The Ardennes: a perfect cure for wanderlust
The Ardennes, situated in the south-east of Belgium, is a real paradise for history and nature lovers and undeniably the most enchanting part of Belgium.
One of nature’s unspoilt areas, rich in fauna and flora, with forests, hills, fast flowing rivers and spectacular underground cave systems. Visitors can wander through the many picturesque villages nestling in the valleys where traditions and folklore still live on, and where the region’s arts and crafts can be enjoyed. Amongst the greenery lie the silent witnesses of the past of the Ardennes, such as castles, forts and citadels.
Also for the sportive traveller the Ardennes has plenty to offer; walking, cycling, canoeing, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking are some examples of popular activities in the Ardennes.
The region is also notable for its cuisine: game, wild boar, cheese and the world-famous Ardennes smoked ham and pâté.
The region is surprisingly easy to reach – approximately 1,5 hours from Brussels. With its pure air and natural beauty, the guarantee of a warm welcome and the option of a stress-relieving break or some thrilling sporting activities, the Ardennes have something for everyone.
GO Experience can organise an itinerary to visit some of the most enchanting villages and sites in this area or a day tour from Brussels. Hotels, cottages, chalets and even beautiful castles offer accommodation facilities to fit every budget. Below some examples of villages in the Ardennes.
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Ardennes,’ Spa is a beautiful Belgian town located in a wooded valley in the middle of undulating hills, and numerous springs and rivers. Many visitors head there for a true spa experience, enjoying hours of blissful relaxation at the hot swimming pools, geysers, bubbling water cannons, bubble seats and more. The water at the Thermes de Spa comes straight from the Clementine spring and is full of natural minerals known to be good for cleansing the skin.
Durbuy is often referred to as the smallest city in the world. It is also one of the most charming and picturesque places to be found in Belgium, Durbuy has maintained its city status since the 14th century. Located in the densely forested Belgian Ardennes high up in the mountains, Durbuy is an excellent and laid back holiday town famous for its mouth-watering gastronomy, hiking and mountain biking opportunities, winding pedestrian narrow alleys and cobblestoned streets.
It also has a 9th century castle and a river running along its edge. Besides spending your time strolling through Durbuy’s winding cobblestone streets, you could also kayak down the Ourthe river and visit its topiary garden which features sculpted plants in the shapes of people and animals, some of which are more than 100 years old.
Located along the Meuse River, Dinant is a picturesque little town once home to the talented Mr. Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. His house remains open to visitors who can learn more about the invention of this musical instrument in a fun and original setting. Travelers can also visit the fortified citadel, now home to the town’s Arms Museum, the 13th century Collegiate Church of Our Lady, and taste the delicious local hard biscuit called couque de dinant.
With its charming spires and Medieval castle ruins, it’s no wonder that La Roche-en-Ardenne is one of the most visited towns in the Belgian Ardennes. Settlements from Neolithic times have been found at La Roche, as well as a Celtic archaeological site dating back to between 850-520 BCE. For centuries La Roche has been producing a liqueur made from blackthorn fruit, honey and gin. Just a few kilometers north of the town you can visit the natural caves of Hotton which take you 75 meters underground into the deepest of the Ardennes’ cave systems.
The Semois River rises in the extreme southeast corner of Belgium near Arlon. It flows first through the plain of Gaume in the Belgian part of Lorraine, and at Tintigny, it enters the Ardennes. From here onwards, it has cut a course deep into the hills and forms broad curves around forested rocks, which offer charming views. The steep flanks of the Semois Valley at times approach the river so closely that the roads are often high above the edge, and a trip here is best done on foot or by boat to see the finest parts of the landscape. Many of the larger villages are on the plateau of the Ardennes high above the windings of the river. The major places along the way are Jamoigne, which has an old castle and church; Chiny; and Florenville, which sits on the upper course of the river. Location: 113 kilometers south from Namur.
Abbey of Notre Dame d’Orval
Amid the quiet and picturesque forest of the Gaume, right on the French border, lies the most extensive and most beautiful monastery in Belgium, the Trappist abbey of Notre Dame d’Orval. The first monastery in the “golden valley” is said to have been founded in 1070 by Benedictines from Calabria in southern Italy. They were followed in 1132 by Cistercians who began building the Church of Notre-Dame. Around 1700 the abbey, which had adopted the strict observance of the Trappist order in 1683, was one of the most prosperous monasteries in Europe. Today, the ruins of the old abbey are highly atmospheric, while the herb garden and old apothecary are also well worth visiting. Location: 51 kilometers south from Namur.
We can support with organizing (theme) tours, itineraries and accommodations. Namen is easy to combine with other cities in Belgium like Brussels, Liège or Dinant. For more information, see our contact information and form below.
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