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How to Enjoy One Day in Maastricht: The Essentials

Boat Maas River in Maastrich: things to do in Maastricht

I would not pretend I knew anything about Maastricht (The Netherlands). I was in Bielefeld for work and told my then-coworker, I would squeeze a weekend trip to Aachen and Cologne. And she, a local in the area, told me I should check out Maastricht too as a day trip from Aachen, which is a quaint little Dutch city right off the border of Aachen (Germany). So I checked the bus schedule on Flixbus, (As a matter of preference. You can definitely train from Aachen to Maastricht and check the train schedule on Google Maps), and off I went and enjoyed one gorgeous day in Maastricht, from morning til early evening.

To cut it short, I love my first Netherlands experience. Maastricht is compact, has an obsession with thrift and vintage stores, and nowhere else I found a church converted into a bookstore. Now, that’s the kind of religion I would not mind wor(d)shipping. 😉

Some popular tours in Maastricht

Maastricht: Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame
Medieval Maastricht: Outdoor Escape Game
Escape Xperience Maastricht – the Key of Servatius
Maastricht: Secrets of the City In-App Exploration Game
Hoensbroek: Entry Ticket to Hoensbroek Castle
Valkenburg: Thermae 2000 Spa Entry Ticket

In case, you want to stay in Maastricht, here are possible options

Be awed by the Dominican Bookshop

My jaw dropped the moment I walked in. I mean you know the name of the my blog right? The Dominicanen Bookshop, or Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands, is a literary haven like no other. Housed within a repurposed 13th-century Dominican church, this unique bookstore marries history and contemporary culture in a remarkable way. The cavernous interior is a visual feast, with towering Gothic arches and stained glass windows juxtaposed with modern bookshelves and reading nooks. It offers a vast selection of books, from bestsellers to rare editions, encompassing various genres and languages.

One day in Maastricht? Singehandedly, I can spend it all day in Dominicanen Bookshop in Maastricht
One day in Maastricht? Singehandedly, I can spend it all day in Dominicanen Bookshop

The English section is on the second floor which has a decent collection of well-known literatis. I bought Meiko Kawakami’s Breast and Eggs and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

You can savor a cup of coffee at the in-house café while perusing your literary finds. The Dominicanen Bookshop is a bibliophile’s dream, a serene retreat for book lovers, and a testament to the enduring allure of printed words.

Dominicanen Bookshop
You can never tell from this facade that it is a bookshop and a cafe

Hop in endless thrift and vintage shops

This is not just me who does this on their trip, right? Aside from checking out local bookshops, I pop in vintage shops. Because why not. One vintage shop staff even complimented me of my all-white thrifted outfit that day. I also bought three old rustic vases in one of the flea markets. One already succumbed to Zaki the cat’s notorious clumsy antics.

Maastricht boasts a thriving thrift and vintage store scene that caters to the discerning and fashion-conscious. These shops offer a delightful journey into the past, with carefully curated selections of pre-loved clothing, accessories, and collectibles. From quaint boutiques in charming streets to bustling flea markets, vintage enthusiasts can find unique and timeless pieces spanning various eras and styles.

typical scene in vintage shops in Maastricht

Whether you’re on the hunt for retro fashion, antique furniture, or nostalgic memorabilia, Maastricht’s thrift and vintage stores provide a treasure trove of hidden gems. It’s a sustainable and stylish way to explore the city’s history and add a touch of vintage flair to your wardrobe or home.

Coffee at the iconic Vrijthof Square

I began my day with the iconic Vrijthof Square, Maastricht’s central hub, enveloped by charming historical edifices, inviting cafes, and idyllic terraces. It’s an ideal spot for leisurely people-watching, savoring the city’s ambiance, and immersing yourself in its vibrant atmosphere. And that’s exactly what I did: got a seat facing the square, pretended to read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from a Goon Squad, and gossiped about the people in front of me in my head.

One day in Maastricht itinerary: Vrijthof Square
Not a bad place to people-watch if you ask me

Fun fact: Vrijthof Square, in Maastricht, Netherlands, has been a historical focal point for over a millennium. From its origins as a Roman gathering place, it witnessed the construction of the Basilica of Saint Servatius, St. John’s Church, and the Town Hall. It played roles in battles and is now a cultural hub.

Pop in at Basilica of Saint Servatius

Book your guided tour here.

The Basilica of Saint Servatius, a must-visit gem situated on Maastricht’s Vrijthof Square, is a testament to the city’s rich history. This Romanesque church is a historical treasure, dating back to the 4th century, making it one of the oldest in the Netherlands. Its architectural grandeur showcases the finest medieval craftsmanship, with ornate details adorning its façade and interior. I particularly love the inner courtyard.

one day in maastricht travel guide: saint servatius church
Pardon the low quality: my photo is a screenshot of a video.

You can explore the church’s richly decorated chapels, ancient relics, and a tranquil atmosphere that reflects centuries of devotion and artistry. It’s a captivating experience for history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados, offering a glimpse into the city’s spiritual and artistic heritage.

You don’t have to be religious to check out St. John’s Church

Entry fee: Adults: €2,50 EUR; Kids: €1.50

Also it is too imposing, imposingly red in a city of dry-yellow facades. Nestled on the eastern periphery of Maastricht’s historic Vrijthof Square, St. John’s Church stands as a magnificent testament to the city’s medieval heritage. Erected in the 13th century, this Gothic masterpiece enchants visitors with its soaring spires and intricate stonework.

saint john church in Maastricht is imposingly red
Maastricht’s St. John’s Church is imposingly red

Inside, a serene ambiance prevails, inviting reflection and awe. Gothic arches stretch towards the heavens, while stained glass windows add a kaleidoscope of color. St. John’s Church is a living chronicle of Maastricht’s history and spirituality, an architectural jewel that beckons both history enthusiasts and those captivated by the beauty of bygone eras. It’s a captivating window into the past in the heart of the city.


I was the only table for one. What’s new! I had penne pasta. It wasn’t great. The ambience was lovely. But I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant I had it in. Here are five recommendations instead if money is not an issue.

Photo from Beluga Loves You’s IG
  1. Beluga Loves You: Beluga is a Michelin-starred restaurant offering an exquisite dining experience. The beautifully presented dishes and extensive wine list make it a top choice for a special occasion.
  2. Café Sjiek: A charming eatery known for its Dutch and French cuisine, Café Sjiek offers hearty classics with a twist. The cozy ambiance and friendly service make it a beloved spot among locals and tourists alike.
  3. Toine Hermsen: This upscale restaurant delights guests with creative French cuisine and a carefully curated wine list. The elegant setting and impeccable service make it an ideal choice for a romantic dinner.
  4. Burgerlijk: For a more casual dining experience, Burgerlijk offers a variety of gourmet burgers with fresh ingredients and creative toppings. The cozy atmosphere and delicious milkshakes are highlights.
  5. Tapijn: Located in a historic military building, Tapijn offers a unique setting for enjoying international dishes with a focus on Mediterranean flavors. The spacious terrace is perfect for a sunny day, and the menu caters to various dietary preferences.

Boat the canals

Boat Maas River in Maastrich: things to do in Maastricht
Book a sunset or evening tour in Maas River

I did not do this since I didn’t have the time (coz I spent too much time at Dominicanen Bookshop) and I prefer strolling around. But if you can squeeze it, then go for it. Maastricht, with its rich history and charming architecture, is elevated to another level of beauty when viewed from its picturesque canals. To truly appreciate the city’s unique character, embark on a leisurely boat tour. As you glide along the waterways, centuries-old buildings, cobblestone streets, and graceful bridges unfold before you, creating an enchanting ambiance that’s a photographer’s dream.

The knowledgeable guides often share captivating stories about the city’s past, enriching your understanding of Maastricht’s heritage. Whether during the day or under the gentle glow of evening lights, a boat tour in Maastricht is an experience that adds depth and perspective to your exploration of this lovely Dutch city.

Cross St. Servatius Bridge

The St. Servatius Bridge in Maastricht is an iconic structure that weaves together history and enchanting views. Dating back to the 13th century, it spans the Maas River and stands adjacent to the Basilica of Saint Servatius, offering a perfect postcard-worthy scene.

The bridge’s Gothic arches and charming lanterns create a captivating ambiance, especially during the twilight hours when the lights dance on the water’s surface.

Maas River and Saint Servatius Bridge are two of the things can do in Maastricht
Maas River and Saint Servatius Bridge are two of the things can do in Maastricht

As you stroll across, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of the city’s skyline and the old town’s medieval architecture, making the St. Servatius Bridge a cherished part of Maastricht’s historical and visual tapestry.

Stroll along Maas River

I visited in the height of summer, so the riverside was a beautiful sunny respite that my tropical ass loves.

A leisurely stroll along the Maas River in Maastricht is a serene escape into nature’s beauty within the city. As you amble along the riverbanks, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the water gently reflecting the surrounding landscape. The scenic views are a perfect backdrop for both relaxation and photography.

Stroll along Maas River in Maastricht

Along the way, consider stopping at one of the inviting riverside cafes, where you can savor a drink, unwind, and absorb the tranquil atmosphere. I had my coffee to go and sat by the river and diaried before walking through scenic neighbors back to the bus stop next to Maastricht’s train station.

A lovely stroll in Maastricht alleyways

Aside from popping in bookstores and vintage shops. This is my biggest travel addition. A random walk in alleyways. Embarking on a leisurely stroll through Maastricht’s enchanting alleyways is an experience steeped in Old World charm. These narrow, cobbled passages wind their way through the heart of the city, revealing centuries of history and culture. As you wander, you’ll be surrounded by a tapestry of picturesque facades, inviting cafes, and boutique shops. The scent of freshly baked bread and blooming flowers fills the air.

A lovely stroll in Maastricht alleyways

With every corner turned, you uncover hidden courtyards and unexpected architectural details. Whether it’s for a quiet morning exploration or an evening under the soft glow of streetlights, meandering through Maastricht’s alleyways is a captivating journey into the city’s soul.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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