Despite being one of Holland’s oldest cities, Maastricht retains a different flavour from the rest of the Netherlands. It has wider streets, larger squares and its buildings are formed from a curious quilt of architectural styles. Maastricht prides itself on its international vibe, so if you’re looking to visit somewhere quintessentially Dutch, consider dropping by Utrecht or Haarlem instead. But with a past that spans 20 centuries, Maastricht is considered Holland’s premier melting pot and well worth a visit. Fans of history will love the city’s medieval relics and crumbling fortifications, while foodies will enjoy its cosmopolitan restaurant scene. Whatever you look for in a city break, you’re sure to find a long weekend’s worth of exciting things to in Maastricht.
Discover Maastricht’s food scene
Rising over the centuries as one of the vital trading hubs of Europe, Maastricht is now home to one of the best international food scenes in the Netherlands, or indeed, the world. As well as plenty of Michelin-star restaurants, you’ll also find world-class dishes served up on just about every corner in the city. Maastricht’s food prowess borrows from the neighbouring countries of Belgium, France and Germany. Traditional foods that are typical of the area include vlaai – a sweet pie that’s filled with marmalade to balkenbrij, a meatloaf made from sausage stock and various other cuts of beef. Once you’ve had your fill of the city’s finest eateries, take a trip just outside the city to the southern slopes of Jekerkwartier, which houses some of the oldest and largest vineyards in the Netherlands. After wandering among the lush grapevines of the route du vin, why not sample some of the Dutch wines made on site?
Take a walking tour of Maastricht
With beauty all around and tonnes of walking tours at your disposal, Maastricht is a city best appreciated on foot. As late as the 19th century, the city was surrounded by stone walls, and the Fortification Walk will take you along where the walls once were, passing medieval remains and former military bunkers along the way. The City Walk will also take you past the city walls, as well as some of the areas most revered landmarks (including Vrijthof square) and through to aforementioned Jekerkwartier. Details of both walks are available from the local tourism office (there’s one on Kleine Staat, close to de Bijenkorf department store) with detailed route descriptions that enable you to enjoy at your leisure.
Uncover Maastricht’s underground network
Thanks to its strategic location along the Meuse, Maastricht has often appealed for enemy occupation. As well as building walls around the city, one way that rulers kept others at bay was through an underground cave network, housed deep within the city. Spanning 14km, work started on the labyrinth-like passageways in the 16th century, yet it was still used to great effect during WWII – once sheltering 25,000 people. The tunnel network is now open to the public, with guided tours which detail how and when the passageways were used to their greatest effect.
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Feature image by Jorge Franganillo