Valkenburg aan de Geul
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Early Roman Catholic Catacombs (reconstruction), Plenkertstraat 55, e-mail: email@example.com. This remarkable reconstruction of ancient Roman catacombs may not hold any actual graves, but it does provide a fine insight in the structure and purpose of these old Roman subterranean dwellings. Visitors are shown around by a guide who can offer a good range of details. Try to make reservations in advance, if you want an English language guided tour. The whole thing was initiated in the early 20th century by the rather eccentric Jan Diepen, who made his fortune in the textile industry but was an amateur archeologist. €7,50/3,75 for adults/children.
- Kasteel Den Halder, Kerkstraat 31. Castle is not open to visitors.
- Town Walls and Valkenburg old houses. to the south of Valkenburg rises the Dwingelrots (Castle Rock), which is crowned by the ruined castle of the lords of Valkenburg. The castle was founded in the 12th century; the tower and the fortified communicating passages, some of them hewn from the rock, were built later. After several sieges and several rebuilds, the ruined castle was abandoned in 1672. A secret passage led from the castle to the caves hewn from the rock below.
- Christmas Market. This is not just any Christmas market; it's one of the most famous in the wide region. Taking place in and around the catacombs, it's a market much after the German traditions of Christmas markets. You'll find all kinds of decorations plus some tasty sweets and food. The city as a whole is brought in Christmas spheres far more than average and people from nearby and far come to town for an afternoon of shopping and a glass of glüwein.
- De Regenboogspiraal (Hundertwasserhuis, Ronald McDonald Kindervallei), Onderstestraat 35, ☎ +31 43 - 604 92 50. Tuesdays: 14:00 Wednesdays: 14:00 Thursdays: 14:00. From € 10.
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.
- Gemeentegrot (Municipal Cave). Which was also used as a bomb shelter during the World War II.
- Fluweelengrot. With an exhibition illustrating the origins and development of man. If you take the 1 hour guided walk, you will be hard pushed to do more than catch a glimpse of some of the amazing wonders and sights.
- Panoramagrot. Largest panorama painting in the Netherlands. Only open in July & August.
- Valkenier. Recreation/Theme park well suited to children up to 10 years old.
- Sprookjesbos (Fairytale Forest.).
- Thermae 2000. Extensive bathing facilities opened in 1989 with hot mineral bath, saunas, whirpool, etc.
- Cave biking. A cycle tour of one hour through a dark cave. Watch your head!
- A gogo. This place offers a range of activities, including a cabelcart, laser gaming, tubing, luging, and mini-golf. It's best to call or email ahead for reservations.
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.
- Aarts-Mergelatelier, Berkelstraat 14, ☎ +31 43 6016653. If you'd like to take a piece of the typical local sandstone with you, this family-run place has all kinds of carved figures for sale. It also works on demand, and anything from giant statues to tiny name plates can be arranged. Simple requests are often done while you wait. If you're interested, they also give workshops.
- Culitalia, Lindenlaan 23, ☎ +31 43 6010020. For anyone who loves Italian cuisine, this Italian mercato-like shop is a mouth-watering place.
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.
- El Castillo, Muntstraat 6, ☎ +31 43 - 601 57 55. Mexican restaurant with a buffet menu that offers a wide choice of soups, main dishes, deserts, etc. The restaurant is well decorated and has a large garden that is open all-year round. Be aware that this is a popular restaurant, so reservations are advised during weekends and holidays. Buffet: € 25,50.
- Chez Paul, Broekhem 130, ☎ +31 43 7518150. Great food and excellent service make this one of the best rated restaurants in town. The dishes are original, well prepared and beautifully plated. Make sure to call ahead. €35.
- Brasserie Komma, Grotestraat Centrum 19, ☎ +31 43 6011366. In summer, the large outdoor terrace of this place is a popular place for a good value meal and for some people watching. The dishes are simple but tasty: home made soups and pastas, chicken saté and such. Mains from €12, 3 course menu fom €19.50.
- Brazza, Grote Straat 18, ☎ +31 43 6012300. This Argentine restaurant is the place to go for juicy, charcoal roasted steaks. It has a pleasant covered outdoor terrace. There's a range of sauces and veggies to be ordered with the fine meats. €25.
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.
- Café Cabo Cabo, Grotestraat Centrum 10, ☎ +31 436013581. Open Th-Su 19.00-02.00. This is what the Dutch call a "dance-café", a place that holds the middle between a bar and a real club. In any case, there's plenty of opportunity to dance and a wide range of music is played.
- Grand Café Bonne Parte. During weekdays this is a bistro, serving simple food and coffee. On Fridays and Saturdays from 22.00h however, the music is turned up and the place changes into a dance-café.
- Rockcafé the Cadillac, Grotestraat Centrum 41. If rock music or alternative pop is what you like, this is the place for you. It sometimes has live gigs too. Between 14.00 and 18.00 is serves some small dishes and snacks.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under € 40|
|Mid-range||€ 40 to € 70|
|Splurge||Over € 70|
- Hemelke, Grotestraat Centrum3, ☎ +31 43 - 601 29 69. From € 24.
- Biekaer, Daalhemerweg 1, ☎ +31 43 - 601 46 43. From € 35.
- Hotel-Restaurante La Casa, Grotestraat Centrum 25, ☎ +31 43 - 601 21 80. From € 35.
- Hotel Dupuis, Lindenlaan 5, ☎ +31 43 - 601 51 81. From € 32,50.
- Hotel Scheepers, Sint Pieterstraat 18, ☎ +31 43 - 601 35 97. From € 38,50.
- Hotel de l'Empereur, Grotestraat Centrum 32, ☎ +31 43 - 601 00 00. From € 39,50.
- De la Ruïne, Neerhem 2, ☎ +31 43 - 601 29 92. From € 34,50.
- Hotel het Anker, Neerhem 67, ☎ +31 43 - 601 31 11. From € 37,50.
- Herberg Houthem, Vroenhof 148, ☎ +31 43 - 604 02 77. From € 37.
- Hotel Sonnenblinck (Hotel Valkenburg), Stationsweg 4, 6301 JE Valkenburg aan de Geul, ☎ +31 43 60 40 893. From €50.
- Atlas Eurotel Hotel, Nieuweweg 7, ☎ +31 34 - 775 04 38. From € 49.
- Grand Hotel Monopole, Nieuweweg 22, ☎ +31 43 - 601 3545. From € 52.
- Hotel Tummers, Stationstraat 21, ☎ +31 43 - 601 37 41. From € 49.
- Hotel Schaepkens, Nieuweweg 40-44, ☎ +31 43 - 601 20 00. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. From € 42.
- Hotel Pension Andrea, Valkenburgerweg 136C, 6305 EA Schin op Geul, ☎ +31 43 - 459 16 44. From € 52.
- Hotel Hulsman, De Guascostraat 16, ☎ +31 34 775 04 38. From € 55.
- Hotel Riche, Neerhem 26, ☎ +31 43 - 601 29 65. € 44.
- Hotel Montagna, Grendelplein 15, ☎ +31 43 - 609 00 43. From € 52.
- Vue des Montagnes, Wolfsdriesweg 7, 6325 PM Berg & Terblijt, ☎ +31 43 - 604 06 52. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. From € 60.
- Hotel Kadampa, Graafstraat 39, 6305 BD Schin op Geul, ☎ +31 43 - 459 12 56. From € 70.
- Kasteel Geulzicht, Vogelzangweg 2, 6325 PN Berg en Terblijt, ☎ +31 43 - 604 04 32. From € 70.
- Hotel Limburgia, Grendelplein 19, ☎ +31 43 - 601 00 80. From € 79.
- Hotel de Geulvallei, Onderstestraat 66, 6301 KC Houthem St. Gerlach, ☎ +31 34 775 04 29. From € 85.
- Valkennest, Oud Valkenburg 14 & 18, 6305 AB Schin op Geul, ☎ +31 43 - 459 29 47. From € 85.
- Hotel Gaudi, Grendelplein 12-14, ☎ +31 43 - 601 53 33.
- Hotel Leto, Daalhemerweg 22, ☎ +31 43 - 601 60 80.
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.
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.