Epen

Epen is a small town in South Limburg, the southern most region of the Netherlands. It's a picturesque little place that features some of the best landscape views in the country and is dotted with the timber framed houses that are so typical for this area.

Understand

Natural and agricultural landscapes around the village are the main attraction.

For long, Dutch, Belgian and German tourists have discovered the beautiful surroundings of this region and of Epen in particular. Although only some 740 locals live in the village itself today, or 1120 when the surrounding area is added to that number, there are plenty of options to stay, eat and drink.

Epen is part of the municipality of Gulpen-Wittem, with Gulpen and Wittem obviously being the primary towns. The Belgian border is at walking distance, allowing for lovely cross-border hikes to the Belgian villages on the other side. The river Geul passes through Epen, leaving zinc and other specific elements in the soils it touches. It is therefore that Zinkviooltjes, a rare kind of violets, and other rare, zinc-loving plants are found here.

History

In medieval times, the Epen territory belonged to the Carolingian kings. First written evidence of the settlement dates back to 1041, when it is mentioned in an akt of the Roman king Hendrik under the name "Apine". In 1056 Hendrik, then German Emperor, gives a number of goods in "villa Apensis" to the abbey of Burtscheid, to which they belong until 1794. Some believe that poverty, due to the many passing armies and the effects of war, are the reason why so many timber framed houses in the area remain.

Get in

There are basically 3 roads leading to the village, in the directions of nearby Vaals, Mechelen/Partij and Slenaken. Coming from the N278 (e.g. from Maastricht), leave that road at Partij and follow signs for Mechelen and Epen. The way is also indicated from Vaals, Vijlen and Gulpen. It's generally a pleasant drive with nice vistas.

There's no train station in the direct surroundings, but bus line 57 connects Epen to Gulpen and Maastricht. Therefore, when arriving by train, your best option is to take an intercity train to Maastricht an catch the bus from there. The nearest airport is also Maastricht-Aachen Airport.

Cycling is highly popular in this area, and if the slopes are not an issue for you, cycling in is a nice way to pick up some of the great scenery on the way. Routes are plentiful, with cycling directions provided on almost all way pointers (look for the red bike). For hikers, several walking routes avoid roads and concentrate mostly on forest paths the open fields.

Get around

To see the best of town, you'll have to see the outskirts and the surrounding natural areas and hamlets. Hiking is a great way to enjoy some peace and quiet as well a good views, since you can take the many small walking paths around. However, prepare for a fairly long and at times tiring hike through the hilly area. The same goes for exploring Epen's surroundings on a normal bike. Alternatively, reserve an electric bike from Wingbergermolen (Terpoorterweg 4, +31 (0)43-4559110, . A car is another good option, but you'll need to head to Valkenburg, Maastricht or Heerlen to rent one.

See

Timber framed houses are a common sight here, with many of them old and listed as monuments.
The 18th century Volmolen

Do

Buy

At the sheep shepherd's farm, a range of wool products are for sale. The tourist information offices sells some souvenirs and regional products.

Eat

There are quite many places that cater to visitors here. Most serve simple but good bistro-style food and some have excellent views. Note that some places may close early or even entirely in winter.

Drink

Most of the terraces make for excellent places to just have a drink, and outside of the main lunch and diner hours, you'll be more than welcome to sit down for a beer. There is a cosy local café, but for any serious night life you should try Aachen or Maastricht.

Sleep

There are plenty of lodging options in Epen and the villages and hamlets around. Camping is very popular around here, with camping grounds varying from basic ones with 5-10 places to large ones with lots of facilities. Chalets, advertised as "vakantiehuis(jes)", are also common. The best ones are booked full rapidly so if possible, try to book months in advance. Especially if you're travelling with a group or family, camping or chalets are convenient and good-value options. Nevertheless, if you prefer a hotel, pension or bed&breakfast, you'll find those as well. Again, try to book in advance. As in most tourism-oriented places, accommodation prices generally rise in high-season.

Connect

There's good GSM coverage and 3G works quite okay in the village. Most hotels offer WiFi for their guests.

All the usual post office services, including packages, are offered inside the Tourist information office (Julinanastraat 15). If you're just looking for stamps, you can also get them at the Spar supermarket ( Wilhelminastraat 15)

Go next

The whole region is popular with visitors and there's plenty of interesting next stops. Vaals, Vijlen and Gulpen are charming destinations in the direct surroundings of Epen, but go just a bit further and you'll find yourself in bustling, historic Maastricht or its German equivalent, Aachen.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.