Old-world class beautifully combined with energetic modern excitement is what you can expect from the sophisticated Netherlands city of Maastricht. Here you can explore history first-hand with the cities fascinating Roman and Spanish ruins and enchanting architecture, where both French and Belgian influences can be seen. But old ruins aren’t the only thing on offer you can also dive into the exciting student culture with a fabulous selection of cafes, bars and nightclubs, or take advantage of the impressive selection of Michelin-star restaurants available throughout the city.
An architectural medley of cobbled streets, Roman ruins and pretty street cafés, Maastricht exudes old-world class. Many of its high-end hotels are hidden in historic buildings – four-star Kruisherenhotel Maastricht (Kruisherengang 19-23), set in a renovated Gothic monastery, is one of the most spectacular. The cosy rooms in elegant 18th-century townhouse Hotel d’Orangerie (Kleine Gracht 4) are perfect for mid-budget travellers looking to base themselves near the city centre, while the businesslike Crowne Plaza Maastricht (Ruiterij 1) offers modern creature comforts a short stroll from the railway station. The apartments at Chambres d'Hôtes Rekko (Kleine Looiersstraat 8) make a convenient budget base for those prepared to self-cater.
Away from the high-street shops of Wyckerstraat and Maastrichterbrugstraat, Maastricht is all about independent boutiques and local produce markets. The organic market held at the clock square on Stationsstraat every Thursday should be your first port of call for regional specialities, while Stationsstraat’s Saturday flea market is a fabulous treasure trove of kitsch. Designer brands and one-off boutiques cluster around Wolfstraat and Stokstraat, while the Wyck quarter channels a bohemian vibe with art studios, corner delis and antiques shops. If you only visit one shop in Maastricht then make it Selexyz Dominicanen (Dominicanerkerkstraat 1), a bookstore housed in a 700-year-old former Dominican church.
With four Michelin-star restaurants as well as hundreds of ‘brown cafés’ (that’s pubs to you and me), Maastricht is something of a culinary hotspot. Restaurant Beluga (Plein 1992) has retained its two-Michelin-star rating since 2005, and its winning combination of scrumptious but simply cooked food and stylish décor make it the city’s classiest eatery. Relax into a less formal atmosphere at Bisschopsmolen (Stenenbrug 3), where a vintage flourmill powered by its own working waterwheel produces the base ingredient for a range of scrumptious sandwiches and pastries. Restaurant "O" (Rechtstraat 76) is one of Maastricht’s top seafood restaurants, while Ginger (Tongersestraat 7) channels Asian influences to produce a range of creative and healthy dishes.
The Maastricht Carnival is an excuse for the city’s winter-sick residents to dress up in colourful costumes and celebrate the coming spring. The highlight is the official Carnival Parade on the Sunday, which attracts watching crowds of thousands. Be sure to bring your own costume!
Jazz Maastricht Festival
An impressive cast of top international jazz musicians fly into Maastricht for this intense two-day festival of jazz. Past line-ups have featured John Scofield, Toots Thielemans, Eric Vloeimans and Tuur Florizoone.
Maastricht celebrates this national spring holiday with a series of events throughout the city. Riotous street markets congregate around the downtown area, while open-air stages host musical and cultural performances.
This culinary festival has been running for over 30 years, and it’s always a big hit with both locals and visitors. The event celebrates local produce and cooking, but throughout the weekend a side programme of musical performances entertains festival-goers.
A different theme dominates every year at this broad remit music and arts festival. Most of the events take place in churches and ancient buildings around the historic city centre, and the focus is on world premieres and up-and-coming young musicians.