Maastricht is one of the loveliest cities in The Netherlands, and we Dutch love it as a destination for a day trip or a weekend away. If you’ve never been to Maastricht, but feel like visiting the city during your trip in The Netherlands, please read on. I have the perfect guide for 24 hours in Maastricht, The Netherlands, for you.
Personally, I love spending one day in Maastricht. Or rather, I love staying there for a weekend. Thanks to world-famous violin player André Rieu, who is Maastricht born and bred, and his massive concerts on the central square in Maastricht, the city is slowly but steadily gaining popularity. And rightfully so. The regional food, the picturesque streets and grand museums simply beg to be visited.
One day in Maastricht: how it works
- From Amsterdam, it’s so easy to visit Maastricht. Simply buy yourself a large coffee and a croissant. Hop on the direct train to Maastricht and 2 hours later, you’re there. Check the time tables and prices. You can either buy a ticket at one of the machines at the station or charge your OV Chip Card.
- A great introduction to Maastricht is a guided bike tour through the city. In about 2 hours you will have an idea about the unique history of Maastricht, its rule under Napoleon and its pioneer position during the Dutch industrial revolution. Plus, you’ll have seen the most important sights of the city.
- If you’re into walking, join one of the free walking tours in Maastricht.
Breakfast in Maastricht
One of my favourite places in Maastricht for breakfast in De Bisschopsmolen. So if only have one day in Maastricht, head there. At first, you think you’ve entered a traditional bakery, and maybe that’s true. Yes, owner Frank van Eerd is a classically trained baker. But, he was also the first baker to start experimenting with spelt flower. His spelt loaves and buns are famous now and that man knows how to serve a proper breakfast. It’s a feast to breakfast on the wholesome muesli cakes and mini-tarts (the small versions of the famous Limburg vlaai).
Head to the famous Vrijthof to start your discovery of the historical heart of Maastricht. Vrijthof is the central square of the city and lines with lively cafés and bars. But before you sit down, order a beer 9and never get up again), head to Sint Janskerk opposite the square. The church is light with gothic vaulted ceilings. Climb the bell tower for a stunning view over the city and Maas river.
A little further down, UNESCO listed Sint Servaas Basilica is also worth a visit. It dates back to the 10th century, though most parts were added in the 12th century. The church holds some special treasures, highlighted by the gold plated and heavily decorated reliquary holding some of the remains of St. Servaas, the patron saint of Maastricht.
Head to the edge of the city centre to see the remains of the ancient city walls. Most of them date back to medieval times, but some parts were built by the Romans. You’ll bump into Helpoort (the get of hell), the oldest city gate of Maastricht when exploring the old city walls. It was built in 1229 and is the last standing historical gate to the city.
Standing by the walls you will have a lovely view overlooking the Maas river and when looking towards the historical city centre, the ancient Sint Servaas Brug will catch your eye. It’s no wonder, as it’s the oldest bridge in The Netherlands and was named after the famous bishop of Maastricht, St. Servaas.
Lunch at ‘t Wycker Cabinet
Cross the bridge to find yourself in Wyck, one of the most bustling neighbourhoods in Maastricht. Around Rechtstraat, Wycker Brugstraat and Wycker Grachtstraat are filled to the brim with the best shops, restaurants and bars in Maastricht. If you decide to spend the night in Maastricht I highly recommend staying in this area. One of my favourite places in Wyck, is ‘t Wycker Cabinet, in the heart of the neighbourhood. It’s a place where locals and visitors alike enjoy hearty and honest lunches accompanied by a glass of fine wine.
Art and books
Continue your one day in Maastricht by walking to the Bonnefanten Museum, not too far from your lunch spot. This museum has been voted one of the top museums in The Netherlands over and over again and is well worth a visit. First of all, it gives you an excuse to visit the contemporary Maastricht neighbourhood Ceramique, a reference to the ceramics made in the factories in the city after the industrial revolution. Bonnefanten Museum hosts interesting contemporary exhibitions. But there’s also early European art to be enjoyed on the first floor and art from Limburg on the second floor. Don’t leave without visiting the dome of the museum, which always hosts some interesting installation or other.
After that, head back to the city centre of Maastricht as I feel that you can’t spend one day in Maastricht without having visited the Bookshop in the Dominican church. This Libris Bookshop has been voted the most beautiful book shop in the world several times and you’ll understand why soon enough. The bookshop is set in a stunning 13th-century church. You can gape at frescoes and glass stained windows whilst browsing the enormous book collection or having a coffee in the café at the church choir.
If you’re into books, also read my article Amazing bookstores in The Netherlands.
Dinner at the fire station
You can’t finish one day in Maastricht without drinks and dinner. Maastricht is one of those cities where eating and drinking, and basically, all the good things in life, are taken very seriously. It’s a good attitude to have, I think. And this really translates into the gastronomy of Maastricht. It doesn’t matter how simple the restaurant or bistro is that you pick for dinner, the food will be really good.
I think it’s well worth stopping by Brandweer kantine for dinner. The restaurant is named after what the building used to be, the old fireman’s station. That’s why you will probably always be able to get a table, even though Brandweer kantine is a pretty popular spot in Maastricht. The restaurant is decorated with vintage furniture and lots of green and it has such a lovely spacious feel. There are a lot of choices on the menu, including vegetarian and vegan dishes.
One day in Maastricht? Or maybe more…
Maastricht has the highest percentage of well-affordable boutique style hotels in The Netherlands. So it may be well worth your time, and your money, to stay the night in Maastricht instead of going back to your expensive hotel in Amsterdam. It’s very hard to choose the nicest hotel in Maastricht, there are so many cool hotels. Personally, I love Kaboom Hotel, a design hotel that takes Dutch design completely out of proportion (and you’ll have your own goldfish to take care of during your stay).
But I thought that highlighting The Dutch would also be a good idea, as this hotel is maybe a bit less trendy, but it is just that little cheaper. The hotel is in Wyck, my favourite Maastricht neighbourhood, less than a 5-minute walk from the station. The rooms are painted in fun pastels with iconic black beds and small, but useable, desks. Every room has a brightly coloured SMEG design fridge. It contains ‘The Breakfast Bag’, as The Dutch figures its guests rather go into town to explore than spend their time in a dining room having breakfast. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to have breakfast in bed.
If you spend more than one day in Maastricht
- Discover Tapijn. This restaurant is a little outside the Maastricht city centre, but well worth the detour. It’s actually set in the old city barracks on former military grounds. The restaurant was supposed to be just a pop-up place, but locals and visitors alike loved it so much that the owners were allowed to keep the doors open. It’s a great place for a local craft beer and some amazing regional food.
- Shop at Retro & Chic. This is the best vintage store in The Netherlands and it’s right there in Maastricht. It has the finest collection of unworn (!) vintage clothes, shoes and party attire. I was immediately smitten with all the shoes, feather boas and party frocks.
- Have a tour and beer at Brewery Bosch. Maastricht’s city brewery Bosch has been there since 1758 and is still going strong. The industrial site is still completely intact and you’ll be able to visit the brewery malting house and brewer’s house on a small tour, as well as having a small tasting of course.
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