If you’re ever in the Dutch province of Limburg, then a weekend trip to Valkenburg is highly recommended. It’s a very charming town situated in the municipality of Valkenburg aan de Geul and it’s just about 11 kilometers from Maastricht. People come here with the intention to visit its medieval mines and caves, but most are also charmed by its unique green and sloping landscape.
What to See and Do in Valkenburg
Valkenburg has a primeval past, with its ancient flint mines believed to be already in existence since 3300 BC. (Flint is a sedimentary rock used to start fires and create stone tools.) However, it’s far from being a sleepy town. Please read on for options on what you can see and do in Valkenburg during your weekend trip.
Valkenburg Castle Ruins
It may just be remnants now but the Valkenburg Castle Ruins still manage to give visitors the feeling of how imposing Valkenburg Castle was during its heyday in the 11th century. And don’t worry that you’ll only see one standing wall. There’s enough left to give you an idea of where its ancient Great Hall was, and if you’re brave enough, you can even go down to its dungeon.
Underneath the Castle Ruins, you’ll come to a network of tunnels called the Velvet Cave, where marl (sedimentary rock) used to be mined. And even though it’s believed the Velvet Cave has been in existence since the 11th or 12th century, they were only discovered in 1937.
Walking through the many passages of the Velvet Cave is like walking through history as its walls are adorned with old murals, various inscriptions, and even weird sculptures. If only those walls could talk!
If you’ve had enough underground sightseeing, get a breath of fresh air by going all the way to the top of the ruins. As it’s the only hilltop castle in the country, it offers breathtaking views from its tower ruins.
If you really like visiting caves, then MergelRijk is for you. It’s an underground attraction also located underneath Valkenburg. What’s unique about this experience is that it combines the setting of a cave with modern technology as it’s also an exhibit that makes use of miniatures and marl and sand sculptures to present to visitors information about marl mining as well Limburg history.
Coal Mine Valkenburg
Steenkolenmijn Valkenburg (Coal Mine Valkenburg) is where you can learn all about coal mining from a former coal miner! You start your coal mining journey with a video in an underground cinema that’s been set up like a real coal mine. From there, a guide, which could be a former coal mine worker themself or someone connected to coal mining, will take you through the museum.
Museum Valkenburg showcases art by Limburg artists. Various exhibits are held all year round so do check their calendar to know what (or who) is featured during your visit. The museum is also a great destination to know all about the history of Valkenburg from ancient times to today.
If Valkenburg Castle Ruins shows you remnants, Hoensbroek Castle won’t leave you wanting because it’s complete in all its ancient and modern glory. With 40 amazing halls and rooms to explore, it’s the biggest castle in the country with its oldest portion believed to date back to the 13th century.
A visit here really will give you the full castle experience as it’s complete with dreamy ballrooms, a nightmarish dungeon, and a 60 meter high medieval defense tower.
Our Tip: Combine your trip to Coal Mine Valkenburg and Hoensbroek Castle and get the best of both worlds!
Weekend trips also mean a chance to relax. And where better to do that than at Thermae 2000, a popular spa and wellness center in Valkenburg. It has indoor and outdoor pools with hot water from local springs, a sauna, and numerous facilities for various body treatments. You can also just stay here for a complete weekend retreat since it also offers a hotel and restaurant.
Parks and Nature Reserves
If your weekend trip is all about the kids, then note that there are two theme parks in Valkenburg: the De Valkenier and the Sprookjesbos (Fairytale Woods).
If tranquility is what you want, then a walk, hike, or cycle through Valkenburg’s many parks and nature reserves will appeal to you since the area offers nothing but scenic routes. You can visit this website for short and long walking, hiking, and cycling options.
Accommodations in Valkenburg
There are plenty of accommodation options for your weekend trip to Valkenburg. You can rent an apartment or homestay for your family, book a hotel room, stay at a cozy B&B, settle at a spa resort, or even rent a whole villa!
Our Tip: As Valkenburg is a medieval town, take the opportunity to book a stay at a place with ‘medieval touches’. For example, stay at a renovated 18th century home or lodge in an apartment with antique furniture. You’re in a medieval location, might as well soak it all up!