Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to have a rejuvenating weekend full of new discoveries. It had been over 20 years since my last visit to the most southern spot of the Netherlands; Vaals. Although it is only a three hour drive from my home, somehow I just never felt compelled to travel to one of the most beautiful provinces of my own country, Limburg. My loss, because it really is gorgeous! But after last week’s autumnal weekend escape I have made a vow to do it more often. A weekend in Limburg really feels like a trip to another country. Especially in autumn when fall foliage colours the rolling hills in vibrant yellows and orange hues, Limburg beckons for nature walks and spectacular road trips.
We stayed in the gorgeous Hotel Castle Bloemendal in Vaals, which was also our starting point for our road trip. I will feature more of this elegant hotel in another blog post later this week. It is a true sanctuary set in a tranquil, natural surrounding and ideally located for nature walks, cycling trails and road tripping.
We decided to drive the Mergelland route which is a 125 km route you can cycle or drive in about 1 hour, that is, if you don’t have stopovers. By car, it took us about 3 hours as we regularly stopped to snap pictures, sit down for lunch or have a short walk.
The Mergelland route goes through small picturesque villages with quaint chapels, past breathtaking vistas stretching as far as Germany, and along 17th century castles and mills. Along the way there are plentiful cafes and provincial restaurants where you can indulge in the signature Limburg cake called “vlaai”.
Above photo is the small village Vijlen. Vijlen is the highest church village of the Netherlands, namely 200 meters above NAP. The village is surrounded by steep hillside woods. The photo below is of the village Epen.
The route continues from Vaals to Epen, Slenaken, Holset, Wittem and Eys. Each village is more quaint than the other. The panoramic views are almost foreign like being in Switzerland or Germany. Cute hostels, B&Bs and bungalows show that this region is a popular holiday destination. Via Ubachsberg and Voerendaal you’ll reach the city Heerlen. The road towards the city is a spectacular end of a memorable roadtrip with fall’s bounty on both sides and in front of you on the hilly horizon.