The Netherlands is famous for its rich cultural history, especially in art, painting and architecture. Its world-class museums, the Dutch Windmills, the city of Amsterdam, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese and canals are some of the things people know about this charming country. There are, of course, other destinations that are worth a visit. For example, Maastricht, a vibrant university city located in Southern Netherlands. This 3-day suggested itinerary is designed to give you some suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Maastricht. Depending on your interests and travel priorities, you can certainly mix and match destinations, activities, and attractions to create your own itinerary.
Things to know before traveling to the Netherlands:
Language – The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. English is widely spoken in Amsterdam, as well as other cities in the Netherlands, and you will have no problem when asking directions. It is recommended, however, to learn some Dutch phrases because Dutch people, like any other cultures, appreciate if foreign visitors attempt to speak their language. Some helpful phrases are as follows:
Hello = Hallo
Good morning = Goedemorgen
Good afternoon = Goedemiddag
Good evening = Goedenavond
Goodbye = Dag or doei (pronounced as doowee)
Excuse me = Pardon
Thank you = Dank u
Do you speak English? = Spreekt u Engels?
Currency exchange – The Netherlands uses Euros, the same currency now used by most European Union countries with the exception of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Prior to traveling, you can buy some euros (enough for one day or whatever your preference) and then exchange your money in the banks to get the best rates. You can also use the ATMs, GWK exchange bureaus which can be found at the airports, major railways stations and in other tourist areas.
Etiquette – The Dutch are modest, tolerant and independent people. They are reserved and they value privacy. In social meetings, people shake hands with everyone present. Introduce yourself if no one is there to introduce you. If you are invited to dine out, expect the Dutch to say if they will pay the entire bill or they will let you pay your fair share.
Where to stay – There are many types of holiday accommodation in The Netherlands, from luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfast. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities. The most frequent question from first time travelers is, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting Maastricht?” Without a doubt, the best area to stay in is the city center (Maastricht Binnenstad) to get easy access to most attractions and to get more hotel options.
Hotels to consider in Maastricht:
Getting around – Maastricht can be easily explored on foot or on a bicycle. You can either bike on your own or you can join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city. Also, traveling using public transportation in Maastricht is relatively easy as all roads are well-maintained and the public transport system is one of Europe’s finest.
Detailed day by day: 3 days in Maastricht, the Netherlands – the birthplace of the European Union
On your first day, take in a few of Maastricht’s (pronounced Maastrikht) most famous attractions and get an introduction to its rich history. Getting to Maastricht from major cities in the Netherlands like Amsterdam is easy. Its excellent infrastructures and location make it a place easy to reach by various transportation options. By train, the average travel time between Maastricht Central Railway Station and Amsterdam Centraal Station is approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes. Depending on your time of arrival, you can either take it easy and soak up the atmosphere in Maastricht or you can begin your tour of its famous attractions.
There is no better way to get to know the city than taking a walk in Saint Servatius Bridge, the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. This iconic arched stone footbridge is said to be dedicated to Saint Servatius, the first bishop of Maastricht. From the bridge, continue your walk to Dinghuis, a Gothic-style medieval courthouse located on the administrative heart of Maastricht. Then, head to the Basilica of Saint Servatius, a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Servatius. If you would like to learn more about the church, you may visit the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius. Another must-see is the Basilica of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek), a historic Romanesque church in the heart of the city.
Unless breakfast is included in the price of your accommodation, start your day at one of Maastricht’s best breakfast and brunch spots. A typical breakfast in the Netherlands includes some bread, pancakes and pastries, cheese, soft boiled egg, bacon and freshly brewed coffee. Some of the restaurants you must try whilst in Maastricht are Coffeelovers Dominicanen, Piece of Cake Lunchroom, Bisschopsmolen and Cafe De Zwaan.
After breakfast, dive deeper into local experience by visiting one or two of Maastricht’s best loved museums like the Bonnefanten Museum, Museum aan het Vrijthof, Derlon Cellar Museum and Natural History Museum (Natuurhistorisch Museum). In the afternoon, join the Maastricht Underground Guided Tours. The underground caves of Maastricht had been dug through solid rock during the Second World War to offer complete protection from air-raid. Underground tours of the North Caves and Fort St. Pieter are being offered daily. For more information, you may visit the official Maastricht Underground website.
For your final day in Maastricht, get a one last whirl through the city to take in any museums or other attractions that you might have missed. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel back to Amsterdam or other parts of the Netherlands. You may continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Maastricht. The decision is all yours!
This is the end of our 3-day suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form the only way to travel the city. There are several alternative routes of travel within Maastricht and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy the Netherlands!
Have you been to Maastricht or anywhere else in the Netherlands? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: People sitting in front of bars and restaurants in the city center of Maastricht (DutchScenery / Shutterstock.com)