A fertile green area of sublime natural beauty that stretches from Belgium all the way into France and Luxembourg, the Ardennes are the jewel of the Wallonia province. This unspoilt forest in the southeast of Belgium is located just a few hours from the port of Zeebrugge or Calais, making it the perfect active escape for Brits. Boasting deep wooded canyons, running rivers full of fish, and medieval hilltop villages, this region is popular with hikers, bikers and adventurers. Check out our guide to the best things to do all year round in the stunning Belgian Ardennes.
Spring is one of the best seasons to visit the Ardennes with its wonderful flora taking on a rich kaleidoscope of colours. As the temperature hots up, the area develops into the ideal conditions for canoeing or kayaking. Take to the water and paddle through dense forested valleys on the 165km Ourthe River, passing by the quaint hidden settlement of Durbuy, which lays claim to the title of smallest town in the world.
This season also sees the arrival of the Spring Classics, a famous cycling event that takes place across the country. You don’t have to be professional to enjoy mountain biking here though, as the steep hillsides of the Petit-Han forest are open to anyone. For a less physically demanding route, there are a number of scenic journeys that see you ride through charming towns and peaceful pastures.
Mountaineers, walkers and rock climbers all flock to the Ardennes during the summer to make the most of the fantastic landscape. For hikers, there are a huge number of set treks through the forests that take you past awe-inspiring scenery from old villages to ancient castles. Take your time and stroll along country lanes with a picnic in hand or delve deep into the woodland to explore the region’s silent beauty.
Challenging routes, magnificent views and high climbs all put the Belgian Ardennes on the map for climbing enthusiasts. Clambering up a 45-metre sheer cliff faces certainly makes for a thrilling way to explore this natural province as well as providing a great story to tell. We’d recommend Freyr, Dave, Yvoir, Awirs and Beez as some of the best climbs in Belgium.
With golden leaves falling all around, Autumn is a particularly alluring time to visit. In the cooler months, you can head below to explore the underground network of caves that run throughout the hills and green grasslands. Thousands of years of erosion have shaped these caves into a magical world of sparkling stalactites and stalagmites.
Above ground, horse riding through emerald meadows and across the fallen leaves of the dense woodland makes for an unforgettable experience. There are various riding schools throughout the region that offer classes tailored for every skill level.
When the end of the year beckons, the highest parts of this once lush area are blanketed in pure white snow, making it a haven for skiers, snowboarders and winter entertainment. Cross country skiing is one of the most popular activities here with routes through the trees great for both body and mind.
If skiing isn’t your thing, you can zip down the mountain in a toboggan or warm up inside one of the cosy pubs, tasting local beers made by monks in secret monasteries across the region. Fresh game meat and flavourful mushrooms are just a few of the local specialties you can look forward to devouring when all your adventuring is done for the day.
For further inspiration, check out our awesome adventure page.