City of Maastricht
Maastricht (map) is the capital and largest city of the province of Limburg. By many considered to be the most beautiful city of the country.
The river Maas runs through the city, offering some scenic views, and the lovely cobblestoned centre is full of historic buildings and impressive cathedrals. Maastricht has 1677 national heritage buildings (rijksmonumenten), the second highest number in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam.
Situated within walking distance of Belgium and cycling distance of Germany, Maastricht claims to be the oldest city in the Netherlands (a claim it shares with Nijmegen, map).
+ More information > Wikipedia • Wikivoyage
Perhaps one of the best (free) sights of Maastricht is simply to admire the two town squares in the centre of the city and the many old buildings around the street near the university and town wall.
Vrijthof (map). This famous square is considered by many to be the beating heart of the old city. It features the massive St Servaas Church (map) and St Jan’s Cathedral (map) and hosts a range of large festivals throughout the year. The Carnival before Lent is an amazing occasion where (it seems) the whole city dresses up in costume and parties until the early hours. It really has to be seen to be believed, this is a North European Mardi Gras.
+ For information about all cultural events in Maastricht, try to find a copy of the Week in Week uit. They are distributed all around the city.
Market & Town Hall (map). The fairly large market square has been the stage for markets for centuries, and still houses goods markets on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s a lively square, surrounded by cafés, shops and eateries, but also home to the 17th century Town Hall.
A particularly nice walk outside of the centre is along the river, from St Servaas Brug (map) down to the JFK Bridge (map), which goes through Maastricht’s largest park.
Saint Pietersberg Caves (Grotten Sint-Pietersberg, map). Local marlstone mine with over 20,000 passages dug out over centuries, used as shelter during sieges and bombings. Tours essential; check website for details (English and Dutch times differ). Boats runs from the city centre with commentary pointing out interesting landmarks along the way.
Getting to Maastricht city centre by public transport (maastrichtbereikbaar.nl)
OV Reisplanner – All public transport companies. All public transport in the Netherlands (buses, trams, metros and trains) use contactless smart cards called >> OV-chipkaart
CityMapper – The Netherlands | The ultimate transport app and technology for mobility in cities.
+ Public transport in the Netherlands (holland.com)
BUS > The city has a bus system called the Stadsbus (“City Bus”) that travels over most of the city and to surrounding areas
Flixbus • Connexxion• Arriva • Qbuzz
RAIL > Information about trains can be found at the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS, Dutch Railways) + NS — International App, which includes a trip planner which uses the latest information about train delays and detours. (*Rail travel in the Netherlands)
AIRPORTS > Schiphol Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. It is 15 km (9.3 mi) southwest of Amsterdam. It’s a point of interest in itself, being 4 metres below mean sea level.
WATERWAYS > Amsterdam Central Station (map). Waterbus Rotterdam & Dordrecht >> waterbus.nl. + AFerry.co.uk.
CYCLING > route.nl. Cycling is a ubiquitous mode of transport in the Netherlands. The best online routeplanner for cyclists can be found at a wikiplanner made by volunteers of the Dutch cyclist union “Fietsersbond”.
Maastricht Gulpen Cycle Route (53 km). Exploring the river valleys of South Limburg.
Maastricht Pietersberg Cycle Route (21 km). Ancient quarries and forts along the River Meuse.