Belgium is predominantly flat, but the south and parts of the east are dominated by the Ardennes, a breathtaking region with gushing rivers winding through the rolling hills of lush, dense forests before sweeping into neighbouring Luxembourg and France, lending its name to the Ardennes Champagne region.
The man-made footpaths in the hills are tried, tested and safe, making the Ardennes the ideal location for escaping the rigours of city life and experiencing sights of stunning natural beauty. The tourist information board sell guidebooks with maps and a description of recommended walks. Visit one of the many picturesque castles around Wallonia, some of which have been renovated into plush chateau-hotels, or stop off at La Roche-en-Ardenne to photograph the 9th century ruins of a feudal castle.
The Ardennes is steeped in culture and history. Some of the most important battles of the Second World War were fought in the Ardenne such as the Battle of the Bulge which prevented Hitler separating the British and American armies. A museum situated in La Roche-en-Ardenne is dedicated to the men who lost their lives here and paints a grim picture of the horrors of war. Other museums in the Ardennes reflect the culture of the region, focusing on its industrial past as well as dedicating a museum to its beauty.
For the more adventurous the Ardennes terrain is perfect for cycling, fishing, caving and canoeing and there are outlets in the nearby towns and cities organising trips and hire equipment. Alternatively, adrenalin junkies should pay a visit to Le Labyrinthe de Barvaux-Durbuy, a giant theme park packed with roller-coasters and other spills and thrills. If you prefer something a little more sedate the Aquarium and Zoo are an ideal alternative.
Belgian cuisine has a reputation for quality and good restaurants can be found all over the Ardennes. The most popular choice for eating in the Ardennes are Liege and Namur as they are the two closets cities, but home cooking from a small town in the hills is particularly humbling, many of which have their own delicacies which can be purchased to take away with you.
The Ardennes is vast and not as easy to travel from city to city as many other parts of Belgium so it is recommended you decide what you want to do before choosing where to stay. Hotels are comfortable and reasonably priced, but only offer half board – a hat’s off to the quality of the local cooking.
Traveling to the Ardennes by Ferry
The Ardennes region is well inland so taking ferry will mean you will need to drive through much of Belgium, which will probably take you about 2 hours. It is a big region and when travelling there by ferry, it will depend on where you are going as to what the best ferry option for you is. Please see our guides for cites of Liege and Namur on more info on driving times and ferry options – these two places are popular bases with people enjoying the Ardennes.