A day trip to Maastricht: what to see, do, and eat

Ahh, Maastricht. The metropolitan of Limburg. You’ll find plenty there! This beautiful city is the ultimate marriage of classic Dutchness and that southern European vibe.

Cute cobbled streets, pretty parks, and medieval monuments — Maastricht has a little bit of something for everyone.

Having been ruled by French, Spanish, Prussian, and Austrian powers throughout history, the province of Limburg has a distinct character compared to its northern Dutch counterparts, making for a truly unique experience when visiting Maastricht.

Whether you’re looking for a fun day out on the Maas River, exploring the mysterious Fort Sint Pieter caves, or just want somewhere pretty to walk around, Maastricht is the perfect destination for a casual day trip.

Main spots to see in Maastricht

There are many hidden gems to see on your day trip to Maastricht, including stunning architecture, comfy cafés, and pretty plazas.

But if you’re only here for a day, be sure to check out some of these main attractions:

The Vrijthof: delicious food, lively atmosphere, and events galore

This square has some of the best bars and restaurants in Maastricht, not to mention the irresistible Pinky’s waffles and ice cream!

Saint Servatius Basilica and the St. John Church at the Vrijthof on a day trip to Maastricht
Have you ever seen a red spire before? We certainly haven’t. Image: Depositphotos

Many annual events take place on this square that people from all over the country come to see.

From André Rieu concerts to Carnival to Christmas — if it’s happening in Maastricht, it’s happening at the Vrijthof. 

The Markt: the heart of Maastricht

The Markt’s central feature is the town hall, and major events in Maastricht tend to spill over onto this square from the nearby Vrijthof.

It’s another hot spot for many lekker bars and restaurants in Maastricht.

A pretty place to get your groceries. Image: Emily Burger/Supplied

On Wednesdays and Fridays, you’ll find a local farmer’s market here, where you can buy fresh local produce!

Wyck: the place to shop, eat, and be seen

The Wyck is a trendy area you shouldn’t miss on your day trip to Maastricht — with stylish art galleries, vintage boutiques, and upmarket restaurants.

It’s one of the first areas you hit when walking towards the centre from the station, and it’s a rather stunning first impression.

Sint Servaasbridge: an ancient beauty

This is quite possibly the oldest bridge in the Netherlands, dating back to the 13th century.

Spanning over the Maas River, this old beauty connects the two halves of Maastricht, whereby you can walk straight from Wyck into the old town.

When the weather is good, this spot is perfect for taking pictures with the Maastricht skyline behind you, as it offers a great view of both sides of the city. 

Boekhandel Dominicanen: a bookstore built into a church

This 700-year-old Gothic church was converted into a bookstore in 2006 — and what a bookstore it is! Over 50,000 books are packed in the stone walls and shelves.

The nave is dominated by what is essentially a two-story bookcase that you can climb and walk around. Here, timeless literature blends perfectly into the living history of the church.

Books in English and other languages are also available, and a cafe sits snugly at the back — gezellig!

AlleyCat: bikes and coffee in one

If you find yourself in need of a coffee break AND a bike part, look no further than the Alley Cat Bikes & Coffee.

They pride themselves in serving ethical, speciality coffee, as well as anything to do with bikes really. Homely wooden tables, fresh cakes, and the cutest dogs are always there to welcome you when you enter.

READ MORE | 9 brilliant places to work or study in Maastricht

If you’re not in the mood for a coffee, they also have a delectable dirty chai latte which we highly recommend.  

Helpoort: the old city gate

Helpoort was the city gate of Maastricht during medieval times, and it still stands remarkably well-preserved today.

Historical city gate Helpoort with parts of the old city wall in Maastricht, Holland on Day trip to Maastricht
A day trip to Maastricht is not complete without a visit to the glorious city gate, which dates all the way back to 1229! Image: Depositphotos

Dating back to the 13th century, as many things in Maastricht do, this is the oldest surviving city gate in the Netherlands.

Take a stroll through the gate and along the old wall for a scenic walk and a taste of Limburg history. 

Stokstraat: fancy stores and eats

Known for its historic appearance, Stokstraat is one of the oldest streets in Maastricht.

Today, it hosts luxurious fashion and interior design stores. Traditional Burgundian restaurants with the finest wines and quality food can also be found along this street.

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Burgundian food is typical in Limburg and is where the French influence comes through. This cuisine is from the region of Burgundy and tends to be meaty and full of rich flavours.

In Maastricht, you’re never far from a cafe, so of course, Stokstraat is a treasure trove of delicious cakes, teas, and coffees.

It’s within the pedestrian zone, so wandering along this street is a relaxing feast for both the eyes and stomach.

Bonnefanten Museum: the place for art

If you’re craving some visual art but want something different from the museums in the north, Maastricht’s Bonnefanten Museum is ideal for you.

Their collection spans from medieval right through to modern, contemporary, and conceptual art — and there’s always an interesting new exhibition taking place!

The museum even sometimes hosts international events and travelling art worth checking out. 😍

Onze Lieve Vrouw Sterre de Basiliek: iconic Catholic church

In English, this means “Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea”. This Roman Catholic church is still active today, which is impressive considering it dates back to the fourth century!

READ MORE | 12 World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands: the country’s best monuments

Its beautiful Romanesque architecture is definitely worth seeing and is another reason why the culture and aesthetics in Maastricht are visually unique to the rest of the Netherlands.

Outside the church, you can find charming restaurants and a wonderful ice cream shop. 

Basilica of St. Servatius: the church Maastricht is known for

The broad chest of this magnificent church stands tall along the edge of the Vrijtof and is a recognisable feature of Maastricht which draws visitors from far and wide.

Saint Servatius church at the Vrijthof in Maastricht, Netherlands on day trip to Maastricht
Stunning in summer and winter! Image: Depositphotos

The mostly Romanesque style of this Catholic church contrasts the red Gothic structure of Saint Jan’s to its right.

For just a few euros, you can enter St. Servatius and climb the tower of Saint Jan’s for a great view of Maastricht.

Lichtenberg ruins: the castle on the hill

The “mountain of the Netherlands”, as locals call it (a hill, really), known as St. Pietersberg, is home to the Lichtenberg Castle ruins.

Just outside Maastricht, the ruins overlook the Maas River, and the walk up there is a scenic trail frequented by picnickers, dog walkers, and runners.

READ MORE | Hiking trails in Maastricht: 7 top routes for a walk in the wild

As the oldest castle ruins in the Netherlands, this is not one to miss for history buffs. Entrance is free with a voluntary donation, and the ruins are usually open from the end of April to the start of November each year.

In the summer, a restaurant opens up amidst the ruins, and it’s quite the lovely spot to sit and eat. 

Pinnic in the Hoge Fronten: food for fort!

Maastricht has many wonderful picnic spots, including the Stadspark, Céramique, and Griendpark.

But if you’re looking for something a little unusual, try laying your blankets on the grass of an abandoned fort!

The perfect spot to take a break and enjoy nature! Image: Depositphotos

The varying levels and heights of the fort sections make for an interesting maze to wander through — and also provide more privacy than the usual picnic spots. Very popular with the kids, this one.

Food and drink to try in Maastricht

The Dutch aren’t exactly famous for their food, but the interesting mix of European influences has created some delectable delicacies you don’t want to miss on your day trip to Maastricht.

There are many scrumptious eats in Maastricht, but the following dishes are traditional to the Limburg region.

Hearty stews, local brews, and oh-so-sweet desserts are all on the menu here. Lekker!


Zoervleesj is Limburgian for “sour meat” or zuurvlees in Dutch.

It’s a sweet and sour kind of flavour in what is essentially a beef stew. The unique taste results from marinating the meat in vinegar, and adding apple sauce and gingerbread.

Perhaps not one for the vegetarians, but definitely a must-try for the omnivores! Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied

Sounds weird, we know! But trust us, it’s great. Locals eat it with fries, and if you enjoy hearty meals with rich flavours, you will absolutely love it! 

Maltese beer

Any good meal needs a tasty beer beside it, and for that, Maastricht has a special treat. The historic Maltese beer is a full malt Dortmunder style beer and was one of the first speciality beverages in the Netherlands.

It has a dark colour with a rather strong taste and is very popular amongst tourists.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #99: Drink beer like it’s a national sport

Through the grapevine, it gives you the power of the gods, the wisdom of Aristotle, and oh yeah — a throbbing hangover in the morning. But don’t take our word, give it a try yourself!

The local brewery, called the Maltezer, has been crafting the beer at its current location since 1954. You can find it on the Maas in the Wyck district, not far from the Sint Servaasbridge.

Vlaai: the Limburg pie

If you enjoy apple crumble or cherry pie, this is kind of similar — but also definitely not the same.

Vlaai is a traditional pie or tart-like dessert from the province of Limburg, where Maastricht is situated, with a yeast-dough crust and usually a fruity filling.

Who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?😍 Image: Unsplash

Variations of it exist, including in the surrounding Belgian and German regions, but typical flavours include cherry, apricot, strawberry, and plum.

Eating a warm slice of vlaai with ice cream or vla (custard) is truly heaven. 🥧

The best vlaai bakery in Maastricht is the Bisschopsmolen, where you can also take part in workshops and learn how to make your own.

Using local wheat, they grind their own flour with the watermill, which is in itself a tourist attraction.

Walking past their bakery window is enough to make your mouth drool, trust us. You won’t regret stopping by!

Fun tours and activities in Maastricht

Done with the tourist attractions, and ready to see a different side of the city?

Geen probleem, there are many fun tours and activities for you to do on your day trip to Maastricht!

Boat tours on the Maas River

There are all kinds of sailing options for the Maas River, depending on the company you go with.

Bubbly brunch or dreamy sunset cruise? Take your pick! Image: Emily Burger/Supplied

There are basic riverboat tours, but also breakfast, pancake, and Saturday night dinner cruises.

You can even sail into Belgium and back if you want to! Tours are in Dutch, English, and German, and can be combined with other tours in Maastricht.

Cave tour at Fort Sint Pieter

The underground caves beneath Fort Sint Pieter have a fascinating history. The 60 kilometres long tunnel system was originally a mine but was later used for shelter by locals during WWI and WWII.

Since then, artists of all kinds have left their marks on the stone, and remnants of life underground can still be seen.

The caves are cool, refreshing, and extremely tall, and the guides that can take you are very knowledgeable. It’s definitely an adventure you wouldn’t want to miss! 

Soak up the Dialect

As you may have noticed, Limburg has its own dialect that differs a little from typical Dutch. It’s considered a mixture of German and Dutch and is referred to by locals as plat.

READ MORE | Too bad, peanut butter! The top 10 strangest Dutch expressions

For example, they would say boeten instead of buiten (outside), and sjoon rather than schoenen (shoes). The Maastricht catchphrase is haw pin! Which means houd moed or “stay strong”.

Of course, different towns and cities have different variations of this dialect.

About 750,000 people speak plat, although in Limburg they also speak general Dutch, and many people speak English well.

Locals in Maastricht are known for being friendly, so don’t be shy to say hello and have a go at plat

Kingloops: second-hand steals

If you’re a shopaholic and love a good bargain, or maybe you’ve started a more sustainable fashion lifestyle, Maastricht has many good-quality second-hand stores (kringloop winkelen) for you to browse through.

READ MORE | Studying in Maastricht: ultimate guide to Maastricht University and more

You can find anything from classic radios, record players, and type-writers, to timeless fashion pieces, and vintage furniture.

Take some time to wander through these shops, and you might be surprised by the gems you’ll find. 

How to get to Maastricht

You can get to Maastricht fairly easily by train, bus, or car. From Amsterdam, the train trip is about three hours and by car, it’s two hours.

The NS Dutch railway often has travel offers for those planning a day trip to Maastricht, such as a return day ticket to Maastricht for €25. 

Of course, there are many stunning places in the Netherlands to explore, and each one has its own unique character. But if you’ve already seen the major Dutch cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, why not try Maastricht next?

Its charm will leave you wanting more!

Do you have more hot tips for Maastricht? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Unsplash
Emily Burger
Emily Burger
Emily grew up in South Africa but has also lived in Egypt, the UK, Canada and now the Netherlands. She first came here for her Bachelors in Arts and Culture at Maastricht University and soon fell in love with the land of canals, clogs and cheese. When she's not daydreaming about sci-fi movies or countries yet to explore, you can find her writing for DutchReview.

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  1. you made a mistake zoervleis isnt a beef stew its horse meat original historical background is that they used the horsemeat of the dead horses killed in the many sieges the city had to survive


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