Liège is the Walloon-Belgian province that surrounds the city of the same name. Though it has a somewhat grey image in surrounding countries, its relatively small area has a lot to offer visitors. The provincial capital's restaurants, nightlife, museums and architecture -- in combination with its varied natural surroundings -- provide enough material for an enjoyable short holiday.
The river Meuse, its tributary the Ourthe - which has its own tributaries in the Vesdre and Amblève - flow through the province, marking the border between a number of different regions that merge around the cities of Liège of Verviers:
In the Ardennes:
In the Condroz:
In the Country of Herve:
In the Ostkantons:
The area of the province roughly corresponds with the former Prince-Bishopric of Liège, which was an independent country bordering the Duchy of Limburg -- anonther historical country -- until the French revolution. In earlier history, Charlemagne -- who was born in Liège (Jupille-sur-Meuse)-- made nearby Aachen his capital. Today the provinces of Liège and its neighbours - Dutch and Belgian Limburg and the German region around Aachen - make up the Meuse-Rhine Euregion.
While the province of Liège cooperates with it's national and international neighbours on many levels, a minor territorial dispute remains over the Voeren (FR: Fourons) region -- a small enclave of Belgian Limburg sandwiched between the Pays d'Herve and Dutch Limburg.
It is also noteworthy to mention that a small area in the north-east of the province -- close to the tripoint of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany - was an independent country know as [Neutral-Moresnet] from 1816 to 1920.
While most of the province is French speaking, a small part in the east -- around the towns of Eupen and Sankt-Vith -- is German speaking. Most people don't speak English, but will nonetheless do their best to be helpful if you don't speak French.
Motorways from/to Amsterdam-Maastricht (NL), Aachen (DE), Trier (DE), Luxembourg, Namur, Antwerp-Hasselt and Leuven-Brussels serve the province of Liège, and there are direct trains from all of these places except Trier.
High speed train link Liège to Brussels/Lille/Paris and Cologne/Frankfurt.
Liège also has an Liège Airport airport, which is mainly for freight, but also serves a number of destinations for passengers. Maastricht-Aachen Airport, Zaventem and Brussels South-Charleroi Airport are slightly further, but better served by public transport.
Most towns can be reached by train or bus, but a car is required for the more rural destinations.
One of the best ways to explore the province is by using the Walloon network of cycle and footpaths (Ravel). Amongst others, the paths along the Ourthe and south-western part of the Meuse (around Huy)can be specially recommended!
'Le Pays de Liège' offers cruises with varying destinations - such as Maastricht, Huy or the industrial area to the west of Liège - on the Meuse river.
Though too messy for the tastes of some people in neighbouring countries, the city and province of Liège offer a fascinating mix of buildings to people who are passionate about all styles of pre-war architecture. For as well as the industrial wastelands, motorways and occasional brutalist monstrosity that gave it its bad name, the region has an impressive heritage: buildings dating as far back as the 11th century dot the towns and countryside alike, often sitting side by side with fine examples of Victorian architecture, art-nouveau, art-deco, early modernism, and everything in between.
The province boasts numerous castles, such as those of Franchimont, Chokier, Esneux, Jalhay, and Huy, as well as many smaller castle-like houses, old churches and old houses.
One can find beautiful examples of art-nouveau architecture spread around Liège and Verviers. The same can be said of art-deco and early modernism, though there is a concentration of the former in the Vennes neighbourhood of Liège. Large amounts of Victorian architecture can be seen almost anywhere in the province.
Being one of the world's first industrialised regions outside the U.K., one can discover many industrial heritage sites throughout the province, though these are in varying states of repair. Prime examples of these are the coal mine of Hasard in Cheratte, the mining museum at Blegny (a Unesco world heritage site)and the glass-works of Val Saint-Lambert in Seraing.
The region also has an extensive military heritage, as it has long been of great strategic importance. Of a series of forts that surround the city, the immense underground fort of Eben-Emael -- which is close to Maastricht -- can be visited during one weekend each month.
Nature and countryside
The province is home to a number of different landscapes, which are described in the 'regions' section of this page. The Condroz and Ardennes can be specially recommended, and trains from Liège to Marloie or from Liège to Eupen provide perfect scenic routes!
An ideal short holiday (3-4 days) in the province would include staying in the city of Liège, cycling along the Ourthe valley* and day trips to Limbourg and Spa and their surroundings.
Camping in the Ardennes or Condroz can be recomended if you want a more relaxing or 'outdoor' type of holiday.
* This can easily be done from the city of Liège, where you can rent bikes at Liège-Guillemins station.
The province of Liège is well positioned in Europe, and the following places are within easy reach as a next destinations (distances are from the city of Liège):
In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia: