The Seven Best Things to Do in Maastricht 2023.
There are so many things to experience in Maastricht but these are our favorites.
When I first visited Maastricht back in 2017, my purpose was connecting with my Dutch heritage.
My grandparents were born and married in the Limburg region, ran their local butcher shop, and raised four (out of 16) children in this city before my grandfather, a Royal Dutch Army Lieutenant who served Queen Wilhelmina, had to relocate The Hague in preparation for the war.
Stepping back in time and walking in their shoes was a surreal experience. It's something I'll certainly never forget.
Yet I never really focused on the culture around me. So when we recently returned to Maastricht, I wanted to see it all in a new light – getting the perspective of a visitor looking for adventure in a historic town for the first time.
The Past and Present
Maastricht is the oldest, most southern city in the Netherlands, with a history dating back at least 2,000 years! It was an early Roman settlement and has been influenced by Spanish, Germans, French, and Romans in this time. It wasn't until 1815 that it became an official city of the Netherlands.
Maastricht used to be covered by a shallow, subtropical Cretaceous sea, allowing prehistoric animals access to the region. Several mosasaurs have been discovered in the limestone quarry, with the first known fossil stolen by Napoleon - something many Limburgers are still angry about.
Part of the old city wall continues to stand, offering visitors a partial glimpse of it's incredible and rich history, while they walk the cobblestone streets and enjoy some of the very best Netherlands cuisine or local beers. It's a great area to relax on those warm sunny days.
Today Maastricht offers an eclectic vibe, bringing together a perfect combination of the old and the new in every way.
The cultural experience is fantastic, bringing together a wide range of people from all walks of life, as well as food from around the globe. The city center provides you with bars, cafes, shopping, and a whole lot more. The blend of modern and historic buildings is mesmerizing.
It's a perfect place to walk around and spend your day having fun as an adventurous couple or solo traveler.
And if you only speak English, it's no problem either because so many Nederlanders sprekt Engels. Just remember ... Mag ik een biertje, alsjeblieft?
Our Top Seven Recommendations
As with any place you visit there will always be plenty of recommendations, but sometimes the best discoveries come when you just explore. Or you happen to know some locals like we do. 😉
Maastricht has a lot to offer but we'll give you some awesome suggestions.
Walk the city center and historic streets.
Nothing beats spending a few hours just walking around the city center while taking in the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Take your time to explore the area because it is truly rewarding.
Eat some frieten from Reitz restaurant.
These Belgian style fries are absolutely delicious but not carb friendly. LOL! They are served with mayo in the typical Dutch fashion (it's way better than you think) or you can get a variety of sauces. But bring cash because they don't accept cards.
Buy a book or coffee at Boekhandel Dominicanen.
This was originally a church built in the 13th century but is now a very unique bookstore and cafe. The building is absolutely stunning and worth the visit, even if you don't buy anything.
Explore the underground world at Fort Sint Pietersburg.
We never expected this tour to be so fascinating but it's been one of the highlights of our trip. While you can tour the Fort at Sint Pietersburg, the treasure is exploring the underground tunnels and famous vault. Incredible!!!
Light a candle at Onze Lieve Vrouw en Sint Pieter.
You don't have to be Catholic or even religious to enjoy the beauty outside and inside this historical church. The architecture and artistry is breathtaking and you can light a candle in memory of a loved one.
Enjoy a stroll across the historic Sint Servaasbrug.
This limestone bridge across the Meause is considered the Netherlands oldest bridge, originally built around 1280 but rebuilt after World War II due to damage. It's a beautiful walk with romantic and scenic views. But be careful of the bikers!
Get dinner and a beer at Farèn.
Located further from the city center is Farèn, a restaurant of 1001 flavors. Not only can you enjoy a great meal, this was the original butcher shop in my Gulikers family and birthplace of four relatives. It's just a cool place to be.
What else can we say about visiting Maastricht?
Depending on how much time you have available and whether you have a car, there are plenty of other options for adventure a little further outside the city. Maastricht is incredible but don't overlook some of the other villages.
Eijsden sits on the Mass and offers some great walking paths and restaurants. Sweikhuizen has beautiful scenery and Cafe Meels. Sittard provides lots of shops and bars. Schinnen has Alpha Brewery. All these places give you the small town European experience and are very short drives from the city.
Finally, if you're goal is to enjoy cannabis or magic mushrooms while in the Netherlands, you don't need to go to the insanely busy city of Amsterdam. Avoid all the stress by visiting Maastricht and getting your happy on there instead. It's safer and way more chill.
If you're looking for other ideas or advice, drop us a note in the comments section and will provide our thoughts.
Dank je wel.