A few years ago, I was working in the Netherlands. It’s a great country, with some really amazing people. Most of my time was spent in and round the city of Maastricht, way down in the southern part of the country in that bit that sits between Belgium and Germany. While I stayed there, I was able to explore a bit and discovered that this city has so much to offer. After I moved away, again, for work, I’ve made it a point to make little excursions to Maastricht to visit friends whenever I get a chance.
The Dutch definitely know how to enjoy life, and even though Maastricht is a long way from Amsterdam, the heart of the country, it retains every single bit of the Dutch flair for life. Everywhere you go in the Vrijthof, the main market square which sprawls out in front of the Basilica of Saint Servatius, there’s something going on. I’d swear that the locals have perfected the art of street cafés…. they are everywhere in the city centre.
Of course, there’s only so much beer of coffee you can drink in a street café before you have to just get up and move. If you want something a little different, you should try to visit the St. Pietersberg caves. You take a short boat trip down the Maas river, and then you are taken on a guided tour of the caves that stretch for kilometres underneath the city. These caves have been used for everything from mines for sandstone, to shelters from armies during the wars, to modern day mushroom farms. The tour takes around an hour and is worth every penny.
Part of my time in Maastricht was as a student, and you know how it is for students… we find the best pubs in no time at all. One of my old favourites is definitely In Den Ouden Vogelstruys. This is an old bar in the Vrijthof that just oozes history and charm.
At the end of the day you also need a place to lay your head. Maastricht has a lot on offer for hotels and the like. One I know of in the city centre is de Pauwenhof on Boschstraat 70. This is just a short walk from the Vrijthof, and just down the street from the Maastricht City Hall. It’s perfect because it’s close to all the action for the nightlife, and it’s super convenient if you’re in the city for business or a conference.