Vaals is a small city in the South Limburg region, in the Dutch province Limburg. It is located right on both the Belgian and German border, with the much larger German city of Aachen at just a stone's throw away.
The borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet here in Vaals, on the Drielandenpunt. The official place of the Drielandenpunt is just a few steps aways from the highest point of the Netherlands, the Vaalserberg. Vaals is a friendly town for tourists, with regular activities and a beautiful natural area surrounding it. The Dutch call it "a piece of abroad in the Netherlands".
A large number of the inhabitants, up to 26%, are Germans. Nowadays, the town's main activity is tourism. Many Dutch, German and Belgian tourists visit this friendly town each year, with the Drielandenpunt as it's main attraction but mostly of course for the beautiful scenery and picturesque hamlets around town.
The main way in by car is over the N281, which is connected to the E14/A76.
There's no train station in Vaals. Buses run frequently and connections include:
- Line 43 - to Simpelveld and Heerlen
- Line 50 - to Gulpen and Maastricht
- Line 50 - to Aachen
The nearest airport is Maastricht-Aachen Airport, but from nearby Aachen direct trains also run to Dusseldorf, which is just over an hour away but has many more international destinations.
The old center can be reasonably well be explored by foot, but a bike or car is a good option since many of the sights lie on the outskirts of town. Also, the surrounding natural area and villages make one of the towns greatest assets, but take quite a hike on foot. Unlike most other Dutch cities, the center is not car free and it therefor easy to get around when driving your own or a rented car.
Electric bikes are an increasingly popular way to get around, as they provide all the benefits of a normal bike but make it a lot easier to make your way to the hill tops. This "groenfietsen" (green biking) is an extensive initiative and comes with route proposals. If you book ahead, several restaurants, hotels and campings in Vaals can make these so-called "green-bikes" available for you. If you haven't reserved one, try nearbyHerberg Oud Holset, Holset 54 Lemiers. For more information and a list of participants, see the project website.
- 3 Countries Point (Drielandenpunt), . At this point the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany come together with their respective borders. The exact point is marked by a small, unimpressive stone pilar but is still considered the main must-see in town. To entertain the 1 million visitors that find their way here each year, the largest labyrinth in the country was build here, as well as two towers allowing to enjoy to view from the top of the Vaalserberg. There are a few cafés and the forests around it allow for a hike through 3 countries at once.
- Museum de Kopermolen, Von Clermontplein 11, . This small museum is housed in a monumental building, build in 1736 as a Lutheran church. It has changing art expositions and regularly concerts and lectures are organized. €1.50.
- Museum Vaals, Eschberg 5-7, ☎ +31 (0)43-3060080, . The collection of this small museum comprises a somewhat odd combination of church statues and modern art. It's located in a historic monastery chapel.
- St Pauluskerk, Kerkstraat 27. A late 19th century Neo Gothic church
- Kartingbaan Vaals, Selzerbeeklaan 23, ☎ +31 (0)43-306 18 66, . The only outdoor carting track in the province makes a good option for a small adrenaline rush.
- Horse carriage tours, ☎ +31 (0)43 450 20 48 (firstname.lastname@example.org). A horse carriage tour through Vaals' beautiful surroundings is a lovely experience. The carriage will take you to some of the nice hamlets and town outskirts. You will have to book some time in advance, as this is a small scale private enterprise.
Vaals has a good range of shops, including clothing, shoes, toy and giftstores as well as many daily grocery options. Most of the stores are along the Maastrichterlaan, the main road through town.
There's a fairly large weekly market on Tuesday mornings, in front of the town hall. During the tourist season (roughly from May to October) a regional products market is held very second Saturday (in the evenly numbered weeks). It's small but sells local products like mustard and jams that make good souvenirs. You'll find it on the Prins Willem Alexanderplein, in front of the Albert Heijn Supermarket.
- Cafetaria Delnoye, Maastrichterlaan 164, ☎ +31 (0)043 308 02 09. One of the most popular places among locals for fries and a snack. €5.
- Restaurant Jakarta Going, Maastrichterlaan 89-91, ☎ +31 (043) 306 52 58, . This simple but cosy place serves Indonesian food. €15.
- Kasteel Bloemendal, Bloemendalstraat 150, ☎ +31 (0)43 365 98 00, . This beautiful small castle in the middle of town houses not only an upscale hotel, but also a restaurant. Plenty of luxurious dishes to choose from, but menu offers do start from around € 30. There's a pretty good wine list. from € 30.
- Brasserie Lodge 7, Epenerbaan 1, ☎ +31 (0)43 306 43 05, . The beautiful location of this modern place out of the town center makes it worth a visit. There's a nice terrace in summer and a fire place in winter. The food gets pretty good reviews too. € 30,50.
- De Raadskelder, Koningin Julianaplein 49, ☎ +31 (0)43 407 36 39, . Lovely restaurant setting in the ancient cellars of the town hall. The food is traditional but good and the service adequate. €20.
- Troje, Kerstraat 68, ☎ +31 (0)43 306 33 02. Greek restaurant with nice food and large portions. The service is friendly and take away is an option too. €17.
For a real taste of nightlife, follow the locals and head to Aachen, Maastricht or Heerlen. Nonetheless, if you're just looking for a pleasant place to have a drink, there are a few around.
- Café Allure, Maastrichterlaan 81, ☎ +31 (0)43 3065047, . Cosy, old-fashioned brown café with a good choice in beers.
- Loungecafé Ooze Sjloek, Maastrichterlaan 88. The terrace of this place is one of the best in town
- Grand Café Zera, Pr.W.Alexanderplein 1, ☎ +31 (0)43-3060655, . This grand café right in the heart of town is really more than just a café. It also serves lunch and dinner, which you can order on the outdoor terrace if weather allows.
- Piethaan Hotel Restaurant, Mamelis 6, 6295 NB Lemiers, ☎ +31 (0)43 - 306 13 56, . From € 30,-.
- Hotel Het Witte Huis, Mamelis 5, 6295 Lemiers, ☎ +31 (0)43 - 306 1714, .
- Hotel Mergelland, Holset 100, 6295 ND Lemiers, ☎ +31 (0)43 3061459, .
- Bloemendal, Bloemendalstraat 150, 6291 CM Vaals, ☎ +31 (0)43 365 98 00, .
- Bilderberg Kasteel Vaalsbroek, Vaalsbroek 1, 6291 NH Vaals, ☎ +31 (0)43 - 308 93 08, .
- Vijlerhof, Hilleshagerweg 2, 6294 AP Vijlen, ☎ +31 (0)43 - 306 1710, . From € 36-,.