A while ago I went to the Netherlands to spend a weekend in Maastricht. The city is located right near the border and a lot of Belgians travel there once (or more) every year to spend the day shopping, however, there is a lot of other fun to have in Maastricht.
The old city is small but pleasant and has a bunch of attractions, while the presence of the students in the city makes it a really vibrant place.
Wondering what to do in Maastricht? I'll tell you below! Don't have time to read this right now? Bookmark, pin or email this post to yourself for later and watch the video recap first:
Attractions in Maastricht: sights and activities
1. Shopping in Maastricht: de Rechtstraat
Maastricht is known as a shopping city, but not everyone crosses the Sint-Servaas bridge from the old center to go shopping on the other side of the Maas river. That’s a shame because the Rechtstraat is one of the loveliest streets in Maastricht.
Okay, the street isn’t that long and you won’t find any of the big chain stores here but what you will find are numerous small boutiques, independent retailers and a few lovely places to eat.
2. The Saint Servatius Bridge
The 13th century stone St. Servatius Bridge is worth a visit as well by the way. The view you get from the Stenenwal especially. From there you’ll see the bridge across the Mass river, with the old city centre of Maastricht in the background.
3. ‘t Bassin marina
‘t Bassin marina is a five-minute walking distance north of the old city center and is one of the major tourist attractions in summer, when the restaurants, shops, and bars that are located in the old Wharf cellars, move their terraces outside and open their doors. In winter you’ll still get to admire about 70 boats, though.
4. Mosae Forum
The Mosae Forum is a mini outdoor shopping mall with big chain stores such as H&M and Sissy Boy. If you’re planning on coming to Maastricht to do some shopping, you can always take a look around here.
I prefer the smaller boutiques that are spread across the city center, however. After all, an H&M is something you’ll find everywhere you go.
5. Dominicanen Bookstore
Paying a visit to the Dominicanen bookstore is one of the best things to do while you’re in Maastricht, even if you’re not the biggest bookworm.
The Dominicanen church, which is located in between the shopping streets, lost its sacred function 200 years ago already. A ton of events took place here but since 2006, the church is used as the ‘boekhandel Dominicanen' bookstore with a coffee bar and a podium for lectures, debates, and exhibitions.
This really is a stunning bookstore which already appeared on many “Top bookstores”-lists, like on a list of “coolest bookstores” composed by CNN in 2015. In another words: truly one of the best things to see in Maastricht.
6. The town hall of Maastricht
It’s possible to pay a visit to the Maastricht city hall, but especially the outside of the building is impressive. Not that big, but this square building with its little tower is very present in the marketplace. It is one of the many sights in Maastricht.
Even more known is the Vrijthof, a market square in the city center that is surrounded by tons of café terraces and monuments, like the Sint Janskerk and Sint Servatius church, the Generaalshuis, a city palace, and the former head post office.
It's nice to walk around in the square itself, you’ll find some artwork, and events take place there regularly and throughout the year.
8. Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe “Sterre der Zee” Basilica
During your weekend in Maastricht, you just have to visit the basilica of Saint Servatius. Believe me: it’s hard to miss.
This impressive church is also located in the old city center and its tower peaks high above the rooftops. Her nickname “Sterre der Zee” (“Star of the sea”) stems from the 15th-century miraculous image of Mary that is treasured inside the basilica and is known popularly “Sterre der Zee”.
The basilica has beautiful stained glass windows, ceiling paintings and intricate details inside. For history and architecture fans, it's a Maastricht must-see. You can get guided tours of the basilica of St Servatius and the church treasury.
The Helpoort is pretty special, as it’s the oldest still existing city gate in the Netherlands, dating from the 13th century. You can visit the gate or just choose to walk through it, from the old city center into the city park along the Maas river.
10. Blanche Dael
Blache Dael is a household name in Maastricht. It is the oldest coffee roasting and tea facility in the Dutch province of Limburg, founded in 1878. Each day visitors get to taste a different freshly roasted coffee. They learn how to make the best coffee and are given an explanation about the range available in the store.
Blanche Dael has its own chain, called Coffeelovers, as well.
11. Bonnefanten Museum
Due to a lack of time, I didn’t get to visit the Bonnefanten museum myself, but I still wanted to mention it as it is one of the most commonly known sights in Maastricht. The Bonnefantenmuseum is a museum of visual arts with impressive art collections. It is easy to spot across the water when you are walking through the city park due to the rocket-shaped tower of the building.
And that’s it! I hope this little list Maastricht things to do and see inspired you to plan your own weekend or day trip in the Dutch city.
Hampshire Designhotel Maastricht
During my weekend in Maastricht, I spent a night at the Hamshire Designhotel Maastricht, located just a 2-minute walk from the central train station, ideal if you're carrying a lot of luggage or simply don't feel like walking too far.
The hotel doesn't have its own parking, but there's public parking nearby. The Designhotel has a trendy-looking lobby where you can get a glass of water with lemon and mint at any time of the day. There's also a lounge area where you can play games, plan meetings or that you can rent for special events. There's also a fitness area.
The Designhotel is directly connected to Brasserie FLO, which I'll tell you more about later. First, let's have a look at the room I stayed in, shall we?
My “Modern Medium” room at the Hampshire – Designhotel Maastricht
The room type I stayed in is called “Modern Medium”. I was very curious to see what the “modern” and “design” aspect of the hotel would entail in regards to the rooms and wasn't disappointed. As soon as I walked in, this is what I saw:
Indeed, a huge bathtub! I've never ever had a huge bathtub in the middle of my room. How cool is that?
My room was actually shaped like an L. One leg of the L had the toilet, a shower (both in separate rooms) and the bathtub, the other leg had the bed, hangers for clothes and a television. In the “corner” of the L, the two parts of the room met. There was a shelf which acted as a desk, but also carried the sink!
There was both air conditioning and heating in the room, so you could make it as warm or as cold as you needed. Oh and the WiFi? Free in the entire building.
I mentioned briefly that the room didn't have just the bath but also a shower. I should probably also tell you that it was a rain shower with another separate massage-stream shower head. That rain shower was most welcome after a day of wandering through the city.
Another big plus for me were the many electricity plugs. There were several by the shelf/desk as well as in other places in the room. Those always come in handy when you want to charge your camera, phone, laptop, GoPro and external battery at the same time.
Last but not least, the bed. Usually, when people say the bed was really nice (and this bed was really nice – huge, also) they are talking about the mattress. Just as important as the mattress, though, are the sheets. Or better: the absence of sheets.
Let me explain.
I prefer sleeping under a duvet. A duvet stays the same no matter how much you move during the night. Sheets, however, can end up anywhere, including half out of the bed. My bed at the Hampshire – Designhotel was covered with a duvet. Ah, bliss.
I briefly mentioned Brasserie FLO. Brasserie FLO is part of a well-known French chain and there are several FLO's around Europe, including in Barcelona, Lisbon, its city of origin Paris and Maastricht.
Brasserie FLO Maastricht is a part of the Designhotel, but not entirely. You can walk from the brasserie into the hotel and vice versa without going outside, but both businesses have separate entrances and you can perfectly have a drink or dinner at Brasserie FLO without staying at the Designhotel.
When you do stay at the Designhotel, breakfast is served at Brasserie FLO and you can have a drink at their bar in the evenings. I was invited by the hotel to have dinner there – something I'm still grateful for as it was a delicious experience.
Brasserie FLO both offers a semi-set menu and à la carte options. The menu allows you to make a combination of starter + main course, main course + dessert, or all three, with several options for those three courses. You can also add an extra course if you wish to do so. I preferred the options on the à la carte menu and so I opted for that.
What I had? Well…
First, I had a creamy asparagus soup with bits of asparagus and salmon. It was wonderful. Cream soup is often pretty heavy, but this was so light! Can you see the bubbles? Amazing.
This is maybe a strange comparison, but you know when you order a hot chocolate and there are bubbles on top and when you drink from it, it's so light?
That's what this was like. A lovely soup. I had it with a piece of bread that had sundried tomatoes mixed in the dough. Brasserie FLO actually works together with the baker across the street for the bread they serve.
For the main course, I hesitated between fish bouillabaisse and what I eventually chose: seared scallops and prawns with curry confided asparagus and a tortellini filled with spinach and shrimps. It was the waitress who helped me choose and her recommendation couldn't have been better.
I absolutely loved this combination. I'm usually not a big asparagus fan, but as it's the season and I really like curry, I thought I had to give it a try and it was spot on. The entire dish just tasted so refined, as I'm sure you can see it looks as well:
I have to say that I was completely full after the main course, but the food had been so good so far that I was very curious about dessert and so I gave in but just asked the waitress to wait a while before bringing me what I'd chosen: lemon cake with lemongrass mousse and raspberry frozen yogurt.
I'm so happy I ignored my brain and had this as well. I was afraid the dessert would be heavy, but the opposite was true. Both the cake and the mousse were super light and were nicely complemented by some raspberry coulis. I ate those first before ending with the ice cream. It was a perfect meal.
I know I've used a lot of superlatives to describe my dinner at Brasserie FLO, but I really can't think of anything negative to add. The service was super. The waitress helped me decide what to get, frequently came to check if everything was alright and was very willing to answer any questions I had. The food was delicious, the temperature in the room just perfect and the ambiance very fitting, with lovely French music playing in the background.
If you're wondering where to go in Maastricht for a lovely dinner, this is it.
Read more reviews on TripAdvisor.
Would I recommend you to stay at the Hampshire – Designhotel Maastricht? Definitely. The rooms are unique, the collaboration with Brasserie FLO is a great plus and the location, right by the train station and just a five-minute walk from the center, is ideal.
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