You will find the Ardennes in the south-east of Belgium. It’s a wonderful area for everyone who wants to spend some quiet days in nature. But besides a wonderful picturesque landscape, the Ardennes have a lot more to offer. Rural villages, old castles, interesting museums, delicious food and even the smallest city of the world. Besides sightseeing, it’s also a great place for every kind of outdoor sports like hiking, climbing, swimming, kajaking, rafting and much more.
We spent a week in a nice bed and breakfast in Villers-Saint-Gertrude, which was the perfect start for our daily excursions. It was a very hot period in July, which was very nice, but led to the growth of bad bacteria in the river so we could not go swimming. Instead we absolutely enjoyed to cool down in the woods and found plenty of other great things to do which are the following:
Durbuy is the smallest city in Belgium – some say in the world – and the oldest town in the Ardennes. This small old town is absolutely worth a visit and so nice to stroll through. Just enjoying to look at all the small old stone houses and the cobbled streets.
At the north-eastern end of the city you will find an anticline, the so called Homalius Rock or ‘Roche à la Falize’. It’s shaped in a turned around ‘U’ which comes from sea-sediments that were formed into layers over millions of years ago. This rock is over 300 million years old and is really impressive to see! Just around the corner you can also have fun playing minigolf.
There’s also a Topiary Park where you can look at about 250 plants that are formed into impressive sculptures.
Sadly the castle of Durbuy cannot be visited as it is private property but the town itself has enough to look at!
La Petite Batte de Bomal – Market in Bomal
The so called ‘Petite Patte’ is the market that holds place every Sunday in Bomal. People are coming from everywhere to see it and feel the special athmosphere. “Petite” is the french word for small but this market is everything but small! There’s something to find for everyone and it really is a must-see! Besides fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, bread, flowers and typical delicatesses of the region you will also find, books, clothes, shoes, toys, and so much more. The list really is endless and you could walk around there for hours and look at all the goods. We went there in the early morning and enjoyed walking through the whole market till we got hungry and got us delicious food to picnic beside the river in the grass.
The Labyrinth of Bavaux-sur-Ourthe
This labyrinth will absolutely amaze you! Every year there are 600,000 maize grains planted in an area that covers 11 hectares to form this giant labyrinth. You can not only walk through but will also be entertained by solving riddles, theatre shows, tests and various challenges. It’s great fun for the whole family! Don’t forget to take food and water with you and protect your skin against the sun. There’s a place to eat and sit down in the middle of the labyrinth. On a sunny day we recommend to go in the early morning as it can get quite warm!
The Dolmen of Wéris
A dolmen is a type of megalithic tomb mostly dating from the early Neolithic. Around the small village of Wéris you can find some of these old Dolmen. The biggest one is over 10 metres long on the outside. The burial chamber on the inside is about 6 metres long, 1,7 metres wide and 1.5 metres high. Stones with a weight of up to 30 tonnes form the walls and the roof of these impressive graves. You will find the big Dolmen just at the beginning of the Village. There you can also park your car and start the ‘megalith walk’ that is about 5 km long. You will find several Dolmen along the way.
We recommend to do the walk in the late afternoon, the light of the low standing sun was absolutely fascinating!
Bastogne war museum
If you are interested in history and the World War II, we can definitely recommend the Bastogne war museum. It’s amazingly well done with lots of interactive context. On audio guide consisting out of four different persons will lead you through the whole museum and tell their own personal story. The focus is on the battles that took place in Belgium and even more in this particular region. It’s very informing on one hand and very moving on the other hand.
Beside the museum you can find the impressive Mardasson Memorial. It was built in 1950 and is a reminder of the 76,890 american soldiers who got killed or got lost in this area.
La Roche en Ardenne is a small town where we enjoyed an afternoon walk. The town offers nice souvenir shops and good restaurants as well as a beautiful park along the river Ourthe. The main reason why we went there was the medieval castle. The castle was used between the 9th and the 18th century and is accessible by walking up a hill from the middle of the town. From up there you can enjoy the view over the whole area!
Bouillon is a little further to drive but if you have another free day, consider going there. The city is built along the river Semois. The castle Bouillon, which is built on the hill, overlooks the town. The castle was built in the 11th century and extended in the 17th century. It’s really well mentained and you can easily spend several hours there as it is really big. Also a bird of prey demonstration takes place a few times a day.
After visiting the castle you can walk down the hill and have a look at the town. There are several inviting cafès and restaurants to find.
These are our best tips for a week in the belgium Ardennes. Besides doing all the things mentioned above, we spent a lot of time outside and enjoyed hiking in the woods. Also we had a very warm week with temperatures close to 40 degrees celsius so we made sure to spend midday somewhere inside or in the shadows. We had an absolute relaxed time and saw some of the most beautiful sunsets we have seen so far!