12 Sep Maastricht: Meet Europe!
Maastricht radiates a unique international atmosphere, largely because of the many students, tourists and businesses stemming from all corners of the world. It is a place with a unique energy and dynamism that you won’t experience anywhere else in Europe. The culture and history shine from the old city walls and the cobblestone streets. The mix of languages and flavours makes the city burst with creativity, enterprise, and culinary delights.
Maastricht in a nutshell
Maastricht is located in the southern province of Limburg, bordered by Germany to the east and Belgium to the west. Settled by the Romans, it was an important stop on the trading route between Cologne and the North Sea.
While keeping its authentic atmosphere, Maastricht has also grown up. New contemporary architecture has sprung up, along with fashionable boutiques in the old town. Being squeezed between two countries has had its advantages. The city has a lively restaurant and bar scene with more than 500 pubs/cafes. We dare you to try and visit them all! The excellent cuisine – including several Michelin-star restaurants – has helped to make Maastricht the culinary capital of the Netherlands.
Things to do
Like in most cities, the central marketplace is the commercial heart of the town, and Maastricht is no exception, with its Markt. There, you will find the striking 17th-century Stadhuis (City Hall). Do not forget to say ‘hello’ to Jean-Pierre Minckelers, the man who invented the gaslight in the 18th century and whose statue is situated at the Markt.
Housed within a stunning former Dominican church, the most beautiful bookshop in the Netherlands can be found in Maastricht’s city centre in the form of Boekhandel Dominicanen. There is even a coffee shop inside where you can enjoy a caffeinated beverage and cake, all the while perusing the shop’s stock.
Are you a cave enthusiast? Then, head to Maastricht Underground. Tours of all sorts run throughout the year Maastricht . To top up on your museum, church and cafe quota, saunter over to the Vrijthof. Another large square in the city, just west of the Markt, the Vrijthof is a real active focal point of Maastricht.
There are museums, theatres, cinemas, Art House cinema Lumière, art galleries, and a fine arts academy. Then there is of course TEFAF, the largest art fair in the world. One museum you should definitely not miss in Maastricht is the Bonnefantenmuseum. You will be able to identify it by its 28-metre high tower. The museum opened in 1995 and features Old Dutch Masters, medieval sculpture and contemporary local art.
Some of the best viewpoints in the city include Hoeve Lichtenberg (a former castle), ascending the unusual red tower of Sint-Janskerk and the Bold Rooftopbar on top of the Student Hotel in the Eiffel building, also known as the big white building with the Sphinx sign.
Maastricht means good food
From Michelin star restaurants to local bakeries, there’s no shortage of incredible places to eat, making Maastricht the ultimate foodie destination. Visit Preuvenemint, the famous food event in August and experience the Burgundian culinary atmosphere. While in the city, be sure to sample some regional specialties. Here are three foods you have to try when you’re here in Maastricht.
A food only found in the Limburg region of Netherlands Zuurvlees is a dish made of horsemeat. Sometimes, they use beefsteak or rabbit meat instead. As the meat is marinated in vinegar, it brings a more acidic flavour to the dish. This is a food typically eaten in winter, with fries or mash potatoes.
Knien in ’t zoer
The name of this dish is in the Limburg dialect. It’s called Konijn in het zuur in Dutch, or Sour/Acid Rabbit in English. The rabbit leg is seasoned with salt and pepper, then cooked in butter and spices. Then it is simmered with more ingredients till thick and cooked. Served with mash potatoes and bacon or sausages, it is a great meal to try in Limburg!
Probably the most popular of all food in Limburg, this is the Limburg pie. It is so popular that you can find it everywhere in Netherlands, in most Hema, Albert Heijn and large bakeries.
The pies are usually 27-30 cm in diameter, with fruity flavours like cherry, apricot, strawberries and plums. Instead of cakes, the people in Limburg eat Vlaai for birthdays and events. Celebrate your birthday with vlaai when you are in Maastricht! It also pairs well with unsweetened tea.
Where to stay?
Maastricht has a wide variety of accommodation, from a very basic room in a private house, to a luxury suite in a five-star hotel. It is up to you to choose the accommodation of your preference. The Maastricht tourist office has a nice website to help you get started.