily at very nice prices.

How to get around in Maastricht?

how to get around in maastricht by bike

By foot | The best way to appreciate the old streets of Maastricht is by foot. Everything is within walking distance and most of the quarters and shopping streets are car-free anyways, making the old alleys and riverside extremely pedestrian-friendly. The old and new city is separated by the river Maas, but there are several bridges connecting the two parts.

By bike | It’s a cliché but it’s true, the Netherlands is the number one cycling country in the world. You will notice this instantly when arriving in Maastricht as well, if you don’t look out, you will be driven off the street by cyclists. So why not join them and discover Maastricht by bike? You can rent a bike right at the train station for around €4 a day. You can find all information and prices on the website of OV-bike. Or join one of the guided tours on bike.

complet guide to maastricht

Top Things to do in Maastricht, the most beautiful city in the Netherlands

Maastricht is one of our favorite Dutch towns, with its beautiful streets and lively atmosphere, the city succeeds to amaze us every time. We hope you enjoyed and got inspired by our list of things to do in Maastricht. Of course, there are many more things to enjoy, but these are in our opinion the perfect way to get to know the city on your first time visiting. Let us know in the comments below which one you enjoyed the most or share some of your favorite spots in Maastricht!

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