I took advantage of the superb public transportation system in the Netherlands this week and took a train to Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the country.
Maastricht lies two-and-a-half hours south of Amsterdam by train. A ticket costs €30 to €50 one-way, depending on fare class. I opted for first class on the way down, but it didn’t come with any benefits other than a slightly larger seat. I chose second class on the way back and didn’t notice any difference in comfort.
If I had to describe Maastricht in one word, it would be charming. Situated along the banks of the Maas river, this university town dates back to Roman times. The city’s well-maintained medieval-era buildings wrap around quaint central squares filled with shops, churches, and plenty of restaurants. Along the cobbled streets, you’ll see people dining outside, enjoying a coffee or tea, and students carrying violin and cello cases to and from the local music conservatory.
Maastricht is well-known for its culinary scene, featuring a blend of Dutch and international cuisine that attracts food enthusiasts from around the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.
I had dinner at the Lumière Cinema, a historic movie theater on the Bassin canal, which leads to the river.
The theater features a restaurant and café in the lobby, which serves lunch and dinner daily and oozes with ambiance. Studio lighting illuminates each wooden table, while old photos and cinema paraphernalia adorn the walls. It’s the perfect setting for a drink, date, or to catch up with friends and family.
For lunch, you can munch on the soup of the day with a carpaccio sandwich or cheese and arugula croquettes. The dinner menu is available from 5 p.m., which offers an array of Dutch and Middle Eastern-inspired soups, salads, and starters, such as watermelon with grilled halloumi or shrimp scampi with couscous tabbouleh and chorizo mayonnaise.
As a main course, try a souvlaki or mixed grill or keep things simple with a gourmet burger or local fish and chips. But Lumière is perhaps most popular for its Sunday Film Breakfast (and a movie), featuring eggs benedict, french toast, and red velvet pancakes with hangop (Dutch-style yogurt). For €22.50, you get breakfast with a film ticket, fresh orange juice, and coffee or tea.
When you’re done indulging, you can peruse the array of art galleries, museums, and events you’ll find throughout the city. Maastricht is a haven for culture and the arts, home of the Bonnefontan Museum and TEFAF Art Fair, regarded as “the world’s premier fair for fine art, antiques, and design.” The next event takes place in March of 2024.
Before leaving, I hiked up to Fort Sint Pieter, which offers a view of the city and surrounding Limburg landscape. If you can make room to visit Maastricht in your next European itinerary, I highly recommend it!