Gulpen

The friendly village of Gulpen is considered to be the heart of the Heuvelland, the most beautiful and hilly part of the South Limburg region. Its cosy, small centre is a popular destination for Dutch tourists and is a lively place in summer, when a range of events and small festivals are organised. Administratively, a number of surrounding villages are part of Gulpen, most with some draws of themselves. The most notable ones are Wittem, Epen, Wijlre, Mechelen and Eys.

Understand

A road leading to Klein-Kuttingen, one of the many hamlets that more or less belong to Gulpen

Gulpen's main asset, as for many other towns in this region, are the natural surroundings and charming hamlets around it. It's well-known and popular as a holiday destination for the Dutch, who use is as a starting point for day trips to the many sights in the region. Nevertheless, Gulpen itself is a pleasant place with some worthwhile sights and a number of nice bars and restaurants.

The town derives its name from the small river Gulp, which still runs through the heart of the village. The so-called "Gulp and Geul-valley", the Geul being the second nearby running river, are considered the most beautiful natural area in the Netherlands.

Get in

Biking and hiking routes are plentiful, and come in from all directions. The main road connection to Gulpen is however the N278, which runs right through the village halfway on its route from Maastricht to Aachen. Both are about a half hour's drive. This road is the modern day version of an important ancient Roman road, and easily connects the town not only to those two large cities but also to a number of villages in between. The N595 connects Gulpen to nearby Valkenburg aan de Geul, which is a popular tourist destination. The nearest highway is the A76, which in turn connects to the A2. The highway exit is near Simpelveld, about a 10 minute drive from Gulpen.

There's no train station in town, but the ample bus connections operated by Veolia are a good way to get in. If you're coming in from the Netherlands by public transport, head to either Maastricht or Heerlen and take a bus from there. Line 50 to Aachen will take you to Gulpen from Maastricht (30 minutes, € 3,57 single trip). Line 40 is your main connection to and from Heerlen (also 30 minutes, € 3,57 single trip). If you're coming in only for the day, or you have another destination on your list, a day ticket purchased in the bus (€5.50) is cheaper than 2 single tickets. The main busstation is easy to find as it is located along the main road (Rijksweg/N278).

If you're coming in from Germany, you may want to take a train to Aachen instead. From there, bus line 50 towards Maastricht will get you to Gulpen in half an hour too.

Other bus lines to and from here include:

Get around

The small center is best explored on food but to see the surroundings, a bike or car is handy. For car rentals you'll need to head to Maastricht or Valkenburg, but normal bicycles, mountainbikes, electrobikes and scooters are available in Gulpen itself. Bicycling is highly popular in this area and a lot of bicycle racing events pass through or near by the town. In summer, you'll find many large and small groups of cyclist exploring the surroundings and stopping for breaks in Gulpen and nearby towns. However, keep in mind that you're surrounded by small but still fairly challenging hills. If you're not particularly fit or trained, consider renting an electric bike for some support in reaching the hill tops. Alternatively, many visitors opt for a scooter. Rentals typically require a deposit of around 50 euro, and for scooters you'll need a drivers' license.

See

Do

Buy

Gulpen's compact weekly market takes place on Thursday mornings and was awarded the title "Best small market in the Netherlands". For a town of its size, Gulpen has a good collection of shops and both tourist and locals from the surrounding towns come here for daily groceries and a few speciality stores. Most of the shops are located on and around the main road (N278) and Looiersplein. In between the two is the so-called Passage, which allows covered entrance to another 3 or 4 shops.

Eat

In the town centre

Outdoor café terraces along the Gulp-stream, in the village centre.

In surrounding villages and hamlets

Drink

Most of the restaurants in the centre double as cafés at night, and stay open late, especially in summer. During the summer holidays, events are organised virtually every weekend, with outdoor terraces and tents, as well as regular live music. Beer lovers should visit during the Gulpener Bierfeesten, the local version of a German beer fest that attracts some 25000 visitors each year. Of course, Gulpener beer is the main drink for sale, including several special beers from their collection. Access to the area with music stages and long tables where people gather and drink is free.

Sleep

Connect

Mobile internet coverage (3G, no 4G yet) is available for most providers. Hotels will typically offer some form of Wi-Fi, but quality varies. The public library has both free Wi-Fi and free computers with internet set up for use, and particularly welcomes visitors. The opening hours are limited, however. There's a post office with all regular services, but sets of stamps can also be bought at the supermarket. The area code for Gulpen is 043.

Go next

Gulpen lies in the heart of the South Limburg hills area, with nice views and good destinations all around. The town is right on the ancient and still main road from Maastricht to Aachen (Germany) - both beautiful historic cities with a vibrant student life and plenty of shopping opportunities. There are several other towns and sights of interest along that very road, including Vaals, Vijlen, Wittem and the US War Cemetery of Margraten. From the top of the Gulpenerberg you can see other villages in the area, all at biking of even hiking distance, if you'd like. Head to Simpelveld to catch the heritage steam train which also stops in touristic Valkenburg aan de Geul. Other interesting daytrips in the area include the castle of Hoensbroek or the indoor ski slopes in Landgraaf.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, July 26, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.