The stunning city of Maastricht in the Netherlands deserves better than its current reputation as a weekend getaway. The charming aesthetic of the capital city of Limburg, plus its rich history and tasty food options, speak volumes. With so much to see, deciding what to do in Maastricht can be overwhelming.
There’s much to see and do in Maastricht, like enjoying a lovely afternoon by riding along the city walls or strolling along the Meuse River. Start your trip by visiting the oldest church, Saint Servatius Basilica, or explore the Zonneberg caves.
Or, refresh yourself with a guided tour of Fort Sint Pieter, then browse the flea market. End the day with a magical night at one of the magnificent ancient castles. Maastricht retains its medieval charm, giving visitors a taste of the enchanting medieval lifestyle.
With plenty of affordable flights crisscrossing Europe, you don’t have to break the bank to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. Unsurprisingly, tourists flock to Maastricht due to its friendly atmosphere and easy accessibility. Here are some of the fun and best things to do in Maastricht.
What We Cover
- Things to Do in Maastricht, Netherlands
- 1. Basilica of Our Lady
- 2. Stadspark (City Park)
- 3. Dominicanen Bookstore
- 4. Maastricht Underground Passageways
- 5. The Old City Walls of Maastricht
- 6. Sample the Best Food in Maastricht
- 7. De Kaasbar
- 8. Bishop’s Mill
- 9. Bonnefanten Museum
- 10. Vrijthof Square
- 11. Visit Fort Sint Pieter
- 12. Take a day trip to Aachen
- 13. Spend an afternoon at City Hall and Market Square
- 14 Walk along Wilhelminabrug and St. Servaasbrug
- 15. See the Treasures of Saint Servatius Basilica
- 16. Learn about the Past at the Natural History Museum
- Map of Maastricht
- How to Get Around Maastricht
- What is Maastricht best known for?
- Tours in Maastricht
- Most significant landmarks: Basilica of Our Lady
- Best park: City Park
- Free activity: Dominicanen Bookstore
- Activity for kids: Maastricht Underground
- Activity for adults: The old city walls of Maastricht
- Place to Stay: Kruisherenhotel (read the full review of our stay here)
Things to Do in Maastricht, Netherlands
1. Basilica of Our Lady
Address: Onze Lieve Vrouweplein 7, 6211 HD Maastricht
The Basilica of Our Lady Maastricht is one of the finest examples of Dutch medieval architecture. Bishop Monulphus founded the church around the 6th century. It is sanctified to Our Lady of the Assumption and referred to as the Star of the Sea. Experts argue that the Basilica is most likely built on Roman temple remains.
Construction of the striking network would later begin soon after 1000 AD. One outstanding feature is the two pseudo-transepts seen from almost any city corner.
Other prominent features include stained glass, an altar, and a crypt with the massive statue of St. Servatius, patron saint of Maastricht. In addition, several relics, stone carvings, and delicate acoustics add up to the glamor.
The exterior work and enlargement of the structure commenced around the 11th and 12th Centuries. The church added the canon rooms around 1200. By the 13th Century, constructors adorned the nave with Gothic vaults. Several renovations and decorations took place until the 15th Century.
This historical church is home to exciting and valuable religious artifacts. These boil down to richly embroidered copes, chasubles, and procession banners. We cannot forget to mention the ‘Levite dress’ that belonged to the last Maastricht bishop, St-Lambert.
See Related: Things to Do in Amsterdam, Netherlands
2. Stadspark (City Park)
Address: 6211 JW Maastricht, Netherlands
Stadtspark, the Maastricht city park, one of the oldest parks in the Netherlands, is located on the edge of the Maastricht city center. The park extends from Graanmarkt towards the south along the west bank of the Maas, the Onze Lieve Vrouwewal, up to the landing of the John F. Kennedy Bridge. It also stretches west along the Jeker and Tongersestraat towards the southern city wall.
City Park also connects to Plein 1992 and Charles Eyck Park via the Hoge Brug on the eastern side. The 175-year-old park was subdivided into sub-parks in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
The fortification of Maastricht was the backbone of the park’s design and gave each sub-park its unique atmosphere and function. The sub-parks include:
- D’n Ingelsen Hoof, the narrow strip between the Maasboulevard and the Maas
- The Faliezusterpark, found between Poort Waerachtig and Helpoort
- Kempland, located between Onze Lieve Vrouwewal and the Maasboullevard
- Monseigneur Nolenspark, situated on bastion Ha,,et ende Nijdt
- Henri Hermanspark is located between Tapijnkazerne and the City Wall.
- Aldenhofpark, where the bronze statue of D’Artagnan is located.
Each sub-park has its attractions, making it an ideal destination for the whole family. The deer park and aviary in Henri Hermanspark make the place ideal for children. The city park is also suitable for nature enthusiasts due to its many indigenous trees and bird species.
Note the Faliezusterpark is suitable for an afternoon walk, while Kempland’s scenic view above an underground parking garage is perfect for sunbathing. The Aldenhofpark and D’n Ingelsen Hoof make appropriate spots for children to goof around.
See Related: Things to Do in Haarlem, Netherlands
3. Dominicanen Bookstore
Address: Kerkstraat 102, 6211 CZ Maastricht, Netherlands.
A bookstore in a former church? Heck yeah! It is one of Maastricht’s top attractions from the Middle Ages. This was previously known as the Dominican Church, and the building served as a bicycle shed and a reptile house before transforming into the famous bookstore.
The scenic view with expansive windows, elevated ceilings, and striking exterior is mind-blowing. Over time, the bookstore expanded and added sections with ancient books, rare editions, and beautiful antiques.
It also offers drinks, snacks, and live music performances. The Dominican Bookstore sells many handmade products, such as paintings, drawings, and music CDs.
The Dominican bookstore is the perfect spot to relax during the afternoon. Open early and late, and it’s one of the most pleasant places in Maastricht to sip a cappuccino and read a book while enjoying panoramic views.
4. Maastricht Underground Passageways
Address: Kleine Staat 1, Maastricht
Maastricht Underground is a must-see experience near the Vrijthof, the old town, and is accessible at Fort Sint Pieter. The historic limestone caves, roughly 15 minutes from the Central Station, take you back to an era of sieges and people hiding underground.
There are loads of ancient cellars and tunnels. Some used to store water or hide persecuted monks. This is also a spot of key discoveries of ancient fossils dating back hundreds of thousands of years.
The tour also includes an entrance to a famous Cathedral and Roman museum and exits into the streets above. You can walk through a mining gallery from the 18th Century. Moreover, the remains of a Roman settlement are embedded in the bedrock. Lastly, visitors can pass through more recent mine workings.
Nowadays, the public can access some of these channels and enjoy a fascinating look into the past. Children will love exploring the wealth of historical artifacts and ancient caves. This is a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction site that is likely to keep children enchanted.
5. The Old City Walls of Maastricht
Address: 6211 KJ Maastricht, Netherlands
The old city wall will take you down memory lane when the locals used them to hide from invaders in the Middle Ages. This cobblestone route provides a fascinating insight from Fort Sint Pieter’s enclosure to City Hall featuring Maastricht’s fortifications.
Make a trip to the fortified gates and towers, including the Hell Gate – the oldest town gate in the country. The fine Gothic fortifications above a lovely canal boast a nostalgic atmosphere. The short wall section between Vrijthof (Free Square), Grotestraat, and Market Square has a wheelchair-friendly ramp. Thus, people with limited mobility can enjoy the ancient walls too.
If the weather allows, go around the inner city ring and historic houses or catch a glimpse of Valkenburg and the Meuse River. A private photo session in Maastricht will ensure you capture your amazing memories. You can enjoy visiting The Scheepvaartmuseum Thurn en Taxis too.
6. Sample the Best Food in Maastricht
Maastricht offers an abundance of places to sample local and international dishes. Old and new restaurants like Harry’s, Cafe Local, thé De Gouverneur, or the Le Bon Choix offer sumptuous delights. Don’t miss some fine dining at Onglet, Rantree, and Chateau Neercanne, either!
Immerse yourself in the dynamic food scene and sample some nice and spicy Mexican bites at With Love Burrito along with Market 4 Lane. TiramiSu on Grote Gracht 37 is a must-visit for sumptuous seafood and the classic Italian dessert of (roughly) the same name.
Cafe Servaas on Corversplein 10 offers some of the most amazing, affordable meals for any palate. If you are on a tight budget, enjoy a 50% discount from selected restaurants such as Safar, Tapas, and Cafe Louis.
During a day trip around town, you’ll typically find street vendors selling delicious fries, waffles, sausages, and more. The best part is that Dutch street food is so tasty that you won’t be disappointed wherever you go!
7. De Kaasbar
Address: Koestraat 14-16, 6211 HR Maastricht
Rarely do you find a spot with such an extensive and high-quality selection of drinks as De Kaasbar! Located less than a mile from the Basilica of St. Servatius and Vrijthof, the bar is a true hotbed of culture and diversity.
The style is sophisticated, with plenty of inviting seating options. The elegant lighting creates a comfortable, relaxing ambiance, and the state-of-the-art sound system is hard to beat.
De Kaasbar is lovely, with its friendly staff and great atmosphere. This bar has a great vibe and is a good spot for a pre-dinner or post-dinner beverage.
They serve tons of tasty tipples, including a range of classic cocktails and their creations. They’ve whipped up delicious gin-based drinks and an excellent tap beer list that’s hard to go wrong. Hungry? Take advantage of the comprehensive menu and sample sumptuous local delicacies.
8. Bishop’s Mill
Address: Stenenbrug 3, 6211 HP Maastricht, Netherlands
Found in the Jeker quarter of Maastricht, Bishop’s Mill (or Bisschopsmolen) takes you back on a historical journey through the milling world.
Duke Godfrey, the original owner of this 14th-century mill, leased a certain percentage of the historic water mill located on the Jeker River to the Bishop of Liege. The duke died seven years later, and the episcopal took over the mill, renaming it Bisschopsmolen.
Sadly, the Spanish feud in 1577 destroyed most buildings in Jeker, including the mill, reducing it to ashes. It was later rebuilt in 1609 and has seen several renovations, the last major one in 2004.
This old water mill still operates today, producing 100% spelt flour. Bishop’s Mill is open to the public, and visitors can explore the inner workings of the mill. You can also buy fresh bread, pastries, and flour or grab a bite to eat in their sit-down cafe. There, you can try yummy local delicacies like Limburgse vlaai (Limburg pies).
See Related: Best Museums in Europe to Visit
9. Bonnefanten Museum
Address: Avenue Ceramique 250, 6221 KX Maastricht, Netherlands
Located on the banks of the River Meuse, Bonnefanten Museum served as a convent between 1951 and 1978. The museum now displays unique art from different eras. There is much to see, from neo-expressionism and 20th-century art to the fascinating modern art section on the second floor.
Other areas in the museum display award-winning work from well-known Dutch masters like Ruben and other critically acclaimed artists such as Arte Povera. The Bonnefanten Museum also has a small collection of ancient sculptures from Greece and Rome.
10. Vrijthof Square
Address: Vrijthof 1 6211 LE Maastricht
Vrijthof Square provides a beautiful backdrop for open-air market stalls, street performers, festivals, and concerts. It is one of the oldest squares in the city, dating back to the Middle Ages. The Vrijthof majestically stands at the southern end of the shopping street Céramique and near the Basilica of Saint Servatius. Other facilities nearby include the Town Hall and Lourdes Chapel.
Historically, people assembled for special celebrations such as weddings, executions, or riots. Now, you can dine in any restaurant, grab food from the food trucks, or enjoy coffee on the beautiful terraces.
Get lost in the outdoor market, contemporary art spaces, and music venues. Most impressive, the square hosts the famous Andre Rieu concerts in summer, plus the Preuvenemint events. Surrounded by old buildings and beautiful canals, it’s hard not to enjoy the buzz around you here.
11. Visit Fort Sint Pieter
Located south of Maatwick, on a similar mount, Fort Sint Pieter (Fort Saint Peter) was once crucial to city defense. Initially constructed in 1603, a deep, dry moat has protected this massive brick fort and features an underground network of tunnels on Mount Saint Peter. Visiting this crumbling fort offers a memorable adventure as you explore its barracks, tunnels, and gun rooms.
During your exploration, the fort reveals many secrets. Fort Sint Pieter also offers stunning views over the River Meuse and the many impressive historic buildings in the center of Maastricht, clearly demonstrating the reasons behind its prominent strategic position.
12. Take a day trip to Aachen
Located just about an hour away, it can get you into Germany for an incredibly cheap price if you take public transportation. For just around 4 euros each way, you can take a direct bus from Maastricht to Aachen, Germany. This historic city in Germany is one of the better-hidden gems to explore. It’s a famed former spa town and hub during the Holy Roman Emperor.
You’ll need to visit the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aachen Cathedral during your visit, which also holds the remains of Charlemagne. Plenty of guided tours are available to help you see most of the city in a day, such as the Charlemagne tour or an old town talking tour.
13. Spend an afternoon at City Hall and Market Square
Market Square, or Markt in Dutch, is located near Vrijthof and is a sprawling square with cafes, restaurants, and the historic Stadhuis (City Hall).
If you have a penchant for history and architecture, visit the iconic Stadhuis or City Hall, which stands proudly at the heart of Market Square. This magnificent building will leave you in awe with its rich historical significance and captivating design.
14 Walk along Wilhelminabrug and St. Servaasbrug
The Wilhelminabrug, named after Queen Wilhemina, is a beautiful bridge built in the early 1930s on the River Meus. It is a great spot to explore and admire the stunning river district of the city. You can continue your journey towards the Sintservaas Brug (Saint Servaas Bridge).
This seven-arch bridge was constructed in the 13th century and features a statue of Saint Servatius. Unfortunately, both bridges were severely damaged during World War II during bombing raids. You can notice the partial rebuild on the second half of the Sintservaas Brug.
Additionally, walk around the historic Wyck District, situated on the left bank of the River Meuse. It still has remnants of the old city walls that remain standing today.
15. See the Treasures of Saint Servatius Basilica
The St. Servaaskerk Basilica is a Roman Catholic church built over the tomb of Maastricht’s first Bishop in the 7th century. If you take a pleasant 10-minute stroll, you will arrive at the Imperial Hall and Gallery, constructed from 1165 to 1677.
Located just outside Vrijthof, the city center, the Basilica Sant’Sorvatius offers a magnificent sight. This architectural feature is unique as it combines Gothic and Romanesque elements. It has two spires flanking the center part and several beautiful statues surrounding the interior.
It was built from the 11th to 12th centuries and lies over the tomb of St. Servatius, who died in the city. Despite its exterior not being impressive, this building still deserves your time. You can see the vaulting ceilings and arches, along with a number of splendid choir houses, chapels, and treasures.
The Bergportaal’s magnificent south gate, featuring a 13th-century Bible, also merits a stopover. Additionally, noteworthy aspects include the church’s vaults and the stunning transept, built between the 14th and 15th centuries.
See Related: Dutch Wineries to Visit
16. Learn about the Past at the Natural History Museum
The Nature History Museum in Maastricht may be smaller, but it offers several top attractions worth seeing. Housed in a former monastery in the historic Jekerkwartier district, this small museum showcases the geological development of the region through fossils and local rocks.
Among its highlights is a fascinating cabinet of curiosity that includes a rare specimen of Rat Kings – rats with their tails intertwined. Moreover, the museum boasts a biological section featuring a collection of regional fauna and botanical gardens along the scenic Jeker River.
Map of Maastricht
How to Get Around Maastricht
The best way to move around Maastricht is by bus, taxi, and car rental. Most places are easily accessible by public transport. An OV-chipkaart allows you to take any bus or train and saves you money on tickets.
The city’s railway station is at the southern end of the city center, between the “Kerkhofsweg” and “Sint Servaasbrug” roads. Regular trains depart for all destinations within the Netherlands and international connections. You can also take a special shuttle bus from the central bus station to the station.
The bus ride takes only 5 minutes, although there are less frequent departures during peak hours. You can rent bikes at different points throughout the city if need be. I did it, and it was an excellent experience cruising around the city.
What is Maastricht best known for?
Maastricht is currently a lively cultural and regional hub. It is famed as the birthplace of the European Union and, subsequently, the Euro currency, thanks to the Maastricht Treaty.
The city is also home to 1,677 heritage buildings (Rijksmonuments), boasting the second-highest number in the Netherlands after Amsterdam. Beyond this, it was the first Dutch city to join the Industrial Revolution, a significant turning point for the Netherlands.
Tours in Maastricht
Enjoy a tour of the city center, the old city and along the river Maas in an informative and amusing way. Look at some of the highlights and explain about important events that occurred here in Maastricht (e.g. Roman times, Charles V) and other interesting stories from past and present.
Taste and learn about a selection of beers at the oldest craft beer bar in Maastricht. You will enjoy a welcome drink, delicious snacks, and tasting advice from beer experts who will share the history of The Loft. Marvel at 69 beer taps with a variety of traditional, special, and craft beers. Learn how to tap your beer from an expert and keep the glass as a souvenir. After the tour, relax with your favorite beverage or just hang out with friends.
Discover the charming old town of Maastricht, a city rich in history and culture. Travel back in time as you visit its beautiful historical landmarks such as Loevestein Castle, the Gothic Church of Our Lady and St. Servaas Basilica. Hear tales of the past during a walking tour around Maastricht's medieval city center and be transported to another world where everyday life was heavily influenced by religion and war.