Each year, the global violin-playing superstar returns to his hometown: Maastricht. Our Editor has put together a guide for your next concert weekend.
Maastricht is the perfect destination for culture, history, shopping, a culinary experience or just to go to and discover. Located on both sides of the river Maas, and centred right between Germany and Belgium, crowds from all surrounding regions flock to the city's streets over the weekends, taking in its historical beauty and vibrant city life.
Limburg's capital is famous for its yearly concert series of Maastricht-born André Rieu, who returns from his world tour each summer for two weeks of concerts at home. Concert goers jet around the world from Korea, New Zealand and the United States to see him perform together with his 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra. His entertaining showmanship, combining classical music with pop, attracts audiences from all generations - he is a global phenomenon.
As concerts are taking place this month, and tickets are still available here, we thought we'd give you a little insight into the beauty of the city, where to go and what to do.
Maastricht is easily reachable from Luxembourg. These are the four options:
Car - getting to Maastricht by car is quick and simple, and will take you roughly 2,5 hours from door to door. Parking options in Maastricht are vast, although can be pricy if you decide to drop off your car in the city centre. Expect an hourly rate of at least €2,60 here, and €1,50 just outside the centre. Free parking is available at P+R Maastricht North, where you can access the city directly by public transport. This will also be much easier on the night of the concert.
Flixbus - bus travel services are becoming more comfortable and efficient, and for as little as €10,99 you'll be able to take a direct flixbus from the P+R Bouillon to Maastricht. There are at least three connections per day, thus making it the perfect alternative to the car.
Train - taking the scenic route to Maastricht by train is a wonderful experience, and will take you straight through heart of Luxembourg to tiny villages in Begium. The connection Luxembourg - Liege departs every two hours, after which you can switch to a train between Liege - Maastricht. The total journey will take roughly 4 hours, although frequent traffic issues on Belgian rail often increase the travel time to 5 hours - but that's fine if you're in no rush and you enjoy the ride.
Carsharing - a facebook group containing over 1000 members offers shared rides between the two cities on an almost daily basis. Most of the drivers are students, so the best chances of getting a shared ride is on Friday and Sunday afternoon.
...once you've arrived, you'll find that bikes are the main mode of transportation, as they are quick and easy for crossing the city. As Maastricht is fairly small, however, you'll be fine on foot, too. Public transport is very good in the city, although you may find tickets to be a tad expensive.
AccomodationGenerally speaking, the average accomodation is not cheap in Maastricht, and prices soar in the month of July for Rieu's concerts. Alhough you can easily be spending €150-€200 per night in a double room during high season, there are a number of budget options between €50-€100 euro available.
On a budget: Airbnb offers are vast in Maastricht, ranging from small rooms to larger apartments and even entire mansions. The recently opened easyHotel is situated right next to the river and offers budget rooms, and Stayokay Hostel is the only larger hostel in town. Fancy something urban, hipster and modern? Try The Student Hotel, you'll be blown away by how some students live during university life! All of these are no more than 10 minutes walking from the Vrijthof, where the concert takes place.
As a side note, many travellers book a hotel in a neighbouring village for half the price and then take the 20-minute bus trip into the city in the morning.
Food & Drinks
Before attending an unforgettable night you'll want to make sure those tummies are well satisfied. You'll be happy to hear that Maastricht has the highest density of bars and restaurants in the whole of the Netherlands. That means plenty of choice: meat-lovers, vegetarians, vegans, alcoholics, alcohol-free drinkers, beer-chuggers, wine tasters, asian cuisine, middle eastern menus...there's something for everyone.
If you're familiar with Dutch cuisine, then you'll know that...there isn't one. The country itself has never been particularly evolutionary nor inventive when it comes to food, but luckily years of migration has influenced the pallet on offer. Maastricht is the perfect spot to discover top-notch food from around the world.
If you would like to go for a nice Asian meal, the best Indonesian spices can be found at Tabkeaw, and the delicious take-away Gembira (they're 2 minutes walking apart, so you can have a look at both). Bim&Bap does delicious Korean Fusion food, while Dadawan will provide you with the largest meals you've ever seen for low prices. Italian cuisine is best found at il bacaro, Vino&Friends, Toscanella Apuana and the delicious take-out pizza of Piano B. Vegans and Vegetarians will find they can eat well at many of the places mentioned above, but Vers, Lumiere and Bijzonder have the most options.
Hint: as Maastricht is a student town, you'll be able to fetch great student discounts at most places.
Places to visit
Besides Rieu's concert, Maastricht has some very unique sights that are worth visiting during your stay. The concert itself takes place on the Vrijthof, the large "freedom square" of the city. Facing the stage, looking to your right, you will see the Sint-Janskerk which you can climb up for an impressive view over the city.
The 18th-century Sint Pieter Fort, roughly a 15 minute walk from the Vrijthof, has captured the history of Maastricht in its underground caves and tunnels. It's cold in there, so don't be deceived by the hot summer temperatures and bring a thick coat. The area around the fort is excellent for hikes and cycling.
Visit the independent Lumiere cinema, situated in a old large factory hall in the Sphinx area. The movies screened are carefully curated, so you won't be disappointed, no matter your pick for the night. The restaurant is very large and offers a delicious menu, both for food and drinks.
Cool off after a long day in the city park, and stroll across the city walls. You'll come across several ice cream shops on the way, so there will be plenty of well-deserved breaks. Hop across the bridge to Plein 1992 and the area of Wyck, where cute shops offer everything imaginable. Shops are always open on Sunday as of 12:00, and opening hours are extended on Thursdays till 21:00.
© André Rieu
We hope you enjoy your stay in Maastricht! Have you visited the city and noticed something special we haven't mentioned? Let us know in the comments.