The Netherlands is a fascinating country — and it’s packed full of much more than just windmills or tulips. As you begin to search for accommodation in Maastricht, also think about some of the plentiful ways that you can spend your spare time in this bustling city. Below are a few of our favorites!
Maastricht is a visually appealing city, with really beautiful architecture. Be sure to visit several of these buildings, as you explore more of your new home.
1. Stroll around the Vrijthof.
Maastricht has a few very lovely squares, but the most popular by far is the Vrijthof. The two main churches are here, and the square usually hosts most of the city’s special events, such as the carnival every year, right before Lent. On quieter days, the square is a nice place to have coffee or even a tasty Dutch waffle biscuit.
2. Walk around the Lichtenberg Castle ruins.
If you have a bit of a fascination with history, you should visit the ruins of one of the oldest Dutch castles, right in Maastricht. Dating back to the 10th century, the Lichtenberg Castle was constructed with sandstone and marl, both from the local area. The picturesque ruins overlook the Meuse river and sit atop the St. Pietersberg hill. It’s open between May and November.
3. Visit the flea market at the train station.
Maastricht is easily connected to the rest of the Netherlands, as well as Germany and Belgium. Just outside of the city center, the main train station is home to the largest weekend flea market in the city. You’ll find comics, magazines, books, records, cassettes and CDs. Antiques are also plentiful.
4. Visit Hell’s Gate.
Going back to the early 13th century, Hell’s Gate was one of the original entrances into Maastricht. It was utilized as an armory, a powder storage facility, a local meeting place and even a residence. Today, it is the only city gate remaining in Maastricht, as well as the oldest in all of the Netherlands.
5. Explore the Casemates.
The Casemates are a network of underground tunnels and bunkers that were built beginning in 1575, all the way through 1825. They are located just west of the city, commonly used to protect the area when under siege. There’s even a guided tour that will take you into the bomb shelters, powder rooms and the most important chambers.
Maastricht is known as the home to numerous popular events, with some of the best throughout Southern Holland.
1. TEFAF Maastricht (March)
TEFAF Maastricht is typically cited as the world’s best art fair. It really sets the standard for events of this type, and it is even visited by museum representatives from all across Europe.
2. Amstel Gold Race (April) and Limburgs Mooiste (June)
The Amstel Gold Race has been drawing cyclists and lovers of the sport since 1966. Named after the Dutch beer, it is a one-day race that is part of the UCI ProTour, which hosts races all throughout the year.
For amateur racers, the Limburgs Mooiste is a popular road race, attracting thousands of cyclists. It is held after Pentecost, and it has grown to become one of the largest events of its kind in Europe.
3. Orlando Festival (July)
The Orlando Festival has been hosting multi-level musicians for over 35 years in Maastricht, making it the oldest Dutch chamber music festival. Amateurs can receive lessons from famous musicians during the day, and enjoy concerts by night at the former abbey of Rolduc in Kerkrade.
4. Cultura Nova Heerlen (August/September)
Held in Parkstad Limburg, this ten-day summer event is always full of surprises. Cultura Nova offers a diverse program for all ages, filled with music, dance, theatre, art and film, with performances scattered throughout the city. You can experience the festival in downtown Heerlen, Schunck and Glaspaleis.
5. Kunstdagen Wittem (September)
Kunstdagen Wittem (Wittem Art Days) is popular with both the residents and tourists. Guests will experience a cultural program of literature, chamber music, visual art and readings. It is held in the large library at the monastery of Wittem, which offers amazing acoustics and beautiful scenery.
Maastricht offers a variety of places to have a meal or indulge in a few drinks with your new classmates. In the summer season, the terraces will be open, and filled with students taking advantage of a bit of warm weather in Maastricht. There are many budget-friendly options available, along with a few eateries definitely worthy of an occasional splurge.
1. Café Sjiek
This is a traditional Maastricht restaurant with great pub-style food. Meals range between €16 and €23 for a main course. There’s also a seasonal menu, with additional menu items.
Cafje Sjiek – Sint Pieterstraat 13 – Maastricht
Nestled in the heart of the Stokstraatkwartier, Rozemarijn is the ideal spot for a special evening out. Three-course meals cost around €55, excluding drinks.
Rozemarijn – Havenstraat 19 – Maastricht
3. Café Zondag
Located in the Wyck district and typically full of hipsters, this cozy hot spot serves tapas for dinner. Prices are reasonable, and it’s well-known for its friendly service, along with its Friday-night drink specials.
Cafe Zondag – Wijckerbrugstraat 42 – Maastricht
4. Restaurant “O”
Also located in Wyck, this is the place to go if you have a taste for seafood. Its laid-back atmosphere makes it popular with students.
Restaurant “O” – Rechtstraat 76 – Maastricht
5. Marres Kitchen
This is one of the newer restaurants in Maastricht, serving a menu filled with delicious Mediterranean food. The atmosphere is trendy, and there’s even a garden for the summer months. Be sure to go early for dinner, as that it closes at 19:00.
Marres Kitchen – Capucijnenstraat 98 – Maastricht