My 4-day gastronomic journey in the Belgian Ardennes was an experience filled with discovery and indulgence.
Day 1 began at The Owl Distillery. Though not a drinker, the visit was enlightening. Our guide, Isabelle, shared the history and production of their unique whiskies. The distillery's close collaboration with local farmers was notable. Despite my usual aversion to alcohol, I tried some whisky. The flavors were intense and varied, a revelation made possible by Isabelle's guidance. In the evening, dinner at La Cucinella in Liège was a delight. Julien Marzano's approachable Italian cuisine and the restaurant's welcoming atmosphere stood out. I savored veal carpaccio, followed by linguine with mussels. Each dish was a testament to Julien's culinary skills. The plan was to visit BeerLovers after dinner, a café with an extensive beer selection. However, I opted for rest instead, given the early start to the day. I spent the night at The Street Lodge, a cozy B&B with a generous breakfast spread that included rice pie, croissants, and various bread and cakes.
Day 2 took us to chocolatier Darcis in Verviers. As a chocolate enthusiast, this visit was a highlight. The museum tour offered insights into the history of Belgian chocolate and Darcis' unique creations. We even had a chance to make pralines. Lunch at Au Vieux Bourg in Verviers was memorable for its hearty, traditional fare. The grilled chicken salad was particularly enjoyable. The afternoon was spent at Val-Dieu Abbey and brewery. Our guide, Martine, led us through the history and brewing process, culminating in a tasting session. Dinner at Yves Radelet's restaurant in Luxembourg was another culinary highlight. My meal included scallop carpaccio, shrimp ravioli, and a decadent chocolate moelleux. We stayed at the Hotel International in Clervaux, a comfortable and well-appointed establishment.
Day 3 was about hands-on experiences. We started at the National Brewery Museum in Luxembourg, engaging in a brewing workshop. Crafting our beer was educational and fun. Lunch was at Robbesscheier, where we made our pizzas in a traditional oven and participated in a food-guessing quiz. We also visited the Rackésmillen, an old water mill, and then enjoyed dinner at Wagon Leo. The restaurant, with its train theme and excellent food, was unique. Our stay at Gaussignac B&B was warm and hospitable, with superb Ardennes cuisine prepared by the hosts, Françoise and Michel.
Day 4 began with a walk and horse carriage ride through the snowy Ardennes landscape, led by Richard Mignolet of Ardenne Plaisir. The experience was magical, especially the carriage ride through snow-covered forests. We concluded our trip with a visit to the Saint-Monon brewery in Ambly. This microbrewery tour included a tasting of their diverse beers.
Based on my recent trip, here’s a list of my pick of the best things to do in Ardennes and Belgian Ardennes.
- Visit Bouillon Castle. Bouillon Castle is a medieval fortress dating back over 1,000 years, located on a ridge overlooking Bouillon. It has a long history of destruction and reconstruction through various wars. Today visitors can explore the towers, ramparts, Gothic hall, dungeons and secret passages. Highlights include falconry shows, the Scriptura exhibition on writing history, and summer night tours. There are also kid-friendly activities.
- Explore the medieval town of Durbuy. Durbuy is Belgium's smallest official “city” with about 400 residents. Its charming cobblestone streets and timber-framed medieval houses have remained unchanged since the 14th century when it was a walled city. Visitors can explore the pedestrian streets, museum, castle, and St Nicholas Church. The surrounding hills also offer hiking, rock climbing, and river activities.
- Go hiking in the Semois Valley. Semois Valley follows the 100km Semois River through forests and farmland in Belgium's Ardennes region. There are numerous trails like the GR 16 for hiking, opportunities for kayaking and fishing, historic landmarks like Bouillon Castle, and a restored old slate mine turned museum. The valley can be reached by train or car.
- See the Coo Waterfalls. The Coo Waterfalls have a 15m drop, making them Belgium's tallest. Formed in the 18th century, they lie in a natural setting surrounded by forests. Nearby attractions include Plopsa Amusement Park, kayaking, mini golf, chair lift rides, and hiking trails to showcase Belgium's Ardennes scenery. Families and nature lovers would appreciate the site.
- Tour the Caves of Han-sur-Lesse. The Caves of Han are a natural 1.6km long cave complex with formations like stalactites and huge chambers, situated below Han-sur-Lesse village. TheDomain of the Caves features a sound/light show, wildlife park with native animals, interactive museums about regional history and peasant life, restaurants, and lodging. Access is by 30-60 minute guided tours.
- Canoe or kayak down the Lesse River. The Lesse River flows 89km in Belgium's Ardennes, featuring sections suitable for paddling. Outfitters offer equipment rentals and shuttle services for beginner or winter tours along the Lesse. The riverbanks provide trails for hiking and cycling. Fishing and more adventurous underground kayaking in the limestone caves are other options. The Lesse appeals for outdoor recreation.
- Visit Orval Abbey and brewery. Orval Abbey, founded in 1070, features ruins of past buildings, museums, gardens, and a gift shop. Uniquely, there has been a brewery onsite since the earliest days to finance monastery operations. Visitors can tour the grounds and museum to explore the abbey's history, beer making, and medicinal herbs. The abbey is located deep in the countryside.
- Bike the Trans-Ardennes cycle path. The 130km traffic-free Trans-Ardennes cycle trail follows the Meuse River through northeast France. Passing forests and farmland with no steep sections, it was voted “Cycle Route of the Year” in 2010. Highlights include medieval castles, riverside towns and traces of industrial heritage. Reachable by 1.5 hour train from Paris, it suits leisurely family cycling.
- Go to Dinant and tour the citadel. Built atop a 100m cliff overlooking Dinant, the formidable citadel has strategically controlled this stretch of the Meuse valley for centuries. Destroyed and rebuilt many times during conflicts, the current 1815 citadel houses a museum on its history. Visitors enjoy the impressive valley views, displays of weaponry and trenches, the steep 408 steps to the city center, or a cable car ride.
- See the ruins of Reinhardstein Castle. Reinhardstein is a meticulously rebuilt 14th century hilltop castle overlooking Belgium's Warche valley. Guided tours explain the castle's rooms and history over 600 years. Visitors must park away and walk 600m to the site. Surrounding trails range from easy to moderate difficulty.
1. Visit Bouillon Castle
Bouillon Castle is a medieval fortress located on a rocky ridge overlooking the town of Bouillon and the Semois River valley in Belgium. The full address is Esplanade Godefroid 1, 6830 Bouillon. It is also known as Château-Fort de Bouillon in French.
Bouillon Castle is special because of its long history dating back over 1,000 years and connection to the famous Crusader Godfrey of Bouillon. The castle has been expanded, destroyed, and rebuilt several times through wars and sieges. Today, visitors can explore the maze of tunnels, towers, ramparts, dungeons, and secret passages. Popular highlights include the large Gothic hall called the Salle Godefroy de Bouillon, the Austria Tower with panoramic views, and the 165m deep well.
Visitors to Bouillon Castle can take part in daily falconry shows from March-November, explore the permanent Scriptura exhibition on the history of writing, and join nighttime torchlight tours in summer. There are activities suitable for families like treasure hunts for kids. The castle also hosts special events such as medieval fairs, jousting tournaments, theater productions, and sound/light shows.
Bouillon Castle is located in the town of Bouillon in the province of Luxembourg, 90km from Luxembourg City. It can be reached by car via the E411 motorway. Street parking is available near the castle. Without a car, take the train to Libramont Station, then bus #8 directly to Bouillon.
The castle, activities, and views appeal to visitors of all ages. Families and kids enjoy the hands-on offerings while history buffs appreciate the architecture and museum-quality collections. Admission prices in 2023 are €15 (US$17, £13) for adults and €11 (US$12, £10) for seniors and students. Discounted combination tickets are available.
2. Explore the medieval town of Durbuy
Durbuy is a small medieval town located in southeast Belgium in the province of Luxembourg. With only 400 permanent residents in its town center, Durbuy claims the title of being “the smallest city in the world.” The town is situated at the edge of the Ardennes Forest on the River Ourthe, about 125 kilometers from Brussels and near the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. Durbuy goes by a couple of other names including “the eternal little city” and “the smallest town on earth.” However, its official name remains simply Durbuy.
Durbuy has an exceptionally well-preserved medieval character. The layout of its charming cobblestone streets lined with stone and timber-framed houses has not changed since the 14th century when it was enclosed by defensive walls. In 1331, Durbuy was elevated to the rank of city by John the Blind, Count of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia. Though it has only about 400 permanent residents, it retains this official designation today.
Visitors to Durbuy can explore its fairytale-like old town on foot and browse the cafes, restaurants, shops and art galleries tucked away on its narrow pedestrian streets. Popular sites include the 17th century Corn Exchange (Halle aux Blés) which now houses a museum, the towering castle overlooking the river, and St Nicholas Church with its impressive baptismal font and pulpit.
Durbuy also serves as a gateway for outdoor recreation. The surrounding hills and forests offer hiking, rock climbing, and opportunities for kayaking, canoeing or rafting on the River Ourthe which flows through town. Family-friendly activities can be found at the Adventure Valley Durbuy activity park located just outside town, while the peaceful Topiary Park along the river banks showcases imaginative sculptures carved from trimmed shrubs and trees.
Visitors can reach Durbuy by the local train from Brussels to the nearby Barvaux-sur-Ourthe station and then walk or take a taxi the remaining distance to town. Durbuy can be reached by car in 90 minutes from Brussels by taking the E411 motorway towards Namur and then following signs for the town center.
Durbuy appeals most to families and outdoor enthusiasts due to its abundance of cafes, kid-friendly attractions and access to the great outdoors. Solo travelers and couples would also appreciate exploring its historic old town and relaxing riverside cafes. Access to particular sights in Durbuy like the museum or activity park carries additional charges, like the entry to the Topiary Park costs €4.50 for adults and €1 for children ages 6-12.
3. Explore the Semois Valley
Semois Valley is a river valley located in southeastern Belgium's Ardennes region. The valley follows the path of the Semois River for around 100 kilometers (62 miles) as it winds through forested hills and farmland, beginning near the town of Arlon and eventually flowing into the Meuse River in France. Some key features of Semois Valley include the medieval town of Bouillon with its hilltop castle, beautiful viewpoints overlooking the river, restored slate quarries, hiking trails, and remnants of the region's historical tobacco cultivation.
The full address of Semois Valley would be the towns and villages located along the Semois River's course through southeastern Belgium's Luxembourg and Namur provinces. This includes towns and villages like Arlon, Bouillon, Alle-sur-Semois, Vresse-sur-Semois, Chiny, Florenville, Herbeumont, and Bohan. Several panoramic viewpoints allow visitors to take in the scenery, including spots like the Bouillon Belvedere, Tombeau du Geant, and Le Jambon de la Semois. The slate history of towns like Bertrix and Alle-sur-Semois is also unique. Semois river itself was historically referred to as Sesbach in German and Semoy in French.
Visitors to the valley can hike numerous trails along the river and surrounding area, like the GR 16 long distance path. The river also provides opportunities for kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Cycling mountain bike trails and visiting historic villages and landmarks like the Bouillon Castle are other popular activities. An old slate mine in Alle-sur-Semois was also turned into a museum to showcase the region's history.
People visiting Semois Valley can drive there or take the train. Major nearby cities with train stations include Namur, Liège, Brussels, and Luxembourg City. From these stations trains run to smaller stations in the valley area like Libramont, Bertrix or Paliseul. Renting a car would provide the most flexibility for getting around the valley itself. The valley's outdoor recreation would appeal most to adult hikers, cyclists, fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. Families would also enjoy exploring the Bouillon Castle or slate mine museum.
4. See the Coo Waterfalls
Coo Waterfalls, known as Cascade de Coo, is a picturesque waterfall located on the Amblève River in the village of Coo in the province of Liège, Belgium. The waterfall has a height of 15 meters (49 feet), making it the highest natural waterfall in Belgium. The Coo Waterfalls are comprised of two distinct waterfalls in close proximity. The smaller waterfall on the right has existed since at least the 15th century. In the 18th century, monks constructed the larger waterfall to prevent flooding in the nearby village of Petit-Coo. They created an opening in the riverbank to divert the water flow, unintentionally forming the stunning waterfall visitors see today.
The Coo Waterfalls are situated in a beautiful natural setting, surrounded by lush greenery and forests. It is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Liège and have been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century, drawing 1.5 million visitors annually.
At the base of the falls lies the village of Coo, home to several attractions and activities. An amusement park called Plopsa Coo features rides, games, and a petting zoo for children. Visitors can also go kayaking on the river, play mini golf, ride go-karts, and take a hike on one of the many nearby trails. A chair lift travels up the hillside for impressive views of the Amblève valley.
The Coo Waterfalls offer beautiful scenery for nature lovers and photographers. The surroundings showcase the lush forests, rivers, and valleys definitive of Belgium's Ardennes region. Families will appreciate the family-friendly facilities. Adventurous travelers can enjoy outdoor sports like kayaking and hiking. There is something for everyone at this magnificent natural wonder.
Entry to view the waterfalls is free. Access to activities in the adjoining amusement park and tourist facilities requires paid admission. Tickets to ride the chairlift up the mountain cost €6 ($7, £5) for adults and €4 ($5, £3) for children. Rental of equipment like kayaks and admission to attractions like the petting zoo also come at additional costs ranging from €3-15 ($4-18, £3-13). Visitors should come prepared to pay for certain entertainment options beyond simple viewing of the falls.
5. Tour the Caves of Han-sur-Lesse
The Caves of Han-sur-Lesse, also known as Grottes de Han, are a famous natural cave complex located on the outskirts of the village of Han-sur-Lesse in Belgium's Walloon region. The caves are situated within the 250-hectare Domain of the Caves of Han, which also encompasses a wildlife park, museums, restaurants, and accommodations.
The cave complex was formed over 500,000 years ago due to erosion from the underground river Lesse, which carved out a network of spectacular galleries and chambers in the limestone hillside before emerging on the other side of the ridge. The caves extend 1.6 kilometers underground and feature impressive formations like stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, and cascading pools.
The most outstanding chamber is the Salle du Dôme, with immense dimensions of 149 meters long, 86 meters wide, and 62 meters high. Another highlight is the Caves of Han sound and light show “Origin,” which brings the underground scenery alive through state-of-the-art laser, video mapping, and lighting effects.
Outside, visitors can explore the Domain's 250-hectare wildlife park by foot or safari bus to observe native wildlife like deer, wild boars, wolves, lynxes, bears, and vultures. Two small museums are also accessible with cave tickets: the PrehistoHan museum covers 10,000 years of regional history revealed through archaeological excavations, while the Han 1900 museum depicts early 20th century peasant life.
The Domain of the Caves of Han is located at Rue Joseph Lamotte 2, 5580 Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium. Access is only by guided tour, with tours departing every 30-60 minutes. Tickets cost 27€ for adults and 21€ for children aged 4-11.
Visitors are transported to the cave entrance by a charming century-old narrow-gauge tramline. The cave has temperatures of 13°C year-round, so warm clothing is recommended. The standard “Cave Discovery” tour takes 1 hour 15 minutes to explore the main galleries and Origin show. The more extensive 2 hour “Cave Journey” tour covers deeper sections of the cave by traversing 2 kilometers underground and climbing 510 steps each way.
The Cave of Han appeals to visitors of all ages. Families appreciate the kid-friendly wildlife park, playground, interactive museums, and special events. Adults find the extensive cave complex fascinating from geological, historical, and artistic perspectives. Thrill-seekers can book more adventurous cave explorations like guided climbs or underground kayaking on the subterranean river.
6. Visit the Lesse River
The Lesse River is located in Belgium, rising in the Ardennes Mountains and flowing northwest for approximately 89 kilometers before joining the Meuse River near Dinant. The source of the Lesse is found near Libramont-Chevigny in Belgium's Luxembourg province. From its source, the river flows through the villages of Daverdisse, Halma, Chanly and Resteigne. The Lesse then passes underground for around 1.6 kilometers, flowing through limestone caves, including the famous Grottoes of Han near the village of Han-sur-Lesse. After emerging, the Lesse continues through Lessive, Villers-sur-Lesse and Houyet before reaching its confluence with the Meuse at Anseremme in the Dinant municipality.
Numerous caves line the Lesse's banks, containing important archaeological sites and prehistoric remains from the Paleolithic period onward. The underground section of river flowing through the Grottoes of Han is well-known for its spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. Trout, grayling and other fish inhabit the clear waters of the Lesse.
Visitors to the Lesse River can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing, hiking, cycling and more. Outfitters in towns such as Dinant offer equipment rentals and shuttle services for paddling along the Lesse. The river includes stretches suitable for beginners, with paddle tours ranging from 9 kilometers to 21 kilometers offered. Seasoned kayakers and canoers can also navigate parts of the Lesse in winter when water levels allow. Hiking trails along the banks provide views of the river, valley and neighboring cliffs. Anglers can fish for trout, grayling, pike, carp and other species with the proper local permits. Road cyclists in particular appreciate the hilly terrain surrounding the Lesse.
The river is reachable via the main A4/E411 highway from cities such as Brussels and Luxembourg City, with the drive taking around 2 to 2.5 hours. Dinant is the nearest major town to the lower Lesse. Public transportation via train is also available, with stations located in towns along the river including Gendron and Houyet.
Outdoor and adventure activities on the Lesse River best suit older children and adults seeking either a relaxing excursion amidst nature or a recreational challenge. Paddling the Lesse is considered safe for children as young as 5 when accompanied by adults. No admission fees are charged to visit the river itself. Usage regulations and permits do apply for fishing, and outfitters charge rental fees for equipment like kayaks and bikes.
7. Visit Orval Abbey and brewery
Orval Abbey and brewery is a Trappist abbey located in Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium. The abbey was founded in 1070, became Cistercian in 1132, and adopted the Trappist order in the 17th century. The present-day buildings were constructed beginning in 1926, after the abbey had laid in ruins following destruction during the French Revolution. The abbey is located at Orval 1, 6823 Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium. It does not have an alternative name.
What makes Orval Abbey unique is that there has been a brewery on the grounds since the abbey's earliest days, with beer brewing being a custom in the region. The current brewery was constructed in 1931 both to finance rebuilding efforts and to carry on the centuries-old tradition of beer brewing by the monks. Today, the Orval brewery continues to produce beer sold internationally to fund the day-to-day operations of the monastery as well as charitable works.
Visitors to Orval Abbey can take self-guided walking tours of the monastery grounds, including the ruins of previous abbey buildings, gardens, and a museum. The museum covers the history of the abbey and provides information on the beer brewing process. The grounds also feature an herb garden explaining the medicinal uses of various plants. The iconic Orval gift shop sells the abbey's beer, cheese, ceramics, and religious items.
Orval Abbey is located deep in the Belgian countryside about 17 kilometers (11 miles) from the nearest train station in Florenville. From there, visitors would need to take a bus or taxi to the abbey. The abbey grounds themselves are suited for visitors of all ages and fitness levels, as they include paved walkways and stairs. There is a small fee of €6 ($7, £5) for access to the museum and grounds. The beer and cheese in the gift shop have standard retail costs.
8. Bike the Trans-Ardennes cycle path
The Trans-Ardennes cycle path is a 130 km traffic-free cycling route running along the River Meuse through the spectacular Ardennes region in northeast France. It connects the towns of Mouzon, Sedan, Charleville-Mézières and Givet, passing through forests, farmland and picturesque villages, with no steep climbs.
The cycle path follows the former towpath beside the Meuse so it is flat, making it suitable for leisurely family cycling. It was voted “Cycle Route of the Year” in 2010 by Dutch journalists and has since attracted over 200,000 users.
The Trans-Ardennes greenway, as it is also known, offers riders diverse landscapes in the Ardennes department. The path starts in Mouzon where the Yoncq river joins the Meuse. It continues through the historic town of Sedan, home to Europe’s largest medieval castle, and on to Charleville-Mézières, the capital of the Ardennes. Other highlights include the riverside town of Monthermé in a loop of the Meuse, and the fortified town of Givet where the path finishes.
Cyclists of all abilities can enjoy activities along the way such as hiking trails, mountain biking, dining at riverside restaurants or picnicking at rest areas. Small villages dot the route, many with traces of past industrial heritage. Kids will also appreciate attractions like the huge Fantasticable zipline over the Meuse at Fumay.
People reach the start of the path by taking a 1.5 hour TGV train from Paris to Charleville-Mézières where bikes can be rented. A local TER train also runs alongside the Meuse valley so riders can modulate their journey.
The peaceful trail appeals most to leisure cyclists and families seeking relaxation in natural surrounds. But its proximity to Belgium allows easy connections to Europe’s larger cycling networks for touring cyclists.
Admission to ride the traffic-free path is free. Some optional activities like the zipline have fees but otherwise visitors pay only for bike rentals, food or accommodation en route.
9. Go to Dinant and tour the citadel
Dinant is a city located in the province of Namur in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. The city sits along the River Meuse, known locally as “the daughter of the Meuse”, in a steep-sided valley with dramatic limestone cliffs. Perched atop one of these cliffs, 100 meters above the city, stands the formidable Citadel of Dinant.
The citadel is located at Chemin de la Citadelle 1, 5500 Dinant, Belgium. It overlooks the old city center of Dinant, with the River Meuse flowing below and the towering cliffs behind. The citadel does not have an alternative name.
Citadel of Dinant has a strategic location and always had a pivotal role throughout history in controlling this stretch of the Meuse valley. There have been fortifications on this spot since the 11th century, built by the Prince-Bishops of Liège to protect Dinant which was an important center of commerce. The citadel was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries during various conflicts. The current citadel dates from 1815 when it was constructed by the Dutch. Later it was turned into a military museum.
For visitors, the main highlight is the impressive views over Dinant and the Meuse valley from the citadel's ramparts and towers. The museum inside brings history alive, with displays of weapons, life in the garrison, and reconstructions of trenches and shelters. Visitors can also descend the 408 steps dating from 1577 that lead down from the citadel to the city center below. For less effort, a cable car provides transportation between the citadel and the valley floor.
To reach the Citadel of Dinant, visitors can hike up the steep stairway from the city center, take the cable car, or drive up to the parking area located behind the citadel. The cable car runs frequently during high season and is included in the admission price to the citadel.
The citadel attractions and museum displays appeal to adults and older children from older than 8 years old. The views from atop the cliffs are enjoyable for all. Admission is 12 € for adults, 10 € for kids ages 4-12, and free for younger children.
10. See the ruins of Reinhardstein Castle
Reinhardstein Castle is a 14th century medieval castle located in the Warche valley near the village of Ovifat in eastern Belgium. The castle sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river and forest below. It was originally built in 1354 for Wenceslaus, Duke of Luxembourg, by his vassal Reinhard of Weismes.
The full address of Reinhardstein Castle is Chemin du Cheneux 50, 4950 Ovifat, Belgium. It is sometimes referred to as Burg Reinhardstein or Burg Metternich, after the noble Metternich family that owned it for over 250 years until the French Revolution. Reinhardstein Castle was later rebuilt in the 1960s after falling into ruin. The reconstruction used original 14th century documents and drawings to rebuild the castle exactly as it had looked over 600 years earlier. Today, it stands as one of the most picturesque and unique castles in Belgium.
Visitors to Reinhardstein Castle can take a 75-minute guided tour to see the towers, ramparts, Knights' Hall, chapel, and living quarters of the castle. Tours provide information on the history of the castle and the families that lived there over the centuries. There are also special events held at the castle like concerts, exhibitions, medieval fairs, and candlelit storytelling evenings.
To reach Reinhardstein Castle, visitors must park their car about 600 meters away and walk the rest of the way on foot. The castle sits at the end of a small, rough road down in the valley which is not accessible for larger vehicles. An alternative is to park at the Robertville Dam about 1.5 kilometers away and hike to the castle from there through the forest.
The castle tours and grounds are suitable for visitors of all ages. The surrounding trails range from easy to moderately difficult so some parental guidance may be needed for very young children. Admission to enter Reinhardstein Castle for a guided tour is €10.50 (US$12, £9) for adults, €8.50 (US$10, £8) for seniors over 65 and students ages 18-25, and free for children under 6 years old.
11. Explore the historic town of Bouillon
Bouillon is a picturesque medieval town located in southeastern Belgium. It sits along a sharp bend of the Semois River in the province of Luxembourg, within the wooded hills of the Ardennes region. The town covers just under 150 square kilometers and has a population of around 5,500 residents. Bouillon’s main claim to fame is its enormous hilltop castle, known as the Château de Bouillon, which towers over the valley and dominates the skyline. The castle has origins dating back to the 10th century and was once home to the notorious Crusader Godfrey of Bouillon.
In addition to the castle, key highlights of Bouillon include its quaint cobblestone streets lined with cafes and shops, the grand gothic-style church of Sts. Peter and Paul, and various hiking trails that wind through the surrounding forest and lead to stunning viewpoints. The peaceful Semois River also offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking, canoeing and fishing.
One of the top attractions is the Château de Bouillon itself. Visitors can take tours of the sprawling Medieval castle complex, which features a maze of tunnels, courtyards, and parapets offering panoramic views over the valley. Some tours even include a birds of prey demonstration showcasing eagles, falcons and other raptors.
Admission tickets to the castle also grant access to the Archeoscope and Ducal Museum, which provide more insight into Godfrey of Bouillon’s history as leader of the First Crusade, as well as the lifestyle and culture of Medieval Bouillon.
In terms of getting to Bouillon, the nearest major city is Namur, located around 70 kilometers (45 miles) to the north. By car, Bouillon can be reached from Brussels in about 2 hours via the E411 motorway. For those relying on public transportation, buses connect the town to the nearest train stations in Libramont or Bertrix, both about a 45 minute bus ride away.
Bouillon makes an excellent destination for history and architecture lovers of all ages. Families can enjoy exploring the castle grounds and partaking in some of the interactive exhibits and demonstrations. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the scenic hikes offering breathtaking valley views. And foodies can indulge in Belgian specialties like moules-frites, waffles and Trappist beer from the array of local taverns and bistros.
12. Visit Hotton Caves
Hotton Caves is a cave system located near the town of Hotton in Belgium's Ardennes region. The full address is Chemin du Spéléo-Club 1, 6990 Hotton. An alternative name for Hotton Caves is Grottes des 1001 Nuits, which translates to “Caves of 1001 Nights” in English.
Hotton Caves is considered the most beautiful caves in Belgium. The cave system was formed by rainwater erosion over thousands of years, creating a maze of underground tunnels, rivers, galleries and chambers. Key highlights include stunning stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations in a variety of vibrant colors and shapes. The caves also feature Belgium's largest known underground canyon.
Visitors to Hotton Caves can take a 1-hour guided tour that descends 65 meters underground. The tour includes 580 steps and passes through different cave “rooms.” Guests can overlook a 30-meter deep sinkhole, walk alongside an underground river, and ride an elevator 35 meters back to the surface. There's also an outdoor Calestienne Garden to explore rare plants. The caves offer special kid-focused tours and activities, including a “time spiral” teaching visit for school groups. Kids can also enjoy the playground, treasure hunts and birthday parties. So the caves make an excellent family-friendly adventure.
Admission to Hotton Caves is €12 (around $13 or £10) for adults and €9 (around $10 or £8) for kids ages 4-11. Special group rates are available for 20+ visitors. Guided tours are offered in French, Dutch and English.
Getting to Hotton Caves is convenient by car, with free parking available at the site. For public transport, the nearest bus stop is a 17-minute walk away in Hotton's town center. Or visitors can take the train to Melreux station, which is a 25-minute drive from the caves.
Hotton Caves puts visitors in touch with nature through an unforgettable subterranean experience. Descending into Belgium's most stunning caverns reveals an alien, exciting underworld of rock formations and rivers carved out through the ages. It's a special adventure perfect for couples, families, school groups or anyone eager to explore one of Belgium's natural wonders up close.
13. Tour the Bastogne War Museum
The Bastogne War Museum is a World War II museum located in Bastogne, Belgium. The full address is Colline du Mardasson 5, 6600 Bastogne. The museum focuses on the history of the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in the Ardennes region where Bastogne is located. Bastogne War Museum opened in 2014 after four years of construction and features a highly interactive audio tour that immerses visitors in the stories of four key participants in the battle – a German officer, an American soldier, a Belgian teacher and a local boy. It showcases many artifacts and presents a timeline before, during and after the battle through films, eyewitness accounts and reconstructions of key moments. The museum's architecture resembles a five-pointed American star.
Visitors can take a two-hour audio tour, watch short films about the causes and key events of World War II, view artifacts like weapons, uniforms and personal letters from soldiers, and experience three “scenovisions” – multisensory 3D environments depicting scenes from the Battle of the Bulge. There is also a gift shop and café on site.
The museum can be reached by car or bus. Driving from Brussels takes around 2 hours. The closest train station is in Libramont, from where bus #6 stops near the museum. The museum appeals to history buffs and those interested in World War II. It is suitable for adults and older children. Lots of details and graphic content may make it less appropriate for young children.
Admission costs €20 for adults, €17 for seniors over 65, €14 for students and disabled visitors, and €12.50 for children aged 6-18. Children under 6 enter for free.
14. See the architectural wonder of Liège-Guillemins Railway Station
Liège-Guillemins Railway Station is the main railway station in Liège, Belgium. It was officially named Liège-Guillemins, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2009 after many years of construction. It is located at Place des Guillemins 2, 4000 Liège, Belgium.
The station has become a landmark and architectural attraction in Liège due to its impressive design. Its most striking feature is the enormous steel and glass vaulted roof that arches over the tracks and platforms. This monumental canopy is 200 meters long, 35 meters high and fully transparent. It filters daylight down to the train platforms and passenger areas below. Underneath, the station is open and airy, with views right through to the city on the opposite side.
Beyond aesthetics, Liège-Guillemins Railway Station is one of Belgium's most important transportation hubs. It serves major domestic and international railway lines, including high-speed trains to France, Germany and the Netherlands. The station has 9 tracks and 5 platforms and sees about 15,000 travelers per day. It features shops, restaurants, bus connections, parking and other services to accommodate its many passengers.
Visitors to Liège can experience Calatrava's unique architecture themselves by traveling through or simply touring the station. Photography is allowed. There is no admission fee to enter the main station, though accessing trains and facilities would require valid tickets.
15. Relax at Spa Town and its mineral hot springs
Spa Town in Belgium is a town built around natural mineral hot springs located 26 kilometers (17 miles) southeast of Liège in eastern Belgium’s Ardennes region. For at least 2,000 years, the mineral springs of the area have imparted their perceived health benefits. Magistrate Henry VIII of England visited in 1519 to “take the waters”, while Peter the Great of Russia visited frequently from 1698 to 1711. By the late 16th century, Belgian royalty touted Spa as a desirable destination, and its waters were being exported and consumed by aristocrats.
Spa in Belgium gained a widespread reputation for healing during this time which eventually led to the English use of the term “spa” to designate any health resort near a spring. One alternative name is “Café of Europe” because royalty, aristocrats, and renowned cultural figures from across Europe converged in the town to partake of waters believed to relieve illness and strengthen health. The town is sometimes called the “Pearl of the Ardennes” owing to its picturesque setting.
Spa Town in Belgium's defining feature is its natural springs supplying mineral-rich thermal water with restorative qualities. The famous Pouhon spring in central Spa flows forth at 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit). Its high iron content gives the water a distinctive metallic taste. Other springs have varying mineral content and supply water for different treatments. Visitors can experience public bathing facilities, enjoy peaceful walks along surrounding wooded hills, and sample the waters from fountain springs around town. Quality hotels with spa access, the historical thermal baths complex called Thermes de Spa featuring numerous health treatments, many restaurants, and unique shops add to its appeal as a spa destination.
Poeple seeking healing and relaxation at Spa Town come from Belgium, neighboring countries like Germany and the Netherlands, and travelers from across Europe and overseas drawn by its centuries-long reputation. The historic spa culture caters more to adults, though Spa is enjoyable for families as well, with horseback riding, bicycling, fishing, golf and other activities available in the vicinity. Spa hotels offer a range of spa relaxation and healing packages. As a prestigious destination, Spa tends toward higher-end prices but some free or lower-cost springs and public baths are accessible. Admission to the Thermes de Spa varies depending on treatments booked but averages 43 euros (47 dollars, 39 pounds) for a 2.5 hour session.
Travelers reach Spa Town by car or train in one hour from Brussels, one hour from Cologne or Dusseldorf in Germany, and 30 minutes from Liege in Belgium via the E42 motorway. Spa train station sees hourly arrivals. Many opt to stay at historic hotels in the town center that contribute to Spa's old-world charm while providing modern amenities. Vehicle transport enables exploring the lovely countryside, nearby medieval castles, and Bastogne with its Battle of the Bulge history.
16. Visit the High Fens plateau
The High Fens, also known as Hautes Fagnes, is an upland plateau region straddling eastern Belgium and western Germany. It covers over 4,500 hectares between the Ardennes and Eifel highlands. High Fens was established as a nature reserve in 1957, constitute the largest nature reserve in Belgium and lie within the 700 km2 German-Belgian nature park, High Fens-Eifel, in the Ardennes.
The highest point at the High Fens is the Signal de Botrange near the town of Waimes, which stands at 694 meters above sea level. This is also the highest point in Belgium. A tower was built at Signal de Botrange that brings its height to 700 meters. The reserve features landscapes covered with herbaceous vegetation and low, grassy hills, as well as peat bogs that are over 10,000 years old. Its unique subalpine climate and flora and fauna are integral to the conservation efforts.
In 1966, the International Union for Conservation of Nature awarded the High Fens the “Diploma of Conservation” for its immense ecological value. More recently in 2008, Belgium added the High Fens to its tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The High Fens offer plenty for visitors to see and do while preserving the delicate ecology. Popular activities include hiking, cross-country skiing in winter, mountain biking and horseback riding along authorized paths and trails. Guided tours are available that provide fascinating glimpses into the landscape and wildlife. Exhibitions at visitor centers showcase conservation efforts and the natural history of the reserve.
The High Fens can be easily accessed by road. Main towns in the vicinity include Eupen to the north, Aachen in Germany to the east, Spa and Malmedy to the west and south in Belgium. Public transportation options are limited, so independent travelers would do best to have their own vehicle.
The High Fens tend to appeal most to nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, families and student groups rather than very young children or elderly travelers. Entry to the reserve is free with certain protected areas requiring accompaniment by an authorized guide.
17. Tour Sedan Castle fortress
Sedan Castle fortress, officially named Château Fort de Sedan, is a medieval fortress located in the city of Sedan in northeastern France. It is covering 35,000 square meters (376,700 square feet) across seven floors and considered the largest fortified castle in Europe. Construction first began on the site in 1424 under Lord Evrard de la Marck who built a modest triangular castle with towers, walls and a moat around an existing church. Over the next century, Evrard's descendants continued to expand and reinforce the fortress, adding multiple rings of defensive walls, rectangular towers, ramparts, bastions and extremely thick curtain walls reaching up to 27 meters (89 feet) wide.
By the early 16th century, Sedan Castle had been transformed into an imposing and nearly impenetrable stronghold, reflecting the rising power of the Lords of Sedan who ruled the independent Principality of Sedan. The castle's formidable defenses resisted sieges by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s troops in 1521 and other armies over the next century. In 1642, Sedan was annexed by France and the castle was turned into a military base and garrison. Renovations were later made by famed French military engineer Vauban. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, French Emperor Napoleon III made his last stand at Sedan Castle before surrendering to Prussian forces following the decisive Battle of Sedan.
Today, Sedan Castle fortress is located at Cours Clos du Château in the center of Sedan. It continues to be a predominant landmark in the area. Visitors to the castle can take self-guided or guided tours of the ramparts, bastions, princely apartments and great halls. Wax figures, artwork and exhibits in the Sedan Museum illustrate various eras in the castle's history. An audiovisual presentation provides background on the construction and growth of this mighty fortress. Visitors may also participate in seasonal events like medieval festivals, knight tournaments and evening torch tours. The on-site café offers light local fare while the hotel provides atmospheric accommodations. Sedan Castle appeals most to history enthusiasts and sightseers of all ages interested in medieval military architecture or European power struggles.
Admission to tour Sedan Castle fortress ranges from €8 (US$9, £7) per child and €11(US$12, £10) per adult for basic entry to €37 (US$40, £33) for a family pass. Opening hours are daily from 10AM-6PM during summer months (July-August) and shorter hours during other periods in high season between April and December. Sedan Castle can be easily accessed off the A34 motorway, with the castle situated a short walk from central parking areas in Sedan.
18. See Saint-Hubert Basilica
Saint-Hubert Basilica, officially named the Abbey Church of Saints Peter and Paul, is a former Benedictine abbey church built in the late Gothic style in Saint-Hubert, Belgium. Construction on the present-day basilica began in 1525 after previous church buildings on the site were destroyed by fires. The impressive Baroque facade was added in the 18th century.
The basilica is located in the town of Saint-Hubert in Belgium's Luxembourg province. The full address is Place du Marché, 15, 6870 Saint-Hubert, Belgium.
Saint-Hubert Basilica was built on the site of earlier churches next to a Benedictine abbey founded in the 7th century. The abbey brought fame to the town after the relics of Saint Hubert were installed there in 825. Saint Hubert Basilica became an important stopping point for religious pilgrims. Architecturally, the tall Gothic interior lined with slender columns contrasts dramatically with the ornate 18th century Baroque facade.
Visitors to the basilica can take guided tours in English, French, Dutch or German with advance reservation. There is access to view the Gothic architecture and Baroque details. Audio guides are also available. Visitors can attend masses with Gregorian chants performed on hunting horns, adding to the medieval ambiance. The basilica is open to the public everyday.
Saint-Hubert town is located 68 kilometers southeast of Bastogne and 48 kilometers south of Liege in Belgium's Ardennes region. Brussels is 129 kilometers north. The nearest airports are in Charleroi (85 kilometers) and Liege (53 kilometers). Brussels Airport is 166 kilometers away. By train, Saint-Hubert is about 1 hour from Brussels, 45 minutes from Liege and 35 minutes from Luxembourg City.
The basilica appeals to visitors of all ages interested in history, architecture and religion. Admission to view the church is free. Guided tours for groups need to be booked in advance with fees applied. Food and souvenirs representing Saint Hubert and hunting culture are sold around the square outside.
19. Bike or hike along RAVeL greenways
The RAVeL greenways refer to Réseau Autonome des Voies Lentes (Autonomous Network of Slow Ways) in Wallonia, Belgium. This network covers over 1,500 kilometers of paths reserved for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and those with reduced mobility. The paths are laid out mainly along towpaths and old railway lines. They include waymarked trails for activities like walking, hiking, cycling, horse riding and roller skating. RAVeL aims to interconnect these greenways to cover all of Wallonia and promote cycling tourism.
RAVeL goes by the alternative name “greenways” outside of Wallonia, which is a common term for non-motorized routes across Europe. These car-free paths respect the environment while linking people to landscapes and cultural heritage.
RAVeL transforms abandoned infrastructure into sustainable transport and recreation. Towpaths, once used by horses to tow boats along canals, now enable peaceful family walks. Disused railway lines that once carried goods across Wallonia have found new life serving cyclists and horse riders. RAVeL brings people outdoors to appreciate nature, towns, rural scenery and nature reserves as they traverse Wallonia.
Visitors to RAVeL can walk, hike, cycle, ride horses, rollerblade or wheelchair around 1,500 kilometers of greenways. These accessible paths appeal to all ages and mobility levels. Along the way, travelers can explore Wallonia's cities, villages and landscapes at their own pace. They can stop to rest or have a meal at some of the cafes, restaurants and hotels linked to the network. RAVeL also connects people to cultural sites and nature attractions worth discovering across Wallonia.
To access RAVeL greenways, head to any of the designated trailheads or junctions. Smaller trails and a few longer routes may be found within a single municipality, while several cross provincial or regional borders. Travelers can ride public transport like buses or trains to nearby transit hubs, then continue journeys via bicycle or on foot. Detailed maps mark each section of RAVeL and trail amenities. These free maps are available at tourist offices or through Wallonia's tourism website.
RAVeL greenways suit people of all ages and ability levels given the flat, gentle gradients. Families with young children, seniors and wheelchair users can all enjoy the traffic-free routes. Individuals, couples or groups who like moderately active vacations appreciate the opportunity to walk, cycle or ride horses traffic-free across scenery at their own pace. There are no admission fees to use public RAVeL trails, just free access to appreciate Wallonia's landscapes up close via sustainable transportation.
20. Go ziplining over the Meuse River
The Meuse is a major European river originating in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea. With a total length of 925 kilometers (575 miles), the Meuse is the oldest river in the world.
The river starts in Pouilly-en-Bassigny, France and courses northwards, passing several French towns and cities like Commercy and Verdun before entering Belgium. In Belgium, the Meuse flows through Wallonia past towns and cities like Dinant, Namur, Huy, and Liège before forming much of the border between Belgium and the Netherlands. Key Dutch towns along the Meuse include Maastricht, Roermond, and Venlo. The river has a basin size of over 34,000 square kilometers spanning parts of France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
The Meuse river flows through Belgium's Ardennes forest near the town of Dinant. The steep, rocky, wooded valley in this area offers some of the most dramatic scenery along the entire river. Adventurous visitors flock to Dinant to zipline across the Meuse, enjoying a thrilling ride high above the water with the forested cliffs and rock formations as a backdrop.
Multiple ziplining circuits are available, with rides starting from the top of the towering citadel in Dinant. Adrenaline seekers can zipline over 400 meters down to the banks of the Meuse, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph while strapped to the zipline. The ziplines in Dinant rank amongst the longest and fastest in Europe. Riders get an unparalleled view of the river gorge during the descent.
In addition to the main zipline route starting atop the massive citadel walls built in the 13th century, shorter rides are also offered lower down for less daring visitors. Ziplining at Dinant provides adventure lovers with a unique way to explore the Meuse's striking gorge landscape that is both scenic and thrilling.
The ziplining operators in Dinant provide all the necessary safety gear and equipment. First-time zipliners get training on how to safely ride down the lines criss-crossing the Meuse river canyon. The activity suits most visitors above 1.4 meters in height. Children under 14 require adult supervision.
Beyond ziplining, other popular ways to enjoy the dramatic scenery around the Meuse river near Dinant include kayaking on the river itself or rock climbing on the rocky bluffs flanking the gorge. So visitors have plenty of options to actively explore the river valley in this stretch of the Meuse that has almost a mountain landscape.
What are the best things to in the Ardennes with kids and toddlers?
Listed below are the best things to do in the Ardennes with kids and toddlers.
- Plopsa Coo Amusement Park. Plopsa Coo Amusement Park is a theme park near the Cascade de Coo waterfall. It has rides and attractions tailored for younger kids, like a fairy tale-themed carousel, outdoor pedal karts, and a bobsleigh coaster. Kids can meet costumed characters from Studio 100 TV shows. The park is compact, making it easy for families to navigate.
- Domain of the Caves of Han. The Grottes de Han cave complex has an educational PrehistoHan exhibit where kids can learn about prehistoric times through multimedia displays and simulations. They can make cave drawings, use ancient tools, and dress up as a Stone Age hunter. An interactive game lets them find artifacts in a virtual excavation.
- Archeoscope Multimedia Show in Bouillon. Archeoscope Multimedia Show is an immersive show in Bouillon Castle, where kids will be enthralled by films, reconstructions, and interactive games unveiling the epic history of Godfrey de Bouillon. They can try on virtual costumes, act as castle defenders, and see vivid battle scenes. It brings the Middle Ages alive through technology.
- Ebly Animal Park at Wéris. Ebly Animal Park to wolves, lynx, wild boars, deer and more animal species, this large outdoor park allows kids to safely observe wildlife in natural enclosures. They'll be thrilled to pet and feed farm animals at the petting zoo. An elevated rope course provides challenge. Guided electric cart tours available.
- Le Labyrinthe at Barvaux. Le Labyrinthe at Barvaux is adorable summertime hedge maze crafted specially for kids has child-friendly paths and games. Kids can climb a 5-meter high treehouse, explore pirate ships and Western Forts integrated into the labyrinth, and more. The goal is fun over difficulty.
- Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes in Bastogne. At Museum of the Battle, through detailed dioramas, multimedia reenactments, artifacts and simulated environments, kids can immerse themselves in the major WWII battle fought in Bastogne and grasp its historical importance. An emotional experience that brings history to life.
- Aquarium-Museum. Aquarium-Museum in Dinant Covering river ecology, this museum has over 30 well-designed aquariums showcasing fish species found in the Meuse River. Kids enjoy observing trout, pike and more up close while learning about the aquatic environment. Creative workshops allow them to build fish models.
What are the best museums to visit in the Ardennes?
Find below a list with the best museums to visit in the Ardennes.
- Bastogne War Museum. The Bastogne War Museum provides an in-depth look at the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, a major WWII battle fought in the Ardennes in December 1944. Through immersive exhibits spanning 13 rooms, visitors learn about the causes, course and consequences of this historic battle from different perspectives. Artifacts, soldier testimonials, reconstructions of events using life-size dioramas, short films, and multimedia installations vividly showcase the realities of war and importance of the Battle of Bastogne as a turning point. Its location makes it the perfect place to understand this area’s pivotal legacy.
- Musée de la Bataille des Ardennes in La Roche-en-Ardenne. The Musée de la Bataille des Ardennes is located close to the Ourthe River in the heart of the Ardennes and explores the German Ardennes Offensive and key regional battles in December 1944 through model recreations, mannequins in period scenes, weaponry, photography, maps and more. It provides insight into combat on Belgian soil and helps visitors grasp day-to-day life for civilians and soldiers during this impactful time, putting a human face to the war. An evocative experience.
- Musée en Piconrue – Folklore Museum in Bastogne. The Folklore Museum in Bastogne is located in an historic 17th century building in Bastogne provides a look at traditional life and folklore in the Ardennes region throughout history. Through displays of period rooms, costumes, carnival artifacts, tools, handicrafts and recreations of agricultural/village scenes, it spotlights cultural artifacts integral to local identity and the timeless natural environment that shaped lifestyles. Offers depth on the region's intangible heritage.
- Val Dieu Abbey Beer Museum. The monks of Val Dieu Abbey situated in the valley of the Hoëgne River have been brewing beer for 800 years, upholding the Ardennes’ artisanal brewing tradition. Their beer museum usescopious visuals and artifacts to explore six aspects of beer culture – raw ingredients, malt production, brewing process, varieties, glassware, and gastronomy pairings. Provides context of beer's historical connection to the region.
- Mine Museum at Blegny Mine. Mine Museum at Blegny Mine was Belgium's last operating coal mine before closing in 1980, the Blegny Mine near Liège has been converted into a museum allowing visitors to journey down the original shafts in a cage lift and walk through the underground galleries. Through an immersive guided tour, you learn about mining history and technology from the 19th and 20th centuries. Offers firsthand look at industry integral to early Ardennes.
What is The Ardennes?
The Ardennes is an extensive region of forests, rolling hills and valleys primarily located in southeastern Belgium. Geographically, it stretches across portions of the Belgian provinces of Namur, Luxembourg and Liège. The densely wooded and rugged terrain of the Ardennes covers a total area of around 4,300 square miles. It forms a component of Belgium's famed Wallonia region south of Brussels and extends into neighboring parts of France, Luxembourg and Germany as well. Elevations across the Ardennes range from about 1,050 feet to just over 2,250 feet at the region's highest point, Signal de Botrange, located in Belgium's Hautes Fagnes. The geography includes deep, winding river valleys dotted with small villages, as well as high forested plateaus and peaks. Sandstone cliff formations frame stretches of waterways like the Meuse, Ourthe and Semois Rivers. The Ardennes owes its hilly landscape to its location along the western edge of the Rhenish Massif mountain range formed during the Paleozoic Era.
Where is Ardennes located?
Most of the Ardennes area sits in southeastern Belgium within portions of the provinces of Namur in the west, Luxembourg in the south-central area and Liège in the east. The cities of Dinant, Rochefort, La Roche-en-Ardenne, Durbuy and Bouillon mark some of the central points within the Belgian Ardennes. The region also reaches into the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's Oesling area to the south and across borders to cover northeastern France's Ardennes department and western Germany's Eifel territory. In total, the Ardennes crosses sections of Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Germany within an irregular geographic span extending around 120 miles from the Belgium-Germany border southwest to the France-Belgium border. The Belgian part makes up the majority of the scenic, wooded landscapes most identify as the Ardennes region.
Which Belgian towns are located in Ardennes?
Some of the best-known Belgian towns fully or partially situated in the Ardennes region include Dinant, Han-sur-Lesse, Rochefort, La Roche-en-Ardenne, Marche-en-Famenne, Durbuy, Huy, Namur, Liege, Verviers, Spa, Malmedy, Waimes, Bastogne and Bouillon. Smaller villages and resort communities in the Ardennes range from Anseremme and Celles to Aywaille, Hotton, Sankt Vith, Vielsalm and many others, mostly concentrated along the course of rivers or nestled within forested valleys.
What are the best towns to visit in the Ardennes?
Top towns and villages to visit within Belgium's share of the Ardennes often include outdoor-oriented Durbuy, known as the smallest city in the country; riverside Dinant with its commanding citadel; Bouillon and its medieval castle; popular resort destination Spa; La Roche-en-Ardenne surrounded by stunning vistas; Han-sur-Lesse and its caves; Val Dieu and its namesake abbey brewery; picture-perfect Rochefort; and historic Stavelot, site of an ancient abbey. Rustic villages like Beauraing, Rochehaut and Hotton also offer Ardennes charm.
- Durbuy. Durbuy is an exceptionally charming village and Belgium's smallest official city. It serves as a scenic base in the Ourthe River valley for exploring the Ardennes' forests and trails.
- Dinant. Dinant's dramatic setting slung along a Meuse River bend below towering cliffs draws visitors to its medieval landmarks like the fortress bearing city views.
- Bouillon. Bouillon liesembedded within a Semois River curve crowned by its fairy tale medieval castle which overlooks the Ardennes forests.
- Spa town. The town of Spa retains fame as the birthplace of mineral springs wellness tourism which once drew European aristocrats to enjoy its reputed healing waters.
- La Roche-en-Ardenne. Captivating La Roche-en-Ardenne makes an atmospheric central base for Ardennes adventures with its romantic castle ruins looming over the thickly wooded Ourthe valley.
- Han-sur-Lesse. Han-sur-Lesse provides easy access to enter into the vast underground labyrinths formed within its limestone caves illuminated by subterranean rivers and lakes.
- Val Dieu. Atmospheric Val Dieu is famed for the namesake abbey where its monks follow time-honored traditions to produce distinctive bottle-fermented Belgian beers.
- Rochefort. Alluring Rochefort delivers a foretaste of Ardennes charm with the medieval remnants of its hilltop castle and valley dotted with country hotels that beckon hikers.
- Stavelot. Historic Stavelot expands around the extant stone structures of its ninth century abbey whose towering Gothic facade now hosts performances during summer arts festivals.
- Beauraing. Beauraing draws Catholic pilgrims to its wayside shrine where apparitions of the Virgin Mary appeared to youths in 1932, leaving visions of the future.
- Rochehaut. Rochehaut's scenic riverside setting causes it to overflow with tourists and hikers bound for the spectacular views attained atop the iconic Botassart Belvedere overlook nearby.
- Hotton. Hotton provides adventurous access points for explorers to climb deep down through unique caverns formed by subterranean waterways boring elaborate displays into ancient limestone.
What is the most beautiful part of the Ardennes?
Many travelers point to the dramatically scenic views found along Belgium's Semois River as it winds through rugged forested hills and cliffs as the most naturally beautiful part of the Ardennes region. The area around towns like Bouillon and Rochehaut provides breathtaking views from overlooks like the Botassart Belvedere. Other exceptionally pretty areas lie along river valleys like the Lesse near Dinant and Celles and the Ourthe by La Roche-en-Ardenne. Dense oak and pine forests cloaking rocky peaks and limestone cliffs also contribute to the Ardennes’ beauty.
What is Ardennes Belgium famous for?
The Ardennes region of southeast Belgium is famous for its outdoors-oriented tourism centered views and activities, with forests and valleys providing the backdrop. It sees renown for mountain biking, hiking, canoeing and kayaking. The area also holds history as a World War II battle site during 1944's Battle of the Bulge. People claims to recognition include hosting famed spa towns along mineral springs, producing distinct hams and pâtés, and supporting a variety of wildlife. The outdoor-oriented town of Durbuy has additionally drawn the title of the smallest official city in Belgium by land size.
When is the best time to visit Ardennes?
The most ideal times to visit the Ardennes region for comfortable weather and manageable crowds generally fall between March to mid-June during spring and mid-September through October in autumn. Summer is considered peak tourism season with July and August bringing the warmest weather but also larger numbers of visitors. Wintertime draws enthusiasts to the Ardennes’ high country for seasonal snow sports. But outside ski resorts, many hotels and restaurants limit operations in winter months when rainy days and cold nights prevail.
>Is Ardennes in France or Belgium?
The Ardennes spans adjacent sections of both northeastern France and southeastern Belgium. Belgium claims the majority share with its portion extending across much of the provinces of Namur, Luxembourg and Liège south of Brussels. The river valleys, dense forests and rugged hills associated with the Ardennes cross this large portion of southern Belgium. France's Ardennes department sits along Belgium's western border, mainly containing high plateau areas on the edge of the Ardennes geographical region.
What is the giant's tomb in the Ardennes?
The Giant's Tomb refers to a dramatic natural rock structure situated in a bend of Belgium's Semois River near the town of Bouillon in the Ardennes. Shaped roughly like an above-ground burial mound, legend claims it was the resting place of a giant slain by a Roman soldier. The moss-covered stone outcropping towers some 250 feet over the surrounding wooded valley, offering picturesque views from overlooks like the nearby Botassart Belvedere.
How many days should someone spend in Ardennes?
It is recommended for visitors to spend between 4 to 7 days in Ardennes, to make enough time for seeing top highlights in the Ardennes region of Belgium. At least 2 full days should be budgeted for visiting some of the charming historical towns and views along rivers like the Meuse and Lesse. Another 2 days would properly allow for outdoor recreation like hiking forested trails, biking backroads or kayaking waterways. Extending to 5 days would provide time for exploring regional World War II history sites or touring an underground cave system as well.
Is it worth to visit the Ardennes?
Yes, it is definitely worth visiting the Belgium's Ardennes as the region offers plenty of rewarding places to visit within its landscape of rolling wooded hills, winding river valleys, limestone cliffs and outdoor recreational access. The small villages provide local culture, regional culinary flavors and historical allure worth discovering. And few other areas so close to central Europe preserve such extensive natural wilderness vistas. The remote beauty and variety of sights make the Ardennes a worthwhile Belgian destination for nature and culture interests.
How to get to the Ardennes?
How to get around in the Ardennes?
As mentioned above, the easiest way to get around the Ardennes is by car as a car allows you to visit every village, local producer, and sight with ease. If traveling by car isn't an option for you, check here for train routes in the whole of the Ardennes. If you want to travel by bus, TEC is the company that operates the local bus lines in the Belgian Ardennes. For Luxembourg, check the Mobilitéitszentral. I haven't found any solid info on local, small-scale bus transportation in the French Ardennes so if anybody knows more about this, feel free to let me know in the comments!
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