The idea of hiking is a bit of a stretch in most parts of the Netherlands, but in the southern city of Maastricht — there are actually some slopes!
Granted, we use the term “hiking” pretty loosely here, but there are certainly great trails in and around Maastricht that make for some beautiful walks.
Maastricht, and the province of Limburg in general, are known for being rather different to the rest of the Netherlands, and the landscape is one of the many reasons why.
Rather than the packed canal houses that are typical of the Randstad, in Maastricht, you’ll find one serene river around which the city folds away up the hills in all directions. Of course, you won’t be finding any actual mountains nearby, but the valleys and ridges around this Limburg city offer a great place for some hiking in the Netherlands.
The routes listed here range from short sweet strolls to steeper summits and day-long grinds. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll find it here (unless of course, you’re looking for anything above 400 metres) 😉.
7.Vaalserberg: the Dutch ‘mountain’
This hill is the highest point in the Netherlands at 322.4 metres (1,058 feet) and is the closest thing you will find to a mountain in the country without heading to the Dutch Carribean.
The summit of Vaalserberg marks the Drielandenpunt (three land point) where the Netherlands meets Belgium and Germany, so if you climb it to the top you can simultaneously stand in all three territories!
This route will give you a scenic view of the Selzerbeek valley and begins in the beautiful town of Vaals at the foot of the hill. At the Border Triangle on the summit, you can stop for a coffee or toilet break. It’s a little way out from Maastricht itself, but if you’re in the area it’s the best place for a hike.
📏Walk distance: 15.2 km to the peak and back
🚗How to get there: Vaals is a 35-minute drive from the centre of Maastricht.
📍Starting point: Koningin Julianaplein, Vaals
🗺Route: Follow the red Border Route signs with the GR6 route number.
6. Sint Pietersberg: the place to be in Maastricht
This hill is the prime spot in Maastricht for a hike, offering both steep climbs and gentle slopes. Sitting right on the edge of the city, Sint Pietersberg provides a gorgeous view of the Maastricht area and is a popular spot at sunset.
The distance you’ll walk here is completely up to which paths you take. If you keep to the hill itself, your route will be anywhere between two and five kilometres, but if you go down the back and around the quarry you can stretch it to eight to ten kilometres.
Either way, if you’re looking for some greenery, castle ruins and adorable farm animals, this is the place for you. My personal favourite aspect of this hill is the sectioned off dog park which always offers a world of cuteness for sore eyes.
📏Walk distance: 2-10km
🚲How to get there: Sint Pietersberg is a 15min cycle from the centre of Maastricht.
📍Starting point: Fort Sint Pieter
🗺Route: Follow the footpaths around and over the hill.
5. Bemelerberg: the countryside experience
Bemelen is a village about 5km east of Maastricht, with hills and valleys between 60-140 metres above sea level in its surrounding area. Out here, you get a taste of the beautiful countryside with rolling hills, orchards, horses, and flowery grasslands.
This easy route will take you along the Bemelerberg hill, and past the Mergelhöhle chalk caves (which you should be sure to stop and admire!). Finally, you’ll round back into and through the quaint village of Bemelen itself.
📏Walk distance: 9km
🚲How to get there: 20-minute cycle (uphill) from Maastricht Central Station
📍Starting point: St. Laurentiusstraat, Bemelen
🗺Route: Follow Bosweg road out of the village and up the hill. Continue on to Grubweg and then turn onto Keunestraat. Cross over onto Franse Steeg and follow the smaller roads back around until you reach the Mergelhöhle viewpoint. From there it’s a short walk back to Bemelen.
4. Riverside walk to Eijsden and back
This one is not so hilly but is a beautiful route that will take you along the Maas river, past farms, small harbours and beautiful stretches of greenery. There’ll be many birds along this walk, most notably the swans, ducks and geese. It’s a longer walk but can also make a great cycling trip.
The best part is when you get to Eijsden you can stop for ice-cream or a hot drink before you head back in the opposite direction. If you have the time, why not check out Eijsden castle while you’re at it?
📏Walk distance: 17.2km (there and back)
🚲How to get there: An 8-minute walk or a 3-minute cycle from Maastricht Central Station📍Starting point: Sint Servaasbrug (East side of the river) in the centre of Maastricht
🗺Route: Follow the footpaths and roads along the Maas river.
3. De Vallei van Gronsveld: a forest adventure
Gronsveld is another village just outside Maastricht, which lies in a small valley. The tiny shops and old houses of the village make a charming starting point for a walk.
This hike in Maastricht will take you up a forested hill and past a small natural fountain, called De Fontein (Cadier en Keer). If you find a gap in the trees, a gorgeous view of the surrounding farms will stretch out before you. The Orenberg viewpoint is a particularly scenic spot which you can enjoy on this walk.
📏Walk distance: 7km (roundtrip)
🚲How to get there: 20-minute bike ride from the centre of Maastricht.
📍Starting point: Gronsveld
🗺Route: Take Dorweg road out of Gronsveld and then follow Dorrenweg past the fountain. Turn onto Eckelraderweg to see the Orenberg viewpoint. Finally, loop back towards Gronsveld over the hills via the Keerboschweg.
2. Strabeek, Volkenburg: there and back again
Here’s a longer one for the all-day walkers. Strabeek is a hill in the village of Volkenburg, lying around 9 kilometres away from Maastricht Stationsplein, where this route begins.
READ MORE | Hiking in the Netherlands: 4 myths, busted
Walking towards Strabeek, you’ll gain about 300 metres height, and pass by more hilly countryside, including the Mergelhöhle caves. But although this is one of the longest routes on our list, it’s quite moderate and is not particularly steep — perfect for those getting into hiking.
📏Walk distance: 18km (there and back)
🚲How to get there: You can start this walk directly from Maastricht Central Station!
📍Starting point: Maastricht Stationsplein
🗺Route: Take Bemelerweg out of the city, and follow Schaandertweg into the countryside. Turn onto Vieversgrubweg and take pictures at the Mergelhöhle caves. Follow the roads to Terblijt, then Lindenstraat, over the main road and through the forest paths until you reach Strabeek peek.
1. Chateau Neercanne and the Jeker valley
The fairytale beauty of Chateau Neercanne has drawn many weddings and formal occasions to the Jeker valley. This countryside gem sits right beside the Belgian border, where this route goes before turning around and heading back to Maastricht along another path. The whole area is dotted with old farmhouses, trickling streams and plenty of cows.
As this walk stays within the valley and does not climb any of the hills, it makes for an easy stroll. Along the route back through the Jeker valley, the roads are host to old estates that look like they belong in Jane Austen novels. Traditional pubs and horse stables will become more frequent as you return to the city. Passing by the foot of Sint Pietersberg, this hike ends back in the centre of Maastricht.
📏Walk distance: 9km (roundtrip)
🚲How to get there: A six-minute bike ride from Central Station, or just a few minutes walk from the centre!
📍Starting point: Vrijthof, Maastricht centre
🗺Route: Make your way past Waldeckpark and follow Bieslangerweg road out of the city. Once you hit Cannerweg road, you just follow that until you reach the Chateau. On the way back, cross the Jeker river and follow the Mergelweg back into the centre of Maastricht.
After all that walking, you can settle down with something tasty to drink in one of the many gezellig spots in Maastricht. Regardless of which route you choose, the nature and scenery here are sure to satisfy your outdoorsy cravings. Enjoy!
Where in Maastricht would you recommend for a hike? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: @frits.schmitz/Instagram
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2020, and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.