3 unusual things to do near Maastricht with children (mostly) for free

My husband is from Limburg. People usually make the assumption that we moved to Maastricht because of him. It’s not how it went. I first fell in love with my Limburger man and then I fell in love with Maastricht. That’s why we ended up moving here.

We have been living in Maastricht for 5 years by now and the love keeps growing. Yes, both for my amazing husband and for this beautiful old town.

This is a list of some hidden gems around Maastricht that we love visiting with our children. They all make a relaxed, low-cost day that is fun for everyone. These outings take you off the beaten path and out of the busy central area of Maastricht. They are all a bit unusual, I would even say romantic. What may sound a bit odd, when we are talking about family outings with children… But maybe that’s one of our secrets: visiting romantic places together with our children.

Kasteel Eijsden

The garden of Kasteel Eijsden is absolutely magical. Mystical little paths, beautiful herbs, majestic old trees and beautiful view over the Maas. It’s a perfect place for a bit of silence and reset. Children can enjoy exploring nature, flipping some stones in the river and spotting red squirrels. The castle itself is closed from the public. The garden can be visited for free. Most paths are doable even with a stroller.

How do we make a fun day out of it?

We usually take the bike to Eijsden. It is an easy bike ride of about 6 km from Maastricht – mostly flat and the scenery is beautiful. The bike ferry Eisden-Ternaaien is just around the corner from the castle. Our toddler loves the ferry and me too! The ferry costs 1 euro/person. It takes you straight to Belgium.

There are plenty of nice terraces and restaurant in Eijsden or you can decide to go for a picknick or an ice cream at Angelati but we have a soft spot for Restaurant / Tapas Bar Bifana in Lanaye. It is right behind the ferry station on the Belgian side.

Why do we like Restaurant Bifana?

  • It has a little playground
  • Plenty of space, where the children can run around
  • Relaxed holiday vibes
  • The food is amazing.

I guess I have a tendency to fall in love with places. We totally fell in love with a little beach in Portugal called Odeceixe some years ago. We stumbled upon it by chance and ended up spending a week there – chilling, surfing, eating seafood and bifanas. Ricardo, the Portuguese owner of Restaurant Bifana totally recreated the same vibes and we love it.

The bike ride back to Maastricht along the canal is super nice. It’s hard to believe that you are just outside of Maastricht. There is bit of uphill in the beginning to a bridge, but the rest is relaxed and flat. The route goes along the sluizen – the river locks. The children can see many boats here and you may even catch a big river cruise. It can be still nice to stop for an ice cream or drink in Kanne for some extra holiday feeling.

Torenmolen van Gronsveld (Tower mill of Gronsveld)

If you live as an expat in the Netherlands I guess it is compulsory to have your picture taken with a windmill. The Torenmolen van Gronsveld is your best option in the area for that. It is the oldest windmill of Limburg, built in 1623 and it is still operational. You can buy all kinds of flour here that was actually milled in this windmill!

The windmill can be visited every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month for free. It was very quiet when we were there. The view from the tower over the surrounding fields and hills is beautiful. It is quite a steep climb up to the tower and is definitely not stroller friendly. It is interesting to see, how a windmill looks from the inside and also a bit scary. It’s a squeaky old thing after all.

How do we make a lovely afternoon out of it?

We usually turn this into an unusual shopping trip. We bought our spelt flour at the windmill. Our next stop is the ‘Buurtmarkt Hof van Heer’ nearby. The Hof van Heer is a great initiatief that started in 2020. It is a collective garden project that opens its doors to the public every Saturday afternoon during harvest season. The market offers organic veggies straight from the garden, home-made delicious products like chutneys and jams, plants and seeds. You can also sit down for a drink and some cake.

The mystical garden of the Heerenhof is right across the buurtmarkt and can sometimes be visited during the opening hours of the market. If you find it open, go and have a look. It’s beautiful.

Maria Grot in Bemelen

The Maria Grot or Maria Cave in Bemelen is a stunning natural cathedral. It is a majestic place that renders you to silence.

Why do I recommend you to visit such a place with your toddler?

There is a kabouter pad / gnome path right next to it. It’s basically a bunch of colorful little windows, doors and happily waving Mr and Mrs Gnomes along a forest path. It’s cute. There are some ups and downs, but the walk is not too long and is easily doable for our two-year-old. The cave and the path is not accessible with a stroller.

The Maria Cave is an important place for me. I often walked here, when I was pregnant with my first born. I still come here sometimes, when I’m bothered by something and need help from the divine mother.

How do we make a lovely afternoon out of it?

The other place that I really like in Bemelen is called ‘t Weike. It is a fantastic fruit garden that can be visited for tree. A meeting place for young and old as it is indicated on the gate. Children can run around here, climb on old tree trunks and pick their own fruit. It’s amazing to see my 9 months old baby boy picking black currant for the first time. I’m a useless gardener, but i find it important to let children experience where food is coming from.

Vers Voordeel Vaesen – across ‘t Weike is the local food shop of Bemelen. They have beautiful products from the area. It’s quite a bike ride for us, but I enjoy doing my groceries here and our children are also into it. We usually buy some freshly cut fruit and fruit salads, fruit juices from the Bemelerhof – a fruit farm just around the corner from here – and super yummy ice creams from Ijsbaas – an ice cream maker from Margraten. We sit down at one of the table in front of the shop and enjoy our freshly bought goodies.

Much love,


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.