Recognized as the “smallest city in the world,” Durbuy has more to offer than I originally imagined; so much so, that I made the trip three times in one month. Located in the Ardennes region of Belgium, 2 hours from Brussels and 90 minutes from Mons, the drive there is gorgeous and that’s when I first fell in love! The timber architecture, quaint atmosphere, and artisanal shops make Durbuy a dream destination. Not to mention there is an impressive Chateau appearing in the skyline.
Old Town Durbuy
Old Town is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Spend time wandering the cobbled streets and admiring the ivy cascading across every inch of surface area. Pop into local shops and sample regional delicacies. Dine in one of the many cozy establishments or bike along the riverbank. There is actually an activity suited for everyone.
Confiturerie Saint Amour is best known for their specialty jam produced only in house; however, they offer more than just jam! Goodies such as tea, honey, and local brews are readily available. It’s the perfect place to get a taste of the region or find that unique gift.
Chocolatier Defroidmont is the spot to sample that delectable Belgian chocolate. I opted for their hand dipped ice cream, and their chocolate – chocolate combo was just what I needed.
Bonbon Chic is for the candy lover in you. The walls are lined with an impressive array of sugary treats, and the shop interior is just adorable. Be sure to take a peak, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
Lunch at La Brasserie Ardennaise is a must. With a lovely outdoor terrace as well as a cozy interior, it’s ideal for rain or shine. Be sure to come hungry because their burger and fry combo is no joke.
For a contemporary option try La Bru’sserie, a luxurious tapas restaurant with stunning views of the river Ourthe. Here you will find a creative fusion of local and international fare that can be enjoyed on the veranda, by the bar, or in the elegant dining area. If you aren’t feeling peckish, this is an ideal spot for an aperitif, or caffeine boost.
The Belvedere Viewpoint is not to be missed. Although, the only way to access the vista is via a tourist train costing 6 euro, it is well worth experiencing the panoramic view of Durbuy, encircled by a lush forest.
For families, I would suggest the Topiary Park, a massive garden consisting of 250 boxwood sculptures. There is no dining in the park, but you can bring your own food for a picnic and your dogs! Another great family-friendly option is the 8 euro combo ticket which includes a visit to the Topiary Park and mini-golf at Derriere Clairval across the street.
In an effort to give Durbuy a cultural edge, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art was created in 2018. Housed in a Wallonia heritage site, the museum showcases the work of Marcel Lucas, as well as temporary exhibitions promoting local artists. Entrance tickets are only 5 euro and free for children under 12.
For those who want to indulge in some pampering head to the spa at Le Sanglier des Ardennes. Here you’ll have your choice between a sauna, hammam, Jacuzzi, or swimming pool with relaxing with river views. Sounds pretty idyllic to me!
If you’re looking for something more invigorating, Adventure Valley is the place for you. With kayak, mountain/city bike rentals, ropes course, playground and beer garden, you could spend the entire day here. They offer guided mountain bike tours taking you into the forest or you can do your own thing. There is a gorgeous path along the river through Durbuy and into neighboring villages that makes for a beautiful bike ride. Adventure Valley is open every day from 9am to 6pm, but the rentals need to be back by 5!
Not up for biking or kayaking? You should at least save time for a river walk. The surrounding forest and river valley is truly breathtaking. This region is well suited for those who love to hike and adventure on their own. So grab a map in the tourist office and get on your way.
If you happen to be traveling in the winter months, Durbuy is the perfect city to experience the magic of Christmas. During their yearly market, you can try artisanal products, mingle with the locals, and feel the Belgian spirit. The ice rink and market are open on weekends, starting November 23rd until January 6th.
As you can see, there is much to explore in this charming city in the heart of the Ardennes. So what are you waiting for?
Until next time,