My first time visiting a three-country border was when I visited Aachen, the westernmost city in Germany. It took me a few hours on a train to get there, but I didn’t care; I wanted to go there to see the city and where Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium meet, just to be able to run from one country to the other.
Three Country Border is known in German as Dreiländereck, and, to my surprise, it isn’t in Aachen. It is pretty close to it, but you will have to get there. The point where the countries meet is in the Dutch province of Limburg, in a small city called Vaals.
This is why the hill you must climb to enjoy this border meeting is called Vaalserberg, the highest point in mainland Netherlands.
So, when you visit Dreiländereck, you also see the highest Dutch mountain, which is a bonus for all.
This Three-Country Point, known in German as Dreiländerpunkt, was a four-country border between 1830 and 1919. And it happened because Neutral Moresnet used to exist in the as well. If you ask yourself what this place is, I’m here to explain it.
So, Neutral Moresnet was a small Condominium between what used to be the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Prussia. It came to be after the fall of Napoleon when the Congress of Vienna was redrawing the map of Europe.
This is where some problems started to appear. On the Neutral Moresnet, a zinc mine used to exist, and none of the two kingdoms wanted to give up control over it. This lasted until after the First World War when Belgium annexed the territory.
Nowadays, You can still see some traces of this small territory on the road leading to the Three Country Border in the Netherlands, which is still called Viergrenzenweg, a border road in Dutch.
Now, let’s go back to the three-country border.
Up there in Vaalsberg, where Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium meet, you’ll find one of the most popular tourist spots in the area. Because of that, there are a lot of things to do there.
If you arrive in the region through the main road, the first one you see is Wilhelminatoren, a wooden tower in the Netherlands with a great view from Aachen and the Dutch territory. From there, you cannot see Belgium because of the dense forest that surrounds the area.
A few meters later, you will see a 34-meter-high tower in Belgium, 6 meters from Germany and 20 meters away from the Netherlands. This tower is where you can have the best view from where these three countries meet. From the top of Koning Boudewijntoren, named after King Baudouin of Belgium, you can see the Belgian city of Gemmenich.
On the Dutch side of the tower, you will be looking at Vaals and Wolfhaag. If you are lucky and get there on a clear day, you can try to see Maastricht, a little over 30 kilometers from the tower.
On the German side, you will see Aachen on the horizon. The most accessible place to recognize on this side of the tower is the Aachen Hospital, a massive block of modern-looking buildings.
Also, at the border between these three countries, you can find the Labyrint Drielandenpunt. If you are a big fan of mazes and labyrinths, you will love this one located on the Dutch side of the border. If you want to enter the maze and get lost, you have to buy a ticket for 5 euros. It takes you almost 45 minutes to find the center of it and leave; beware of that.
There is also a restaurant, a playground, and something that I believe was clay pigeon shooting.
Walking with three different countries without showing a passport or caring about anything was pretty cool. The three-country border is just a line on the floor, and if it wasn’t for my cellphone company telling me about the fact that I was moving from one country to the other while I looked for a place to have a beer, I don’t think I would even realize that I wasn’t in the same country.
Everything felt the same, and I liked the open borders policy across Europe. You can easily walk from one country to the other without worrying about visas, currency, or anything else.
On this three-country border point, you can better understand the concept of an open Europe.
How can you get to Dreiländereck?
If you are in Aachen and want to see three country borders, you can do as I did and take a bus from the city center toward Vaals, stop at Reutershag, and walk there. The hike is a little less than 3 kilometers, and you will be walking inside the forest surrounding the border; arriving there like this is pretty cool.
You can also walk or cycle from the center of Aachen or take a car, and there are places to park there, and it might be the easiest way there.
We stayed in a hotel in Aachen, but if you can’t find a room in the same place we got, we heard good things about this hotel. If you leave from Vaals, you can take your car or bus 149, leaving you almost there. From the Belgian city of Kelmis, the only option is a car.
Regarding walking back from Dreiländereck, this three-country border point, I would advise you to walk until Vaalser Straße or Maastrichterlaan, first in German, then in Dutch.
This street is where the bus to Aachen passes through. I advise you to walk down the hill because this is what I did, and I love the small roads that lead to where you can get the bus. I had to stop everywhere to take pictures, as seen in the ones here.
Three Country Border aka Dreiländereck Aachen: Where Germany, Netherlands and Belgium meet
Dreiländereck Deutschland – Niederlande – Belgien