The Ardennes region start in France and stretches out over the south east of Wallonia towards Germany. The Belgian Ardennes spans over 3 Walloon provinces; Namur, Luxembourg and Liège. The city of Namur is considered the central gateway to the Ardennes due it’s strategical location at the junction of the rivers Sambre and Meuse, whilst Liège forms the eastern gateway.
When starting in Namur, you can follow the Meuse River upstream towards Dinant, a beautiful charming town on the riverbanks in the centre of the Meuse-valley. From Dinant you can either head down south towards the Semois valley and Bouillon near the french border, or head down east through the hearth of the Ardennes. The valley of the Semois is known for its dense forests, beautiful river meanders and of course the historical town of Bouillon. From here on you can travel back up north east through the hearth of the Ardennes, or down to France or Luxembourg, wherever you’d like to go!
The so called hearth or centre of the Ardennes consists out of the region between Dinant, Durbuy and Bouillon. Durbuy is considered to be the smallest charming town in the world. Another small town worth visiting is Rochefort, not only famous for it’s abbey and beers, but also for the caves of Han-Sur-Lesse.
In the eastern part of the Belgian Ardennes you’ll find the world-famous town called Spa, well-known for it’s wellness centre and bottled water. La Roche-En-Ardenne is another small historic town with an ancient castle up the hill. Further down east you’ll reach Malmedy and the start of the “High Fens’ “The High Fens” or ‘Hautes Fagnes” in french.
If you only want to visit the eastern parts of the Ardennes, then Liege will be your gateway. Although the city might look grim at first sight, it’s well worth the visit if you can scratch the surface!
Popular Destinations in The Ardennes
Dinant is a charming little town on the riverbanks of the Meuse river.
Bouillon is a beautiful small town located in a meander of the Semois, dominated by it’s old historical fortress in the city centre.
La Roche en Ardenne is located on the riverbanks of the Ourthe river.
Durbuy, sometimes called the smallest town in the world, is located in the heart of the Ardennes region
Outdoor Activities in the Ardennes
The dense forest, hills and cliffs with meandering rivers are the perfect terrain for several outdoor activities. Camping in the Ardennes is quite popular and you’ll find many campsites for tents, caravans and motorhomes. However wildcamping is strictly forbidden.
There are countless hiking routes through nature with various sights and terrains. Some of the popular hiking routes are located in the valley of the Semois. Cyclist and mountainbikers will also love the variation of terrain and beautiful scenery the Ardennes has to offer. You can find the best hiking and mountain-biking routes on www.routeyou.com
Kayaking and Canoeing is also quite popular in the Ardennes. From spring to autumn you can rent kayaks or canoes on several places. The Ourthe and Semois rivers are perfect for beginners. The Lesse river has a bit more sensation to offer with a few small waterfalls. For more information check the kayaking and canoeing in the Ardennes page.
But there is more! You can also go caving, climbing, abseiling or learn several other survival skills.
Getting around in the Ardennes
If you’re traveling by car, motorbike, or mobilhome, then the Ardennes is and excellent choice of destination. Most travel destinations can also be reached by train and sometimes in combination with local busses. NMBS/SNCB runs the national trainlines. TEC is the company that runs local busses in Wallonia. For more information about the public transport; check the Belgium Public Transport Guide
Accommodation in The Ardennes
Traditional Hotels can be found at all popular travel destinations across the Ardennes. A great alternative for short stays and romantic getaways are one of the many B&B’s you’ll find both near larger cities and along the countryside. Another popular option is to rent a vacation house (or Gîte in French) on the countryside. These types of accommodation are perfect when you’re traveling by car and plan to stay for a longer period of time, or when traveling with more then 4 people. There are also quite a few popular vacation parks.