So you are planning to visit the south of the Netherlands? The medieval city of Maastricht should be on the top of your list.
There are plenty of things to do in Maastricht, aside from its huge shopping district. When we visited Maastricht during the summer, I was really looking forward to seeing the town and experience more of the Dutch countryside scenes and culture.
Most of the tourists just aim to visit the congested city of Amsterdam, so visiting Maastricht is something worth doing away from the busy life of the big cities.
Best things to do in Maastricht, Netherlands
1. Saint Servatius Bridge
The Saint Servatius Bridge the most popular tourist attraction in Maastricht. Just a few blocks away from the Maastricht train station. The view from the bridge is beautiful and it is a nice welcoming view of the centre of Maastricht.
The St. Servatius Bridge is a stone arched bridge crossing the River Meuse. It is considered and believed to be the “Oldest Bridge in the Netherlands”. Constructed in the 13th Century, after the Roman wooden footpath bridge collapsed and cause many casualties. The bridge was named after Saint Servatius the first bishop of Maastricht.
An image of the Saint Servatius bridge can also be found in any 10 Euro bill, to signify the Maastricht treaty, wherein the agreement within the European nations to use the Euro currency.
2. Basilica of Saint Servatius
The Basilica of Saint Servatius is another tribute to Saint Servatius in Maastricht. It is impossible to miss this beautiful basilica in the heart of Maastricht. It is one of the best things to do in Maastricht most specially to the pilgrims. Saint Servatius is an Armenian missionary that serves and died in Maastricht in the 4th century. The basilica has been one of the pilgrimage destinations in South Netherlands.
The remains of Saint Servatius can still be found in the Basilica’s treasury. The architectural design of the basilica is a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque styles. The spires of the basilica are one of the distinctive features of Maastricht skyline.
Just in front of the basilica is a big public square of Maastricht called Vrijthof Square. A great place to enjoy the scenic view of the Basilica and the Maastricht town. Vrijthof Square has loads of cafes and restaurants to choose from.
3. Basilica of Our Lady
The Basilica of Our Lady is another basilica in the Maastricht. Build dated back the 11th century, the Romanesque style of the Basilica make it look more a fortress with its huge plain walls and small windows. The main hall of the basilica is the home of religious treasures and arts since medieval times.
The main highlight of the Basilica is the miraculous statue of Our Lady, Star of the Seas. This invites a lot of pilgrims all over the world to visit this beautiful basilica in Maastricht.
Outside the Basilica is the Our Lady Square that has been noted as one of the most beautiful squares in the Netherlands. Filled with different restaurants and cafes for a cosy drink in the plaza while watching the crowds of Maastricht.
4. Maastricht Caves
The Caves of Maastricht is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Maastricht. It was first excavated and mined back over a thousand years ago for the limestone that was used for construction.
During World War II, the Maastricht caves serve as the refuge for the citizens of Maastricht and other valuable treasures and arts of the Netherlands, including some masterpieces of Rembrandt. You can visit the caves and the fortress on a guided tour of Maastricht caves.
5. Maastricht Market
Right in front of the town hall of Maastricht is the bustling popular Maastricht Market. The market is one of the main things to do in Maastricht every Wednesday and Friday. You can find all sorts of local and fresh produce, different crafts, dutch souvenirs and other bric-a-brac that you can think of.
The stalls can range from 200 to 300 so it is definitely a hectic market day from 9 am to 3 pm. So better get your comfy shoes on and flex that haggling skills.
Another popular market in Maastricht is the Organic and Flea markets in Stationsstrat which is near the train station.
6. Saint Jan’s Church
The Saint Jan’s Church (Sint-Janskerk) is located next to the Basilica of the Servatius. It is a gothic style church that has been one of the distinctive landmarks in the Maastricht. It was founded in the 13th century that serves the local town as a place of worship and baptismal.
Due to the high volume of pilgrims visiting the next door basilica, the Saint Jan’s church serves mostly the people of Maastricht. It is currently a working Protestant church in Maastricht.
7. Bonnefanten Museum
If you love contemporary modern arts, then the Bonnefanten Museum is the place to visit in Maastricht. It is the home of various artwork from different artists around the world in the genre of concept, minimal art and Arte Provera.
It also holds some medieval artwork and paintings from Western Europe craftwork, medieval sculptures and art pieces.
Who says you can’t be in two places in one time? Well, let’s prove them wrong here in Drielandenpunt (Tripoint).
The Drielandenpunt is located in Vaalsberg, the highest point in the Netherlands. It is an international border marker of the three countries: the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It is roughly 30 minutes away via bus from Maastricht and a few kilometres away from Aachen, Germany and Wallonia region in Belgium. This is one of the best things to do in Maastricht with the family and kids.
9. Bookstore Dominicanen (Boekhandel Dominicanen)
If you can notice one thing in Maastricht, this town has a lot of gothic or Romanesque style little churches not to mention they have two basilicas. This is due to their colourful history from Romans, Spanish and French influences.
One of the interesting old churches in Maastricht is the Boekhandle Dominicanen. It is a 13th-century church converted to a bookstore. The high ceiling and colourful stained windows brighten up the interior of the building. No wonder it is hailed as one of the “Most beautiful bookshop of the world”.
The 3-level bookstore also has a cafe where you can sip your coffee while enjoying your book. If you happen to pass by at night, you will notice that the door of this church was also converted into a giant book wooden door.
10. Natural History Museum
Do you love dinosaur bones and natural exhibition? The Natural History Museum in Maastricht is one of the places to visit with family and friends. They have a great anthropological collection from pre-historic dinosaur bones and other fossil items.
The Natural history museum has various activities, exhibition and events all throughout the year.
11. De Bisschopsmolen
Visit the oldest working mill in the Netherlands – The Bisschopsmolen (Bishop’s Mill). The mill was built in the 7th century and has been a household name of the town. In the middle ages, it has become the milling station for the Brewer’s Guild to brew their beer.
At present, you can visit Bisschopsmolen’s bakery, which is next door to the mill. Enjoy the freshly baked bread and pies. You must try the fruit flappen, fruit tarts and the famous Rijstevlaai.
These pastries are well known in this Limburg region and known for their gastronomical influence across the Netherlands. The Southern Netherlands food has a mixture of influence from Dutch, German, Flemish and Spanish.
The Helpoort is the oldest city gate in the Netherlands. Built in the 13th century to protect the city of Maastricht from invasion. The gates of Helpoort has become the first line of defence of the city and part of the medieval walls that go around the old part of Maastricht.
During the Siege of Maastricht by the Spaniards in the 16th century, the Medieval walls of Maastricht have been defeated and fell to the Spanish Netherlands rule until 17th century.
At present, some part of the medieval wall are still standing around the old part of Maastricht. You can follow it around and some parts of the old wall may be seen up close it is one of the popular things to do in Maastricht for history enthusiasts.
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The city of Maastricht in the south Netherlands is surely worth visiting. Its medieval charm and history will definitely capture your heart.