When visiting the Netherlands, people often choose to fly to Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and start their trip from there. There are many more options however. One of which is the airport near Maastricht, the most southern city in the Netherlands. Its full name is Maastricht Aachen Airport, because the German city of Aachen acquired a large portion of the stocks quite a while ago.
Maastricht Airport is a small airport, but its surroundings offer many different kinds of enjoyment and ways to spend your time in the Netherlands and even in Germany or Belgium which are easy to reach. This is made even more attractive with a car rental Maastricht airport. We’ll talk more about the sights later, but first we would like to tell you a bit more about Maastricht Airport.
In the past, Maastricht airport had two runways. Currently it has only one since the second, smaller one was broken down. The asphalted track is 2750m in length, 45m in width and used both as runway and as landing strip. Flights from all over the European region land here every day and, especially during the summertime, you can travel to many different destinations from Maastricht Airport as well. Since the airport has but a single runway, there is only a small terminal. This terminal does, however, have everything you need and would expect from an airport. It’s not the largest, or most luxurious, but Maastricht airport opens doors to all kinds of interesting places. Especially when you take a car rental Maastricht airport to go everywhere!
History of Maastricht Airport
Plans for the airport were made before World War II, but unfortunately they did not come to fruition. Near the end of the war the allied forces required an air force base closer to Germany to support the advancing troops. They requested permission from the municipality to create one, which was granted. Genists from the American army started the construction right away and cleared 188 acres of trees. Subsequently, many tons of debris were hauled from the bombed town of Geleen to create the foundations of the air strip, as well as an underground fuel depot and a hangar. The entire construction was completed on the 22nd of March in 1945. Shortly thereafter the war was over, and the allied troops no longer needed the airport. Soon a request was made to the government to turn the airport into a civilian one. It was just sitting there anyway. The request was granted and thus Maastricht Airport was born.
After the war, the aviation business grew substantially in the Netherlands and across Europe. Maastricht Airport was not affected by this unfortunately. It was used more for recreational flying and teaching purposes, as well as the Dutch military for a little bit, but its future remained uncertain because commercial flying was not growing. On the 26th of April in 1957, the N.V. Luchthaven Zuid-Limburg was created. This company would try to exploit and develop the airport for commercial flights and did so with great success. They created the basis for the Maastricht Aachen Airport that we know today.
The city of Maastricht
Maastricht Airport is just a 15 minute drive away from the provincial capital of Maastricht. A beautiful city with many old buildings and a rich military and ecclesiastical history. With a car rental Maastricht you will be able to visit the city with great ease, but it is worth checking out its surroundings as well. There is simply so much to see! Your cheap car rental Maastricht will carry you everywhere.
Sights near Maastricht Airport
So, now that you know how the airport came to be, it is time to tell you how it can serve as the gateway to a perfect holiday! It is especially useful to have a rental car Maastricht for these, as that will be the easiest way to get around to these great places. For a cheap car rental Maastricht you’re on the right website, but let’s talk about the sights first. The area near Maastricht is not exactly what you would call mountainous, but it is a lot less flat than the rest of the Netherlands. Here, the local population has a rich history in mineworking and creating quarries. As a result, the history and sights reflect this very much. Be sure to pack some warm clothes, because it is cold under the ground even during summertime.
The Jezuïetenberg is part of a former marl quarry and consists of six kilometers of accessible pathways. The Jezuïeten, or Jesuits, were active in the area and started to decorate the former quarry after the workers had left it empty and open. They created many different works of extraordinary religious art. Using nearby water, they even constructed streams and a fountain inside the quarry. Fellow Jesuits were shown around during tours and tourism from non-Jesuits made its entry as well. Sadly, local youth trashed and damaged many of the artworks during nightly escapades of vandalism. The quarry was closed off as a result, but from the first World War onwards, tourism picked back up again. You can still visit the quarry today. It is very impressive to take a look inside and see all the sculptures made from the limestone in the quarry, so don’t forget to put the Jezuïtenberg on your list!
The coal mines in the province of Limburg got many applications from people who would like to visit the mines in the early 20th century. They could never grant these requests because it would be far too dangerous for visitors to enter the mines. That is when Emile Caselli decided to turn an old marl quarry into a visitors mine. The mine was reconstructed and many different materials and machines from the actual coalmines were placed here. Since then, the mine has been open to the public. Former mineworkers give the tours here and tell vividly of the old days in which they worked over half a kilometer below the surface.
Seventy million years ago, the area around Limburg was a tropical sea. When billions of seacreatures died, their skeletons eventually formed the limestone we see today. This layer of limestone was excavated extensively, creating over 250 kilometers of mineshafts and tunnels, leaving plenty of opportunities to explore them now that the mines are no longer in use. The people here have been using the stone for multiple purposes over the last 6000 years and don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Now that mining is no longer worth the effort, they got creative and we are very happy they did. You can now even go mountain biking under the ground! Strap on a helmet, check your lights and follow the guide into the pitch black tunnels for the most thrilling bike ride you have ever experienced. The location is easy to reach with your rental car Maastricht and it will be a once in a lifetime experience for sure.
Here the aforementioned sea that existed millions of years ago has left an impressive mark on the landscape. The Sint Pietersberg, meaning Saint Peters’ mountain, is located near the city of Maastricht. Calling it a mountain is overdoing it a bit, since it is more akin to a hill. The Sint Pietersberg functions as a plateau between the lower valleys surrounding it and was home to a plethora of thriving sea creatures all those years ago. Even the infamous Mosasaurus, a vicious creature of gargantuan proportions, used to live here. It was so large that it could swallow a shark whole. Imagine encountering one of those during your swimming session! After many centuries, the sea dried out and the landscape changed into the natural vegetation we know today. There is a large stairway leading up to an amazing viewpoint of the valley. For those who want to experience all that the local nature has to offer, the Sint Pietersberg should be a no-brainer to visit which is easy to do with your Maastricht rental car.
Fort St. Pieter
Standing tall, high upon the Sint Pietersberg, is Fort St. Pieter. For over 300 years it has protected Maastricht from its enemies. Maastricht used to be sieged and conquered many times throughout the centuries, often by French troops. Once, the French shot at the city from the top of the Sint Pietersberg, justifying the construction of a fort with five corners on its peak afterwards. It served well after that, but was decommissioned in 1867. After a period of decay, tourism started to grow and after a recent, thorough restauration, it is worth a visit more than ever.
On the eastern slope of the Sint Pietersberg, overlooking the river Maas, lie the ruins of Lichtenberg. The foundation dates back to the 10th century, making it the oldest castle remains in the entire Netherlands. The highest point of the castle offers a stunning view of the river Maas, which is very much worth the climb. A strange and slightly macabre fact about the ruins is that, during the first World War, the people of Maastricht could see both factions fight each other from the viewpoint while the battle unfolded just over the border in the area now known as Visé. From the city it is a short drive with your rental car Maastricht to reach the ruins, so be sure not to skip this!
A very honorable mention for the oldest city gate in the Netherlands still standing today. The Helpoort, which means hell’s gate, was built in the second half of the 13th century. It is therefore over 800 years old! It was built to withstand sieges and war, because Maastricht used to be a fortified city. Its walls, gates and military presence were required because of the tumultuous history and strategic location of the city. After Maastricht was decommissioned as a fortified city by King Willem III in 1867, many of the walls and gates were broken down. Every single gate was destroyed, except for the Helpoort. You can visit the gate easily with your car rental in Maastricht, so you should definitely go and take a look.
Cross some borders
Because the province of Limburg and therefore also Maastricht is wedged between Germany and Belgium, those countries are very nearby. This means that you can easily take your car rental Maastricht to visit these countries! We’ve selected a nice destination for each country that will be easy to reach.
Germany – Aachen
The German city which co-owns the Maastricht airport is actually a very nice place to go. Its most famous sight is the Dom van Aken, which is the final resting place of Charles the Great and also where over thirty German kings were crowned. The building is enormous and beautifully constructed. It will make your mouth fall open to a degree where you will need one of your hands to close it again, instantly justifying your day-trip.
Belgium – Luik
In Belgium, also very close to Maastricht, you will find the city of Luik. Similarly to Maastricht, it is located on the edge of the river Maas. With almost 200.000 inhabitants, this is the third largest city of Belgium. An arm of the river used to flow through the historical city center, but was cut off and emptied to create more building space. Its former shape is still visible in the curly shape of streets like the Boulevard d’Avroy and the Boulevard de la Sauvenière. There is a lot to do and discover in this city, which makes it perfect for a daytrip with your car rental in Maastricht!
Are you ready?
We hope to have given you some quality inspiration for your trip to the province of Limburg after you arrive at Maastricht airport. Taking a car rental Maastricht airport will make traveling around much easier for you, so be sure to check out the possibilities for rentals on our main page. Enjoy!