The small city of Maastricht is located in Limburg, the southernmost province of the Netherlands some 200km from Amsterdam.
Maastricht is chic, classy and has a very different feel to the northern cities – it lies very close to the Belgian and German borders. It’s a great place for a day trip or weekend visit and is reached by a 2 1/2 hour train journey from Amsterdam. This brief overview will give you a flavour of the city.
Maastricht can be easily explored on foot in a few hours. From the train station – which is located east of the centre – walk out and down Stationstraat in a westerly direction.
Within 10 minutes walking you reach the Sintservas bridge which has sweeping views over the river Maas. The city centre lies just across the bridge on the western side with the Maastricht Visitor Center (VVV) nearby in the ‘Dinghuis’ building at Kleine Straat 1.
City walls – Take a stroll along the old city walls at Helpoort near the Maas river bank. There are more walls running west along the smaller river Jeker.
De Hoge Brug – This modern bridge for pedestrians and cyclists also provides lovely views over the river Maas.
Squares – The 2 main city squares are Markt which has the City Hall (Stadhuis) and the Vrijthof with the churches St Servaskerk / St Janskerk and the 16th- century Spanish Government House.
Shopping – Maastricht has lots of interesting independent shops as well as the usual Dutch chains. There is an antiques and flea market each Saturday near the station along Stationstraat.
The main shopping street is Grote Staat. Be sure to drop by the Boekhandel Dominicanen bookstore – one of the world’s most beautiful book shops, housed in a 13th-century Dominican church. There is a café at the back where you can enjoy the architecture and ambience. Open daily and located at Dominicanerkerkstraat 1 just off Grote Staat.
There are many cafés and restaurants around the city. For beer lovers do try the local Gulpener organic beer which is brewed in the nearby town of Gulpen.
Bonnefanten Museum – A few minutes walk south along the river Maas (eastern side at Avenue Ceramique 250) is Maastricht’s most famous museum – the Bonnefanten with its interesting post-modern architecture and distinctive cupola – designed by Italian architect Aldo Rossi. The museum has various art exhibits including old Dutch, Flemish and Italian paintings as well as some modern art.
The museum is open 1100-1700 Tue-Sun, closed Mondays. Admission costs €17.50 for adults and free entry for children 0-18 and Museumkaart holders. Special exhibitions can attract a small supplement.
Of interest to kids, there is the Natural History Museum (Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht) at De Bosquetplein 7 in the centre. The museum houses a collection of items documenting the geology, palaeontology, flora and fauna of the Limburg region. Open 1100-1700 Tue-Fri, 1300-1700 weekends. Admission costs €9 for adults, €6 for ages 5-11 and free entry for children 0-4 and Museumkaart holders.
The Fotomuseum aan het Vrijthof (photography museum) is located in the Spanish Government House at Vrijthof 18. It features 17th- and 18th-century period rooms and hosts regular photo exhibitions. Open 1000-1700 Tue-Sun, closed Mondays. Admission costs €12.50 for adults, €6.50 for ages 8-18 and free entry for children 0-7 and Museumkaart holders. Special exhibitions can attract a small supplement.
Side trips from Maastricht
The Maastricht area is known for its landscape of green rolling hills, unlike the rest of the country which is flat. An easy short trip to make by Arriva train is to Valkenburg, a small touristy town with a castle. The journey takes just over 10 minutes and the trip costs €7.88 return. In December, Valkenburg is renowned for its Christmas market held in the municipal caves.
The Drielandenpunt (3 country point) is located at Vaalserberg (near Vaals) and is the border meeting point of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The area has been converted to a tourist attraction with the Wilhelmina Tower panorama, labyrinth maze and small theme park. It is probably best to visit with a car.
Maastricht hosts the annual TEFAF event, a world leading art and antiques fair. It is held at the MECC (Maastricht Convention Bureau) usually in March.
Getting There: Amsterdam to Maastricht
Maastricht can be conveniently reached from Amsterdam by direct Intercity trains which normally run every 30 minutes. The journey (which goes via Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Roermond and Sittard) will take just under 2 1/2 hours. A single costs €29.40 (2nd class) or €49.98 (1st class) – 2023 prices. Purchase online at the official NS (Dutch Railways) site here.
If making a day return trip then consider the Holland Travel Ticket which is valid for 1 day on all public transport in the country including trains (2nd class), buses, trams and metro. It costs €70 for anytime use or €48 for use outside the 0630-0900 weekday rush hour or anytime at weekends.
If you are in a group then the NS Group Ticket allows 2-7 people travel to make a single journey between any 2 stations on the Dutch rail network. This costs €34-€50 and can only be purchased online here – not at the station.
Maastricht-Aachen airport is located about 9km north-east of Maastricht city centre. The main airline at the airport is Ryanair which has services to various European holiday destinations. The airport can be reached easily by taking Arriva bus 30 which runs between Maastricht station and Sittard.
This article was originally published in 2010. Last updated 4 February 2022.