Explore the Belgium travel itinerary we enjoyed while traveling through Brussels and Wallonia and filming for our PBS travel series.
Below is our packed, but awesome itinerary from Belgium and what you’ll see in our two episodes of Travels with Darley on Belgium. We don’t suggest you try to do all of this in 10 days, but take some of these suggestions and incorporate them into your own itinerary, as they are all great things to see and do in Belgium and great places to eat and stay!
Day 1 Brussels
Arrive in Brussels
Stretch your legs on a walk around town, stopping in the Grand Place, taste testing chocolate at Laurent Gerbaud, and walking through one of the top shopping areas, rue Dansaert. Window shop or step inside Annemie Verbeke, the shop of one of Belgium’s most well-known fashion designers.
Rue des Bouchers , Brussels “Restaurant Row,” is touristy, but you can’t go wrong with a simple dinner of mussels and frites at Chez Leon (rue des Bouchers 18, B-1000 Bruxelles). This restaurant has been welcoming locals and travelers alike for over 100 years. Try the Léon beer, which is pale, yet full-bodied.
Hilton Brussels Grand Place (Carrefour de L’Europe 3, Brussels, 1000 Belgium Tel. +32-2-5484211)
This modern, sleek hotel has a great location right front of the Central Train station and a short walk to Grand Place and some of the most vibrant areas of Brussels.
Day 2 Liege
Drive (1.5 hours) or hop on a train (1 hour) from Brussels to Liege, a university city with great food, beer, markets and culture.
Whether you take the train or not, check out the Gare des Guillemins train station. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, this Central European train hub is an architectural gem.
Try to get to Liege on Sunday, market day, when La Batte, the largest and oldest market in Belgium is in full swing. You’ll find just about anything at this mile-long market stretching along the Meuse River, including fresh fruit, waffles, frites, cheese, clothing, flowers, and other local products.
Why Belgian frites are so good? by TravelswithDarley
If you haven’t already eaten your fill at the market or want to walk it off, it’s just a five minute, 350-meter stroll from La Batte (depending where you are) to Brasserie C or Curtius Brasserie (Impasse des Ursulines 14, 4000 Liège, Belgium).
Tour this small brewery, which is housed in a historic monastery, and try some beer! If you’re hungry and the weather is nice, sit outside in the lovely courtyard and enjoy beer paired with something as simple as a cheese plate or as filling as Le Boulet, a popular local meatball.
On the way in or out, marvel at the Mount Bueren stairs, a 374-step stairway, located right beside Brasserie C.
Visit la Cite Miroir (Place Xavier Neujean, 22 – 4000 Liège ), which is located just behind the Opéra Royal de Wallonie or Royal Opera of Wallonia. This cultural center has rotating exhibits and is housed in a former city swimming pool. In fact, many Liege residents learned to swim here!
Amon Nanesse (Rue de l’Epée 4, 4000 Liège, Belgium)
The reason to go to this restaurant is to try Les boulets à la liégeoise, a Liege staple and some of the best meatballs we’ve ever tasted. This large beef and pork meatball is served up in sweet sauce consisting of a mixture of pears and apple syrup, wine, onions and peket, a local spirit. You can also try peket here, too, and at many bistros throughout the city. This spirit comes in lemon, strawberry, melon, violet and other flavors.
Are these the Greatest Meatballs Ever by TravelswithDarley
Hotel Neuvice (En Neuvice 45, 4000 Liège, Belgium)
Cool boutique hotel located near the River Meuse and along the oldest pedestrian street in Liege. Please note that parking for this hotel is a bit off site in a public parking lot about a block away. You can’t drive up to the front door (we tried!), as it’s on a pedestrian only street, so be prepared by packing lightly or be ready roll your bag along some cobblestone streets. It’s a sweet place in a great location.
Day 3 Chateau Modave & Durbuy
Eat at the hotel or if you haven’t already tried Liege waffles or want to try the best, head over to Maison Massin (Rue Puits-en-sock, 6-8 – 4020 Liege), the best bakery in the city. Master baker and waffle maker Pierre Massin makes a variety of tasty waffles, croissants, fresh breads and other baked goodness. You have to try the traditional Liege style of waffle, which was invented in Liege in the 18th century. It’s made with a thick batter and chucks of sugar, which caramelize and form a crispy, crunchy coating.
World’s Best Waffles by TravelswithDarley
Travelers can step inside this luxurious castle, once inhabited by a Cardinal and a Count, and enjoy the brilliant designs and details, including the lavish ceiling in the Guard Room, depicting the family tree of the count of Marchin, one of the illustrious past owners. Baccarat crystal chandeliers, rare embroidered Chinese silk and the salon, set for a stately dinner with the Modave service, draw visitors through this 17th century grand country residence.
This European Castle Will Blow Your Mind by TravelswithDarley
Drive just a little over 20 minutes to charming and quirky Durbuy, where there are casual cafes and restaurants for your lunch today. This walkable, medieval town is a relaxing and beautiful respite. You can’t miss the Chateau de Durbuy, where an actual count- the Count d’Ursel- still lives. You may actually run into him around town!
Don’t miss Boucherie Bodson, where you can taste local meats, including cured hams. Another fun stop is the Confiturerie Saint-Amour (Rue de Saint-Amour 13, 6940 Durbuy), a jam factory where you can take a look into jam production. If you don’t make it to the small factory, try local jams and other products right downtown at various shops. La Vraie Confiture du Durbuy is the cutest shop with a variety of artisanal products from around the region. This is a great place to look for gifts for friends back home.
Stroll through the Durbuy Topiary Garden, where over 250 sculptured plants, some of which are more than 120 years old, form ducklings, elephants, a larger-than-life Pamela Anderson and beyond. Just down from the Topiary Garden and over the footbridge, you’ll find “La Ferme au Chene”, a nice place to stop to try the local Marckloff Beer, which is rich and tasty. This truly traditional beer is fermented in the bottle and unfiltered, produced on-site.
Sanglier des Ardennes (Rue du Comte Théodule d’Ursel 14, 6940 Durbuy, Belgium)
Located right in town, this is country-style hotel has great food and nice accommodations. There are lots of hotels and B&B choices in Durbuy, but book in advance.
Europe’s Quirkiest City by TravelswithDarley
Day 4 La Roche-en-Ardenne & Bastogne
Enjoy the 30 to 40 minute scenic drive to La Roche-en-Ardenne from Durbuy. The Battle of the Bulge took place in the Ardennes in Belgium during the second world war and La Roche En Ardennes was a strategic location. Starting during a bitter winter on Dec 16, 1944, it was Germany’s last major offensive of the war and one in which there were tens of thousands of American casualties.
Walk around town and you’ll still see remnants of war and destruction, including a British M-10 Achilles tank overlooking the town and an M4A1(76) Sherman tank situated in the center of town. This strikingly beautiful town is made prettier by the medieval castle which rests atop a hill. Visit the Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes, which depicts the battle and how it affected villages like La Roche En Ardennes.
It’s a less than half hour drive to Brasserie d’Acchoufe (Achouffe 32 – 6666 Wibrin – Achouffe), where you can enjoy beer tasting and a brewery tour. Dating back to the 1970’s, the brewery was created by two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Chris Bauweraerts, and features everything from Houblon Chouffe, an Indian Pale Ale that we particularly liked, to classic La Chouffe, unfiltered blonde beer. It’s tasty!
Have lunch before or after your brewery tour in the tavern.
Leave for Bastogne. It’s only about a twenty minute drive.
Visit the Bastogne War Museum (Colline du Mardasson, 5 – 6600 Bastogne Belgium), Mardasson Memorial. The museum is impressive and interactive. You won’t want to rush through it or the memorial.
Ask a local or someone at the museum to direct you to the foxholes, a short drive down the road. The foxholes are located on the road from Bizory to Foy. You’ll hike a bit through the woods to reach them. Tread lightly, as this is not currently a “tourist” place to visit and locals do want it to be preserved. Walking through this forest may remind you of the Steven Spielberg “Band of Brothers”mini-series. The soldiers who hid out here were from Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division. It’s a powerful place to visit.
Dine tonight at funky Wagon-Restaurant Leo (Rue du Vivier 4-8, B-6600 Bastogne), a classic Belgian bistro housed in an old traincar.
Best Western Bastogne (Av. Mathieu 49, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium)
This is one of the nicest Best Western’s in which I’ve ever stayed and centrally located in Bastogne.
Day 5 Dinant
It’s less than one hour’s drive (if you go straight there!) from Bastogne to Dinant in the province of Namur. This town has a lot to offer in the way of adventure and culture.
Dinant has a fairytale-like setting along the banks Meuse River, marked by a grand 13th century Gothic cathedral and an imposing high cliff atop which rests the Citadel. Take a ride in a cable car up to the Citadel to orient yourself and enjoy the views of this stunning city before checking out some of its attractions.
I would recommend a kayaking trip, depending on the weather, for the rest of your morning. We went out with Dinant Adventures. Trips range from 2.5 hours to all day and you can even go kayaking by a castle. A fun idea is to pack a picnic lunch for your trip.
Café Leffe (2 rue Adolphe Sax, Dinant) is a pub-type brasserie with lots of food and beer options.
For those who like music and jazz, a must-visit is 37 Rue Sax, the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. A small interactive museum has been erected here and if you’re lucky, a sax enthusiast will be playing outside in Sax’s honor. All around Dinant there are tributes to Sax, great visuals if you’re photographing the city.
You can walk from 37 Rue Sax over to another destination for lovers of music and creativity, Maison de la Pataphonie (Rue Grande, 37, 5500 Dinant and featured in the below video) where you can expand your mind making music with everyday objects. This wildly inventive museum was dreamed up by instrument maker Max Vandervorst and is great for adults and kids.
World’s Weirdest Museums by TravelswithDarley
Restaurant l’artiste (Rue de la gare 85 à 5522 Falaën)
This is an unassuming, but good restaurant.
Tonight, take advantage of the unique opportunity to stay in a chateau. With only four rooms and an upscale, homey feel, la Saisonneraie (Marteau 1, 5522 Falaën, Belgium) is family-run. The owners may greet you with a champagne cocktail that you can enjoy by the fire. Our breakfast here was great—warm croissants, fresh eggs and a smothering of jams and nutella.
Day 6 Namur
Either take a break this morning or keep it going with a railbiking adventure from the station in Falaen (Les draisines de la Molignee – rue de la gare, 82 – 082/699079) to Maredsous Abbey. Many people bike to the Abbey, eat lunch and bike back… rail biking along old railroad tracks. They make cheese at the Abbey and have a special beer, which isn’t made onsite, but is served up inside.
Lunch or Dinner
Dine at L’air du Temps (Rue de la Croix Monet 2, 5310 Éghezée, Belgium), a two star Michelin restaurant with Chef Sang Hoon Diegiembre at the helm. With a garden right on site, your multi-course meal will be truly local. You’ll want make a reservation well in advance. This was the best meal we’ve ever eaten.
Best Meal of My Life! by TravelswithDarley
Enjoy walking around Namur, taking a guided tour with English speaking guide Jean-Marie Decloedt (email Jean-Marie) or meandering on your own. Check out Namur Greeters if you want another option to see the area with a local. Stop by the river to view the Citadel and take a break to have a refreshment in the Place du Vieux Marché or Marché aux Légumes, a popular square with cute cafes.
Hotel les Tanneurs (Rue des Tanneries 13, 5000 Namur, Belgium)
This hotel has a great location in Namur. It was created by renovating multiple houses that were married together, so each room has its own style and design. There is a small elevator, a restaurant right on site and everything you might want to do in Namur is within walking distance.
Day 7 Mons
Drive less than one hour to Mons, a European culture capital with a wonderful Grand Place and lots to see and do. On your way in our out of town, stop by to see chocolatier George Doutrelepont (248 route d’Ath 7020 Nimy) for choclate pralines and tasty ice cream (we know ice cream in the morning is odd, but you’re on vacation!). Doutrelepont is an award-winning chocolatier and his shop has a nice indoor and outdoor seating area. This chocolate makes for a great gift item for friends back home.
Mons is a walkable city is best enjoyed on foot, so park your car and walk. This middle sized city has the atmosphere of a village and if the weather is nice, it’s café culture can’t be beat.
Take a guided tour of Mons or hit these sites on your own:
- Mundaneum– A fascinating and newly renovated museum, showcasing the works collected by Paul Otlet, who set out to organize the world’s information as a sort of precursor to the internet.
- Grand Place- There will likely be something going on in the Grand Place if the weather is nice. We were there for a flower market and also a practice for the Doudou or Ducasse de Mons, a festival on UNESCO’s list that happens every year on Trinity Sunday. Stop in City Hall and make sure to rub the head of the iron monkey, which has guarded this building for centuries, on your way inside. It is said to bring good luck. Climb the stairs and you’ll reach the balcony that many a statesmen and celebrity have graced, including William and Kate. From here, there are great views of the centuries of architecture surrounding this main square.
- Beer- Grab a beer at La Cervoise (Grand Place 25, 7000 Mons, Belgium), where you’ll have trouble choosing from the over 150 beers and will definitely find something local.
- Collegiate Church of St Waudru- This stunning 15th to 17th century Gothic cathedral is like an open-air art gallery. I felt at peace just walking through and seeing the colored light streaming through the windows from the centuries old stained glass.
- Views- Climb the hill in the center of town up an alley called ruelle César to reach Château Comtal park and the only Belfry in Belgium in the baroque style. The panoramic views of the city from this high point have served as an inspiration throughout history. The Belfry of Mons is a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses a museum inside.
If you have time, also visit Van Gogh’s home. I didn’t have time to see this, but hear it is worth a trip. Van Gogh lived in Mons before moving on to Provence. Art enthusiasts may want to check out the modern art museum, BAM Museum.
Go back to Grand Place and dine outside if the weather allows at Ces Belges et vous for classic Belgian cuisine.
One of my favorite hotels in Belgium, Hotel Dream (Rue de la Grande Triperie 17, 7000 Mons, Belgium) is super modern, funky and in a good location. You can walk from here to Grand Place and around Mons. Located in an old chapel, each room in Hotel Dream has its own creative theme. My room had views of the Belfry.
Day 8 Waterloo & Brussels
Drive 40 minutes from Mons to Waterloo and spend the morning exploring the museum and climbing to the top of the Lion’s Mound to survey the battlefield. See the Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo in the rotunda. This painting is 330 feet long, 36 feet high and over a century old. What I find fascinating is that this was sort of the historic version of our modern IMAX.
Visit the Battle of Waterloo for its 200th… by TravelswithDarley
Drive into Waterloo for lunch. We needed something quick, so ate at Paul (Chaussée de Bruxelles 305B 1410 – Waterloo Tél. : +3223544338), but we’re sure you can get more creative than that!
Drive past the Atomium on your way back to Brussels. If you have kids, they might like Mini Europe. If not, head straight back into Brussels and walk to the Manneken Pis. This little guy is a must-see, but I also recommend getting a gluttonous waffle at The Waffle Factory right nearby (Rue du Lombard 30, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium). I got the works here, including nutella and strawberries.
Hilton Brussels Grand Place (Carrefour de L’Europe 3, Brussels, 1000 Belgium Tel. +32-2-5484211)
Day 9 Brussels
Tour Brussels by bicycle today. Sign up for a bike tour with Pro Velo. I did the art deco/ art nouveau tour and loved it, but you can choose other tours that take you to parks, pubs or breweries. This is a great way to soak in the diverse architecture of Brussels and have a local showing you around.
I won’t give you much more to do today, as you are likely exhausted by the above itinerary. We were! So, like all good travelers, we parked our heels in a variety of Belgian outdoor cafes and enjoyed some Belgian beer tasting and reflected on our amazing adventures in this small European country. We had a few good laughs, too! Enjoy!
Notes: More trip ideas can be found on visitbelgium.com. The Brussels Jazz Marathon is an annual event during which the city comes alive with music. You can see legendary performers and discover new talent. There are more than 150 free concerts this year over a three day period, meaning a lot of jazz to enjoy. We attended a concert in the Grand Place and that is a memorable place to see live jazz!
Mons is super packed during the annual Doudou on the Trinity Sunday, but might be worth it if festivals are on your bucket list.
La Batte, the largest and oldest market in Belgium, happens every Sunday from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm, so we recommend timing this itinerary, so you arrive to Liege on Sunday.
Another note: Feel free to slice up, change or rearrange our itinerary and contact us to give us other suggestions or write about and share your Belgium experience with other travelers! We’d appreciate personal insights.