Valkenburg aan de Geul

Castle ruins overlooking the town

Valkenburg is a city in the south of the Netherlands, usually buzzing with visitors. It has been a major domestic tourist destination for decades and packed with hotels, bars and restaurants. The crowds that gather here in summer partly come for the town's interesting historic sights but also for the general atmosphere and facilities. Christmas is the second high season here, with plenty of decorations up from the start of November and famous Christmas markets in December. In many ways, Valkenburg as a town seems to encourage visitors to just have a good time.

Understand

Siege and conquest were characteristic of the history of Valkenburg, and the town's centre holds plenty of evidence of former grandeur. The castle in the middle of the city - of which now only a ruin remains - was destroyed in December 1672. Only two city gates (the Berkelpoort and the Grendelpoort) and a part of the city walls survived destruction and both have been thoroughly restored in recent years.

In 1853 a railway station was built on a line connecting the two cities of Maastricht and Aachen, making it possible to discover the charming little town of Valkenburg.

Nowadays Valkenburg is famous for its cycling events and its touristic character. There are several attractions to be found within walking distance of the city centre, and the many hotels, restaurants and café's cater to domestic and international travellers of all ages.

Get in

By train

Valkenburg has the oldest stone train station in the Netherlands. It is on the train line between Heerlen and Maastricht with connections from both sides every 15 minutes. The trainline is operated by Veolia Transport ; train trips can be planned with the NS Reisplanner . The city center can be reached on foot from the train station in 5 minutes.

By car

The city is also situated along the A79 motorway between Heerlen and Maastricht, making it easily accessible by car. There are several indicated parking spaces, usually for a fairly steep fee. In high season, parkings fill up fast so arriving early is a good idea. Otherwise, count on walking a bit further.

By bus

Buses depart from the bus station, near the train station, to Maastricht (line 51 en 53), Gulpen and Geleen (line 49) and other places in the region.

Get around

Most attractions are easily reached on foot from the city center. Both Thermae 2000 and the Holland Casino are at the top of the Cauberg and require a fair climb for Dutch standards. The tourist office (VVV) can be found near the large rock (Kei) in the city center.

It is also possible to rent a bike to explore the beautiful surroundings of the city. Within a ten minute walk from the train station bikes can be rented .

Zuid Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappij operates a steam locomotive between Valkenburg and Kerkrade and a branch to Vetschau in Germany. Trains run during the summer holiday season, the Sinterklaas (November to December 5) period and the Christmas period.

See

Rainbow Spiral Building in winter


Do

Megalosaurus Inside the Gemeentegrot

The local marlstone was already being used as a building material in Roman times. The underground quarrying of the stone has left a series of caves, which is arguably the number one attraction that stands out in Valkenburg. You could visit any number of times and still find something new and different. The caves themselves are a treasure chest of art and expression. As a tip, take a digital camera (with a flash, the guide is the only person who has a torch!) and be prepared to take a lot of photographs. There are amazing images and drawings hidden away in the darkness.

Buy

The town is large enough to have all the regular stores (including supermarkets and clothing shops) but due to its touristy nature it also has some boutiques and a range of gift and souvenir shops.

The main shopping streets are the Passage, Dr. Erensstraat, Grotestraat, Lindenlaan and the Louis van der Maesenstraat. The Walramplein and Wilhelminastraat have some good shops as well.

Eat

There's a wide range of good places to eat, from simple bistros to fancy up-scale restaurants. Most hotels in Valkenburg also have a restaurant, so you'll never have to walk far to find something that fits your wishes.

Drink

There are countless places to eat ánd drink, and there's even a bit of serious dancing happing here on weekends and in holidays. Young people from the area come to town to join tourists in one of many bars and clubs, and even restaurants that move their tables aside and turn the music up at night.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under € 40
Mid-range € 40 to € 70
Splurge Over € 70

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Other

Connect

Many establishments offer WiFi to guests. This is not only true for hotels, but increasingly for bars and restaurants as well. GSM coverage is good.

Go next

All the other South-Limburg destinations are within easy distance. Don't miss lively Maastricht, one of the country's most beautiful cities, packed with culture and history. Go hiking and enjoy the scenery around Vijlen and Vaals or hop on the heritage train in Simpelveld.

If you're looking to cross borders, Aachen in Germany is just a bus ride away, and Liège in Belgium is just an hour's drive.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, November 13, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.