Maastricht Train Connections
When visiting Maastricht, the best option is to travel by train as parking is quick difficult and not to mention relative expensive (parking fees were increased on 01-01-2014, and now vary from 1.60 Euro up to 4 Euro's an hour, up to a maximum day fee).
Train regular daily intervals (holidays and early / late connections are different):
- Each 30 minutes an Intercity of the "Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS)" will arrive from or depart into the directon of Amsterdam/Eindhoven. (standard platform no. 4)
- Each hour an international train will arrive from or depart into the direction Liege (Luik). (standard platform no. 5)
- Each 30 minutes an intercity of "Arriva" will arrive from or depart into the direction from the direction of Heerlen. (standard platform no. 6).
Further a variety of the so called "stoptrein" will arrive from or depart in all directions. These will stop on each small station between the main stations.
Since shortly Maastricht is provided with 3 trainstations:
- North (Arriva only)
- Main Station (Arriva, NS and Belgium railways)
- Randwijck (NS and Belgium railways)
The local bus
The bus station is next to the train station.
All local Connex buses stop at the station and at the market square at the other side of the Maas river.
There are also buses to other towns (even Belgium ones).
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The Cross-border Dagkaart
Worth doing if you are staying a few days in Maastricht is to have a day out to the former capital city of the Holy Roman Empire, Aachen, where Charlemagne reigned and for 500 years the German Kings were crowned.
The #50 bus runs between the two cities every 15 minutes during the day and half-hourly in the evening with the journey taking about an hour each way. Although the bus from Maastricht, which leaves from the bus station next to the railway station, is signed Aachen HbF (railway station) it in fact loops into the city centre before returning by the route it arrived.
A day ticket, which is valid for buses only, not only allows you to visit Aachen but can also be used to stop-off en route at Vaals (for the mountain!) or/and Gulpen if you fancy a beer at the Gulpener brewery pub. At the time of writing (Dec 2012) this cost seven Euros and can be bought from the bus driver.
- Mountain Climbing
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Cycling in Maastricht
In other parts of the Netherlands, the southern city of Maastricht does not have a reputation as a very good cycling city. Especially people from Groningen, in the far north of the country, are no doubt unimpressed when they come to Maastricht and find that the level of bicycle use is roughly half of what they are accustomed to.
But by any international standards, Maastricht is doing very well. Cycling in Maastricht has a modal share of almost 30% of all trips up to 7.5 km, which is really not bad at all. (For comparison, my home city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, has just recently managed to get up to 15 % after a big push in recent years.)
Having recently been to Groningen, I can confirm that the cycling infrastructure up there is even better than in Maastricht – but Maastricht certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. It has two centrally located car-free bridges over the river and an extensive network of cycle lanes and paths.
Fourth photo: In addition to the many nodes of the new Knooppunt network of bicycle routes, there are still thousands of traditional bicycle route signs all over the Netherlands, so it is very easy to find your way.
Trains to Maastricht
I travelled to Maastricht on a small local train (second photo) from the Belgian city of Liège, 26 km to the south. The journey took just over half an hour, with stops at several small stations along the way.
That was fine, but I was surprised to find that international train service to Maastricht is actually quite spotty.
From the north, that is from the rest of the Netherlands, there are two InterCity trains an hour, so that’s quite all right. But there are no longer any direct trains from Brussels or Antwerp (you have to change at Liège) or from Aachen (you’re better off taking the number 50 bus).
Location of Maastricht station on Google maps
When you leave the station and start walking or riding straight ahead, you first go along a wide street called Stationsstraat, but after three blocks it gets narrower and changes its name to Wycker Brugstraat.
Brugstraat means Bridge Street and Wyck is the name of this particular district of Maastricht, on the right bank of the Maas.
Location of Wycker Brugstraat on Google maps
MS River Navigator
One morning I was crossing The High Bridge when a ship called the River Navigator came through and docked at one of the landings.
I later looked it up and found that the MS River Navigator is one of several cruise ships belonging to a company called Vantage Deluxe World Travel. This is an American company, based in Boston, which describes itself as “a leader in luxury river cruising for Americans”.
They say their ships are “designed with the American traveler in mind” and have a “US plug in every stateroom”.
The River Navigator is 360 feet long.
Feet? Yes, this is for Americans, remember. 360 feet is about 110 meters. The ship carries 134 passengers and a crew of 36, which they point out is a passenger-to-staff ratio of better than 4 to 1.
The Maasvallei (=Meuse Valley) is one of five passenger ships run by the Stiphout company for excursions in and around Maastricht.
For instance, they offer a 50-minute cruise on the Maas/Meuse every hour for 7.75 Euros for adults and 4.65 Euros for children (prices as of 2012).
They also have longer trips (several hours) to Liège or Visé and back. And they offer various special excursions such as Brunch Cruise, a Pancake Cruise or a Saturday Night Cruise.
The same company has two “beautiful American school busses“ which they use for city tours.
I haven’t tried any of these offers, just snapped a photo of the Maasvallei as it was going towards the St. Servaas-Brug (Saint Servatius Bridge).
The Maastricht railway station does not have a big free parking garage for bicycles like the ones in Amsterdam or Groningen, so you have to park your bike in one of the designated parking areas, which can get a bit crowded, or pay a small fee for guarded indoor parking in the bike shop.
At a lawyer’s office on Bourgognestraat (third photo) I saw a more exclusive solution to bicycle parking. Here they have attached a few rings to the outside wall of the building, so people can park their bikes on the sidewalk and lock them to the ring.
Though I had been warned that bicycle parking is somewhat restricted in Maastricht, I never had any problem finding somewhere to park mine. The fact of the matter is that bicycles take up much less space than cars, so you’re bound to find a space just about anywhere.
There are several places to rent bicycles in Maastricht, for instance Orangebike at Sint Jacobstraat 4, 6211LB Maastricht.
Or: Courtens Bike Sports at Calvariestraat 16, 6211 NJ Maastricht.
Where I rented my bike was at the shop in the main railway station, Aon de Stasie. They charge ten Euros per day (as of 2012) for a city bike, and you have to leave a fifty Euro deposit, which is promptly returned when you return the bike.
Aon de Stasie also provides guarded indoor bicycle parking for a small fee, for those who don’t want to park their bikes outside. And they have a free air pump by the front door for anyone to use.
Address: Stationsplein 26 6221 BT Maastricht, Netherlands
Location on Google maps
At a red light, cyclists are often allowed to turn right provided no pedestrians are crossing. This is a very sensible policy (which is gradually also being adopted in Paris and other French cities) because gets cyclists out of harm’s way before the motor vehicles start moving again. Specifically, it reduces the danger of cyclists being caught in the blind spot of large vehicles and crushed when trucks or busses turn right after the lights change.
Second photo: One of the pleasant things about cycling in the Netherlands and in Belgium is that they have clear markings on the street showing who has the right of way at each crossing. Here, as is often the case, cyclists have the right of way and the cars have to yield.
Bus 50 to Aachen
As I have already mentioned in one of my Aachen reviews, there is no longer any direct train service between Maastricht (Netherlands) and Aachen (Germany), but these two cities are only thirty kilometers apart and are connected by the local Veolia bus line number 50, which runs four times an hour on weekdays, twice an hour on evenings and weekends.
The journey takes just about an hour, making all stops along the way. In 2012 I paid € 5.50 for the trip. As on any local bus, you just get on at a bus stop and pay the driver.
It is a pleasant journey through a region of gently rolling hills, not flat like the rest of the Netherlands. The route is a two lane highway with bicycle paths on both sides, separated from the highway by a wide strip of grass – an arrangement that is more or less standard throughout the Netherlands.
MAA/MST to Aachen
There is a new bus service connecting Maastricht Aachen Airport with Aachen. The bus departs outside the terminal and at the central train station in Aachen and departure times connect with most flights at MAA/MST. Timetables (like flights) might change at short notice, check www.gilbacher.com for an up to date timetable.
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Maastricht - Aachen Airport
When you visit Holland, you most probably will land at Schiphol Airport. The fastest way to travel down is to arrange a flight to Maastricht Aachen Airport. Unfortunately KLM recently stopped with their regular flights to Maastricht.
It is even possible to arrange tourflights, to have a beautiful view over Maastricht and it's surroundings.
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Maastricht also offers and airport on the outskirts of the city. Direct flight operate here from Amsterdam and Berlin. The airport serves mainly as gateway for holiday makers to various destinations in Southern Europe and Turkey.
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