Maastricht is such a lovely city and it’s always delightful to have an excuse to revisit Maastricht. After finding a steal on NS last year, we packed our bags for a weekend to explore Maastricht’s Christmas market, Magical Maastricht. Needless to say, our weekend in Limburg enjoying Maastricht and Valkenburg was just what we needed. I recently returned back to Maastricht to revisit Maastricht during the magical Christmas season and I’ve updated this post with more tips for visiting Maastricht during
When to visit Magical Maastricht
The Magical Maastricht Christmas Market is open daily between November 29th and December 31st. (These dates were for 2019 and will update this for 2020.) Although the hours may differ for certain days, it should be open between
The weekend is the most popular time to visit,
Tips for visiting Maastricht during the Christmas season
We found a one-day round-trip ticket with NS thanks to a sale, which made it possible to get from Holland to Maastricht for only fifteen euros, including
If you have the chance, I’d recommend ensuring that you have at least a day to explore Maastricht beyond the market. On almost every trip to Maastricht, I visit Boekhandel Dominicanen, a beautiful church in a 14th-century church. This stunning church is a great place to pick up books and other gifts.
75% of accommodations in Maastricht were booked by early September for the weekends in December. This Christmas market is a local favorite and people come from all over the Netherlands for it (along with seeing André Rieu live [more about this later!]). As a result, you’ll need to book your hotel early or hope that someone cancels last minute…
We followed the trail of the lights, however I’d say that the Vrijthof was the most charming in terms of Christmas decorations. It’s always so romantic walking around Maastricht, so it was nice to have an excuse to see more of the city center around dusk. The sun suns early in winter, which makes the city into a picture book between its beautiful decked out garlands hanging along the streets, beautiful architecture, and lit-up windows. (The photo above is of the Maastricht Tourism Board, which is located in a beautiful building in the heart of the historic Maastricht city center.)
One day in Maastricht during the Christmas market season is certainly not enough as it’s easy to spend a whole day exploring the city’s many charming shopping districts filled with independent shops alone. This doesn’t even include seeing the Zonneberg Caves outside of the city center, where The Night Watch was hidden during World War II. Limburg is known for its hospitality and it’s the perfect place for a relaxing whole weekend.
Where to stay in M
If you can stay in the city center, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle in terms of the buses. (If you’re not living in the Netherlands, you won’t probably own an OVchipkaart.) A well-located boutique hotel in the city center recommended by a friend is the Dutch Maastricht located in the trendy Wyck neighborhood if you’re looking for a cozy boutique hotel with a good location.
We stayed at the affordable B&B Desiree about fifteen minutes outside of the city center by bus. It was only 99 euros for a clean cozy room, which included a nice breakfast. If you’re planning to visit Maastricht for the Christmas market, the early bird gets the worm…
Maastricht Christmas market
I’d say that the Magical Maastricht Christmas market was closer to a winter carnival. There were some stalls,
The stalls were typical Christmas market fare: leather goods, hats, and decorations. (I hope that next year’s Christmas fair features more artisanal stalls.) I liked the additional spots for photo spots, including Santa’s House, with staff conversing with visitors.
One of my souvenirs from the Maastricht Christmas market this year had to be their souvenir mug, which was more festive this year. I paid out of pocket just to keep it for myself to remember this trip! I was a bit skeptical of the Magical Christmas showroom, but I saw some really charming miniature Christmas decorations in there out of my budget.
Be warned that you can’t pay with cash at some of the drink stalls, so you will need to acquire tickets at one of the booths for the indoor lounges. The booth for redeeming NS tickets had a particularly long line, but we managed to minimize our waiting time after getting 8 tickets. There is also a special that includes tickets for ice skating, a ride on the Ferris wheel, and gluhweins (or a non-alcoholic drink) if you plan on taking full advantage of the market. (1.5 tickets = One Gluhwein!)
There’s a lovely decorated rink that becomes even nicer at night. For parents and weak skaters, there’s a seal available for those who aren’t that talented at ice skating. The location of the rink is quite convenient for parents who rather just watch their kids as there’s a cafe right next to the rink for picking up a warm beverage.
The Ferris Wheel
I had not been on a Ferris wheel in years before hopping on the one at the Maastricht Christmas market. The view over the market and of the Vrijthof was certainly worth the money if you’re a photographer. I loved how the Christmas market lit up like a Christmas tree or something out of a Christmas card. The ride lasted longer than I expected and we went around a few times before stopping at the top.
Food and Drinks
You’ll find a mix of German and Dutch Christmas foods at Magical Maastricht. Jacob stopped for a traditional worst although I was particularly tempted by the reibekuchen (German apple dessert) and poffertjes (little Dutch pancakes). On my recent trip back to Maastricht, we stopped near the station at Coffeelovers for a filling lunch with delicious sandwiches.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend stopping off at With Love Burrito close to the city center for vegan-friendly dinner options. For a bit of a splurge and a nice dinner, I recommend walking a bit outside of the city center to visit Bijzonder, an organic vegan-friendly restaurant with great options for both vegans and meat-eaters.
Gluhwein is a mulled wine popular in Europe during this time of the year… Gluhwein is a must if you are visiting Maastricht and drink alcohol. This drink just warms you up from the inside out. I also appreciated the chance to buy a souvenir mug with it.
Can you write about the Maastricht Christmas market without talking about Schrobbelèr? Schrobbelèr is a typical Southern beverage popular in the south of the Netherlands. It isn’t overly heavy (21.5%) and has a sweet, spiced taste to it. Although the drink comes in a shot glass, you typically just take a sip. You can get almost everything with Schrobbelèr if you’re wondering what gluhwein or coffee tastes like with an extra kick…
Seeing André Rieu in Maastricht
One of the reasons that I returned to Maastricht this winter was to see André Rieu in person. If you’re not familiar with Andre Rieu, he’s a famous Dutch musician that hails from Maastricht who performs with a full orchestra. Not many people know that I played the violin for almost ten years and I love classical music, especially orchestras. After getting a text from a friend about seeing André in his hometown, I figured that I’d go.
I’ll be writing a full blog about the experience, but simply, I was blown away by his Christmas in my hometown concert from its miniature Christmas market to the performance itself. I paid about 60 euros for my ticket. This concert will sell out, so do not wait to buy a ticket.