Not to be confused with the Flemish Ardennes, the Ardennes are a region of wooded hills and small mountains in south-eastern Belgium, Luxembourg and northern France, which merge with the similar German/Luxembourgian Eifel region in the east.
This article is about the Belgian part of the region, which spans parts of Liège (province), Luxembourg (province) and Namur (province). See the French Ardennes and Luxembourg Ardennes articles for information on the other parts of the region.
The Ardennes - which encompass both densely forested and agricultural areas - are considered to be one of the wildest regions in the surrounding part of Europe, and are an excellent destination for hiking, mountain-biking, kayaking, rock climbing and other kinds of active holidays. It is a scenic region that is also home to a number of historic towns. The Ardennes are also famous for the 'Battle of the Bulge' that took place there in WW2 and, consequently, contain numerous memorial sites.
Although the geological boundaries of the region are defined by the rivers Vesdre to the north and Semois to the south, tourist guides will often include the adjacent Belgian regions of Condroz, Pays d'Herve, Famenne, Gaume and the Ostkantons, which have a similar character.
The Ardennes are extensively forested and this image shows the Forest of Tancrémont, near Pepinster, in the Province of Liège
The Viroin in Vierves-sur-Viroin, Viroinval.
View from Bomal station, Durbuy municipality.
19th century neighbourhood in Verviers.
Though mainly worth visiting for its natural splendour and outdoor attractions, this region has a number of historic towns:
Province of Liège
- Limbourg (pop: 5,680) — medieval hilltop village situated on a dramatic hill in a strategic bend of the Vesdre river and definitely one of Belgium's undiscovered pearls!
- Spa (pop: 10,543) — elegant town which put the word spa into spa-town
- Malmedy — small town that was destroyed in WW2
- Verviers (pop: 55,936) — overlooked by almost everyone, the biggest town in the Belgian Ardennes was one of the first places in the world outside Great Britain to be mechanically industrialised in the early 19th century, when British entrepreneur William Cockerill (and his son John) set up shop there in 1799. Verviers -- which is set in the dramatic valley of the Vesdre -- also contains many traces of its pre-mechanical history, which dates make to medieval times. While the town might not be everyone's cup of tea, it will certainly prove fascinating to many others!
Province of Luxembourg
- Bouillon — picturesque town in the deep valley of the Semois river that boasts an impressive citadel
- La Roche-en-Ardenne — picturesque town on a bend in the River Ourthe, has a castle ruin, large church and WWII Museum.
- Bastogne — site of an important WW2 battle
- Durbuy — Boasts to be worlds smallest city, very nice old town and impressive Topiary garden. Durbuy is well-known to tourists from the countries that neighbour Belgium (Germany & the Netherlands). Tourist generally start to appear around mid-April.
Province of Namur
The towns of Liège and Namur are the ideal gateways to the Ardennes and adjacent regions.
To get there from France, you can either travel via Luxembourg, or take a bus to Dinant from Givet on the border and connected to the French railway network.
Regional trains on the following lines stop in the Ardennes, and provide a pleasant way to see the region:
- Liège - Verviers - Eupen/Welkenraedt-Aachen
- Pepinster - Spa
- Liège - Rivage - Gouvy - Luxembourg
- Liège - Rivage - Marloie - Jemelle - Libramont - Arlon
- Libramont - Bertrix
- Namur - Ciney - Marloie
- Namur - Dinant - Bertrix - Arlon
The westernmost part of the Ardennes is served by the railway line from Liège to Couvin.
Buses are cheap and serve more destinations, though sometimes only once or twice a day.
Having a car is the only way to be fully mobile in the Ardennes.
On foot and by bike
Of course, walking or cycling might be the reason you decided to visit the Ardennes in the first place. In that case, the Ravel network of foot and cycle paths is highly recommended!
- World War II Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial  - The chapel contains maps and relief sculptures depicting the campaigns in the region. The N-63 from Liege to Marche-en-Famenne passes the entrance to the Memorial about 19 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Liege. Open daily except December 25 and January 1; 9:00AM to 5:00PM; Free.
- Biggest adventure park in Belgium Just next to Durbuy, the smallest city in the world, lays the adventure park; La Petite Merveille. The park offers different activities such as kayaking, mountain biking, climbing and more. La Petite Merveille also have a range of superb restaurants.
- The best restaurant in the Ardennes Right in the city centre of Durbuy you will find one of the best restaurants in the Ardennes. Kick back on the terrace and have the home made gin "La Petite Merveille" or go inside and enjoy typical cuisine of the Ardennes.
- A proper Belgian Grill Just outside of Durbuy you will find the LPM Grill, loved by the locals. Enjoy a quick and smooth service in the modern-styled restaurant. There is also a heated outdoor bar. Choose from a wide variety of meat or seafood dishes.
- A hotel for sports lovers Just outside of Durbuy you will find the LPM Sport Hotel. The hotel is situated at the entrance of Durbuy. It has a warm atmosphere for wining and dining. All the rooms are equipped with TV, Radio, telephone, bathroom with shower and toilet. LPM Sport Hotel also has dorms, but it is not a hostel.