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Maastricht, just like Nijmegen, claims to be one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. But unlike Nijmegen, the places has not been inhabited permanently. That said, there was already some sort of settlement about 2,500 years ago by the Kelts, at a place along the Maas where wading through the water was possible. This is also what the name Maastricht literally means.
Maastricht is located along the shores of the Maas River in between the highest hills in the country. It is one of the most popular cities in the Netherlands, but mostly amongst Dutch, Belgian and German tourists. Surprisingly few other foreign visitors come to the city.
The city has about 120,000 inhabitants, including a large number of students, both from abroad as from other parts of the Netherlands. It is a very lively city, with many restaurants and pubs and living the good Bourgondic life here is not that difficult. As a bonus, the historical hart of the city provides the visitor a good combination of culture and nightlife. And if that is not enough, around Maastricht is a beautiful landscape with green hills along the shores of the Maas river and cross border visits to Germany and Belgium are very easy and straightforward as well. That said, it is a good place to base yourself for a few days or even a week.
Maastricht also deserved a place in European history as the place where the Treaty of Maastricht was signed. This treaty was the bases for replacing over a dozen of local currencies for the Euro (€).
Maastricht has 7 neighbourhoods which can be chopped down to even smaller units.
|Buitenwijk Zuidwest||Villapark, Jekerdal, Biesland, Campagne, Wolder and Sint Pieter|
|Buitenwijk West||Brusselsepoort, Mariaberg, Belfort, Pottenberg, Malpertuis, Caberg, Oud-Caberg, Malberg, Dousberg-Hazendans and Daalhof|
|Buitenwijk Noordwest||Boschpoort, Boscherveld, Frontenkwartier, Belvedere, and Lanakerveld|
|Buitenwijk Oost||Wyckerpoort, Heugemerveld, Wittevrouwenveld, Nazareth, Limmel, Scharn and Amby|
|Buitenwijk Noordoost||Beatrixhaven, Borgharen, Itteren and Meerssenhoven|
|Buitenwijk Zuidoost||Heugem, Heer, De Heeg and Vroendaal|
For the first time visitor, here are some places you really have to go:
Carnaval is an event that takes place 40 days before Easter (so the date changes every year). Carnaval nowadays starts with on Saturday, On Sunday there is a big parade, starting at the Vrijthof, and on the monday evening there is another parade called the Family parade. These parades are the highlight of these days.
During the Carnaval people dress up (like Halloween in the USA) and drink a lot. There are parties until early in the morning for a few days straight, and typical for Limburg is that the music for these days is composed only for these days. Usually this is a kind of Polka/Folk music. On tuesday afternoon there is a contest for music groups, called Het Zate Hermenikes concours, which is staged at the Vrijthof. On the evening of the Tuesday Carnaval ends at 11:11pm.
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.
Maastricht weather is typical of what you get in the Netherlands: mild winters with rare snow, and reasonably warm summers. Still, summers are on average just a bit warmer, while winters are a bit colder on average compared to the rest of the country. In summer the average temperatures are around 22 °C, during a heat wave, temperatures can reach above 30 °C. In winter the average night temperature is just below 0 °C, while during the daytime they around 5 °C - 6 °C.
|Avg Max||5 °C||5.9 °C||9.7 °C||13 °C||17.8 °C||20.3 °C||22.5 °C||22.7 °C||18.8 °C||14.2 °C||8.7 °C||6.1 °C|
|Avg Min||-0.1 °C||-0.2 °C||2.2 °C||4 °C||8 °C||10.9 °C||13 °C||12.8 °C||10.1 °C||6.6 °C||3 °C||1.2 °C|
|Rainfall||60.5 mm||50.7 mm||60.5 mm||46 mm||63.8 mm||73.9 mm||67.1 mm||58.1 mm||60.4 mm||62.8 mm||66 mm||70.2 mm|
Maastricht has an international airport, shared with the German city of Aachen, the Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST), which lies just north of the city along the A2 highway. Ryanair flies to/from Alicante, Pisa and Girona, Sky Airlines flies to/from Antalya, Transavia to/from Dalaman (Turkey), Faro, Heraklion (Crete), Kos, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes and Tenerife-South, and Amsterdam Airlines to/from Ankara and Kayseri.
You can reach Maastricht easiest by train from other cities in the Netherlands, like Eindhoven (1hour), Utrecht (2 hours) and Amsterdam (2.5 hours). For details check the National Railway website. The is also a trainconnection to and from the city of Liege in Belgium.
The national highway A2 runs straight through the city and is very busy during summer as it connects the Netherlands with destinations south like Belgium and France. In the coming years works will be carried out on this highway, as it will run under the city in the future. If you use this highway, expect delays during the coming years.
Eurolines offers a number of connections with European cities. The stop of Eurolines is at the busstation (busstop K), which is near the trainstation.
|2beHotel Kind of Blue||Wilhelminasingel 87||Hotel||-|
|Stayokay Maastricht||Maasboulevard 101||Hostel||86|
|Guesthouse Maastricht||Minckelersstraat 18||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Villa Loca||Brusselseweg 488||GUESTHOUSE||90|
|Townhouse Design Hotel||Sint Maartenslaan 5||HOTEL||87|
|Hip Hotel St.Martenslane||St. Maartenslaan 6||HOTEL||86|
Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.
From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.
The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.
It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.
The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).
Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.
Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.
If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.
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