What to Visit in Maastricht

The well-preserved old city walls, through which visitors can still stroll, provide atmospheric evidence of this history.

Maastricht was born as a Roman settlement due to its advantageous location along the Maas River. As a result, it is known as one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands, with a rich cultural, religious, and industrial history. Its strategic location also led to Maastricht becoming a "garrison" city with a long military history.

In the Middle Ages, Maastricht became known as a pilgrimage site for Christians visiting the grave of Saint Servatius. The city is dotted with numerous large Catholic and Protestant churches, which are the focus of Maastricht residents' religious and cultural lives even today. For example, the annual celebration of "Carnaval," the several days preceding Lent in the Christian calendar, is an important time of year for many. Neighborhood-based Carnaval committees are formed months in advance to support local initiatives and prepare for the four days of music and parades that dominate Maastricht during this period.

In the early 19th century, Maastricht became The Netherlands' industrial spark. Petrus Regout began manufacturing glasswork and pottery in Maastricht, and his enterprise became the Sphinx factory, which functioned until the late 1900s. Maastricht was also the industrial home to a large cement factory, mining companies, and other industries until very recently.

Today, Maastricht, and its population of approximately 120,000 people, is known as a diverse, international city of knowledge, spearheaded by Maastricht University and several other knowledge institutions based in the town. Global companies such as DSM, Sabic, and Vodafone contribute to a vibrant international community.
Maastricht is the site of the "birth of the European Union," where the Maastricht treaty was signed in 1992. Visitors will enjoy numerous culinary and shopping opportunities within and outside the city center. Maastricht is home to many Michelin-recommended restaurants, several of which have been honored with Michelin stars. And the beautiful city park runs through the middle of the city and along the river, providing a green space for visitors and residents to relax and congregate.

Best places to see in Maastricht

Recommended Tourist sites within walking distance of SBE:

  • Sint Servaas Kerk
  • Boekhandel Dominicanen
  • North Caves St. Pieters hill + Fort Sint Pieter
  • Bisschopsmolen
  • Sphynx

Sint Servaas Kerk

The Basilica of Saint Servatius is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Servatius. This basilica, the oldest in the Netherlands, has one of Europe's most magnificent treasure rooms.

photo source: rijksmuseum

Servatius is the patron saint of the city of Maastricht and the towns of Schijndel and Grimbergen, one of the Ice Saints.
Saint Servatius arrived in Maastricht in the fourth century AD and marked the time when the first stone churches appeared in the town.
According to the legend, Saint Servatius was the first bishop of Maastricht, and a small chapel was built on the spot where he was buried. In the following centuries, this chapel grew into the St. Servatius Church: a small memorial chapel on the saint's grave turned into

a large stone church built by bishop Monulph around 570. This church was replaced by a larger pilgrim church in the late 7th century, which was then replaced by the present-day structure, built in several stages over more than 100 years.
The Romanesque church was built during a period in which the chapter of Saint Servatius kept close ties to the Holy Roman Emperors, which resulted in a building that had the characteristics of a German imperial church.

Most of the church's Medieval provosts were sons of the highest-ranking German noble families. Several held the office of chancellor of the German Empire; at least eight provosts went on to become archbishops. The emperor Henry III and twelve bishops attended the church's dedication in 1039.

In the heart of Maastricht, the monumental Saint Servatius Basilica radiates faith and history to everyone. It is on the list of the 100 most important national monuments in the Netherlands.

  • Location: Keizer Karelplein 3, 6211 TC Maastricht
  • Timings: 10:00–19:00; Sunday 12:30 - 17:00
  • Entry fee: € 4,5
  • Famous for: oldest basilica in the Netherlands

Boekhandel Dominicanen

Bookstore in the church! For a good reason, some call it the most beautiful bookstore in the world. You can't be in Maastricht and miss it!

photo source: Jorge Franganillo

The 13th-century Dominican Church in Maastricht is the first Gothic church in the Netherlands. It served the religious purpose for almost five centuries until the French army captured Maastricht and annexed it to the French Republic in 1795. The church building used to be a depot for the city, concert hall, slaughterhouse, snake house, boxing temple, bicycle shed, and carnival venue; finally, after a long period of restoration, in 2006, a quality bookstore opened its doors to the public.

The architect Rob Brouwers from Satijnplus Architects and the interior designers
from Merkx+Girod did a magnificent job creating a contemporary functional space yet preserving all the exceptionally great art-historical value: stained-glass windows, frescos, vaults, and the incidence of light. On the northern wall, you can see the oldest known wall painting (secco, not a fresco) depicting the life of St. Thomas Aquinas (Dominican and philosopher) from 1337. From the second floor - to keep the view of the height of the church, architects created a steel a-centric 'book tower' - the exposed frescos of saints, dating from 1619, are visible at the roof's peak.

Boekhandel Dominicanen has a wide variety of books: from children's books to art, from literature to local handbooks, and from law books to travel guides. There is also a complete music department on the first floor with an extensive range of CDs and Vinyl (LPs).

If you happen to get tired from the variety of books and impressions, enjoy a cup of coffee from the famous Blanche Dael Coffeelovers, situated right here - in the presbytery of the original church.

The bookstore offers weekly activities such as book signings, debates, lectures, interviews, and musical performances - around 150 events yearly. Make sure you check the schedule!

  • Location: Dominicanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CP Maastricht
  • Timings: Tu, Wd, Fr, St - 9:00–18:00; Mo - 10:00-18:00, Th - 9:00-21:00, Su - 12:00-
  • 18:00
  • Entry fee: free
  • Famous for: located in the old church

North Caves and Fort Saint Peter

Saint Peter's Hill is where the magnificent scenery and history meet. Whether you take a guided tour and get a well-rounded experience or just walk around and enjoy the view with a glass of wine, Saint Peter's Hill is worth a visit.

photo source: Marco Monster

North Caves
The unique tunnel system that stretches for over 80 kilometers results from miners, who started excavating the hill around 1,000 years ago, extracting the limestone - an excellent building material.
No light, no sound, no mobile phone signal - the underground of Maastricht has its stories to tell. The caves were a refuge in wars and when Maastricht was under siege. They even played a role in saving Rembrandt's famous Night Watch painting during WWII! Discover all about the underground history of Maastricht with a guided tour!

Fort Saint Peter
Saint Peter's Fortress takes its history from the early 18th century. Its initial purpose was military, allowing the people of Maastricht to defend the city from the French. While successful for a long time, the city had to surrender. Today you can take a guided tour of the fortress and enjoy a drink or meal at the restaurant.
The fortress' immediate surroundings are a protected nature reserve. The organization works to restore the fortress but leaves some spots in ruins on purpose, making it a safe haven for plants and animals who have found a home there.

  • Location: Luikerweg 80, 6212 NH Maastricht
  • Timings: daily, check for available slots on the website
  • Entry fee: from € 8,5 (guided tours only)
  • Famous for: historical place


Located in the romantic Jeker quarter, the Bisschopsmolen (Bishop's Mill) water mill is a must-see if you visit Maastricht.

photo source: bisschopsmolenmaastricht

According to an unreliable tradition, the mill dates from the 7th century, the time of the bishops of Maastricht. Another tradition explains the present name in the 11th century, when the mill owner, Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, leased part of his possessions, including the mill, to the Bishop of Liège.

If you want to see, smell, and taste the centuries-old connection between the farmer, miller, and baker, you will receive a warm welcome at the Bisschopsmolen and the adjoining traditional bakery on Stenenbrug street. The Bisschopsmolengang alleyway leads you to the back of the building (wall dating from 1609), where you can view the mill's water wheel. It's a very instagrammable spot! Just perch on a wall and enjoy a piece of vlaai (sweet tart) – which is finger food according to local custom.

Spelled grain, obtained from the farmers in the area, is milled daily. The mill supplies grinding products to the Gulpener Bierbrouwerij, which uses them, among other things, for brewing Korenwolf beer.

You can join a tour at the adjacent bakery introducing you to the entire traditional process, or even participate in the baking workshop!

  • Location: Stenenbrug 3 6211 HP Maastricht
  • Timings: Tu-Sa - 8:30-17:00, Su - 9:00-17:00
  • Entry fee:
  • Famous for: one of the oldest watermills, spelt bread


Sphinx quarter -the creative heart of the city - is known as the most surprising and changing district of Maastricht. This is the place where culture and innovation meet.

photo source: Rob Jacobs

So, what is Sphinx, and why is it so special anyway? Sphinx, formerly Petrus Regout & Co., locally known as De Sphinx, was a Dutch company founded by Petrus Regout in 1834 in Maastricht. De Sphinx is the cradle of the industrial revolution in the Netherlands as the first large-scale mechanized factory. The company was initially known for glassware, crockery, and other household pottery, later mainly for tiles and sanitary ware, such as washbasins and toilet bowls. The factory ceased in 2009, although the Swiss Geberit used the brand name "Sphinx" until 2019.

The buildings of former factories are now repurposed and create a perfect surrounding for entrepreneurs and surprising projects. Here you can spend half a day without boredom. Visit a concert at pop stage de Muziekgieterij (old Sphinxmagazijn), sleep in the old factory at The Student Hotel, shop in an industrial atmosphere at design paradise Loods 5, and catch a movie in the old power plant at Lumière Cinema. Eat a snack, do a yoga class or follow a porcelain workshop in one of the wharf cellars of the historic inner harbor of the Bassin. Enjoy the sunset at Bold Rooftop bar with a cocktail in hand.

  • Location: Sphinxcour 9A, 6211 XZ Maastricht (Rooftop Bar)
  • Timings: 12pm–12am, Tu - closed
  • Famous for: former factory district

cover photo source: mattoff

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