Maastricht is certainly one of the most picturesque cities in the Netherlands, with an atmosphere and culture all of its own and very different from Amsterdam in the north. If you're spending a few days in Amsterdam and want to experience another aspect of Dutch culture, Maastricht is quaint, charming, and easily accessible for a short weekend excursion. It's also adjacent to the borders with Belgium and Germany, perfect for backpackers to continue on their trip through Northern Europe.
Train travel in the Netherlands is easy, fast, and affordable, and is usually the most convenient way to get to Maastricht. To save some money, you can also take a bus which only takes about 30 minutes more of travel time. To truly explore the Dutch countryside, rent a car and use it to see not only Maastricht but all of the towns that you'll pass through along the route.
|Train||2 hours, 25 minutes||from $29||Easy traveling|
|Bus||3 hours||from $13||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||2–3 hours||134 miles (215 kilometers)||Making pitstops along the way|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Amsterdam to Maastricht?
Buses provided by Flixbus start at 12 euros—or roughly $13—for a one-way trip from Amsterdam to Maastricht. Buses pick-up from a variety of locations in Amsterdam, but the most central location is at Sloterdijk, which is a six-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal Station. The bus journey takes about three hours and passengers arrive adjacent to the Maastricht train station, which is just across the river from the city center and easily accessible on foot.
The bus is less than half the price of the train and only takes about 30 minutes longer, making it an ideal option for travelers who want to save some euros without sacrificing time in Maastricht.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Amsterdam to Maastricht?
The fastest way to get to Maastricht depends on traffic conditions, but the most consistently speedy mode of transportation is the train. Driving yourself has the potential to be faster, but between traffic and trying to park in Maastricht, you're likely to be enjoying your day sooner if you go by rail. The train shuttles passengers from city center to city center in under two and a half hours, departing from Amsterdam Centraal Station and arriving at Maastricht train station.
Unlike many European trains that drastically rise in price as the travel date gets closer, you will pay the same amount for your train ticket in the Netherlands regardless of when you buy your ticket. You can see the schedule online and book in advance through the Netherland's Rail website or just show up at the train station and buy your ticket there. Trains depart for Maastricht about twice an hour, so you have plenty of opportunities to catch one.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Although Amsterdam and Maastricht are at opposite ends of the country, you can drive from one to the other in as little as two hours. They're connected by the A2 highway, which is one of the country's busiest freeways. Amsterdam traffic can delay your departure and parking in the city center of Maastricht is complicated, so all in all the train is generally the fastest method.
Maastricht has a small and congested city center, so parking is difficult to find and expensive when you find it. Once you're in Maastricht you can access everything on foot, so the best option is to use one of the "Park & Walk" or "Park & Ride" lots located around the city. These parking lots are inexpensive or free of charge, and are located either within walking distance of the city center or next to public transit that gets you there quickly.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Maastricht?
The majority of Dutch residents are concentrated in the northern part of the country known as the Randstad, a huge urban area comparable in size and population to the San Francisco Bay Area. Traffic is notoriously bad in this area—especially around weekday commuting times—and you're sure to encounter some congestion as you travel south from Amsterdam. However, the population disperses the further south you travel and any traffic jams should clear up.
For the warmest weather, the best time to visit Maastricht is in the summer when the average temperature hovers around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Summer is also the busiest time to visit Maastricht—and the Netherlands in general—so highways and roads that are usually traffic-free may be busier than usual.
Maastricht is the place to be to celebrate Dutch Carnival, which falls in February or early March. If you're driving south for the festivities, factor in at least an extra hour of driving time. If you're taking the train, consider buying tickets in advance for this popular travel time.
What's the Most Scenic Route to Maastricht?
The route from Amsterdam to Maastricht along the A2 is very flat and without much variation in scenery, but peppered with lots of windmills and Dutch cows to break up the landscape. The best part of the route is having the freedom to make pitstops in any number of the charming towns you'll pass through along the way. Utrecht, Den Bosch, and Eindhoven are the biggest cities you'll pass and each of them is worth a visit, but don't discount the smaller villages along the route as well. The Limburg region where Maastricht is located is popular even with Dutch tourists, and standout towns include Thorn and Valkenburg. You could also easily cross the border and visit nearby cities like Liège, Belgium, or Aachen, Germany, and since both countries are part of the Schengen Agreement, tourists can visit for up to 90 days without a visa.
What Is There to Do in Maastricht?
Whether you're looking to escape the city of Amsterdam for a weekend or are backpacking through Northern Europe, Maastricht is a city that deserves a space on your Dutch itinerary. This charming town is one of the oldest in Europe and you can visit ruins and caves dating back to the Ancient Romans. Maastricht excels in blending together its past and present, best exemplified by the Dominicanenkerk bookstore located inside of a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and named one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. It's best to experience Maastricht by getting lost in its tangled streets and stopping in local cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops at every opportunity you get. Check out the Wyck neighborhood for Maastricht's trendiest spots.