The city in the outmost southern tip of the Netherlands can easily be overlooked, squeezed between the borders of Belgium and Germany, but there is much to see and do here all year round. On weekends it’s a lively city with great shopping opportunities, sweet cafes and surprising restaurants, some located in unexpected buildings. And in winter the main square Vrijthof turns into a magical Christmas market.
Do: Maastricht has some very interesting museums, like the famous Bonnefantenmuseum with art exhibitions in a building designed by Aldo Rossi. But there is also the Museum an het Vrijthof which sometimes shows nice exhibitions, and the rustic Natuurhistorisch Museum. In Wyck check out the Centre Céramique, a modern building that hosts the library, an exhibitions space and a nice cafe. A lovely place with bars and cafes is Onze Lieve Vrouweplein, located in front of the beautiful church of the same name. When in Maastricht go to the the movies. The city has very modern cinemas, there are the more conventional Pathé and Euroscoop and there is the fantastic Cinema Lumière, located in an old power station in the historic Sphinx area. Once a huge ceramic fabric, the area now is a modern cultural space and host shops, cafes and the cinema. Lumière focuses on arthouse movies and also has a greatly designed cafe and restaurant. It is also located at the Bassin, the old harbor, where you now also find nice bars and restaurants directly at the waterfront.
Shop: Even though Maastricht is a pretty small city, you can truly shop till you drop. There are two main neighborhoods divided by the river Maas (Meuse), Wyck on the one side and Maastricht Binnenstad on the other. In Wyck you find a lot of small, sweet boutiques while the bigger brands are located across the river. There are lots of nice shops on Rechtstraat in Wyck, like fashion boutique La Neuvième, Paris where you find selected Acne and Joseph pieces, but there are also countless shops on Wycker Brugstraat. When you cross the river via the Sint Servaasbridge, turn left into Stokstraat. There are many nice luxury boutiques, like Shoebaloo, Kiki Niesten, or Le Marais close by. In the shopping streets around Onze Lieve Vrouweplein you find more nice fashion stores like PL-Line and sketch. Or go to close by Heggenstraat, where there is the fantastic Vintage shop Retro & Chic, as well as cool indie shop Traders Pop and the shoe boutique Kinsjasa with interesting designs. Other shops are Festen, where you find everything from sweet books, jewelry and stationary and local coffee roaster Blanche Dael. When in the Sphinx quarter go to Loods5, a cool designed interior store. Just wander around the narrow pedestrian streets and you will find many more lovely stores.
Eat: There are many cute cafes in Maastricht! In Wyck, Cafe Zondag, Wycker Cabinet and Van Wijck are great breakfast or coffee options. Cafe Zuid and Cinq have nice patios close to the water. Coffee Lovers is a local cafe chain that has several shops, located for example in the church that is now a great book shop, called Selexyz Dominicanen. Furthermore, cafe Livin’ Room, Koffie bij Joost & Maartje, La Bonbonniere, Bijzonder and Bisschopsmolen in an old mill with delicious cakes, are very sweet places.
For dinner find your way to the small Capucijnenstraat and go to the cultural center and delicious restaurant Marres, that serves fresh Mediterranean food. Across the street you also find the lovely cafe De Brandweerkantine, located in an old fire station. Amazing restaurants are also Sjiek, an institution in Maastricht, where you most likely have to wait for a free table, fine dining restaurant Sofa, at the small marina and the modern but cozy Tapijn, located in an old army barrack. For dessert you can indulge in some delicious ice cream at Gelateria Luna Rossa.
Stay: The most attractive, luxurious hotel is located in an old church and monastery, the Kruisherenhotel. While still an historic, gothic building from the outside, the interior structure was completely transformed into a modern architecture hotel and restaurant. The bar and lounge is also great if you just want to have a drink and enjoy the building. A less pricey alternative is the Townhouse hotel close to the central station in Wyck. The rooms are very simple, yet spacious and they focus on funny design. They also have sweet features to make you feel at home, fox example you can rent a gold fish for your room, take fresh fruits for free and lounge around in the cosy lobby.
There are many more fantastic places in the Netherlands and Belgium! See the travel guides for Amsterdam, Rotterdam, South Holland, Flanders, Ghent and Antwerp.
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