5 things you have to do when in Maastricht
Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and is well worth a visit. The historic inner city is sure to have you snap happy and a visit to the caves, which kept Rembrandt’s Night Watch safe during WWII, is sure to awaken your curiosity. So, which five things do you simply have to do during a visit to this historic city?
1. Visit the oldest coffee roasting facility in Dutch Limburg
So, you’ve travelled to Maastricht, it’s early, you need something to wake you up. Don’t just go for any old cup of coffee, head on over to Maison Blanche Dael in the Wolfstraat, the oldest coffee roasting and tea packing facility in Dutch Limburg. Blanche Dael was founded in 1878 and you’ll find the shop and atelier in the Wolfstraat and their café chain Coffeelovers across the city.
It’s the atelier you want to visit though, as every day, you can taste a delicious brew made from freshly roasted coffee and get advice on how you can best make coffee. You’ll also have the chance to watch as coffee is roasted in a small roaster. If a taste is not enough for you, the next location will provide you with more of the same delicious coffee, served with a side of literature.
2. Head to the church bookstore
The next stop on your day in Maastricht is the Dominicanen church bookstore. No, really, the church has been repurposed as a bookstore and it looks like something you’d find in Harry Potter- a book lover's dream, basically! It’s been praised by many as the most beautiful bookshop in the world, so a visit is a must. Browse through hundreds of books and make sure you take a look at the store from one of the higher levels- it’s pretty gorgeous.
Like I said before, if you need more coffee, this church is the place to be, as there is a Coffeelovers café in the back – yumm, more of that delectable Blanche Dael coffee!
3. Learn about Maastricht at its caves and fortress
That’s right, Maastricht isn’t just old buildings and shopping streets- something you can find in many Dutch cities, this city has an interesting history and much for you to explore! It’s a bit of a trek to get to the caves (around 25 minutes), but it’s probably easier to walk there than to take public transport- getting the bus for a few stops will only save you a few minutes, the rest you have to walk anyway.
The North caves lie deep below the St. Pietersberg hill and harbour, a unique piece of Maastricht history. To explore them you’ll need to go on a tour. Tickets are not that expensive, at 7,20 euros for adults and 5,70 euros for children. Miners started excavating the tunnels about 1.000 years ago. This has resulted in a tunnel system that is a whopping 80km long.
The caves are quite extraordinary and were used as a refuge during wars and even to keep Rembrandt’s painting Night Watch safe during WWII. If you visit the caves, remember to take a warm coat- it’s cold down there!
As you’re there, you may as well visit St. Peter’s Fortress as well. This fortress was built on St. Peter’s Mount in the 18th century so the city could defend itself from the French. Here you’ll have a great view of the city, the Meuse river and the countryside. What’s more, if you book a tour of the fortress and the caves, you’ll get a discount on the total price.
4. Grab a bite while you look over the city
There are a few restaurants close to the fortress and caves, but the closest is Chalet Bergrust. There, you’ll be able to tuck into a tasty lunch or dinner while looking over the beautiful city of Maastricht. What more could you ask for?
5. End the day with a romantic stroll
After having stuffed your belly, stroll back to the city, taking in the sights, and head to the St. Servatius Bridge. The bridge itself, a stone footbridge with seven arches, is stunning, so you’ll probably want to capture it with your camera before you step onto it. Once you are stood on the bridge, turn to face the “Hoge Brug”.
Why would you want to do that I hear you say? Well, the Hoge Brug, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, is lit up at night. So, it is a pretty romantic scene all around.
From the St. Servatius Bridge it’s only an eight-minute walk to the station- handy if you’re by train! One other tip, if you are planning a day trip to Maastricht and thinking of taking the train, make sure you check out the NS Spoordeelwinkel website (in Dutch), as they often have day trips or city trips at great prices.
Any tips on things to do in Maastricht? Leave them in the comments below!