Saint Servatius basilica and Saint Johns church in Maastricht on a cloudy day

Saint Servatius basilica and Saint Johns church in Maastricht ()

Roughly two-and-a-half hours down the road from the KMC is the university town of Maastricht (Maah-stree-cht) in the Netherlands. This cool town is full of history dating back to the Roman era and today has plenty for you to do.

On Fridays, check out the local market in the city center filled with homemade crafts, famous Dutch fabric and regional delicacies such as fried herring. I don’t eat fish, so I am trusting the word of my tour guide about the herring. Speaking of tour guides….

Busy outdoor market with tents everywhere and a large white building in the background

Market in city center ()

I highly recommend booking a walking tour to learn all about this fascinating town. I booked a walking tour through “Get Your Guide” and booked a “tip-based” walk with Ricardo, aka Ricky Martin, the awesome tour guide whose love for a Dutch woman brought him to the Netherlands from Mexico City. During the walking tour, I learned about the history of Maastricht and some “behind-the-scenes” information. For example, the small gold-plated tiles peppering the town are commemorations for Maastricht residents who lost their lives in concentration camps during WWII.

Three gold Holocaust memorial tiles on the ground

Holocaust tiles ()

Another great way to explore Maastricht is taking the dual cruise and cave tour. You get on a boat near the city center, ride it up the river for 20 minutes as an English audio guide tells you about some of the buildings you see along the way and then take an hour-long English-language guided tour in the caves “Zonneberg.” You then get back on the boat for about 25 minutes and hear more from the audio guide. I will forewarn you, for going “underground” you must walk uphill a lot. The caves are also roughly 52 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. It is so cool to see not only the art that decorates the cave, but also learn how, even underground, companies will advertise. I booked my dual cruise/cave tour at

“Cacao Can Houten” ad inside of cave written in French featuring a paiting of a working class person.

Ad inside the cave ()

Of course, with so much exploring you will work up an appetite. Every morning, we started our day with coffee and food from Naovenant. I can highly recommend the matcha latte as well as the gingerbread chocolate cappuccino and the cinnamon roll. Stadsbrouwerij Maastricht offered two different flights of beer for enthusiasts to sample. It also, surprisingly, introduced me to my new favorite way to drink ginger tea, which is simply slices of raw ginger in a cup of hot water with some honey. They offer great small bites as well as burgers and desserts, so no matter how hungry you are, there is something to pair with your beer. ‘t Piepenhoes has a beautiful location on the river and offers regional food and cakes, which we took advantage of as we sipped beverages and watched the boats on the water. Al Mercado provided a delicious Truffle Pizza.

Interior of bookstore with art and light shining through the large windows

Interior of bookstore with art ()

Kobe offered insight into the European hibachi dinner service. If you have ever had hibachi in the United States, (think Benihana) you, like me, might expect to see onion volcanos, spinning eggs, and an overall interactive lively cooking show and experience. At Kobe in Maastricht, the experience was much more refined and high-end. You choose the number of courses you want, from four to eight. I went with four, my spouse went with six. The chefs still cook at the teppanyaki table in front of you, but the interactions are much more reserved and intimate rather than the chef pouring Saki directly into your mouth as they shape the fried rice into a heart and make it “beat” with a spatula.

Bitterballen, fried stew meat balls in a bowl with two sauces on the side

Bitterballen ()

Outside of the city center, you will find Fort Sint Pieter. We didn’t have the opportunity to explore the fort with a tour guide, but you can walk around it’s outer grounds for free. Unfortunately for us, it was raining fairly hard, so we didn’t get to explore long, but still got some great pictures. Fortunately for us, there was a great café onsite where we finally enjoyed some Dutch and Maastricht food and cake. We started with the Bitterballen, which is simply fried beef stew. It is similar in consistency to a hush puppy. I had already peeped at the cake display, so I kept it simple with a salad for my meal, but my husband went adventurous with the “Mestreechs Zoervleis,” which is a bitter beef stew served with fries and regional apple syrup. I ended my meal with a local tea blend and Rijstevlaai, a sweet rice pie. Of all the local fare, the Rijstevlaai was my favorite.

Rijstevlaai, a sweet rice pie on a white plate with whipped cream next to a cup of tea on a table.

Rijstevlaai, a sweet rice pie ()

There are gorgeous churches and basilicas all over Maastricht to marvel at. I visited three and each had their own things that made them awesome. My personal favorite is the Dominican church that serves as a bookstore and café. Not only can you peruse the bookshelves, but also the beautiful art on the ceiling and rotating art displays throughout the store. The Basilica of Our Lady features a fascinating treasury filled with tons of shiny wonders, colorful stained glass and a huge organ. The Basilica of Sint Servaas features 12th-Century architecture and is home to several relics, paintings and statues. Families with children are advised that some of these relics are, in fact, bones and that one of the art pieces is a 3D depiction of John the Baptist’s head on a platter.

Interior of bookstore with a sign that reads “English and foreign literature on this floor.”

Interior of bookstore ()

Why not end the day having some fun at the arcade? The Game Box is the Dutch version of Dave and Busters, and I loved how their system worked. For 25 euros per hour, we got unlimited gameplay (and ticket-winning) opportunities. We shelled out for two hours because we were having so much fun playing Mario Kart, knocking down the clowns (my arm is still sore a few days later), playing Skee-Ball, testing our luck at the Monopoly dice roll and playing Connect Four with basketballs.

No matter if you want fun on the water, to walk around history above or underground, great food, shopping or arcade gaming, Maastricht has something for everyone.

author picture
Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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