Want to try something new over the school holidays? All the sights without the crowds, all the fun without the queues; the southernmost region of Belgium is an untapped gem perfect for a stress-free family holiday. Wallonia’s symbol is a red rooster – you’ll see it adorning buildings and flags across the region – and you’ll feel naturally compelled to rise bright and early for long days of inspirational activities wherever you wander. Here are some of the very best things to do in Wallonia for the whole family.
Bouillon – Across the universe
An oasis in the heavily forested area of rural Belgium, Bouillon sits proudly on the edge of the river Semois. You won’t have to drive far into the town before catching a glimpse of the magical Bouillon Castle, which has presided over the streets below since the Middle Ages. There you can explore winding underground tunnels, watch a falconry show and play knights in the enchanting fortress. Complete your trip of discovery in Bouillon with a trip to the Euro Space Centre, a 30-minute drive north-east of the town centre, where the wondrous planetarium and lunar walk simulator will take you far beyond our atmosphere.
Tournai – A magical city getaway
The oldest city in Wallonia, and one of the two oldest in Belgium, can be found south-west of Brussels – and is a little-known stop among tourists. Among numerous architectural feats, Tournai is home to two UNESCO world heritage sites: the city’s ornate cathedral and its accompanying belfry, which has stood for almost . The Magiciens de la Forêt Perdue adventure game allows the whole family to enjoy the history of this remarkable city. Simply pick up your bag of clues and riddles for €10 at the tourist office and let the quest across the city begin!
Wavre – Adventures back in time
Wandering around the cosy streets of the quaint town of Wavre, you’d never believe it was home to one of the most important conflicts in Belgian history. The Battle of Wavre was the final major conflict of the Hundred Days war, occupying French forces to aid the British victory at Waterloo, and children and adults alike will be immersed in the reenactment on the first weekend of summer. The event is accompanied by an energetic parade, historic market and educational area, painting a vivid image of life back in 1815. You might also like to journey into the wilderness at Wavre’s Adventure Park, the largest in Belgium, where there are over 170 challenges for explorers young and old.
Liège – The life aquatic
The medieval town on the banks of the Meuse River offers more than just picturesque streets lined with intricate architecture. Children of all ages will love the University of Liège’s Aquarium-Museum, home to 250 different species including piranhas, sharks and clown fish – not to mention the 20,000 animal specimens in the adjoining Zoological Museum too. Curious minds should also be sure to visit the Archéoforum, an underground collection built over archaeological finds dating back thousands of years.
Featured image by Esther Westerveld.