The Ardennes are a very popular holiday area in the southeast of Belgium. Just a short distance from the Netherlands, you can imagine yourself in a faraway foreign country. The Ardennes have a beautiful varied landscape. Small old villages and towns alternate with beautiful forests, babbling rivers and panoramic views. The Ardennes can be roughly divided into two parts. One has more forests, steep cliffs and rock formations, while the other has a quieter rolling landscape. The Ardennes have been tossed back and forth between different rulers for centuries and therefore has a rich history that can still be found in the area. Besides old castles, In farms and villages, the traces of the Second World War are still clearly visible here and there. The area has both cultural and sporting opportunities for tourists. In short, there is something for everyone in the Ardennes. It is mainly a destination for the active holidaymaker. Below you will find a selection of the most visited attractions in the Ardennes.
Top 10 sights of the Ardennes
#1. La Roche
According to Citypopulationreview.com, La Roche is one of the most visited towns in the Ardennes. In the summer months it is extremely busy. It then looks a bit like the Valkenburg of the Ardennes. It is therefore a nice town from which you can explore the area. La Roche is strategically located in a bend of the river Ourthe. The castle of La Roche has dominated the area since the Middle Ages. The ruins of the castle can still be visited and there is a small war museum in the town that tells the history of la Roche and its surroundings during the Second World War. The town has many cafes and restaurants. For the sports enthusiast, many walks, MTB routes and kayak trips start here. The forests in the hills around La Roche are also beautiful. The nearby Roche Hérou is highly recommended for walks. Much of the walk is high on top of the rock formations. It is a bit of clambering, but then you will also be rewarded with one of the most beautiful views of the Ardennes.
Durbuyis the smallest town in the world. It is a very atmospheric medieval town that has been very well preserved. The small cobbled streets and medieval houses are still in perfect condition. Although it is not large, it has a number of nice small shops and fine restaurants. Durbuy is an attractive base to get to know the area. There are several outdoor centers where you can climb and clamber. Many of these centers also offer special tours by kayak or quad. A great way to view nature. For those who prefer to see nature on their own, there are various walking and cycling tours. There is also a ravel path especially for slow traffic participants. These special walking and cycling paths have been specially constructed to guarantee a safe journey for cyclists and walkers. The ravel paths are a great way to cycle with small children or take a walk with the pram or wheelchair.
Those who love a good Belgian beer are in the right place in the Ardennes. The Ardennes have many local breweries that brew great tasty beers. Blonde, brown, double or triple, there is bound to be one that tastes great for you. The nice thing is that these breweries can often be visited. You can take a tour, learn about the brewing process and, of course, taste the end result of all this careful brewing. Well-known breweries that you can also visit include the Chouffe brewery in Achouffe and the Abbey de Orval where Orval is brewed. A bite to eat in the associated brasserie is often highly recommended.
#4. War Museum at Bastogne
In the Ardennes there was a lot of fighting in the Second World War. After D-Day, the area proved to be an important breaking point in the passage of the Allies towards Germany. After the Allies conquered the area, Hitler launched a counter-attack. During the winter of 1944, heavy fighting took place in this area and the Allied situation more than once seemed hopeless. The town of Bastogne with its allied soldiers present there was completely surrounded by the Germans. However, they persisted and eventually defeated the German troops. The memories of this period are kept alive by many war memorials, but also by the war museum and memorial in Bastogne. It Bastogne War Museum gives a detailed account of the fighting in the Ardennes. Supplemented with memorabilia such as uniforms, rifles and ammunition from the time. In 2011, the museum was thoroughly renovated to reopen in 2012.
The classic Coo waterfalls are of course one of the most famous attractions of the Ardennes. These waterfalls in the Amblève River have been a major attraction for tourists for many years. And although the falls can still be admired in all their glory, they are nowadays really overshadowed by the Plopsa COO lying on the banks.. This amusement park for the little ones is located at the bottom of the waterfall and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region. Building on the toboggan run, which has been located next to Coo for decades, you can now swing and wave with Bumba, Piet pirate and Mega Mindy. The park has an open setting with various fairground rides, bouncy castles, fairground rides and the like. But also a wildlife park and a beautiful vantage point that you can reach with a chairlift.
#6. Caves in the Ardennes
Due to the special geological composition, the Ardennes has a number of beautiful caves. These are therefore one of the main tourist attractions of the Ardennes. The most important and most beautiful caves in the Ardennes are: the caves of Remourchamps, the caves of Hotton and the caves of Han. The caves of Han are a very large cave system created by the river Lesse. You can visit the caves with a guide who leads you through the different “halls”. These halls have been eroded by the water for centuries. Magnificent stalactites and stalagmites form a magnificent spectacle deep underground.
Spa was one of the most important spas in Europe in the 19th century. The natural spring water that came from the ground has a medicinal effect that was already known in the 16th century. In the course of history, Spa became a health resort and even became the first casino in Europe. Kings, famous composers and other famous people came here to cure. In addition, the city is of course known for the bottled water that comes from it. Spa was for many years one of the main tourist centers of the Ardennes. Today the old spa buildings can still be seen and there is a museum that shows the ancient history.
Stavelot was founded in the late Middle Ages by the brothers of the neighboring abbey. Stavelotbecame a thriving community on the banks of the Amblève. Today, the city is still very popular with tourists. The Abbey houses three museums, including that of the Francorchamps circuit. In addition, there are always various changing exhibitions. Stavelot is also an important part of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic for cycling tourists and cycling enthusiasts. On nice days you can always find large groups of cyclists who are toiling, sighing and sweating climbing the terribly steep Col de Stockeu. Halfway up is the famous statue of Eddy Merckx. For many cyclists, this is a good excuse to stop halfway through this climb and catch your breath.
Spa-Francorchamps is the race track near Spa. It is one of the most important racing circuits in the Benelux. Races are held regularly. Outside the competitions you can visit the circuit and get a behind-the-scenes tour. Licensed people can test the track on special days and for the common man there are a number of days a year when they can feel like a real driver with their own car and race around the track.
#10. Sporty in the Ardennes
The Ardennes is an ideal holiday destination for mobile types. To walk, cycling, canoeing, MTB and for all levels there are different routes. For example, there are several ravel trails in the Ardennes. These are specially constructed cycle paths for slow traffic. Cars and motorcycles are banned from these paths. These paths are very suitable for cycling with small children or for a walk with a pram. For the more experienced walkers there are beautiful climbing and clambering paths that lead through the beautiful nature. Distances vary from a single hour of walking to long day trips and even multi-day hikes. There are various MTB routes, both for advanced and beginners and the area is ideally suited for a long trip on a racing bike. Legendary hills and mountain slopes such as the redoubt and the Stockeu lie in this area. The true cycling fanatic can indulge himself here with impossible gradients and burning calves.