A panorama of Maastricht’s old town square, Vrijthof, including the Romanesque Basilica of Saint Servatius. Photo by Euku.
Maastricht is a small city in southeast Netherlands about two hours from Amsterdam. It offers plenty of fine old buildings including Roman and Gothic structures and a handful of decent museums though it can hardly be described as a tourist must-see as it appears to be more allied to Germany and Belgium than to Holland, aiming to be an EU political conference centre rather than a Dutch tourist trip.
The 13th century Saint Servatius (Sint Servaasbrug) bridge astride the River Meuse. Photo by Saturn V.
Boschstraat, a spacious street in Maastricht’s northern city centre. Photo by Mark Ahsmann.
Things to Do in Maastricht
Other than wandering the streets and museums Maastricht’s main attractions are
• take a tour the caves and tunnels of St Pietersberg nearby where art masterpieces were hidden during the war (it’s quite a way so drive or take a boat).
• visiting the two basilicas, 4th century St Servatius and its treasure exhibits and/or the equally ancient Basilica of Our Lady.
• take a short walk around the 13thC city walls/gate of Helpoort, limited but atmospheric.
• try the fantastic pies and view the working flour mill of De Bisschopsmolen bakery.
• wander over 13th century Saint Servatius bridge.
Maastricht’s Stadhuis (city hall). Photo by Phernambucq.
No other Dutch town has as many bars per sq metre as Maastricht and the Vrijthof is a good starting point for snacking and relaxing in an ancient, peaceful environment. Try popular markets if you don’t mind crowds on Wednesdays and Fridays and its annual carnival is also worth a visit. Apparently the Christmas markets here are shabby and worth avoiding.