The Heuvelland in South Limburg is the prominent part of this region. It is a beautiful area with a lot of nature and culture. The natural landscape is best explored via hiking and cycling but can also been seen by car via the so-called Mergelland route. The area is also well connected by public transport. A great many bus and train services are operated in the region, including the Miljoenenlijntje, a heritage railway.
The hilly landscape of the Heuvelland is caused by foothills from the Ardennes and Eifel. This gives the Heuvelland a stunning view with forests and green slopes. The Heuvelland melts into the Voerstreek and Land of Herve in Belgium.
Attractions and features
Not only nature lovers will enjoy the Heuvelland, also tourists and culture fans will love this region. The villages and towns of Gulpen, Wittem, Vaals, Simpelveld and Valkenburg are located in the area.
Gulpen, whose name is derived from the river the Gulp, is known for being home to the Gulpener Brewery who make the famous brand of lager. The village of Wittem, situated in the Gulpen-Wittem municipality, is known for the Brand Brewery. You can enjoy these excellent regional products easily because the two villages are just 15 kilometers away from Maastricht.
In Vaals, situated 25 kilometers from Maastricht, lies the Vaalserberg (“Mount Vaals”), 322.7 meters high, making it the highest point in the Heuvelland region and the European part of the Netherlands. On top of the mountain lies the tripoint between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. For a brief period, the summit used to be a quadripoint, bordering also on neutral Moresnet. The Vaalserberg used to be the highest point of the Netherlands until 10 October 2010 when the island of Saba became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Mount Scenery on Saba is 877 meters in height making it the highest point now.
In the village of Simpelveld there are two monasteries and the Old Mill of Houben, a watermill dating back to 1774. Simpelveld is also home to a heritage railway of the South Limburg Railway Company ZLSM (“Zuid Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappij”).The ZLSM provide tourist train services on the Miljoenenlijntje, the railroad between Kerkrade and Simpelveld using steam engines and rail buses. The Miljoenenlijntje owes its name to the construction of the rail tracks which originally cost approximately 1 million (“miljoen”) guilders per kilometer. The ZLSM also provides a train service between Simpelveld and the German village Vetschau. You can enjoy this heritage railway, located just 21 kilometers from Maastricht.
The famous tourist town of Valkenburg, 10 kilometers from Maastricht; is the tourist heart of the Heuvelland region. Valkenburg has a rich history with many sieges and captures. This left its mark on for example Valkenburg Castle which is reduced to a ruin. Only a few of the ancient city ports survived the attacks.
Valkenburg is of course known for its bicycle races with the steep Cauberg as famous finish for most courses. The world championships bicycle road racing, the Tour de France and the Vuelta have visited Valkenburg. Also the annual Amstel Gold Race finishes on the summit of the Cauberg.
Valkenburg railway station has the oldest building still in use in the Netherlands. Also the first Dutch tourist office (VVV) was opened in Valkenburg in 1885. Other attractions located in Valkenburg are the Gemeentegrot and Fluweelengrot, two former marl quarries, spa resort Thermae 2000, theme park De Valkenier, a fairy tale forest (Sprookjesbos), a luge track and the Wilhelminatower.
The Heuvelland region offers a great mix of culture, tourism and nature that makes the area a unique part of South Limburg.